Ask Wine Wizard

How can I keep my fermenters cool during hot weather?


Dear Wine Wizard, I desperately need to know how to cool my primary. I use two 50-gallon barrels to ferment my wine and am tired of using frozen one-gallon plastic jugs. There has to be a better way. Vince Richter Winnipeg, Canada Wine Wizard replies: At my winery, I sometimes ferment grapes in the large, plastic bins they were picked in and I have similar cooling issues to the ones you’ve described above. Cooling your wine is important if your fermentation is getting out of control. Otherwise, the fermentation may give off hydrogen sulfide (indicated by a rotten-egg smell). In addition, the vigorous ferment can blow off the primary fruit aromas and have other deleterious effects on your wine. The way you’ve cooled your primary in the past — by freezing gallon jugs full of water — is actually one of the cheapest, easiest and fastest ways around. Many winemakers I know are still fans of this technique. For those readers out there that have never done the “ice cube shuffle,” cooling your must with plastic jugs goes something like