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Is it better to separate free-run wine from the pressed wine during fermentation and should they be blended before bottling if you are making Zinfandel?



Dear Wine Wizard,

Our Zinfandel wine is now in secondary fermenters, with free-run wine separate from the pressed. Do you have advice on allowing the free and pressed wines to go their own ways – or do tannins enrich Zinfandel?

Also, I have another question: How do I locate a resource to help me understand the characteristics of various grapes that require certain techniques to bring out the best of the grape? Thanks in advance for your help.

Joseph Fiore Terrizzi
Evanston, Illinois

Wine Wizard replies: You are right on track by separating your press fractions. This is a very typical commercial winemaking maneuver that lets you have better blending control down the line – you have different wines to work with and you can use them to your advantage.

However, if you’re making wine on a very small home-winemaking scale, having five gallons (18.9 liters) of press wine and five gallons (18.9 liters) of free run might not do you too much good-you probably will find that your best wine is made by mixing the two together. Zinfandel is usually a very robust, rustic, round and rambunctious (gotta love those “R” words) wine and, as such, does benefit from a good, strong mouthfeel.

A great book that I have enjoyed immensely over the years is called “Winemaking: Recipes, Equipment and Techniques for Making Wine at Home” by Stanley F. Anderson and Dorothy Anderson. The Andersons cover a myriad of topics and have many wonderful recipes and procedures that will give the seasoned professional and the beginner alike an idea of how to use each grape varietal (or non-grape fruit) to its best potential.

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