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Wine Wizard

Strategies for a Chaptalization Mistake

It sounds like you’re doing a lot of things right, especially being that your grape wine has taken off, but your plum wine is just plum tuckered out.  Seems like you’ve got


Oak Barrel Aging Advice

Hi Larry, congrats on your new piece of equipment! I’m sure you’ll find it adds to the kinds of wine you can make. Since you just filled your barrel and it’s brand


Learning To Taste Wine At Different Stages

I apologize in advance for the lengthy response, but this is a fantastic question and I really wanted to flesh out my answer for you. You’re absolutely right to realize that tasting


Bottling Blues Leads to Kegging Thoughts

Hey, I’ve been there . . . a couple of years ago I also entered into unknown territory. After years of bottling one of my commercial Pinot Noirs in Stelvin screwcaps, I


The Wine Wizard’s “Pearls of Wiz-dom”

Thanks for your kind words! I always really enjoy the WineMaker Conferences and connecting with the readership — it helps me put names and faces to the invisible readership out there and


Campden Tablets Best Practices

The great thing about Campden tablets (a convenient form of dosing in sulfur dioxide for home winemakers) is that they will inhibit the yeast and bacteria you do not want (which are


Getting Grape Updates During Growing Season

Sometimes local AVA (American Viticultural Area) groups will have data available on their websites or emails available to members (the latter is the case with, for example, Napa Valley Vintners). For the


Coping With Grapes Affected By Smoke Taint

I’ve heard rumor that a couple of smaller wineries that have experienced smoke taint in their grapes are indeed evolving that wine into new styles. Depending on the grape type and level


Bottling Tips and Checklist

I totally get it! There are some great articles about bottling in the WineMaker article archives at www.winemakermag.com. Though it’s a topic my fellow authors have covered before, I certainly can still


Learn Some Wine Judge Etiquette

Congrats on getting invited to your first ever wine judging! I’ve been judging wine competitions, both for home and commercial winemakers, for over 15 years now and they’re always a great way


Post-Fermentation Wine Acid Adjustment

Great topic and great questions. If you’ve read my columns over the years, you’re familiar with my mantra of acid being the “backbone” of wine, as well as the importance of having


Troubleshooting Malolactic Fermentation

Well, it’s tough to say what would make one cloudy and the other clear, except for the fact that they may not have been identical coming from your fermenters. If you did


Finding A Vinegar Storage Space

You got a chuckle out of me. Indeed, how dare you introduce vinegar to your wines! I’m actually very happy that you’re writing so you can learn how not to introduce vinegar


Tips For Making Cantaloupe Wine

Because cantaloupes have high pH, my guess is that the red speckles you’re seeing in a layer on top of your wine are bacteria colonies and no, they are not to be


Judging Fermentation Completion

It certainly sounds like you are getting into the dryness zone. Specific gravity is the ratio of the density of a liquid in relation to the density of water, calibrated at a


Dealing With Acid Issue on a Raspberry Wine

I really applaud you for keeping such detailed records and testing regularly. This really helps me when diagnosing issues and coming up with ways to help. I want to start off by


Barrel Alternatives: Matching quality grapes with oak

Hey, I see you, I hear you, and I’m so here for you! The average price for a French oak barrel has really become very high in the last couple of years


Effects Of Using Killer Yeast In My Winery?

I’m glad that you are attuned to your yeast and realize that some strains are “killer factor positive” and one is “sensitive.” I really wish that the yeast industry had come up


Sensing Ripeness In Grapes

Hey, it happens to me too. But fear not, we’re going to impart some information that’ll give you the confidence to pick even if you don’t know the Brix number. Many winemakers


Uneven Ripening Of Grapes

Many thanks to you for being a WineMaker magazine reader! We love being a source of helpfulness in the sometimes difficult-to-navigate world that is international small-scale winemaking. Uneven vineyard ripening is indeed


Cures To An Oversulfited Wine

Since you can’t measure your free and total SO₂, let’s do some numbers to see what kind of a potential problem you might be facing. First off, let’s talk about your bottle-rinsing


Advice For A Beginning Winemaker

Winemaking is always a learning process and even those of us that have been doing this for a long time still learn a lot every harvest and all year-round! However, that being


Remove A White Film on Carboy

Wow, looks like you’ve got a serious case of “Ring Around the Carboy.” Thanks for sending in the picture, I always love it when readers do that because, especially in cases like


Steps To Preserve Your Oak Barrel

Well, the first thing I always say is, “A full barrel is a happy barrel.” That means that the barrel is best stored with wine in it! The acidity of the wine


Achieving Cold Stable Wines

For those readers who are not familiar with the article referenced, I talk about how it was likely a reader’s malolactic fermentation would pick back up again when the weather warmed up