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Wine Wizard

Rules Of Fining

Indeed, after using most fining agents there will be a layer of sediment generated and you’ll need to rack the wine off of it accordingly. Fining agents, by definition, are introduced into


Topping My Wines Off

As I explain in my book, The Winemaker’s Answer Book, oxygen can be a friend of wine (especially during active primary fermentation) but is more often its enemy. One of the biggest


Adding Carbonation To A Dessert Wine

If you’ve got a carbonation setup at home that you use for your homebrew, cider, mead, or kombucha, you certainly can fizzy up some wine products for yourself. I like your idea


Properly Adding Copper

Ah yes, the classic “I sunk a bunch of pennies in my carboy” tale. Forgetting for a moment that modern pennies contain very little copper, there’s a reason that most winemakers I


Properly Measuring Wine Cap Temperature

That is a great question and I’m really glad you asked. Sometimes when those of us who have been making wines for quite some time write about some technique, process, or concept


Protecting Your Wine From Oxygen During Racking

Excluding oxygen by gassing headspaces and purging containers is one of the most important winemaking jobs we have. Oxygen exposure during aging can create all sorts of problems from premature oxidation and


Trying to Work With Grape Juice That is Amiss

Well, your grape or juice source really put you in a bind. Those are some of the most unbalanced initial numbers I’ve ever seen, and I would seriously consider getting your juice


Using Pectic Enzymes In A Red Wine

To quote one of my vineyard colleagues who always likes to give multiple sides to every answer, “It depends” (thanks, Rich). And so it is with pectic enzymes in winemaking. Pectic enzymes


Crafting a Buttery-style of Chardonnay

Indeed, that flavor you’re after is primarily caused by the malolactic bacteria, which impart that buttery, dairy, or creamy taste in many Chardonnays. This is because these bacteria, depending on the strain,


Malolactic Fermentation After Cold Stabilizing

I always think it’s wonderful when people can do a “natural” cold stabilization over the winter months. It’s an incredibly intuitive and very old-fashioned, non-interventionist way to accomplish a key winemaking task.


Adding Sorbate After MLF

Winemakers typically add sorbate (aka sorbic acid, often purchased as potassium sorbate) when they want to bottle a wine with a little residual sugar. It is often added right before backsweetening and


Volatile Acidity Fixes

A Sadly, blending VA levels downward remains the only option available for reducing VA content in small lots. Larger commercial wineries, with big lots and bigger pocketbooks, can afford the expense of


Oxygen Ingression

Don’t worry, it’s happened to the best of us! If you can, check your pH and your VA (volatile acidity) to try to get a handle on whether or not this air


Reducing Oak Flavor In Wine

I’m so pleased you’ve done some oak trials! If you’ve read my column over the years you know that I’m always advising our intrepid readers to do small-scale trials (sometimes I call


Is Oak Sanitation Necessary?

I never boil or rinse my chips because, you’re right, that’ll strip them of the valuable flavor and aroma right off the bat. The one thing you need to do first, either


Recommended First SO2 Addition

Thanks, Bob, for joining fellow columnists and me for our first ever virtual WineMaker Harvest Boot Camp this past September! This question didn’t get answered in my Q&A session held at the


Wine Bottle Deposits

I’ll assume you’re going to do red (not rosé) — that’s the easiest for small-volume winemaking. I’ll also assume you’ll hand-destem, so you really don’t need a de-stemmer. Just get out as


Testing For Free SO2

Good for you for investing in a way to track your free SO2 (FSO2) levels. It’s one of the most important ways we can keep our wines safe. You can buy something


Freezing Grapes

Goodness, I’ve never answered two questions at the same time before! I decided to put the two of you together since your questions were so similar. There are some things that apply


Curing A Stuck Fermentation

Yes, sluggish and stuck fermentations are one of the most common, persistent, and frustrating issues that winemakers encounter. They happen for so many reasons, and possibly for a combination of so many


Degassing Wine

As you know, the fermentation process (both the initial fermentation turning sugar into ethanol and the secondary malolactic fermentation) produces quite a lot of carbon dioxide gas. The majority of this escapes


Macerating Skin Packs

Ah, kits are getting so clever these days! I would say it all depends on the quality of what you feel, taste, see, and smell for the material that comes in your


Varnish on Mini Barrels

Well, I suppose you could sand the varnish off if you didn’t like it very much . . . but, realistically, I don’t think it’ll affect the wine that much. If you’ve


Vineyard Planning

That is so great to hear that you’ll be planting a vineyard. Welcome to the great Sonoma County viticulture adventure! My company has vineyards in Sonoma too and I’ve been making wine


Quality Control

In deciding to bottle, age or toss this batch, I suggest you spend some quality time with your barrel. Though you’re just past the usual bottling window (typical aging time for premium