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Wine Wizard

Pressing Issues

You’ve hit on one of the classic difficulties of making wine at home. The equipment we use, from presses to barrels to filters, usually are much smaller than that used by commercial


Wine Yeast to Make Bread

You can definitely use wine yeast for baking bread. Bread yeast and wine yeast are both Saccharomyces cerevisiae and both work the same way, by eating sugar and converting it into ethanol


Light Strike in Wine?

I would definitely try to store your wine in the dark if you can. Your wines are in what I’m assuming are clear glass demijohns and over the year or more aging


The New Need For Sanitation

What’s the difference between cleaning and sanitizing? Cleaning refers to the manual removal of dirt, soil, and grime on an item or a surface. Sanitizing is the next step, which, when done


Overcompensating With Copper

Ah yes, Monday morning quarterbacking is always tough when it comes to wine. Adding a complex yeast nutrient (a mix of nitrogen, amino acids, and other micronutrients) is something I do with


Defining “Percent New Oak” in Wine

Thanks for bringing up this topic. There are some parts of the answer that’ll be really obvious but like so much in winemaking, it’s often up for interpretation and the subtleties may


The Safety of Brass Fittings

AYou might be encouraged to know that brass fittings have a long and storied history in winemaking. In fact, if you travel the back roads of Europe and poke your head into


Can I Use An Untoasted Oak Barrel?

What an intriguing question. I’m having some pioneer-prairie-blacksmith-shop fantasy thoughts on how you might be able to toast the inside of your barrel on your own. Depends on how crazy you want


How to Adjust SO2 Levels In Must

For harvest purposes, when adding SO2 to grapes in order to knock down feral yeast and bacteria (with the goal of reducing VA and letting your yeast of choice get a foothold),


Adjusting Acidity in Wine Kits

Wine kits are so wonderful because they tend to be easier and more predictable than just starting from a fresh batch of grapes. Kits have instructions to follow and you’re right, most


Crazy pH Shift

I applaud you for trying fresh winegrapes in your home winemaking, you’re lucky that you are (relatively) close to a fine winegrape growing area like the Santa Ynez Valley. I grew up


High-pH Wine

QIn the above situation, what do you suggest I do? Do you agree that I should conduct MLF on my wines considering their high-pH characteristics? AFirst off, glad your Viognier got better!

Topic(s):

Cucumber Wine

Well, according to specific gravity, your cucumber wine (sounds refreshing) is dry. For RS-dry (residual sugar dry) you want to look for an SG of 0.992 and 0.996 on your hydrometer. If


Stabilizing Whites

Indeed, a pH of 2.9 is really low, even for a Sauvignon Blanc, and I think I would definitely de-acidify in that case. With deacidification you’ll always get some kind of precipitation;


What Could Lead To A Stalled MLF

Malolactic fermentations tend to stall, or not catch on at all, due to these seven most common factors: High alcohol: Over 14.5% and most strains will go through slowly. Over 15.5% and


Evaluating Wine “Numbers”

So, stick with me for a little bit as I get a little philosophical for this one as the answer isn’t straightforward but necessitates a little rambling. My frequent readers will know


The Oak Necessities

I hear you about not wanting to drop that kind of cash for a new barrel, especially as a new hobbyist. If you spread the cost of “good use” years for a


Is MLF testing necessary?

You are absolutely right that most wines, especially those that are inoculated and have favorable conditions, will go malolactic (ML) complete within six or eight months of harvest. Even if your area


Troubleshooting Off-Odor in a Viognier

Viognier can be a bit of an odd duck. Like Riesling, it can get some of those weird petrol/gas like aromas, and that’s just natural, from the grapes. Like Sauvignon Blanc, it


Barrel-Aging Question

Unfortunately, with a small barrel like that, you’re going to have a high ratio of oxygen:wine. If you think about a traditional-sized barrel, it’s about 59 gallons (225 L); there’s a lot


A Corker Conundrum

I hope I’m assuming correctly, but I’m imagining that you’ve got the smaller, lighter-weight red metal corker with adjustable spring-loaded bottle base and plastic jaws, sometimes called a “Portuguese” corker. These are


Knocking Down Rot On Grapes

That’s a great question as we approach the harvest season. Though I don’t expect 2019 harvest to be like 2011 or 1998, many of us all over the country, from Oregon to


Decanting Advice

Those are a great couple of questions. Decanting, or the pouring of a wine out of its bottle into another, larger container (usually made of clear glass or crystal), is something that


Affects of Acid

In general, I think of how TA (titratable, or total acidity) and pH impact flavor and mouthfeel in this simple (and yes, perhaps simplistic) way: TA determines how tart or sour a


Determining A Wine’s Ageability

I’ll answer your last questions first and then give you my thoughts on the age-worthiness of your wine. RS (residual sugar) “Dry” (no sugar remaining) is usually considered 0.2% or less (2