Writer: Alison Crowe

474 result(s).

Matching Quality Grapes With Oak And The Complexities Of Raspberry Wine

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When a winemaker gets their hands on some highly coveted Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, he wants to make sure that the oak quality matches the grape. But he balks at the price tag of a new oak barrel. Get some tips for high-quality oak alternatives and ways to correct a raspberry wine with weird numbers.

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Dealing With Acid Issue on a Raspberry Wine

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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 saying that raspberries are a really high-acid fruit and that high titratable acidity won’t necessarily track with the pH like it does in

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Barrel Alternatives: Matching quality grapes with oak

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New oak barrels can provide a lot of character to wine, but they are a sizable investment. Photo courtesy of MoreWine! 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 (decades?) and

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Effects Of Using Killer Yeast In My Winery?

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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 with a different term than “killer,” it makes it sound like yeast cells are going to, like some monster from a 1960’s B

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Sensing Ripeness In Grapes

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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 like knowing a lot about the batch of grapes they’re going to be picking, from sugar level (Brix) to acidity (pH and total

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Uneven Ripening Of Grapes

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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 a difficult thing to contend with. If one’s vineyard is large enough, it’s easy enough to divide it into “blocks” that ripen right

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Uneven Ripening, Sensing Ripeness, and Killer Yeast

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It’s hard to get universal ripening of your grapes in a small vineyard with lots of variability. The Wizard provides some pointers as well as clues to determining grape ripeness when the refractometer is left home. Plus, the threat of contamination from “killer” yeast.

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Cures To An Oversulfited Wine

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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

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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 said, I do have some tidbits for new winemakers. In my Winemaker’s Answer Book I spell out what I think are probably the

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Remove A White Film on Carboy

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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 these, it gives me a good visual to go from. I can see that pesky stain on the inside of the neck of

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Preserving Oak Barrels, Oversulfited Wine, Film on a Carboy, and Beginner Tips

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What is the best way to store oak barrels that don’t have wine in them? Get the answer from the Wine Wizard, as well as her advice for a case of oversulfited wine, removing white film from a glass carboy, and five tips for a rookie winemaker.

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Steps To Preserve Your Oak Barrel

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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 (generally reds tend to be a pH of 3.5–3.8-ish) keeps spoilage microbes at bay and of course the wetness of the wine keeps

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Achieving Cold Stable Wines

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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 again in the spring (he wanted to over-winter his wine undergoing MLF outside in order to help it get cold stable). It sounds

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Rules Of Fining

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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 a wine to interact with whichever of the wine compounds you are trying to mitigate or reduce. For instance, bentonite is a natural

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Topping My Wines Off

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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 jobs of being a winemaker entails minimizing oxygen (air) contact in our aging wines by keeping our containers 100% full, or “topped up.”

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Top Me Off, Rules of Fining, and Achieving Cold Stable Wines

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Get some pointers and considerations a winemaker needs to keep in mind when topping off your aging wine vessels. The Wizard also answers questions on fining agents and malolactic fermentation after cold stabilizing a wine.

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Adding Carbonation To A Dessert Wine

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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 of using a dessert wine, because the sugar in sweet wines can balance out the sensory “sharpness” of bubbles, possibly leading to a

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Properly Adding Copper

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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

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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 that we may think of as “simple,” we need to rethink for a moment that how we describe something might not be so

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Protecting Your Wine From Oxygen During Racking

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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 loss of aroma to spoilage microbe growth. The tough part is just what you mention — how do we know, with our own

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Protecting Your Wine, Cap Temperature, Copper Sulfate Additions, and Carbonation Help

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Oxidation is one of the most common faults among homemade wines. The Wiz has some tips for minimizing exposure during racking along with advice for how to read fermentation temperature, reducing reductive stink with copper, and carbonating a dessert wine.

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More Butter, Please; Caveats with Pectic Enzymes; and Wonky Grape Numbers

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Not everyone loves a buttery Chardonnay but for those that seek out this characteristic the Wine Wizard has some sage fermentation advice to achieve buttery bliss. Also, one reader wonders about adding pectic enzymes in a red wine and another is perplexed by the numbers in his recently purchased juice.

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Trying to Work With Grape Juice That is Amiss

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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 from another source next year. Numbers like that — with the acid being so low and the Brix simultaneously being low may be,

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Using Pectic Enzymes In A Red Wine

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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 are proteins that can be added to wines at different stages to achieve many different results: To increase juice yields at the press,

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Crafting a Buttery-style of Chardonnay

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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, can produce a lot of a compound called diacetyl, which is a natural byproduct of their malic acid metabolism. Diacetyl really does smell

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