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 I so much enjoy doing a little “Wine Wizard Live.” So, in an attempt to take up your challenge, here are some snippets
With wildfires on the rise in many wine regions around the world, smoke taint has become a common phrase. Learn about it and ways winemakers may be able to try to make the best from affected grapes. Also learn about Campden tablets, getting news on grape growing conditions, and some other pearls of wiz-dom.
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 sensitive to sulfur dioxide) while allowing the yeast you do want to continue to power through the fermentation. Longtime readers of my column
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 most part, however, home winemakers won’t be members of these kinds of groups (they can cost thousands of dollars to join) so they
Some characteristics found in smoke-tainted wines are the same that can be found in toasted oak barrels. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com 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 of impact,
Bottling day gets easier with equipment upgrades and practice. But whether your first or fiftieth bottle run, certain fundamentals need to always be followed. Photo by Brett Cook 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
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
Bottling is typically the final step towards producing wine where a winemaker can foul things up. Get some recommendations from the Wizard on when and how to bottle your wines. Also get some pointers on proper etiquette of being a wine judge.
Q I am using Flextanks and oak chips for my wine and am really liking the results. However, I put the oak chips in loose and they clog up the tubing and pump when I rack. I was thinking of making some bags out of mesh to put the oak chips in, but was wondering
Malolactic fermentation can be finicky even for professional winemakers, but there are protocols winemakers can follow to help avoid the headache (and heartache). Learn those along with best practices for a post-fermentation 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 the correct pH for long-term aging. The higher the pH (lower acidity), the more spoilage organisms like Lactobacillus and Acetobacter can get a
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 blend/homogenize after pressing, then it’s possible you’re seeing the cloudy wine (pH 3.77) going through the MLF (malolactic fermentation) a little more quickly
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
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 expected. According to a fruit pH chart I found online from Clemson University, the pH of cantaloupes usually falls in the range of
A winemaker is left scratching their head when a wine that seemingly has fermented dry is still producing bubbles. The Wizard also provides suggestions for vinegar storage and the possible cause of odd-colored speckles on a cantaloupe wine.
While the density of water at room temperature is 1.000 standard gravity, finished dry wine should be less dense than that. Photo courtesy of Tim Vandergrift 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,
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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