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Writer: Alison Crowe

496 result(s).

Oak-Aging Advice and Strategies for a Chaptalization Mistake

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Maintaining wine while it ages in oak is an important task. Make sure you are taking the appropriate steps. Also, a winemaker can’t get their latest wine to start fermentation. The Wine Wizard unravels the mystery behind the unfermentable juice.

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Strategies for a Chaptalization Mistake

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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

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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 new, you might want to open the bung and check the wine level now, since it’s been three weeks. Sometimes new barrels are

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Learning To Taste Wine At Different Stages

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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

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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 embarked on an adventure into the land of wine kegs, or “wine-on-tap.” I kept hearing from sommeliers and restaurant staff how by-the-glass programs

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Tasting Wine In Stages and Bottling Blues

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As a winemaker evolves, learning how to evaluate their wine during different stages of maturation can be key. The Wine Wizard has some thoughts on what to expect when tasting wines at various young ages as well as kegging homemade wine.

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The Wine Wizard’s “Pearls of Wiz-dom”

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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


Using The Smoke, Campden Tablets, Getting Grape Updates, and Some Pearls of Wiz-dom

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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.

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Campden Tablets Best Practices

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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

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Getting Grape Updates During Growing Season

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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

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Coping With Grapes Affected By Smoke Taint

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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,

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Bottling Tips and Checklist

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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

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Learn Some Wine Judge Etiquette

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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 Tips and Wine Judge Etiquette

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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.

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Practical Advice For Oak Chips and Volatile Acidity

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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

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Malolactic-palooza and The Importance Of pH

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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.

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Post-Fermentation Wine Acid Adjustment

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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

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Troubleshooting Malolactic Fermentation

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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

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Finding A Vinegar Storage Space

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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

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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

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Fermentation Completion, Vinegar Storage Space and Cantaloupe Wine

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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.

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Judging Fermentation Completion

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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,

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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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