Writer: Alison Crowe

“Fruit Floaties” — Strawberry Wine

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I just saw your picture and wow, that does indeed look like a floating brain — or two! Luckily, that is a great shot of what I would call typical “fruit floaties”

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Alternative Sweeteners

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I hear you on the high pH/high TA unbalanced wine issue. I myself have dealt with some vineyards and some wine lots where I have had to add so much tartaric to

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Empty Airlocks

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It sounds to me like some “bad bugs” (ambient bacteria or yeast cells) got into your wine. After four years of aging, having a batch infected due to a bad airlock must

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Softened Water In Wine?

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That is a wonderful question! It’s estimated that it takes anywhere from 2–10 gallons (8–38 L) of water to make a gallon (4 L) of wine. Most of that estimate is for

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Fermentation Troubles

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Hi Lauren, great question. There are so many steps along the way where a fermentation can get into trouble, or “go pear shaped” as my interns from New Zealand used to say.

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Importing Juice vs. Fresh Grapes

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Well, it seems to me that Chile to New Jersey is an awfully long haul. I often, in my blog and in this column, advocate that the distance from vineyard to crushpad

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When Life Gives You Limes Make Wine

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Very, very interesting. I have to say that the zest of 21 limes for three gallons (11 L) of liquid seems like a lot of lime-y-ness to me! I can only imagine

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Color Loss in Candy Cane Wine

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Well, well, well. Candy cane wine is one I have never heard of! However, as one of my winemaking professors always said, you can ferment just about anything as long as you

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Moldy Odor In My Wines

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Would you be surprised to know that you may be doing absolutely nothing wrong? Even though you tried to sanitize your corks (assuming you are using natural corks and not artificial corks)

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Calculating Molecular SO2

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Sulfur dioxide, or SO2, has many benefits in winemaking and has been added to wine for centuries to act as a preservative. When you add SO2 to your wine, part of it

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Exploring The Corking Options

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The choice of bottle closure is a topic that winemakers the world over debate with regularity. Every time a new bottle closure or packaging method comes out (twist off? Glass? Stainless steel

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Adding Some Sparkle To Your Wines

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Fermentation by itself is tricky but secondary fermentations for sparkling wines are especially so because your new yeast must fight against existing alcohol (which is toxic to yeast), depleted nutrition, and potentially

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Measuring Brix in Fermentation

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Like most everything in winemaking, the glib answer is, “It depends.” The real answer, however, is much more complex and as you intimate, experience can play a large part in fine-tuning your

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Red Wine Sediment

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I applaud you for your patience in aging your bottled wines that long! Would you be surprised to know that in the US most bottles of wine are consumed within 72 hours

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Tartrate Crystals

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I always think that trying to precipitate out some of the worst crystals that could form is a good idea, especially for any wine that may be sold commercially or entered into

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Malolactic Problems

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The bad news in all of the above is that malolactic bacteria are extremely sensitive to sulfur dioxide. For that reason, it’s critical to not add any SO2 to wine, in any

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Understanding Bentonite

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Wine, as I’ve often written, is a complex chimerical soup. Wine naturally contains lots of different amino acids and some of those amino acids are in long-chain form and actually are proteins.

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Wine Press Mold Growth

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Ah, yes, the joys of wood. We use wood in the winery for barrels and barrel-alternatives of course but, especially for the small-scale winemaker, wooden presses are still often part of our

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Magnesium Sulfate Vineyard Sprays

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Magnesium Sulfate (MgSO4), AKA Epsom salts, is a very common vineyard amendment. It can be applied as a foliar spray during the growing season to provide vines with magnesium and sulfur. Magnesium,

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First-Time Oak Barrel Soaking

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Your pictures of the barrel you made are very impressive and I applaud both your ambition and skill! The artistry it takes to cut, shape, curve, and toast wood so it will

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Fires in California’s Wine Country

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For one week in October, portions of California’s wine country were up in flames in what has been deemed the state’s most destructive and costly fire. Beyond the toll it took on countless families whose homes were destroyed and lives uprooted, questions also arose regarding the fire’s impact on the 2017 vintage.

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Carbonic Maceration

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Carbonic maceration is a 19th-century technique (which was probably practiced in some amount, or in a hybrid style, much earlier) currently enjoying an en vogue resurgence in some parts of the US

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Submerge Those Oak Chips

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I love your innovation. A “chip sock” can be a real boon to winemakers. In fact, I mention using one in The Winemaker’s Answer Book where I suggest using a nylon stocking

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Using Essential Oils In Wine

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You can certainly experiment with essential oils in your winemaking if you remember the old adage that “oil and water don’t mix.” Essential oils are the natural distilled volatile aroma compounds from

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Reductive Resolutions

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Your question about how to avoid a swampy, reductive odor in your Chardonnay after bottling is an interesting one. For readers who may not be aware, “reductive” is a non-exact sensory term

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