Writer: Alison Crowe

Metatartaric Acid In Wine Kit

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Your question about metatartaric acid is a good one and one that brings to mind similar confusion and questions many of us have when faced with a litany of fining agents (and

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Chocolate Wine

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So you want to put some chocolate flavor, texture and aroma into your wines, eh? My approach would definitely be to use the chocolate grace-notes as an ending treatment to your wine,

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Adding Copper

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As you’ve probably read in my columns and in the Winemaker’s Answer Book, though I like to “let wine be what it will be,” when it comes to potentially toxic things like

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Is it ok to use ammonia in the winery?

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Regarding ammonia (chemical formula NH3), I’m glad you brought the subject up. There’s a reason why we don’t use ammonia for sanitation in the winery and one acronym says it all: DAP.

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Perry Questions

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You are making me thirsty! I am a huge fan of cider and perry (pear cider), especially when it’s tart, dry-ish and has a sparkling finish. Yummy yum yum! I applaud you

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pH Adjustments Post-MLF

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Absolutely, I would lower your pH prior to aging. No matter how high the TA is, if you’ve got a high pH as well, you are putting your wines at risk for

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Moldy Grape Press

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I certainly wouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater or the crush equipment out with the sanitizing solution in this case. A little accumulated mold on a wooden basket press or

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Big Reds Aging Time

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So sorry to hear you had a bad year with the powdery mildew. Many growers in California were challenged by 2011, as the cooler weather left lots of us battling botrytis, rot

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I accidentally made my sulfite solution at 20%. Is the wine still drinkable?

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Since I don’t know what your “recommended” number was it’s impossible for me to know what a double addition is in this case. Therefore, you should definitely exercise caution before drinking and

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Should I try using carbon dioxide whenever I rack to expel oxygen. Or should I bottle sooner?

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I have to commiserate with you on the Sangiovese and oxidation dance. For some reason, this grape varietal seems to be especially prone to color (and related oxidation) issues. Much like Pinot

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Potassium Sorbate Post-MLF

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If your primary fermentation (sugar to alcohol) is complete you shouldn’t have to add any potassium sorbate to your wine. In fact, adding sorbate to wine after performing malolactic fermentation (ML) can

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I have about 30 gallons (114 L) of Cabernet Franc in 5-gallon (19-L) carboys that have a small yellow ring in the neck. Do you have any suggestions?

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The dreaded “ring around the carboy” strikes again! Quickie answer – your instincts are correct. I would rack to clean containers and, since you’ve already added SO2, and since I doubt your

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How do I really know that my juice is Syrah, and are there Syrahs that don’t have that deep purple color?

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I purchased Syrah juice this past fall from a well-established distributor of grapes and juice in California and have gone through usual fermentation and stabilization processes. The wine has now been aging

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I am new to homemade winemaking and I want to begin making Port-style wines. Can you give me some advice?

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I am new to homemade winemaking and I want to begin making Port-style wines. I have looked on winemakermag.com for information about Ports and have learned a lot. As far as fortification,


I recently bottled a batch of Cabernet Sauvignon, which tastes fine but has an off odor. Did I miss something, or will this go away with aging?

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I recently bottled a batch of Cabernet Sauvignon, which tastes fine but has an off odor. I keep all my notes and regularly follow the same procedures. I buy my juice already

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Off Odors, Port-Style Wines: Wine Wizard

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I recently bottled a batch of Cabernet Sauvignon, which tastes fine but has an off odor. I keep all my notes and regularly follow the same procedures. I buy my juice already

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Suspicious Syrah, Fermentation Aids: Wine Wizard

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  I purchased Syrah juice this past fall from a well-established distributor of grapes and juice in California and have gone through usual fermentation and stabilization processes. The wine has now been

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Are there any fruits that are taboo in country winemaking? What tests should I do to ensure nobody becomes ill from my country wines?

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I wouldn’t worry too much about anyone getting sick from your wines as long as the water you use is clean and the alcohol is above 10%. As a professor of enology

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How do you know if it’s too late to add MLF?

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Before you set about making any major changes to this wine, make sure that when you taste you are not tasting a sample that has a lot of dissolved carbon dioxide gas

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Building Brass, Fortifying Facts: Wine Wizard

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After reading a recent article in WineMaker about using a pump to transfer wine, I put together my own pumping system. My question pertains to the possible negative effect of the wine

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What is the film forming inside my bottles?

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I am making wine from my own grapes in Alpine, California and have noticed that occasionally a light film forms on the inside of some bottles. I am very meticulous about keeping

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Can I recondition old corks?

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I have a number of novelty corks I brought back from Europe in 1960. They haven’t been used since then, so they are quite dry. Can anyone tell me if there is


Can I Reduce Tannins in a Wine Kit Without Aging?

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I seem to have extracted too much tannin during primary fermentation of my Cellar Craft Carmenère kit because the must is quite tannic and bitter. This is probably because instead of just

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Can I Salvage an Oak Barrel if I Burned a Sulfur Stick While the Barrel Was Wet?

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In a recent issue of WineMaker, I read with some alarm your caution against burning sulfur sticks in a wet barrel. Not only did I make that error (in three beautiful, one-year-old

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Reconditioning Corks, Bottle Film: Wine Wizard

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I have a number of novelty corks I brought back from Europe in 1960. They haven’t been used since then, so they are quite dry. Can anyone tell me if there is

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