My Airlock Needs Water?

My Airlock Needs Water?

Recently I’ve heard from more than one confused beginning winemaker asking if their wine was ruined because they never put water in their airlock. It’s not all that surprising as a beginner has a lot to figure out with all the steps, additives, and equipment. I’m sure there are wine making shops that forget to mention that the airlock needs water. For a seasoned wine maker it’s just how things work. An Academy member by the name of Robert recently wrote in with just this problem. He purchased everything he needed to make a kit wine but didn’t know that the airlock needed water in order to protect his wine. At the time he wrote in his wine had been fermenting for two weeks and was well past the vigorous fermentation stage. So let’s take a look at which airlocks require water, which don’t, and how they work in the first place. Which Airlocks Require Water? Some airlocks require water and others don’t. The most common styles do require water and those are the “S” shaped and three piece airlocks as shown here. The water forms a barrier between you and your wine. Because of the shape of the airlock the carbon dioxide being released by the yeast is forced to go through the airlock, through the water, and then exit the airlock. As the yeast produce carbon dioxide they cause pressure to build within the fermenter. When the pressure is great enough a bubble will go through the water barrier. This difference in pressure between the fermenter and the air outside the fermenter oxygen will not be able to flow through backwards through the airlock and interact with your wine. Waterless Airlocks There are several varieties of airlocks available, such as silicone stoppers, that do not require any water yet still allow carbon dioxide to safely exit the fermenter. The most common waterless airlocks are made of silicon and have many holes that run from the bottom of the stopper to the top. On the top of the airlock is a silicon flap that is pressed open by the escaping carbon dioxide. These waterless airlocks function much the same as the traditional styles. As the pressure builds in the fermenter the silicon compresses and the carbon dioxide goes out of the tiny openings in the stopper. Because there is already a gas leaving the airlock oxygen cannot get in. When fermentation slows down and is not releasing as much carbon dioxide the tiny holes will close up and keep oxygen from getting in. These are great because you don’t have to worry about the water being blown out the top or drying up over time. Water filled airlocks can flow backwards and dump the water in your wine if fermentation has ended and there is a temperature drop in the wine. What Can Robert Do Now? Here’s my advice to Robert. Regardless of how long your wine has been unprotected it’s best to get it under a properly filled airlock as soon as possible. Once your wine is protected we can discuss what to do next. Next, visually...

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Tasting Wine with the Wine Curmudgeon – WMA023

Tasting Wine with the Wine Curmudgeon – WMA023

http://traffic.libsyn.com/winemakersacademy/wma023.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSTasting Wine with the Wine Curmudgeon As winemaker’s we’re always concerned with how our wines taste and whether or not there was anything we could do to improve upon them. To help us understand how to better taste our wines we have Jeff Siegel, the Wine Curmudgeon, on the show for this episode. Jeff is a wine writer, wine judge, and has literally written the book on how to purchase cheap wines. His specializes in helping ordinary consumers find wines that are reasonably priced. Jeff has tasted a lot of wines and shares the insights he’s gained along the way. Here are links to Jeff’s website, book, and Twitter account: Wine Curmudgeon Website The Wine Curmudgeon’s Guide to Cheap Wine @WineCurmudgeon on Twitter Questions Answered These great questions came in through the Facebook group and via email. When scaling up a wine recipe do I need to scale up the amount of yeast? I accidentally racked the sediment with my wine. What should I do now? I just started my wine kit and added the metabisulfite instead of the bentonite. Will it be okay? Resources & Products Mentioned The Difference Between Cheap Wine and Wine That is Made Cheaply Drink Local Wine Gross Lees vs Fine Lees How to Use Bentonite Sur Lie Aging of...

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Are Sulfites Necessary in Wine? – WMA022

Are Sulfites Necessary in Wine? – WMA022

http://traffic.libsyn.com/winemakersacademy/wma022.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSAre sulfites really necessary to make wine? The debate over whether or not we really need sulfites has been heated in the last few years. There is a growing population of winemakers that believe you just don’t need them and shouldn’t use them. There are also those who swear by using them in order to make wines that are stable and will stand the test of time. Which answer is right? The only one who can say is you. In this episode you’ll hear what Winemaker’s Academy members have to say about this question. Unfortunately I was only able to share about 14 responses in the show (given how long it would have taken to share them all). If you’d like to read all the responses I received please read on below. Please share your own thoughts in the comment section below and we can keep the sulfite conversation goin. Resources & Products Mentioned International Wine Guild Vinmetrica Digital Sulfite Meter (affiliate link) Techniques in Home Wine Making by Daniel Pambianchi Wines and Vines Magazine Free SO2 Chart (scroll down about half way) I’ll Drink to That Interview (link coming soon!) Are Sulfites Really Necessary? – Winemaker’s Academy Member Responses Oliver Yes I believe that Sulphur is needed in the wine making process. The SO2 is a antioxidant, anti ageing, anti microbial/bacterial and binds with acetaldehyde causing wines to loose flat flavours. All of these are very beneficial to wine and outweigh the risk of loosing a wine. Whilst I say this I still believe that the level of sulfites used in a wine should be as low as possible, only just enough to have the desired effect to protect the wine. Adam I certainly use them but my best friend’s grandfather didn’t and they still have 15 gallons of plum wine in carboys that I sampled the other day (after 8 years) and it was pretty great! I bottled a little bit of it that he had in 1 gallon jugs after I filtered it and it was just as good as it was when he was around. No sulfites but I could certainly feel the alcohol. It was also kept in a climate and light controlled area. I wish I had been old enough or interested enough to learn from him when he was around! Aaron I’ve always felt that I’d like to minimize additives to my wine – especial ones that affect the flavor. Personally, I add potassium meta bisulfide only to kill the wild yeast immediately after crushing the grapes. I know others like to stabilize with it right before bottling but I’d rather suffer shelf life than add it. I don’t make enough wine to keep it more than a couple years so I just make sure every thing is clean and sanitary before bottling. I’ve kept homemade wines for as long as two years and have never had one start to go bad. I have a three-year bottle in my basement. I’ll let you know how that tastes if I ever open...

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Wine Grape Chemistry – WMA021

Wine Grape Chemistry – WMA021

http://traffic.libsyn.com/winemakersacademy/wma021.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSWine Grape Chemistry Grapes are complex little things. If we’re to make great wine from them then we’re going to need to have a good understanding of the chemistry that makes them what they are. That’s the topic for this Winemaker’s Academy episode. This episodes discussion is based on the paper Composition of Grapes by Murli Dharmadhikari (free PDF). I highly recommend reading the entire paper in addition to listening to the show. The paper is five pages long and packed with information that is presented in an easy to understand way. Listener & Reader Questions Answered My wine isn’t bubbling and it tastes dry. What now? How do I adjust the starting specific gravity of my wine must? Can I use raisins to boost my starting specific gravity? Resources & Products Mentioned Anatomy of a Grape Grape Juice Concentrates (affiliate link) Malolactic Fermentation Stafidine Photograph by: Ryan...

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How and When to Use Sulfites – WMA020

How and When to Use Sulfites – WMA020

http://traffic.libsyn.com/winemakersacademy/wma020.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSAdding Sulfites to Wine Sulfites are a great tool for protecting wines. They can help ensure stability at the start of the wine making process as well as help wines keep for years in the barrel or bottle. The key to sulfites is understanding that it is something to be maintained rather than something you add once and are done. There’s also no simple way to figure out how much you need to add. In this episode we’ll cover when to use sulfites and how best to measure sulfites. Listener & Reader Questions Answered Should I rack at a certain specific gravity or after a certain number of days? Can you recommend a pH test kit? I’m having trouble restarting a stuck fermentation. Any tips? I over sulfited my Chardonnay. What can I do now? Products and Resources Mentioned Primary vs Secondary Fermentation Yeast Life Cycle Potassium Metabisulfite Powder Campden Tablets Ideal Sulfite Levels (scroll down to step 2) Sulfite Titration Kit Digital Sulfite Meters Photograph by: Daniel...

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