Protecting Your Wine with Airlocks – WMA018

Protecting Your Wine with Airlocks – WMA018

http://traffic.libsyn.com/winemakersacademy/wma018.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSProtecting Your Wine with Airlocks Airlocks are your best line of defense against oxidation and spoilage micro-organisms. It is very important that you carefully maintain your airlock and monitor it. This episode is all about how to do just that. By far the most important thing you need to know about airlocks is that they need to have the water level properly maintained. When the water level gets too low the airlock ceases to protect your wine and leaves it open to the outside world. Listen to this episode by clicking the play button above and find out more about using airlocks to keep your wine safe from oxidation and unwanted micro-organisms. Airlocks Mentioned The following airlocks were discussed during the show. The links are affiliate links, using them will help support Winemaker’s Academy. Listener & Reader Questions Answered My airlock isn’t bubbling much. Is my wine okay? What is a sommelier? My recipe says to open the fermenter and stir the wine daily. Is this safe? Matt’s Wine Here’s the latest shot of my raisin wine after racking it. After 100 days it has finally fermented to dryness, a very long fermentation. So far it is tasting pretty good though I can’t wait to back sweeten and finish it off so I can start enjoying it. I expect to give it another two or three months before doing anything else with it. Until then I only need to monitor the airlocks. As you can see I’m using both “S” shaped airlocks as well as my preferred three piece airlock. The head space on the 750ml bottle is a little bit more than I would have liked but I will have to make do. To displace the oxygen I agitated the wine after inserting the airlock to release carbon dioxide. I did this for about a minute and felt confident, based on the bubbling of the airlock, that I had gotten just about all of the oxygen out of...

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Natural Cork Closures for Wine

Natural Cork Closures for Wine

Natural cork wine have been used to seal and protect wine for the past three hundred years or so. Prior to that more crude methods were employed. Today we are seeing a thriving synthetic closure market crop up and the debate between whether to use natural or synthetic closures is thriving. This article is the first in a serries that will cover each of the different closure types available and what their benefits and drawbacks are. Where Does Cork Come From? Cork closures are made from the bark of the Cork Oak tree. This particular tree is native to Southwest Europe and Northwest Africa. As you can see from the cross section of a cork oak tree the bark grows very thick. Once it has reached an optimum thickness the bark is harvested by stripping it from the tree in large sheets. These sheets are processed and solid corks are drilled from it. The remaining cork is then shredded into small particles and used to create more cork closures or it will go into other cork products such as corkboards for displaying all those reminders we never look at. Unlike other trees the cork oak does not suffer from the removal of its bark. It simply regrows and can be harvested again and again as it reaches the proper thickness. On average it takes between nine and twelve years for the tree to regenerate its bark. The bark is usually harvested from cork oaks that are at least 25 years old. These trees can live to be between 150 to 250 years old even when the bark is harvested on a regular basis. So each tree goes through about twelve harvests in its lifetime. The Benefits of Natural Cork Closures Natural cork closures have been used for so long because there are many benefits to doing so. Previous methods for sealing wine bottles included soaking rags in oil and stuffing them into the neck of the bottle, while other cultures would pour a layer of olive oil over the free surface of the wine. The floating oil would prevent oxidation and microbial spoilage so long as the wine was not infected prior to pouring the oil. One of the main benefits of cork closures is that they are a product of nature. Many synthetic closures are made from petroleum based plastics that, some critics claim, leave petrol flavors behind. By in large natural corks do not impart any noticeable flavor on the wine. Due to the long history of using cork closures we have a much better understanding of how they hold up over time and how well the wine they protect develops. No one knows how well a synthetic closure and the wine it protects will fair after fifty years in the cellar because they just haven’t been around that long. The Drawbacks of Natural Cork Closures There are a few downsides to using cork closures. Because they are derived from a tree they, like any other plant based material, can dry out over time. So care must be taken when purchasing, inserting, and storing wine enclosed with...

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Winemaking Corkers – WMA013

Winemaking Corkers – WMA013

http://traffic.libsyn.com/winemakersacademy/wma013.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSWinemaking Corkers There are many different styles of corkers out there. What differentiates them from one another, beyond price, is how easy it is to insert a cork. Smaller, less expensive corkers are convenient for those reasons, however, they often don’t provide the mechanical advantage needed to make it an “easy to use” corker. In this episode you’ll get introduced to the most popular amateur wine making corkers. I’ve covered how they work, how much they cost, and which ones require the use of a mallet to use. Additionally, you’ll get introduced the both the mechanical and vacuum corkers that small wineries use. Corkers Mentioned During The Main Topic Mini Corker Plunger Corker Dual Lever Corker (Matt’s recommended corker for beginners) Gilda Compression Hand Corker Colonna Capper & Corker Floor Corkers (Matt’s recommended corker for amateur wine maker’s making larger batches) Large Format Corkers Mechanical & Vacuum Corkers Listener & Reader Questions Answered To make a sweet wine do I just add sugar to taste? After two months my banana wine is not clearing. What should I do? Should I put my fruit in a blender to extract more flavor? My wine was clear when I bottled it but now it’s cloudy. What happened? What is the equation for calculating alcohol content? Articles, Resources, and Products Mentioned How Long Do Primary and Secondary Fermentations Last? Wine Alcohol Content Calculator Specific Gravity Temperature Correction Calculator Photograph by: Jameson...

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Racking Your Wine – WMA010

Racking Your Wine – WMA010

http://traffic.libsyn.com/winemakersacademy/wma010.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSRacking Your Wine Racking is simply the process of moving wine from one container to another. There are several different ways you can accomplish this, each of which requires different equipment. In this episode we explore four different ways to rack and the equipment involved. In addition to the nuts and bolts of racking you’ll also learn about why we rack and how to gauge when to rack. Understanding how and when to rack is a key part of making quality wine. Waiting too long to rack or doing it too often can have a negative impact on your finished wine. Questions Answered How long can you keep the wine or age a wine kit? What are the disadvantages of drinking a wine early to make room for my next wine? What are the disadvantages of using beer caps to seal up my wine? Is it ok to store 3-3.5 gallons of wine in a 5 gallon carboy? My carboy bungs popped out. What can cause this? Articles Mentioned in this Episode Blackberry Port Recipe David’s Website Extended Maceration Sur Lie Aging Video on Using a Racking Cane and Tube Wine Making Products Mentioned Racking Cane & Tube Auto Siphon Spigot Impeller Pump Diaphragm Pump (requires air compressor & a regulator) Private Preserve 3 Gallon Carboys: Glass &...

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Upgrading Your Fermentation Tank

Upgrading Your Fermentation Tank

Mot of us start making wine in small batches. It’s more manageable and more affordable. However, at some point beginners grow up and want to move on to producing larger batches of wine. The first thing you’ll need to look at if your thinking of increasing your batch size is your fermentation tank. You could just get more fermentation containers, however, requires a lot of duplication of effort, especially when it comes to racking. Instead let’s take a look at what larger fermentation tanks are available to you. There are quite a few options out there ranging in container size, what it’s made out of, and how much it costs. In this article we’ll take a look at quite a few of these options so you can get an idea of what direction you might like to go as your production volumes increase. Speidel Plastic Fermentation Tanks These little guys look like plastic barrels. They come in sizes ranging from 3.2 gallons on up to 31.7 gallons. The smallest fermentation tank starts at around $35 while the big tank will run you around $150. Speidel tanks come with lids large enough to get your hands into them so that you can scrub them down, gently of course, to prepare them for holding your must. The lids also come equipped with air locks for an air tight seal. They’re constructed from food grade high density polyethylene (HDPE) much like the plastic fermentation buckets you may have used in the past. As such you’ll want to be careful not to scratch the surface of the plastic less you give spoilage micro-organisms a place to hang out. One really nice feature that these fermentation tanks include is a spigot at the base of the container so that you can rack without having to use a racking cane or auto-siphon. The drawback to this is that you must take special care to ensure that the spigot is completely clean and sanitized before racking. Sealed Steel Tanks The next size up in fermentation tanks are sealed steel tanks. As you can imagine when you go from HDPE plastic to stainless steel there’s quite a jump in price. However, when properly cared for a stainless steel tank could last a lifetime or two. What’s your legacy going to be? These tanks range come in 14 and 28 gallon sizes. The small tank costs around $120 and the larger tank $165. They are a fixed volume containers meaning that if you don’t have enough wine to fill the container you may have to consider using an inert gas to top it up. While these tanks would be great for fermentation and temporary storage the threaded lids do not seal air tight. The threads are molded and therefore not snug enough to prevent the passage of oxygen if fermentation is not rolling along. Variable Volume Steel Fermentation Tanks This is where things start to get fancy. These tanks are available in sizes ranging from 26 to 172 gallons. Now we’re talking! The lids on these tanks use a special inflatable gasket that allows the lid to be placed...

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Glass vs Plastic Carboys

Glass vs Plastic Carboys

Glass vs Plastic Carboys, which is better? This debate has been going on since the introduction of plastic carboys made from PET. PET by the way stands for polyethelene terephthalate. There are very good arguments for going with either glass or PET, however, the right answer for you will depend on your own preferences. To help you out I have outlined the pros and cons of each here so that you can make an informed decision for yourself. The Pros of Glass Carboys There are two main advantages of glass over plastic carboys. First, you can scrub it clean with a carboy brush without scratching or pitting the glass. Second, there’s no possibility that glass is going to leech chemicals into your wine (a valid concern with plastic, more on that in a minute). When taken care of properly a glass carboy can last for decades. In fact, the only reason to replace a carboy is if it breaks. Plastic carboys, by contrast, need to be replaced if they get scratched or dented. Some wine makers recommend replacing plastic carboys after about 7 fermentations or so regardless of whether or not it has been damaged in any way. The Cons of Glass Carboys One problem with glass is that it is brittle, it does not bend before it breaks. When it does break it shatters and you wind up with a pile of wine and glass shards at your feet, so there are safety concerns when using glass. To make that last point even worse is the weight of a glass carboy. A typical 6 gallon glass carboy weighs around 19 lbs when empty. Add five gallons of wine to that and you’re talking about lifting and handling a 60 lb carboy. Needless to say you’re going to have to be careful when moving a full glass carboy around. If possible have someone help you support it or even just spot you as you move it. Wear close toed shoes in case the worst should happen and the carboy goes down unexpectedly. The Pros of Plastic Carboys Clearly the there are a couple advantages to using plastic carboys. First they are not nearly as fragile as glass. If they get bumped or are dropped a few inches because you lost your grip it’s not going to explode into a thousand pieces. A standard 6 gallon carboy weighs around 5 lb, almost four times lighter than a glass carboy. Thus a full plastic carboy will weigh around 45 lbs instead of 60 lbs. Yes that’s still heavy but that 15 lbs could mean the difference between dropping it and not dropping in some instances. The Cons of Plastic Carboys The most substantial drawback to using plastic carboys is the tendency for the plastic to get scratched. You can’t clean a plastic carboy with a carboy brush because the inside surface may get scratched. This may not seem like a big deal but even small scratches can become great places for spoilage micro-organisms to hide out. Using a sanitizer can’t even guarantee that all of the organisms are killed off before...

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