Using Inert Gases in Winemaking – WMA029

- May 4, 2015

Using Inert Gases in Winemaking – WMA029 Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSJust recently I tested out Private Preserve while bottling a raisin wine. Private Preserve is an aerosol can filled with a mixture of inert gases. In this episode we’re going to explore what inert gases are, why it’s beneficial to use them, and I’ll share my own thoughts and experiences using these gases. What are inert gases? Inert gases are gases that do not normally react with anything. Unlike oxygen which oxidizes things like metal, wine, and food, inert gases do not interact with these at all. You can expose metal to an inert gas and it won’t rust so long as that is the only gas the metal is exposed to. This ties into why you would want to use inert gases when making or more accurately storing wine. Why Should I Use an Inert Gas to Protect Wine? The best use of inert gases in winemaking is to displace the oxygen in a container of finished wine. After a wine has finished fermenting it will be susceptible to the negative effects of oxidation. A wine that has been exposed to too much oxygen will taste flat, flabby, and past its prime. Inert gases are used in a process called sparging, which is a fancy term for displacing the oxygen in a container with inert gases. Generally you would have your wine in whatever container it is going to be aged in, be that a carboy or bottle, or whatever and then you spray an inert gas to remove the oxygen and quickly recap the container to trap the gasses. Now you can also sparge an empty container and then fill it with wine, same thing. The Easy Way to Try Inert Gas Private preserve is probably the easiest way to dip your toe in the use of inert gases. It comes in an aerosol can and runs about $20 US. The can contains a mixture of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon and according to the manufacturer are “all benign, non-flammable, tasteless, and medial quality”. The can does come with a short straw that you can use to direct the flow of gases. Originally it was developed for wine drinkers to top up their open bottles of wine to preserve it for the next day. I’d certainly go that far if I was drinking something expensive or really fancy but it also comes in handy for home wine makers looking to try inert gases. The alternative is to go out and buy a tank of inert gas but in addition you’ll need hoses and regulators to control the flow of and direct the gas into your container of choice. Generally these gases come in decent sized tanks that might take a home wine maker a long time to go through. I’ve priced small systems out and found that it would take $150 – $200 to get going with inert gases. This is pretty expensive in comparison to $20 for the aerosol can. Using Private Preserve When you pick up a can of Private Preserve the first thing you’ll notice is that it weighs next to nothing. The manufacturer even prints a note right on the can letting you know that it will feel empty but it is in fact...

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Stopping a Wine Fermentation – WMA028

- Feb 4, 2015

Stopping a Wine Fermentation – WMA028 Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSStopping a Wine Fermentation Is it possible to stop a fermentation by adding sorbate or sulfites or both? This is a common question I get from wine makers. While it is possible to do it can be tough. Even commercial wineries sometimes struggle to stop it right where they want it. Home winemakers have it even tougher without the fancy equipment wineries use. In this episode of the podcast I’ll address how fermentations can be stopped as well as some common misconceptions concerning the use of sorbate and potassium metabisulfite to stop a fermentation. Questions Answered My wines keep developing mold even though I’m using sulfites. What’s going on here? I started my wine 5 days ago and now the airlock is bubbling very slowly, is it okay? Is there a way to salvage the wine at the bottom of the carboy with the sediment in it? Resources & Products Mentioned Stabilizing Wine for Back Sweetening How To Backsweeten a Wine How to Back Sweeten a Wine Kit The Difference Between Primary and Secondary Fermentation How Long do Primary and Secondary Fermentations Last? Photograph by: Tim Patterson...

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Basic Wine Chemistry – WMA027

- Jan 15, 2015

Basic Wine Chemistry – WMA027 Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSBasic Wine Chemistry In this episode of the Winemaker’s Academy Podcast I go through the recommended values for various chemistry related aspects of wine such as: pH Titratable Acidity Alcohol Residual Sugar Sulfites For each of these I share the recommended values you can shoot for when making wine to help produce a more balanced wine. As you’ll hear in the show I don’t recommend making wine by the numbers and you certainly shouldn’t see these ranges as hard and fast rules. There may certainly be great wines with chemistry outside of these ranges but it is helpful to know where most balanced wines fall on the various scales. Aside from starting with great fruit and keeping your wine safe from spoilage getting the chemistry right is just as important to making a better bottle of wine. Questions Answered How can I lower my final specific gravity? When is wine technically start aging? Is it okay to use a sanitizer comprised of hydrogen peroxide and acetic acid? Resources & Products Mentioned Winemaker’s Answer Book by Alison Crowe Wine Alcohol Content Calculator Winemaker Magazine Measuring Residual Sugar Calculating Correct Sulfite Levels Kurt’s Temperature Control System Star San 3 Ways You Can Support the Podcast (as mentioned in the show) Become a Patreon Supporter Submit a wine making recipe Leave a review in iTunes or Stitcher Photograph by: CaptMikey9...

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Evaluating Your Own Wines – WMA026

- Jan 1, 2015

Evaluating Your Own Wines – WMA026 Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSEvaluating Your Own Wines In this podcast you’ll discover why it is so important to take a systematic approach to evaluating your own wines. This is, I believe, an essential part of learning to make a better bottle of wine. Whether you’re an amateur winemaker or professional you will benefit from this as will your wines. Here are just a few of the different systems used by wine professionals to evaluate wines. Take a look at each and see which one feels right to you. If these are too involved you could always write out a list of questions to answer when tasting your own wines to see where you can improve. UC Davis 20 Point Wine Scoring System Guild of Sommeliers Tasting Grid Wine and Spirits Education Trust Tasting Grid As I mentioned in the podcast the point of evaluating your wine is not to assign it a numeric score. The point is to take a structured approach to tasting and evaluating your wine. Questions Answered How long can you age kit wines? Can I add extra tannins to my kit wine? How does that affect aging? Can I age my kit wine in a 5 liter barrel? Resources & Products Mentioned Winemaker’s Academy Podcast Episode 23: Tasting Wine with the Wine Curmudgeon Matt’s Strawberry Melomel Nomacorc #9 Premium Corks Private Preserve Solid Cork Closures Overrun corks from wineries If you enjoy the podcast and would like to become a supporter click here to learn...

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Interview with Winemaker Paul Bonacquisti – WMA025

- Dec 10, 2014

Interview with Winemaker Paul Bonacquisti – WMA025 Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSFrom Hobby Winemaker to Pro with Paul Bonacquisti Paul Bonacquisti, formerly a radio DJ, made the jump from a hobby wine maker to a professional winemaker when he opened Bonacquisti Wine Company, a very popular Colorado winery. Paul joins Matt on the podcast to share his story of how he became a professional wine maker as well as advice on how others can do the same. We also talk about synthetic closures, selling wine in growlers, and even kegging wine. This was a really fun interview to record and there’s also a lot to learn. If you’re interested in learning more about Paul and to see what he’s up to check out his website: Bonacquisti Wine Company Resources & Products Mentioned International Wine Guild Nomacorc Wine Closures DOW...

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How Sparkling Wine is Made – WMA024

- Nov 20, 2014

How Sparkling Wine is Made – WMA024 Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSHow Sparkling Wine is Made Sparkling wines are an amazing product of fermentation. They must be made with utmost care not only for the sake of the wine but also for the well being of the wine maker. Taking a still wine in the bottle and then adding sugar, then yeast, and then capping can lead to some significant pressures building up in those glass bottles. Pressurized glass is a recipe for danger if you don’t have the hang of how sparkling winemaking is done. This podcast episode will show you how sparkling wines are made and we’ll also discuss how to stay safe should you decide to give it a try. Questions Answered I was supposed to have racked already. Should I wait until fermentation is over? My watermelon wines smell like rotting watermelon fields. What’s going on? Should I not have degassed my right before bottling? Resources & Products Mentioned Wikipedia Article on Sparkling Wine Production Montrachet Yeast Champagne Bottles (by the case) Sparkling Wine Corks Plastic Sparkling Wine Stoppers Winemaker’s Answer Book by Alison Crowe Photo of riddling rack by Manikom (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons Photo of sparkling wine by Andrea Parrish – Geyer...

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Tasting Wine with the Wine Curmudgeon – WMA023

- Nov 5, 2014

Tasting Wine with the Wine Curmudgeon – WMA023 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

- Oct 24, 2014

Are Sulfites Necessary in Wine? – WMA022 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 it. It’s got sentimental value so no guarantee that I’ll touch it 😉 David The consensus Of experts say yes. The first thing is that yeast give off SO2 as...

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Wine Grape Chemistry – WMA021

- Oct 9, 2014

Wine Grape Chemistry – WMA021 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

- Sep 17, 2014

How and When to Use Sulfites – WMA020 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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