Show Your Pride

pouring wine

Attractive presentation will make your wine taste better.

Be creative and make your wine taste better

When I visit a liquor store I spend a good part of my time in the wine section. I love looking at the colourful labels and reading the descriptions and more often than not my buying decision is influenced by the overall appearance of the bottle. Of course wine manufacturers are aware of this and they put mega bucks into label design and bottle presentation. They know the psychology behind it and the big part in plays in your enjoyment of their wine.

You should give the same attention to your hand-crafted wines. Decorating your bottles with labels and tops will give you a sense of pride when you serve your wine. Your friends will also appreciate your style and attention to detail and your wine will taste better! Yes that’s right your wine will taste better, or at least it will be perceived to taste better. It’s a big disappointment when you’re anticipating enjoying a glass of wine but it arrives in an unlabeled rum bottle. As a customer once related to me, “I question how much care went into the winemaking when I’m served wine from a dirty old rum bottle”.

How to serve your wine with style

For a professional presentation you’ll want to label your wine and finish the top with decorative shrink seals.

  1. Make sure your bottles are clean and that all remnants of old labels, tops and adhesive are removed. Soak your bottles in warm water for a couple of hours and use a paint scraper or knife to help remove stubborn labels and adhesive.
  2. After your bottles are filled and closed, wipe them dry and lay them on their side to apply the labels.
  3. Carefully line up your label before applying. You want to make sure the label is straight and it’s positioned properly on the bottle. The positioning depends on the style and size of the label and the shape of the bottle. Use your judgement of style to make it eye appealing.
  4. Shrink seals give your wine the finishing touch and they should tie everything together. Match your seals to colours that can be found in your label.

Some helpful tips

  1. Wine labels come in self-adhesive or wet-gummed. Self-adhesive are easier to apply but more expensive.
  2. You can further personalize your wine by using customized labels. You can design and make them yourself using blank wine label stock or we can custom-print labels for you.
  3. For a more professional presentation try to keep your bottles uniform in shape and colour
  4. Decorative seals come in many colours and designs. Try to use solid or muted designs if your label is bold and ornate.
  5. If you’re using screw-caps do not apply shrink seals. They will not shrink properly and will look ugly. We have decorative screw-caps with a sleeve if you want to give your screw-top bottles a professional look.

You put a lot of effort and pride into crafting your wine, so make sure that’s reflected by your presentation. Now it’s your turn to go make a work of art!

0 comments

Demystifying the Wine Cork

corksInformation is this article courtesy of  RJS Craft Winemaking.

How should you store wine corks? Which are the best type to use? Should corks be soaked before inserting?

No other part of winemaking seems to be shrouded in mystery more than humble wine cork. This article will cut through the lore and misinformation and will help demystify the cork.

How do I store my corks?

Corks can be kept in a plastic bag as long as all air pockets have been squeezed out and the bag is sealed. Storing the sealed bag inside of a pail with a closing lid ensures reduced air penetration and keeps the corks fresh and free from airborne particles. Corks stored in open containers are susceptible to all sorts of airborne matter.

Should corks be soaked prior to bottling?

There is no need to soak corks prior to bottling if they are stored correctly. The water used for soaking the corks could become contaminated by airborne bacteria or moulds. Boiling your corks prior to bottling could also melt off the silicone and paraffin coating that is meant to help with the cork/bottle seal.

Like to know more? Check out this Winemaker Mag article.

Which closure type is the best? Agglomerated cork, synthetic cork or screw cap?

It depends on the function that you would like to cork to do:

  • Agglomerated cork is great for 4 and 5 week wines that are intended to be enjoyed early and not aged.
  • Synthetic corks are great for 6 and 8 week wines which are intended to be aged. There is less chance of “corked” wine.
  • Screw caps are best for wine which are not intended to age as it allows little to no oxygen transfer which often helps with the aging process.

How do I know if a wine is “corked”?

Corked wine is the presence of a chemical compound called TCA (trichloroanisole) and is formed when natural fungi that resides within the natural or agglomerated cork comes in contact with a chloride style cleaner or other sanitation product. It is not harmful for human consumption, although it is not a pleasant experience. The smell and flavour are often described as Grandma’s musty basement or wet cardboard.

Can I use a cork in a screw cap bottle?

Screw cap bottles are designed specifically for screw caps. Corks are not recommended as a proper seal cannot be guaranteed. Screw cap bottle threads are designed for an effective seal with screw caps only.

 

0 comments

Kegging Your Beer

complete-cornelius-keg-setupIf you’re tired of cleaning and filling countless bottles you might want to consider kegging your beer. You can keg your beer in minutes and enjoy drinking it in as little as 3-4 days. It’s very satisfying to be able to squeeze a tap and draw off a pint or a jug of beer. The only drawback to kegging is that it’s not as portable as bottles but most brewers will happily trade this inconvenience for the advantages kegging offers. However if you want the best of both worlds you can purchase a special counter-pressure bottle filler that will let you fill bottles from your keg.

Where to Start

The initial start-up cost may seem high at $295 plus it works best if you have a spare refrigerator to store the keg in. However when most brewers take the plunge they wonder why it took them so long and they would never go back to washing and capping bottles.

Here are the components of a basic starter kit:

  • CO2 Tank – Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is used to carbonate and dispense beer. CO2 is stored as a liquid at very high pressure so it needs a strong tank to hold it. Our tanks are new and have been inspected and filled with CO2 gas.
  • Regulator – CO2 gas is stored at up to 1000 psi but you want to dispense it at around 12 psi. The regulator does this job for you. Our regulators are dual gauge. One gauge shows the pressure in the tank while the other shows the dispensing pressure.
  • Cornelius Keg – These are usually used and reconditioned soda kegs but new ones are available at about three times the price. Cornelius kegs are stainless steel and hold 18.9 litres or 5 US Gallons and are perfect for storing your beer.
  • Gas and Dispensing Hoses – The gas hose runs to the CO2 tank while the dispensing hose runs from the keg. The length of the dispensing hose is important to get the proper pour. If your hose is too short or long you will end up getting a glass full of foam. If you keep your beer refrigerated you will want about 3-4 feet of dispensing hose.
  • Quick Disconnects – These are the fittings that connect the gas and dispensing hoses to the CO2 tank and keg. They come in two styles: pin-lock and ball-lock. Our kegs have the ball-lock system which make changing out kegs fast and easy with no wrenches required.
  • Tap – We have to get the beer out! The tap attaches to one end of the dispensing hose. The basic kit comes with a black picnic-style thumb tap but much more elaborate taps are available.
  • Refrigerator – Although not really necessary a refrigerator makes kegging much easier. If you don’t have a refrigerator you will have to carbonate your beer at a higher pressure and therefore you will need a longer dispensing hose to bleed off the extra pressure. Warmer beer will also take longer to carbonate—sometimes up to two weeks.

Preparing and Filling the Keg

Make sure to check all connections for leaks. You don’t want to your tank of CO2 to leak out overnight. Use soapy water to check connections. You’ll see bubbles if there’s leaks. If this happens tighten or reseal your fittings again until you’re sure there are no leaks.

Sanitize the keg then siphon your beer into it. Close the lid and attach the gas hose. Open the gas valve with the gauge set to 12 lbs pressure. When the gas stops entering turn off the valve and bleed the gas from the keg by lifting the release valve on top of the keg. Repeat this 2 more times to purge air from the keg. Give the keg one last shot of gas with the pressure set to 20 lbs. This higher pressure will help to seat the seals and less chance of leaking.

Carbonating Your Beer

While you can naturally carbonate your beer by adding sugar, most people force carbonate it with the CO2 from the tank. The easiest way to do this is to put the beer in a fridge, set the pressure from 12-14 lbs and leave it for three to four days. Your beer is then ready to enjoy!

0 comments

Keeping Things Simple

When new brewers try to improve their brewing abilities, most of them head for the internet. While you’ll find some really great stuff on the net there is also a lot of misleading and some just plain downright wrong information.

After reading through many posts by “expert” brewers I have noticed that some people try to make things much more difficult then they need to be. For example, I have read a post that stated in order to make sure your equipment is clean enough to brew you must measure the TDS (total dissolved solids) of the water you are rinsing with and only use purified water to rinse your equipment. I’m sure this is a good way to make sure your equipment is super clean but it’s over-kill! First off, your equipment is food grade which means the surfaces are designed not to hold any harmful substances (as long as your equipment is in good condition). The manufacturers of the cleaning products you are using have good instructions on their packaging and as long as these are followed there should not be any problems. Lastly, the use of purified water is not necessary unless your local water supply is contaminated. If the water is deemed fit for human consumption there should be no reason not to use this for cleaning or even brewing.

I have also seen posts stating that you MUST check the specific gravity every day. This is not a good practice for a few reasons. Every time you take a reading you are exposing your brew to oxygen, light and the possibility of bacteria. Opening your fermenting vessel will also let carbon dioxide escape. Carbon dioxide creates a protective layer which helps protect your wine or beer from contamination.  Fermentation will usually begin in 24 – 48 hours. Then all you have to do is look and listen. If you see foam or hear bubbling and fizzing you can safely bet the fermentation is still ongoing.

Brewing is an ancient craft. Although there has been some great improvements in equipment and ingredients over the years, the art of brewing is still the same. Yeast turns the simple sugars into alcohol and that’s about it. You can make the process as complicated as you want but the outcome and underlying process stays the same. Brewing is a fun hobby and in my opinion if you keep things simple you will make fewer errors as your hobby will be a lot less stressful.  So go out there and brew something new. Keep it simple and you’ll enjoy it better.

0 comments

Winemaking with Your Kids

When you talk to some wine-makers with new families you can almost be certain you will hear the same complaint, “I don’t have time for making wine any more.” When you inquire into why, the most common statement is, “I have to wait for the kids to go to bed, and by then I’m too tired.” I thought this way as well, but one day I figured it would be fun to let  my two year old help me make wine. A lot of wine-makers would look at the alcohol aspect and automatically frown on any input from their children. This is a valid concern but wine-making is a process just like cooking or making jam. The fermentation and alcohol production comes later when your kid is tucked safely in bed.

When I introduced my child to wine-making I gave him some small tasks such as turning on the tap to help me clean the equipment. After that I gave him the spoon and he was thrilled to stir the wine in the bucket while I added the ingredients. When it was time for racking I had him hold on to the hose, while the wine transferred from the bucket to the carboy. During the degassing stage I gave him the ever important job of holding on to the airlock. By the way, he did a excellent job! During bottling he put the corks into the corker and placed the shrink seals on top of the bottles.

By doing this I was partaking in an activity that I enjoy while spending valuable time with my son. Make sure you supervise and pick the proper activities to let your child participate in. You want to make sure that it’s fun and safe for both of you. Children do not care what you’re doing as long as they can do it with you. I can honestly say that making this wine was the most fun batch I have ever produced. So the next time you’re thinking about putting on a batch think about including a little helper. You may be surprised how much fun and helpful they can be.

0 comments

To Brew or Not to Brew? Part 2

Once you have the basics of this hobby down it wont be long before you start to feel the need for experimentation. The first step when starting your journey is listen to your inner self and ignore the rest. This may sound philosophical but unless the people you are speaking to are adventurous, their negative comments may hinder you from making your best brew ever. With brewing there is no limit to what you can do. Everything is based on YOUR TASTE, you are making this for you to drink. What you find interesting may be foul to someone else and visa-versa. If you like pumpkin, why not use it to make your beer? The easiest way to start experimenting  is to make subtle additions to whatever you’re fermenting like hops or oak. This will help you figure out what you like and what you don’t. Once this is mastered then it’s time to roll up your sleeves and have some real fun!

A fair amount of people start out brewing as a way to save a bit of money. Some of them will fall in love with the process and turn their hobby into a full blown passion. Most of the greatest brewers and wine-makers in the world started off with a plastic bucket, a few ingredients, and an interest in brewing. Once bitten by the brewing bug they went outside the norm and experimented to make some of the best wine and beer on the market today. Making wine from berries or grapes is a great way to express your uniqueness. I’ve heard of all kinds of “crazy” combinations. Some of them may even make your stomach turn to imagine it. However when everything comes together the final result may be quite delightful. Personally, I feel the more complex the wine or beer the better it is. When people say it’s easier to tell me what’s not it their wine or beer that’s when my interest is really peaked. One of the best wines I had the privilege to sample was a Blueberry, Partridgeberry, Rhubarb, Plum, and Apple wine. The wine-maker called it the “Spring Freezer Wine.” Which brings me to an important issue. No matter what you make—take notes. It’s frustrating when you make a magnificent beer or wine but you have no idea how to replicate it.

Now for my passion. Beer making. I know I may sound a bit bias but I find brewers show a lot more hard-core passion for their hobby than winemakers. To non-brewers I’m sure we must sound like a bunch of crazy people. We get excited about the new Apple Brown Ale or the awesome Belgian Saison that we just conjured up. Getting up early Saturday morning to get the brew going. Smelling the freshly milled grain steeping away in the mash-tun omitting the aromas of coffee and caramel throughout the brewing area. Then the boiling and the intoxicating aroma of hops permeating the house. Ahhhh, I feel there is nothing better in this world. You also have so much selection. What yeast will you use? How about hops? Which one will complement the other while not overpowering the grain bill? The sky is truly the limit. Like I stated above, make what you want and don’t listen to others. It’s your brew.

Be it wine or beer, there is no wrong process. Each brewer will find a way that works for them. Fermented beverages have brought people together for centuries. Be it a bar, party or what not. Brewing is a more enjoyable hobby/passion when shared with others. Why not go out and start a brewing group with your friends or join a club to meet other like-minded people? As I stated before brewing is much more then a hobby. it’s a form of entertainment and socialization. So I hope that this will inspire you to think outside the box and maybe you’ll make the world’s next great brew. Your brew!

0 comments

To Brew or Not to Brew?

Sitting back in your favourite chair after a long week at work you decide to treat yourself to a nice glass of wine or beer. If you’re like most people in today’s society, you’re on a budget and you have to decide how much of it will be spent on entertainment. So the obvious question arises—how much to spend on alcohol each month? This is not always an easy question to answer. It all depends on the quality of your favourite alcoholic beverage and of course the quantity. Let’s say you have a glass of wine every day. That means you will consume a bottle of wine every three days. If you decide to go with a relatively inexpensive $12 bottle of wine you would spend $120.00 a month on your daily glass of wine. This doesn’t include any extra weekend activity. The same thing goes for beer drinkers. Many will have at least one beer a day and over the course of the weekend another six-pack will be in order. This would work out to be $94 a month on beer alone. Over the span of a year the money you spend on alcohol can “make you want to drink.”

Crafting your own wine and beer is an excellent way to reduce the money you spend on alcohol and it will help you keep that entertainment budget in check. However, the financial benefits should not be the only thing to take into consideration if you’re thinking about making wine and beer. Crafting your own wine or beer can be satisfying in many ways. I don’t know about your situation but for me it is hard to spend quality time with my partner between work, children, and everything else. Brewing can be a great activity to enjoy together. You can catch up on events or just spend time doing something together. Brewing and winemaking can also be a relaxing activity if you do not stress yourself out about it. I tell many customers that “It’s only brewing. Do not make it harder then it needs to be.”  It’s supposed to be fun. Treat it as a hobby!

If you’re thinking about getting started, the upfront cost may make you hesitate. Making your first batch of wine will cost you an average of $160.00. This may seem like a lot but if you’re a one-glass-a-day wine drinker—as stated in the scenario above—you will quickly realize what a bargain this is. In the previous scenario I presented, you will be spending the modest amount of $120 for 10 bottles of commercial wine each month. However your initial wine kit purchase of $160 will make 30 bottles of the same or better quality wine. This means you will save about $200.00 for the same amount of wine you would have bought at the liquor store and it gets even better. Since your start-up kit included the one-time purchase of equipment necessary to make your wine, future batches will be even more economical coming in on an average of $2.50 per bottle.

As you can see, there are some big savings to be made when you make your own. This doesn’t even include the money that would have been spent going out somewhere with your partner to spend time together. The same applies for beer drinkers. The start up cost will be about $124.00 and this will give you 66 bottles of beer. Although the initial savings on your first brew are not as impressive as wine, you will still be paying less than if you bought the same amount of beer commercially. However, when you make your next batch the savings explode to $30.00 – $39.00 for 66 bottles of beer.

To brew or not to brew? I hope I’ve helped make the answer to this question easy for you . In part 2 of this article I will go over the other great aspects of brewing, including how to turn your hobby into a passion.

0 comments

Eco-Friendly Wine. Think Green! Drink Green!

Green is the buzzword for our time. Environmental issues are front and centre as political parties push their green agenda and scientists are making us aware of the effects of global warming. The message is getting through. We’re becoming more aware of the effect our consumption is having on the environment and most people are willing to make an effort to lessen the damage being inflicted on our planet. Winemakers and consumers also have choices that can make a difference. From the vineyard to the wine glass—there is a greener way.

“Green” wine production is getting a lot of media coverage. Not to be confused with Portuguese green wine—Vinho Verde—green in this context means wine that is produced using environmentally friendly techniques and practices. There are three main thrusts in eco-friendly grape farming—organic, sustainable, and biodynamic. Let’s take a brief look at each of these and see how they achieve their purpose.

Organic Farming consists of growers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations.

Sustainable Farming is a method of farming that refers to the ability of a farm to produce a given commodity—in our case wine grapes—indefinitely, without causing severe or irreversible damage to the health of the ecosystem.

Biodynamic Farming is a method of farming based on a spiritual world-view called anthroposophy, which was first propounded by Rudolf Steiner. This system treats farms as unified and individual organisms, emphasizing a balanced, holistic development and the interrelationship of the soil, plants and animals as a closed, self-nourishing system. Biodynamic Farming emphasizes the use of living and natural materials and the exclusion of artificial chemicals from treatments used on the soil and plants. Biodynamic Farming also has many unique production practices.

Each of these practices use different philosophies but they have the same goal—to produce eco-friendly grapes which in turn help to make more environmentally friendly wine. This is good news and to be commended but the reality is that grape farming and the winemaking process itself produces only small amounts of greenhouse gas. Grapes, unlike other crops, don’t require large amounts of fertilizer and with the move to eco-farming, the use of chemical fertilizers is being eliminated altogether. We also have to consider the carbon dioxide released from the fermentation of wine grapes. However this makes up an insignificant percentage of the total emissions associated with wine production. It should be noted that grapevines absorb carbon dioxide which practically neutralizes emissions from fermentation.

So what is the biggest contributor to wine’s carbon footprint? Trains, planes and shipping containers. Transportation involved in the production of wine is the main source of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s no wonder then that crafting wine at home or at a local U-Vint is hands-down the most environmentally friendly way to consume wine. Let’s explore this a little further.

Can you imagine the carbon footprint of that bottle of Australian wine sitting on your local wine store shelf? A typical bottle of Australian wine is trucked from the winery to port and loaded on a container ship where it begins a Pacific journey of about 35 days to a North American port. The wine is then loaded on a truck or train and shipped to a distribution centre where it is finally sent to retail locations. It has been estimated that the total carbon emissions for production and delivery of one 750 ml bottle of wine shipped in this manner is approximately 3.5 kilograms. Transportation is responsible for 2.2 kilograms of this total emission. These estimates are based on transportation by ground and water. If the wine is shipped by air these emission numbers soar. Of course wine producers are sensitive to this and are always looking for ways to cut emissions. Some are packaging their wine in lighter containers such as tetra, aluminium or plastic while other winemakers are shipping their product in bulk and bottling it closer to their intended market. However, as I wrote earlier, when it comes to eco-friendly wine nothing compares to that which you make yourself. Here are few examples why you make the “greenest” wine.

  1. Juice used in the production of wine kits is shipped to the manufacturer in large bulk containers instead of individual heavy glass bottles thus greatly reducing carbon emissions.
  2. The juice is then processed and shipped to the consumer in lightweight plastic bags and cardboard boxes.
  3. The majority of wine kits are shipped concentrated and the winemaker has to add water to make up the correct volume. Water is heavy. Therefore reducing the amount of water contained in a wine kit reduces carbon emissions significantly.
  4. Craft winemakers reuse their bottles. I have some bottles that I’ve had in circulation for 20 years or more!
  5.  The energy required to transport wine from the liquor store to your home is something that is often overlooked. It’s possible that you would need to make up to 30 trips to the wine store to consume the same amount of wine that you would make from one wine kit.

These are some of the reasons why your home-crafted wine is infinitely more green than any commercial product. I’m sure you could add many more examples to this list and let’s not forget the other green benefits of making your own wine. Corks can be reused for crafts. Spent oak can be used as smoke chips for barbecuing. Plastic inner bags can be used for ice packs. Most components of wine kits are also completely recyclable including the cardboard box and plastic inner bag.

If you make your own wine you can enjoy drinking it with a clear conscience knowing you’re doing your part for the environment. I’m sure you would prefer to drink your own eco-friendly wine at all times but there are occasions when we have to make a run to the wine store. Nevertheless we can still make greener choices. Here are some steps you can take.

  1. Buy local. Locally produced wines require less shipping and transportation than imported wines. Buying local wines means helping your local community while also improving the global environment.
  2. Wine on Tap. Buying wine in larger format bag-in-box containers is more environmentally friendly than purchasing individual bottles. You also eliminate the need for corks and labels and the whole package is recyclable.
  3. Reduce spoilage and waste. As soon as wine is opened the process of oxidation begins. This can change the taste and quality of the wine if it’s not consumed soon after opening and the afflicted wine usually ends up in the drain. To prevent this you can use an inexpensive wine vacuum pump that removes oxygen from the bottle and seals it with an air-tight stopper.
  4. Buy organic. When possible, buy wine made from grapes that were produced using organic, sustainable or biodynamic farming methods.

The store-bought wine we swirl  in our glass does have a larger carbon footprint with a longer road to get to us than is often realized. However we can make choices that will lessen that footprint. Crafting  your own wine is beneficial to our planet and there is satisfaction in sipping your green wine knowing that you’re doing your part.

0 comments

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Photo by Jennifer Mathis

Now that spring is here it’s time to decide what you would like to drink during those warm summer evenings on the deck. For a majority of people the answer it’s “beer” or “wine”.  Ask them “what kind?” and you’re likely to hear “well I usually have. …” Then they’ll go on to say something run of the mill like a Lager or Chardonnay. Most people are apprehensive about trying something new because they are nervous that they may not like the new brew. When I first started brewing beer I was the typical new brewer. If the style of beer could not be found at the corner store I assumed I did not like it. However things have changed. My goal this year is to try two new original beers and a wine that I have never made before.

A big problem I find with brewing is what I call the “safe factor”. It’s the way of thinking “if it’s not broke why try to fix it?” After making my many batches of Canadian style light I decided to try a new kind and took the “big step” to blonde. I know what you may be thinking— ooh! Big step. Nevertheless, to someone that likes to play it safe this was a big step. It’s the same for wine. I see many people come into our store and buy the same wine or beer kit every time. The best step I ever took as a brewer was the day I put on my first brown ale. It was the event that opened my eyes to trying new things. Until that fateful day I had stuck with my old reliable and favourite Brew House kit—Red Ale. I still make lots of my Brew House Red Ale, but I usually alternate and try some new styles in between batches. Sometimes I’m disappointed but more often than not I’m happy with what I make. Then there’s always the chance that I’ll  make this super brew that will change my life! What if I make a brew that I just don’t like? My theory is that you will always find some kind and generous person willing to assist you in your quality control. They will selflessly drink whatever  you’ve made so you can take notes and try to improve on your craft.

I’ve been pretty good at mixing things up with wine. I do love Cabernet Savignon and tried most of the common varietal wines. However last year I  was introduced to blended wines which consists of two or more varietals.  Some of these have been the best wines I have ever made.

Even though I’ve been trying new styles of beer and wine lately, my goal is to take it a step further. Total custom brews. I am thinking of doing a blueberry style beer and maybe some kind of beer with peach in it. I’ve often thought about doing a blush wine. There is no better time for me to try it then now. My advice for the brewing community is to step outside your comfort zone once in a while and try something different. You may end up being pleasantly surprised with your new creation and find yourself liking this new brew more then your old favourite.

0 comments

3 Steps to Brilliant Clear Wine

A brilliant, clear wine is synonymous with quality. You may craft a superb tasting wine but if it doesn’t pass the clarity test it will be judged poorly. So it’s important for you to remove any turbidity from your wine before bottling. I’ve found that the best way to assure this is to use a three-step clearing method. I begin by adding finings followed by mechanical filtering. I then let my wine sit for a few days before bottling. Let’s look at these three steps individually.

It’s important that you fine your wine before filtration. Cloudy or hazy wine will quickly overload your filters.

1. Most wines will eventually clear on their own but this can take some time. Finings are substances that act as a catalyst to speed up the clearing process. Most finings are organic such as gelatin and isinglass but there are some inorganic finings with bentonite clay being the most popular. For the most part, finings work by providing a positive charge that attract yeast cells which are negatively charged. Think about how a magnet works and you’ll get the idea. As the attracted yeast cells clump together they become heavy and gradually fall to the bottom of the fermenting vessel leaving clear wine behind. Suspended yeast is the most common cause of turbidity in wine but there are other substances that produce hazes. Some of these have a positive charge which is different from the yeast. That’s why most wine kits contain two packets of finings. One will be negatively charged and the other positively charged. This covers the whole spectrum.

2. Filter media will mechanically separate wine from yeast and other solids. The most effective way to do this is to force your wine through a series of filter pads or a cartridge. This is accomplished by using a pressurized filtering machine. You can also filter by gravity but this is less effective and is usually restricted to small amounts of a gallon or less. Filter media comes in various porosities and grades depending on the application it is meant for. The wine is forced through the filter and solids are trapped in the pads or cartridge. Less porosity will trap smaller particles. Filter porosity is rated by microns. Most winemakers will use 1 micron polishing filters. You can follow-up a 1 micron filtration with a .5 micron filtration. This is considered sterile filtration and will remove over 80% of any yeast that passed through the 1 micron filter. I recommend this extra step.

It’s important that you fine your wine before filtration. Cloudy or hazy wine will quickly overload your filters. If this happens you may have to change your filters several times during the process. This can be expensive and frustrating.

3. I let my wine sit for a week or more after filtration. I do this in a cool area. I use a refrigerator in the summer time. This will aid in the precipitation of any bitartrate crystals that may occur. I’ve also found that if I let my wine sit for a period of time after filtering it sometimes throws a slight sediment. After a period of rest the crystal-clear wine is easily siphoned off any residue that may be at the bottom of your carboy. You’re wine is then ready for bottling.

That’s my method for brilliant and clear wine. Try it the next time and let me know if you see a difference.

 

1 comment