Post-Fermentation FAQ

How do I clear a cloudy fruit wine?

Start with bench trials - try one treatment at a time
Pectic enzyme first for about 48 hours
Small amounts of bentonite
Kieselsol / Chitosan 2-part treatment
When you find a treatment that works in the bench trial, expand to the full batch.

Do I sanitize oak additives?

No need to. They don’t require it. It is best not to hold chips/staves or additives for a very long time, though. Reusable chips need to be immediately put into other batches. Do not hold them or wash them after use and try to store them.

Do I need to sanitize or soak corks?

NO! Soaking agglomerated or "1+1" corks may dissolve the glue holding the cork bits together and you will end up with cork bits instead of a solid cork. (Refer to Doug Hudson article on keeping corks sanitized without soaking them)

How much acid do I add to a wine? And when?

Determine the amount in two ways. Then, add it gradually over time. 1-2 g/l per every three days

Is it considered acceptable to blend wines or is it viewed as a fix? If acceptable, when should blending be done (before primary, after primary of before bottling)?

Blending is an art and can be a cure for some problems. Commercial wineries blend in order to add body, depth, a different flavor or balance to wines. Blending will not fix flawed wines - wines with geraniol problems, or rotten egg smell, or other serious problems. But blending a high-acid wine with a low-acid wine can produce a result that is better than the original components. Blending of red wines can help add elements that may be missing in one or more components - adding color, or tannin, or fruitiness. Generally, it is best to ferment and age the component wines separately, and decide whether to blend (and, if so, in what proportions) prior to bottling.
In the U.S., a wine can be called a ‘Varietal’ if it is made of at least 75% of that wine, which means that another wine can be blended into it without being put on the label. In fact, most wines are blended to some degree.

Can a blend cure a problem with a wine?

Yes! Wines can be blended to increase the acid, add a darker color, improve the nose or otherwise improve a wine. Seriously flawed wines, however, generally are not fixed by blending. Keep in mind that blending to improve one wine can downgrade the other wines in the blend. Consider whether or not that is worth it.

How long should I stir my wine to degas it? Doesn't it oxidize when I do that? Are there other ways to degas?

Wine kits and juice buckets tend to accumulate a lot of carbon dioxide and need to be degassed for a long time. Yes, this will add oxygen if you stir it so violently that it foams. Normal degassing by stirring will not cause quite as much of an issue. Degassing takes as long as it takes. There should be no bubbles surfacing and the wine should not have foam on top when degassing is finished, keeping in mind that aggressive stirring can draw air into the wine causing continuous bubbles. You can also put some wine in a test tube or narrow tube and shake it while covering the opening. The wine should not foam up and when you remove your hand, it shouldn’t pop.
There are other ways to degas. Use of a vacuum pump works well without adding oxygen to your wine. You will need to use a glass carboy for this - the vacuum will simply collapse a plastic carboy. Passing a wine through a filter tends to remove a good deal of carbonation (gas). Another option is to let your wine sit. It will degas on its own over time, but more slowly. If you don't plan to bottle within the first few months, letting it degass naturally is the preferred method.

Why do my whites develop a cloudy sediment after bottling, even after I stabilize with potassium sorbate and clear with the two part clearing agent?

Some wines develop a sort of cloudy sediment, sometimes crystals or perhaps even a soft, particulate residue. There are many reasons for this to happen. Most of the prevention methods are very simple. Before getting ready to bottle, check your pH. Also make sure that SO2 levels are appropriate for the pH that you have. Cold stabilizing the wine for at least several days at temperatures below 45 degrees will cause a drop in acid and any sediments that are present. Cold stabilizing is almost always an important step in finishing your wine. Once cold stabilizing is done, either allow it to settle, add the two-step clarifying agent, or filter your wine. This will help to remove most, if not all remaining solids. At this point, your wine should be ready to bottle and should not develop any more sediments.

Do I need to sanitize oak cubes and spirals before adding them to my wine? If so, how?

None of the cubes or spirals should be sanitized. They come packaged and clean and unless you drop them on the ground or store them outside of their packaging, they will not hurt your wine. Sanitizing those items can actually remove the effectiveness of the spirals or cubes and can also lead to off flavors in your wine.

How do I keep my wine from oxidizing after thiefing off a bottle from a carboy?

Always top up your carboy. Use a similar wine or even purchase a bottle of something to top up if you don’t have any suitable wine in the house. That is really the best way to keep your wine from oxidizing. There are many alternative methods for topping, including filling the empty space with balloons or bladders, or actually creating a vacuum. Also an inert gas like Argon or CO2 can be used to purge the air. All of these methods are fairly short- term solutions, though, and will not be as successful as simply topping up your carboys.

What is cold stabilization? Should I cold stabilize? How long should I cold stabilize and at what temperature.

Tartaric acid (the primary acid in grape wine) is only somewhat soluble in water. The level of tartaric acid found in many table wines is close to the saturation point; chilling the wine may result in potassium bitartrate crystals forming within the bottle. These crystals are not harmful (actually commonly known as Cream of Tarter used in baking), but are not pleasant to the eye or pallet. Cold stabilization involves cooling the wine for at least two weeks at temperatures below the coldest temperature you expect your wine to see in storage. This should cause some of the tartaric acid to come out of solution and form crystals on the bottom of the carboy. The wine is then racked off these crystals.

In red wines, potassium is naturally present. Potassium will bind onto excess tartaric acid and can cause acid crystal drop in your bottles during storage. This may also cause your wines to become unbalanced as your wines acid (TA) is reduced. While cold stabilizing, as acid drops, you will need to add tartaric acid back to eventually eliminate the potassium and bring the TA up to important levels. Once cold stabilizing is done, either allow it to settle, add the two-step clarifying agent, or filter your wine. This will help to remove most, if not all remaining solids. At this point, your wine should be ready to bottle and should not develop any more sediments.

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