Do I need any special equipment?
When you start wine making do not try cutting corners, don’t just grab anything you see around the house—ensure that old garbage cans, old vegetable oil pails, wooden spoons etc. are not used because these items cannot be sanitized properly and may ruin your wine. Proper winemaking equipment is made from specifically designed food grade plastic, which is suitable for the purpose of winemaking.
Is sanitizing and sterilization of equipment important?
One of the most important steps in winemaking is proper sanitizing and sterilization. Every piece of equipment that will come in contact with the concentrate or finished wine must go through these processes. These should be done just before you are ready to proceed with every step. Detailed directions for use can be found on the product package.
Sanitize, using a pink chlorinated solution in order to clean. Remember, not all dirt is visible so even equipment that appears clean must be sanitized. Always rinse well with hot water.
Sterilizing is to kill bacteria on equipment that has already been cleaned. This should be done with a solution of metabisulphite and then rinsed.
Eliminating or doing these steps incorrectly can ruin your end result.
Do I need to follow the instructions?
For optimum performance, follow the instructions as carefully as possible every time you make your wine (remember instructions can change periodically). Wine kit manufacturers have plenty of experience in making wine, and the instructions should be clear and easy to follow. The instructions are written for each specific brand of kit and are not interchangeable.
Is there anything special I need to know about yeast?
Please ensure that the yeast is added properly. More experienced wine makers refer to adding the yeast as, pitching the yeast. Winemakers should follow the instructions found in all winemaking kits to get the best fermentation results. For a quicker start to the fermentation, you can opt to follow the instructions on the back of the yeast pack.
Are fermentation temperatures important?
The instructions tell you to ferment the wine within a specific temperature range. All of our wine kits have recommended temperatures for the best fermentation results. These recommendations can be found in the instructions and also in the helpful hints area.
Temperature control is very important but of course, we understand that depending on the climate where you are making the wine, temperatures may vary. Please note that warmer temperatures will cause a faster fermentation and cooler temperatures will slow down the fermentation. The most important thing is to maintain the temperature range as specified in the helpful hints section of your instructions.
Note: A cooler, slower fermentation will produce a wine with a cleaner taste as opposed to a wine that ferments more quickly at higher temperatures.
Do I need to be concerned about the add packs included?
You must make sure that you add all the correct sachets at the indicated times. Adding the proper sachet to your wine at the correct time is very important because if you add a sachet at the wrong time or choose to eliminate a sachet, your wine could stop fermenting or have various other problems.
Make sure that you add the sachet # 2 (metabisulphite).
All wine making Kits include a package of metabisulphite, which you are required to stir into the wine. Sulphite prevents your wine from spoiling, so please don’t leave it out. Wine without added sulphite may have a shelf life as short as one month.
Is degassing the wine really necessary?
All wine must be cleared. In order to do this correctly you start, by properly degassing the wine. Degassing is done by stirring vigorously several times until all visible signs of gas are removed. Then, by adding the proven and tested clearing agents. These items come with the kit and need to be dispersed thoroughly throughout the wine exactly as instructed.
Do I need to strain the water from the oak?
The reason for adding the oak to boiling water is to be sure that there is no bacteria present before adding it to your wine. You wait 15 to 30 minutes to allow it to cool and then add the entire mixture.
Can I use the pail that my kit comes in for the fermentation?
Absolutely! The pail that the kit is sold in is a food grade plastic and can be used as a primary fermented.
How long will it take to degas my wine?
During the fermentation, your wine will become gassy. Every wine kit will be a little different in regards to the amount of gas (CO2) that will develop. A very gassy wine will of course take longer to degas that one with less CO2 in it. CO2 will come out of your wine much more easily at warmer temperatures. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep the wine at a higher temperature during this step. Usually a wine will degas within one day but sometimes it can take as long as three days. The important thing is to continue the stirring process periodically until you see no more visible signs of gas or gas bubbles. When that is, you can lower the temperature for the clearing process.
What is the specific gravity?
Specific gravity or density is actually just a measurement of how dense (or thick) a liquid is. The density of water is 1.000. When you start your wine it is full of unfermented sugars that are quite dense so your specific gravity is high (between 1.075- 1.090). As the wine ferments and the sugars are changed into alcohol, the density of the wine drops steadily. A finished wine should be between .996 -.990.
How do I know if my wine is fermenting and when it is finished?
Many people think that if they do not see any bubbles in the airlock that this means the wine is not fermenting. This is not true. Bubbles in the airlock are just co2 escaping from the wine. If there are no bubbles in the airlock it could mean that your wine is not fermenting but it could also mean that the CO2 is just leaking out form another spot.
The only true way to know whether your wine is fermenting is by using the hydrometer. By taking an initial reading and then taking more readings on a regular basis throughout the fermentation, you will be able to see if the Specific Gravity is moving and this will tell you that your wine is fermenting or not.
In the instructions you are told that your wine is finished when the SG has reached .996 – .990. This is a range and you will know when it is actually finished when you have a reading in this range that remains constant for 2 – 3 days.
What do I do if my pail lid has no hole for my airlock?
The lid of a primary fermenter does not always come with a hole for the airlock. You have two choices. You can drill a hole yourself that is the correct size for the rubber stopper that comes with the airlock, or you can opt not to use an airlock during the primary fermentation. You can just lay the cover on top of the pail loosely without banging it down; This will keep your wine free from bacteria and other airborne particles and at the same time allow the CO2 gasses to escape under the lid and out the sides.
Can I age my wine in the carboy?
Bulk aging is a great way to allow the wine to become smooth and enjoyable. Bottle aging is also acceptable.
How long can I age my bottles of wine for?
The length of time that it will last depends on many factors. There is no set aging time. A lot of it has to do with the care that was taken during the winemaking process, and of course, the conditions you have for storing your bottled wine. Optimum conditions are a constant 55°F. Many people do not have these conditions. The most important thing, however is that the wine is kept at a constant temperature and not in a place where the temperatures fluctuates up and down on a regular basis. Another fact to consider is that the corks we supply with the wine kits are not meant for long-term aging. If you want to age your wine, we recommend that you purchase a higher quality cork.
Do I have to filter my wine?
Filtering is not mandatory. We do however, recommend it. By filtering your wine, you give it an extra polish and more professional finish. You will be sure to have a brilliantly clear wine with a crisp clean taste. If you do not filter, you should be aware that it is possible to have a fallout in your bottles at a later date.
Note: Please note that for those who filter several batches through the same set of filter pads, there is a very good chance that the last batch or two that passes through the pads will also have the potential for fallout in the bottles. Although the wine appears clear to the naked eye, because the pads are already partially blocked, there will be particles that pass through and deposit at a later date in the bottom of the bottles.
How do I put the capsules on my bottles?
The best way to accomplish this task is as follows: Boil water in a small pot. Put the capsule on the top of the bottle and hold it in place with a Shrink Wrap tool. Turn the bottle upside down and immerse the top of the bottle into the boiling water. Within a fraction of a second, the capsule will shrink to form a tight fit on the bottle.
Do I need to treat the corks that come with my wine kit
The corks that come with your wine kit are intended to be inserted into the bottles dry. It is a good idea however to give them a quick rinse in a solution of sulphite in order to sterilize them.