Add Some Honey To Your Wine!

Dripping HoneySomewhere on your website you suggest sweetening wine with honey rather than with cane sugar.  This raised my interest and I was curious if there was a “proper” way for doing this.  Since the honey is quite thick, should it be “thinned down” before adding?  Mixed with wine (or small amount of water) prior to adding to the batch?  Or even heated slightly to make it thinner?  Is there anything in honey that could cause some instability or cloudiness in the wine?  By this point in the process I will already have added potassium sorbate.  Can I bottle the wine immediately following the sweetening?

Thank you for your assistance.
Carl S.
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Hello Carl S.,

Thank you for your curiosity and your questions.

I think adding honey is an excellent way to back-sweeten a wine. It is a powerful weapon in the home winemakers’ arsenal and one that is too often ignored. Many times over the years I’ve used honey to make some remarkable wines. Two that come to mind: a raspberry wine that I sweetened with wild flower honey and a blush Zinfandel that I sweetened with raspberry honey. Both were very memorable wines.

There are a couple of basic guidelines that need to be followed when using honey to sweeten a wine, but all-in-all it is a very simple process.

  1. As is the case with sweetening any wine you need to add potassium sorbate as a wine stabilizer, otherwise the new sugars from the honey will start fermenting again. Not only with this delay bottling the wine, it will remove all the sweetness you’ve just added.
  2. You also need to make sure that the honey has been pasteurized. Adding honey to a wine that is still wild or raw is a no-no. These impurities will have an environment to grow in once added to the wine. The eventual result is a spoiled wine. If you are not sure if the honey is pasteurized. You will need to pasteurize it yourself. This can easily be done by mixing the honey with equal parts of water. Then slowly heat the mix to 145°F and hold at that temperature for 30 minutes.

Shop Wine Bottle CorkersAs far as incorporating the honey into the wine, there are no surprises. Honey blends very easily with wine, even at room temperature. If you wish, you can blend the honey in a gallon of the wine first, then blend that mix in with the entire batch of wine, but it’s not really necessary.

Using honey to sweeten a wine is one of my favorite wine making tricks and one you should explore if you are wanting to learn how to make the best wine you can. The herbal characters of the honey can add greater depth and complexity to a wine.

Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Adding Yeast To Homemade Wine: Sprinkling vs. Rehydrating

Checking temperature before adding yeast to homemade wine.Maybe you can answer a question that I have. When adding wine yeast to a juice or kit, do you need to place it in hot water as the directions say on the yeast package, or can you just sprinkle it onto the must? I noticed that some wine recipes call for the wine yeast to be placed in hot water first, and other recipes call for the yeast to be sprinkled on the top of the must. What is the best thing to do?

Eric L. – OH
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Hello Eric,

You are correct! There is some conflicting information running round when it comes to adding yeast to homemade wine. Almost all wine ingredient kit directions and wine recipes will say to sprinkle the dried wine yeast directly on top of the juice, but if you look at the packet of wine yeast itself, it will have directions that instruct you to put the yeast in warm water first. So, what should you do? How should you pitch the wine yeast?

Putting the wine yeast in warm water before adding it to a juice is a process called rehydration. What rehydration does is take a dried wine yeast and bring it back to an active state.Shop Wine Yeast

If you pitch the dried yeast directly into the wine must it will rehydrate and eventually start fermenting, anyway. So why do the yeast producers recommend this extra step before adding the yeast to the wine juice?

 

Why Rehydrate The Wine Yeast?

When a yeast cell rehydrates, its cell wall is swelling and gaining back its elasticity – its ability to flex and and be soft. This is a process that is prone to leaving a few cells damaged. In fact, a percentage of them don’t make it. But, by using plain water at an optimal temperature you are reducing the number of yeast cells that are being damaged during the rehydration process.

 

Why Sprinkle The Wine Yeast?

The reason wine ingredient kit producers, wine recipes, and even the directions on our website do not mention rehydrating before pitching the wine yeast is that many home winemakers – particularly beginners – do not perform the rehydration process correctly. Some tend to gloss over this procedure, not knowing its importance. This can cause more problems than if they had just added the dried yeast directly into the must.

As an example, the typical rehydration directions for adding yeast to a homemade wine goes something like this:

“Dissolve the dried yeast in 2 ozs. of warm water (100° – 105° F.). Let stand for 15 min. without stirring. After 15 min. stir and add to must.”

These are great directions and should be the directions you use with the yeast that came in this packet, that is, if you follow the directions, exactly. But if you don’t follow the directions, exactly, then things can start to go wrong – very wrong!

It is important to understand that at 100° – 105° F. a small portion of the yeast cells are dying every minute, and as the temperature goes up an even larger number die every minute. What this means is that if a thermometer is not used to make sure that the water is at or below 105° F., or the yeast cells are allowed to stay in the water for longer than 15 minutes, too much, or potentially all of the yeast can be destroyed before making it to the juice or wine kit.

A second complication is that it can take overnight or even a couple of days, for some, to discover that their wine is not fermenting or fermenting very sluggishly – much more so than if they’d just sprinkled the yeast onto the wine must in the first place. And this is a time that the wine is most susceptible to contamination and spoilage – before any alcohol has been made to help protect it. It needs an active fermentation to start up in a timely manner.

Buy Wine Bottle CorkersFor this reason, wine kit producers elect to play it safe and advise that adding the yeast to your wine, that you sprinkle the dried yeast on top of the wine must. This is a much better option that having a first-time winemaker ruin their wine.

 

What Should You Do?

Regardless of what method you use for adding yeast to your homemade wine – sprinkle dried yeast on the must or rehydrate the yeast – some of the yeast cells will die before going into action. That’s just the way it is, but that’s okay. The number of yeast cells that are provided in each packet allow for this attrition. Just remember that if you do decide to rehydrate your wine yeast before pitching it, it is critical that you follow the directions closely with regards to temperature and time. If you’re not willing to go through the hassle, just sprinkle the yeast on the must.

Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus

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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Get More Potential Alcohol From Sugar

Get More Potential AlcoholHow do I get more potential alcohol alcohol on my wine hydrometer. I want to get the level up to 10 or 11% when making a dry wine without adding sugar?

Name: Jay K.
State: Arkansas
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Hello Jay,

Thanks for the great questions about how to get more potential alcohol. This question covers some areas of confusion for many home winemakers. Let’s see if we can clear it up a little.

Let me start off by making something clear. The only way to raise the potential alcohol reading of a wine is to add more sugar to it. The potential alcohol scale on your wine hydrometer is directly related to the concentration of sugar within it. Add more sugar to the wine must, the potential alcohol reading goes up. The potential alcohol reading on your wine hydrometer comes from sugar, nothing else, so you add more sugar to get more potential alcohol.

The reason for this is very simple. When a wine is fermenting what’s happening? The wine yeast are consuming the sugars and converting them into both CO2 gas (carbon dioxide) and alcohol. Almost exactly half the sugar Shop Hydrometersturn into CO2 the other half turns in alcohol. The more sugar that is available to the wine yeast the more alcohol you will end up with. So if you put add 2 pounds of sugar and the wine yeast ferment it, you will have added 1 pound of alcohol to the wine.

The above is true until the wine yeast have reached their limits of alcohol tolerance. Wine yeast can only ferment so much alcohol. Once the fermentation reaches a high enough level of alcohol, the wine yeast will have difficulty fermenting any further. What this levels “is” depends on several factors: including the strain of wine yeast and the environmental conditions of the fermentation such as temperature, nutrients, etc.

The sugar we are talking about to get more potential alcohol does not have to be cane sugar. It doesn’t even have to be a granulated or powdered sugar. It could come in the form of grape concentrate, honey, apple juice… the list is endless. The sugars from all these things will also raise the potential alcohol level on your wine hydrometer when added to a wine must. Just remember potential alcohol comes from sugar.

So to sum up what you should do to get more potential alcohol:Shop Wine Yeast

  1. Pick out some form of sugar (nothing wrong with using cane sugar);
  2. Dissolve the sugar into the wine must until the potential alcohol scale on your wine hydrometer reads a  reasonable level. (11% to 13% will work fine);
  3. Let it ferment with an actual domesticated wine yeast.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Making Sulfite-Free Wine To Reduce Headaches

Making Sulfite Free WineThis is a subject I get about at least once a week. People are desperately interested in making sulfite free wine.  Usually it is because they are suffering from headaches that they are attributing to sulfite allergies. For this reason they want to make their homemade wine without sulfites.

The major foil to making sulfite free wine is that sulfites are a natural byproduct of fermentation. In winemaking we talk about sulfites in terms of ppm (parts per million). Wine fermentations will naturally produce sulfites somewhere on the order of 10 to 20 ppm.

This amount may seem small, but compare it against the fact that the average bottle of wine on the market only contains about 65 ppm or the fact that any wine in the U.S. that has more than 10 ppm must have on its label, “Contains Sulfites,” then it starts to become clear that the amount of sulfites made by a fermentation is, in fact, significant to the wine’s total content.Shop Campden Tablets

So the answer is, “no.” You can not make sulfite free wine. There will always be some sulfite in your homemade wine. Now lets move on to the next logical question…

 

Can I make wines without adding sulfites?

The answer is: certainly you can. But, you should also be asking the question: do you want too? Sulfites such as Campden tablets or potassium metabisulfite are added to a wine for a reason: to keep the color and flavor fresh over time, and to keep it from outright spoiling. If the level of sulfites are too low, then it is susceptible to being overcome with bacteria, mold and other detrimental spoilers. Making sulfite free wine does not come without its own risk.

Because wine has alcohol, and alcohol is a preservative, the amount of sulfites needed to keep it from spoiling is very small as compared to amounts we find in the foods we eat everyday. Fruit juices, for example, can have on the order of 200 to 300 ppm; dehydrated fruits, conservatively around 1,000 ppm; and salsa around 1,000 to 2,000 ppm. These amounts are much higher than the 45 to 85 ppm you will typically find in wine.

With this in mind, to me it doesn’t make sense to short your wine the minuscule amount of sulfites it needs to help protect it from spoilage. And, it doesn’t make sense to blame such small amounts of sulfites on headaches when so much of it is in the foods we consume everyday. That brings us to the next logical question…

 

So Why Do Some People Get Headaches From Wine?

There are a certain number of people who do get headaches from drinking wine – even as little as one glass – but as explained above, automatically blaming this on sulfites is not reasonable.

Besides the fact that there is not that much sulfite in wine to begin with, there are a couple of other reasons why this doesn’t add up, as well:Shop Wine Filters

 

  • Sulfite allergies are much more rare than there are people having headaches from wine. According to medical industry reports, there are somewhere between 500 thousand to 1 million sulfite allergy sufferers in the U.S. This equals only about 1 in 300 to 600 people.
  • A headache is not the primary symptom of a sulfite allergy. Asthma or having trouble breathing is the very first problem to show up.

 

So, What Should I do?

If you are still not convinced that sulfites are completely innocent of all charges, then you might want to consider taking better control of the sulfites. Don’t completely eliminate additions of sulfite to the wine, but lower the level of sulfites. Don’t worry about making sulfite free wine but maybe try adding less sulfites, instead.

For example, right before bottling the wine, instead of targeting a sulfite level of 55 ppm for red and 70 ppm for whites, maybe shoot for 35 ppm in reds and 50 ppm for whites. Reduce the amount of sulfites in your homemade wines. Don’t necessarily eliminate additions to your wine.

You can take readings with a Titrettor Hand Tool and Titret Test Vials. By taking control of your sulfite levels in this way, you can be certain that no more sulfites are in the wine than absolutely necessary to keep it fresh.
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

What Does Potassium Sorbate Do To Wine?

Wine With Potassium SorbateI have an issue with your description of potassium sorbate that uses the word “inhibit”. I have looked this word up in the Merrian-Webster dictionary. The first listing says that ‘inhibit’ means to stop. The second says that ‘inhibit’ means to hold in check. Holding in check in my mind is not a guarantee of much. Does anyone really know the story? What does potassium sorbate do to wine?

Tom
_____
Hi Tom,

Potassium sorbate is not used to stop a fermentation. In fact, it is not very effective at stopping a fermentation, if effective at all. Your second definition of inhibit is the most accurate, to hold in check, but let’s forget about the definitions for now and let me try to explain what potassium sorbate is actually doing to a wine.

When it becomes time to bottle your wine, no matter how may times the wine has been racked or how crystal clear the wine may look, there are still some yeast cells in the wine. It’s not the billions of cells that are associated with a full-fledged fermentation – almost all of the yeast cells are now gone through racking – but none the less, there are a few cells, just too few to see with the naked-eye.

Shop Potassium SorbateUsually, these wine yeast cells just lay dormant, but if there are sugars available in the wine, it is very possible that the yeast can start to become active and begin to reproduce themselves. Over time, they can rebuild the yeast colony to a size that can become problematic for a bottled wine. The wine will become sparkled and worse yet, the bottles could start popping corks or popping bottles from the pressure built up from a fermentation! But, this is all based on the premise that the yeast are able to grow in numbers and have sugar available to ferment.

This is where potassium sorbate comes into play. It stops the yeast cells from reproducing themselves so that a fermentation does not occur within the wine bottles. It does this by putting a coating the individual yeast cells. This coating interrupts the budding or reproduction process, keeping the yeast cell count at bay.

The only problem is that the yeast that are currently living in your wine will continue to do so until they decide to die of natural causes – old age. The colony will slowly die. How long it takes varies. It is dependent on the size of the remaining colony, the type of wine yeast, and the conditions they are in – temperature, etc. In most cases it takes days, but it can take weeks and sometimes months.Shop Potassium Bisulfite

It is not until the current generation dies that the chance of re-fermentation can be completely gone. This is why it is good to get your wine as clear as conveniently possible. Using fining agents such as bentonite is not a bad idea to help drop out the wine yeast. And most importantly use sulfites. This is one of the reasons sulfites are recommended at bottling time – to speed up the death of the wine yeast.

So what does potassium sorbate do to wine? It keeps the yeast from growing out of control. It keeps what little, insignificant yeast cell count at bay, and stops them from reproducing and growing into problematic numbers.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus

—–
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

There’s Too Much Tannin In My Homemade Wine!

Wine With Too Much TanninI have 3 five-gallon carboys of zinfandel with a low pH of 3.00, and what I identify as too much tannin. The wine has been “aging” for 18 mos. now and still unacceptable by my taste. Is it too late to doctor it to lower the tannin? It has been stored cool (I’m in N. California) and I can’t heat it. Too late for treating with egg whites or bentonite?

Name: Tony S.
State: CA
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Hello Tony,

I see your wine is still a beautiful, young color, even after 18 months. That is probably partially due to the fact that it has such a low pH. This can help to keep a color fresh looking as well as keep any potential spoilage in check. The bad part is as you have stated, it doesn’t taste good. That is the primary issue when you have to much tannin in any wine.

You said that you tested the pH of your wine and thought it was too low because of too much tannin being in the wine as opposed to the other typical reason, which is having too much tartaric acid in the wine. This could be easily verified by testing the wine with an acid test kit. This would tell you very precisely if there was too much tartaric acid in the wine or not.

If you do not want to do this you can go by taste and experience, but this can only tell you what direction to take in solving this problem, not necessarily how sever it is. If there is too much tannin in this wine you would expect it to taste bitter and dry-puckering. If it is a tartaric acid problem you would expect a tart and sharp flavor.Shop Bentonite

If you do have too much tannin in the wine, just as you implied, bringing the temperature up would most likely drop some of it out. I would not hesitate to use artificial means of heat on the wine to heat stabilize the wine. Bring the wine up to about 80°F. for about a 3 days. Because the wine’s pH is so low oxidation will not be an issue.

You can use something as simple as an electric blanket it to warm it up. We also have a heating belt that can warm five gallons by about 20°F. Just be sure to use a thermometer of some type to monitor just how hot the wine is getting.

Once the wine has reach 80°F. (this could take a day or two) treat is with bentonite and let the wine sit for the rest of the week.

If you are dealing with  too much tannin in your wine, you will notice a remarkable change in the wine after doing this. You may want to test the pH again. If you do not notice any change, then I doubt you are dealing with a tannin problem and urge you to test the wine again with an acid testing kit. More than likely you will need to use acid reducing crystals on the wine.Shop Acid Reducing Crystals

Beyond this, if you do see improvement in the pH, it is possible to treat the wine a second time with bentonite, if you deem it necessary, but I would not heat it a second time. Once the pH rises above 3.2, you do need to be a little more cautions about oxidation. You will typically receive marginal improvement from a second treatment in such a potentially severe case.

Hope this information helps you out.

Best Wishes,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

No-Bull Directions For Using One Step No Rinse Cleanser

One Step No Rinse CleanserThe directions on the container of One Step No Rinse Cleanser simply say to rinse your equipment with the solution. Is there a minimum amount of contact time one must allow for the solution to work prior to using the sanitized equipment? The results of an online search stated anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. I know the safe route would be to let it sit for at least 2 minutes, but I’d rather not stand there waiting if I don’t have to.

Name: Paul
State: Missouri
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Hello Paul,

The One Step No Rinse Cleanser is actually an oxygenating cleanser. This means that it uses a burst of oxygen from the solution to do the sanitizing. This high oxygen level actually destroys any unwanted microbes.

The great thing about any oxygenating cleanser is that it gives the biggest burst of oxygen while the solution is evaporating off the surface of what is being sanitized. In other words, the contact time with the solution is not what really matters. What matters is that the solution be allowed to evaporate without interruption after being taken out of the solution. The amount of time in the One Step solution is not critical. This is way the directions seem so vague.

The only situation when the length of time would matter is if you are treating a piece of equipment that has a lot of tight spots, or has a surface that is complex and Shop Basic A Cleansernot smooth. A couple examples of this would be a nylon brush or a straining screen. In both cases you would want to give “some” time for the solution to work its way in between and onto the surface of each nylon bristle or into the corner of each square of the screen. This could require a few seconds due to the surface tension of the solution.

The flip-side of this is when sanitizing a surface that is smooth, like glass, no time is required in the solution at all. Just dip or apply with a rag and allow to evaporate. Again, the evaporation from the surface is what’s key, not the time in the solution.

If you want to get the most out of the One Step No Rinse Cleanser you would allow your equipment to dry completely before using. However, I understand that following such directions would not be practical in a lot of situations, since it would make things way too time consuming. So as a matter of practicality, I would follow these directions: dip or or wipe with a rag the equipment with the solution of One Step No Rinse Cleanser, then allow to dry for 5 minutes.

One final not I’d like to make is that the One Step No Rinse Cleanser is not a Shop Sanitizerssoap or detergent in any way. It is not designed for or intended to release grime from your wine making equipment. This is something that needs to be done with a dish soap or similar, beforehand. The One Step No Rinse Cleanser is strictly for sanitizing your wine making equipment. It is designed to kill any molds, bacteria, etc.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Having Fun Using Honey In Your Wine Making

Using Honey In Wine MakingI want to start using honey instead of sugar in my wine making so I have a few questions: do i put the honey in the must to start with, or, to sweeten after the wine is done fermenting? Also one pound of sugar equals how much honey?

Tom – NC
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Hello Tom,

Using honey in wine making is something you can have a lot of fun with. One of the favorite wines I made was a Raspberry Honey Zinfandel. Nobody could keep their hands off of it, and it was soon gone.

There are different ways honey can be used in wine making. You can add it to the wine must, before fermentation, and have its sugars ferment into alcohol, or you can add the honey after the fermentation and have its sugars contribute to the sweetness of the wine.

 

Using Honey Instead Of Sugar Before The Fermentation

When you add honey before a fermentation, what will be left when the fermentation is complete is the herbal character of the honey. No sweetness will remain. For example, if the honey was spun off of wild flowers then a wild flower character will be added to the wine during the wine making process. If the honey was spun off of strawberry blossoms then you will have a note of herbal-strawberry character in the wine, and so forth.Shop Hydrometers

What this means is you can alter any fruit wine making recipe you find by replacing some or all of the sugar called for with honey. Using honey in your wine making in this way will add a layer of depth to the wine’s over all character. You can compliment the wine’s character, such as adding raspberry-blossom honey to a raspberry wine recipe, or you can contrast the wine’s character, such as adding apple-blossom honey to a cherry wine recipe.

When using honey in wine making before the fermentation, you want to use it in-place-of or instead-of the sugar called for in the wine recipe you are using. As a general rule-of-thumb you can replace 1 pound of sugar with 1.2 to 1.3 pounds of honey. You can also use a wine hydrometer to determine how much honey to add. Keep adding the honey until you get to the appropriate reading on the wine hydrometer’s specific gravity scale – usually between 1.070 and 1.090.

 

Using Honey Instead Of Sugar After The Fermentation

If you add the honey at bottling time or anytime after the fermentation, you are contributing to the sweetness of the wine instead of the alcohol. Shop Potassium SorbateThe herbal characters of the honey are still being added but along with its sweetness. It is important to note that any time you add a sugar to a wine at bottling time – whether it be honey, cane sugar or grape concentrate – you must also add potassium sorbate (wine stabilizer) to eliminate any chance of re-fermentation later on in the wine bottle. The is in addition to the Campden tablets that we recommend at bottling time for any wine. Here’s more information on sweetening a wine with honey.

 

Should I Use Raw Or Pasteurized Honey?

I recommend using pasteurized, filtered honey – the kind you typically find on the grocery shelf. This type of honey has been cleared of wild microbes and various solids that you do not want in your wine. If you do plan on using raw honey in your wine recipe, you will need to heat it up to 170°F. for a full 30 minutes along with some water. During this time you will also want to skim off the top whatever rises.

 

More Information On Using Honey In Wine MakingShop Campden Tablets

You can find more information on our website in the article, Wine Making With Honey. It gives a basic run-down of how honey has been used in wine over the years along with some basic honey recipes.

Using honey instead of sugar in your wine making is a fun way to add more interest depth, not only to your wines, but your wine making. It’s one more way to be creative in the enjoyable and rewarding hobby.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
—–
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Campden Tablets: What They Can And Can’t Do.

Campden Tablets In JarOne of the most commonly used ingredients in home wine making are Campden tablets. You will find them in almost any of the wine making recipes you will use; talked about in almost any of the wine making books you will read; and called into action by just about any of the homemade wine instructions you will follow.

 

What Do Campden Tablets Do?
The original reason Campden tablets were used in wine making was to keep the wine from spoiling after it had been bottled. By adding these tablets at bottling time, you could virtually eliminate any chance of your wine falling victim to mold, bacteria and other foreign enemies.

Since their introduction into wine making, Campden tablets have also become routinely used for sterilizing the juice prior to fermentation. By adding Campden tablets a day before adding your wine yeast, you can start your fermentation with a clean slate, so to speak. All the unwanted micro organisms will be gone.

Some home winemakers also use Campden tablets with water to create a sanitizing solution. This solution will safely sanitize fermenters, air-lock, stirring spoons, hoses and all the other pieces of equipment that may come into contact with the wine must.Shop Wine Yeast

 

What Campden Tablets Don’t Do?
Many beginning winemakers believe that Campden tablets are a magic pill of sorts. One that can instantaneously stop a wine fermentation dead in its tracks. While it is true that Campden tablets can bring a fermentation to its knees for a period of time, it is also true that these fermentations will usually gather themselves back up and eventually overcome the effects of the tablets. The result is a continued fermentation – sometimes after the wine has been bottled.

Truth is, Campden tablets are not designed to stop a fermentation and never have been. Using them for that purpose can get you into all kinds of trouble. There is really no ingredient that can be safely used by itself to assuredly stop a fermentation.

 

What Are Campden Tablets?
Simply put, Campden tablets are metabisulfite. When you add a tablet to the wine you are adding sulfites to the wine. Most Campden tablets consist of potassium metabisulfite, but some are made with sodium metabisulfite.

 

How Are Campden Tablets Used?
Their use is fairly straight-forward. You add one tablet to each gallon of wine must 24 hour prior to adding the wine yeast – before the fermentation. Then you add one table per gallon just before bottling.

The Campden tablets must first be crushed and dissolved in a small amount of the wine or water. This mix is then stirred thoroughly into the rest of the batch.

You can use the Campden tablets to create a sanitizing solution by crushing up 4 tablets into a quart of water. This can be used as a sanitizing rinse, or you can pour it into a fermentation container and allow the fumes to sanitize the entire insides.Shop Potassium Bisulfite

 

As An Alternative To The Campden Tablet…
You can use potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite in the form of a granulated powder. The advantages are: you don’t have to crush it up; and it is cheaper. The disadvantage is you have to measure out the dosage, which is 1/16 teaspoon per tablet.

 

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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

My Wine’s Fermenting Without Adding Any Yeast

Wild Yeast On GrapesWhy is my grape juice bubbling and I have not added my yeast yet.

Name: Jerry R.
State: PA
—–
Hello Jerry,

The simple answer is your juice is naturally fermenting because of wild yeast. This is why a wine will ferment without adding yeast, at all.

Yeast is everywhere: floating in the air, landing on plants and animals. It is ubiquitous to the nature in which we live. Your grape juice either picked up some wild yeast somewhere, or it started naturally fermenting from yeast that were on the grapes themselves.

Most of the time, vineyards selling fresh grape juice to home winemakers will treat it with sulfites such as potassium metabisulfite to destroy any of the wild yeast and to temporarily protect if from fermentation and spoilage. This would eliminate any chance of a wine fermentation occurring from the natural yeast that was on the grapes.

But there is still the issue of the wild yeast that is floating around. From the oranges sitting on the kitchen counter to the cat who just came inside for a little nap, the sources of yeast are many and unstoppable.

Once a few cells of the wild yeast make it to your wine juice, then it becomes party time. A wine fermentation will ignite with the natural yeast. Slowly, the yeast will start to consume the sugars and use that for energy to multiply themselves into a larger colony. As the colony becomes larger the growth will slow down and the focus will turn to the productions of alcohol. This is how a wine ferments without adding yeast.Shop Wine Yeast

What is described above is no different than what happens when you add a domesticated wine yeast. This begs the question, “why add yeast at all?” The answer is simple, with wild or natural yeast you never know what you are getting. Yeast is not just yeast. There are thousands of yeast strains, and with each strain are an endless number of varying mutations.

With a domesticated wine yeast: 1) you know what you are getting, 2) the strain is kept consistent, and 3) the strain has been bred for a specific characteristic, such as alcohol tolerance, flavor profile and such. Domesticated wine yeast pack more firmly on the bottom of the fermentation vessel as sediment so you can more easily rack the wine off of it. You may want to take a look at a wonderful article we have on the reasons you should use a domesticated wine yeast.

Now that you know your wine fermentation is from natural yeast. What should you do?

Fortunately, there is a simple remedy for such a situation. Wild or natural yeast are not very resilient to sulfites, and sulfite is the active ingredient in Campden tablets, potassium metabisulfite and sodium metabisulfite. All you need to do is add a dose of any one of the above, and the wild yeast will easily be destroyed and no more natural fermentation. Wait 24 hours, then add a domesticated wine yeast to the juice. During this 24 hour period you should leave the grape juice uncovered, or at most, covered with no more than a thin towel. Shop Potassium BisulfiteThis will allow the sulfur to release as a gas and dissipate. Once the domesticated wine yeast has been added, you should see a renewed fermentation start within 24 to 36 hours.

Having a wine ferment from natural yeast is not a horrible thing but it is something you’d prefer not to have. It’s like rolling the dice with Mother Nature. The important thing to understand is that a wine fermentation can occur without adding yeast, but there is something you can easily do about it.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus

 

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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.