Is Wine Yeast And Baking Yeast The Same?

Wine Yeast Not Baking YeastI need you to help me settle a bet with a friend who also makes wine.  He says that wine yeast is no different than what you can get in the store to make bread with.  His quote “yeast is yeast”.  I say that it is different, although I can’t explain how.  Please help settle this and let us know who has to pay up, plus if there is a difference between wine yeast and baking yeast can you explain it to me.

Thanks,
Jamie
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Hello Jamie,

I’m going to be brutally honest, here. I hope this doesn’t break-up a good friendship.

To say that yeast is yeast is like saying a dog is a dog. Over the centuries dogs have been bred for various, specific tasks: hunting, herding, personal protection, attacking, protecting herds, companionship, etc. The same can be said for yeast. They have been bred over the decades to perform specific tasks: rising bread, making alcohol, bio-degrading oils, pharmaceutical production, etc.

So to bring this analogy full circle, when you’re making wine with a baking yeast, you’re hunting grizzlies with a chihuahua. Sorry friend, but wine yeast and baking yeast are not the same. In fact, they are very different. I would never recommend making wine with bread or baking yeast.Shop Yeast Nutrient

Wine yeast in particular is bred to obtain higher alcohol levels than baking yeast. On average, bread yeast will get you 9 or 10%. Anything higher than that is possible, but the baking yeast will have to struggle considerably.

Wine yeast are bred to thrive very well with the set of nutrients fruits naturally provide. Baking yeast, on the other hand, prefers the balance of nutrients found in grains or bread doughs.

Wine yeast clears more quickly from the wine than baking yeast. Wine yeast is bred to clump together as the fermentation activity slows – a process known as flocculation. The clumping allows the wine yeast to drop out and settle to the bottom more quickly. Baking yeast does not clump or flocculate. Instead, it slowly settles to the bottle as a fine haze. This process can take weeks instead of days.

Wine yeast foams less than baking yeast. This is because wine yeast are bred to produce less surface tension in the liquid than baking yeast.

Wine yeast is also more tolerant to sulfites than baking yeast. The wine yeast has actually been acclimated to coexist with some residual sulfites such as Campden tablets in the wine. This means that wine yeast can ferment just fine with some sulfites in the wine must. Baking yeast is not as fortunate. Even small amounts of sulfites can stop a wine fermentation dead in its tracks.

Another issue is that bread yeast is only packaged under food-grade conditions. This is certainly suitable for baking. The yeast is only being utilized for a few hours, not days, so the perpetuation of any contaminating organisms do not have enough time to do any damage.

On the other hand, with wine yeast we are talking days if not weeks that the yeast is in play. This is plenty of time for stray organisms riding on the yeast to potentially breed into a full-fledged infestation spoiling the wine. For this reason, wine yeast is package under sterile conditions. This is far more stringent than food-grade packaging.Shop Wine Yeast

To sum all this up, you can certainly make wine with a baking yeast, but you will be sacrificing flavor and potentially alcohol. You are also increasing the likelihood of having a stuck fermentation. This is because of issues with nutrients and the use of sodium metabisulfite.

So, as I think you can see, wine yeast and baking yeast are not the same. In fact, there are many differences between the two. That combined with the fact that wine yeast is not all that expensive to buy, why wouldn’t you use it in your winemaking?

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.

My Malolactic Fermentation Won’t Start

Malolactic FermentationI added malolactic culture to two carboys of wine approximately 30 days ago. One of them showed sign of good fermentation, but in the second one the malolactic fermentation won’t start. What can I do with the carboy that is not fermenting?

Thank James
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Hello James,

There are a few reasons why a malolactic fermentation won’t start or complete in a wine. Before adding the malolactic culture to the wine it is best to make sure that you have some things in order. The environment that the wine is providing for the culture needs to one that promotes a malolactic fermentation. Here or some thing to consider:

 

  • Temperature: Make sure the malolactic fermentation temperature is between 70°F. – 75°F. If the temperature is too cool the malolactic culture will not ferment as hardily as it should, if at all. Also, beware of malolactic fermentation temperatures above this range. These temperatures could promote the growth of unwanted organisms that may produce off-flavors in the wine. If you are currently experiencing MLF temperatures that are cooler than this, we have a heating belt that is designed specifically for such a situation. I doubt that this is the reason why your malolactic fermentation won’t start since both carboys are side-by-side, but I’ve included here for completeness, just the same.
  • Acidity: Just like temperature, the wine’s acidity level needs to be tested to make sure it is in a decent range. If the acidity is too high, it will inhibit the malolactic culture’s activity. You also need to be concerned about having too low of an acid level. This will promote the growth of unwanted bacteria. A simple pH reading will do. You can use pH Strips (litmus papers) or a digital pH meter. YouShop Digital pH Meter would like to have the pH be between 3.2 and 3.6. Remember, the scale works backwards. The lower the number the higher the acid. If your acidity is too high, then treat the wine with acid reducing crystals. This will drop out some if the acid as crystals. If the acidity is too low then add some acid blend.
  • Alcohol: If the wine’s alcohol level is too high this can by why your malolactic fermentation won’t start. This type of problem can be experienced with wines that are 13% or higher. It may be necessary to dilute the wine with water to bring the alcohol concentration down. Always use distilled water for this purpose.
  • Sulfite (SO2): A malolactic fermentation is very sensitive to sulfite. It is much more sensitive than a yeast fermentation. Sulfite is the main ingredient you are adding when you use Campden tablets, potassium metabisulfite or sodium metabisulfite. It is also produced naturally by the yeast during a fermentation. You would like the amount of free SO2 in the wine to be no higher than 10 ppm. You can get away with 15 ppm, but it is not preferable. You can use a Titret test kit to determine how much sulfite is in your wine. If there is too much, you can lower it by racking the wine into another vessel. Do so in a splashing manner. This activity will cause some of the SO2 to dissipate as a gas.

 

Ironically, if you cannot get the malolactic fermentation to start in your wine after making these adjustments, it is in the wine’s best interest to pull-the-plug on the project and bring the sulfite level up to a normal level – somewhere around 35 ppm to 55 ppm – and bottle the wine. This reason for this is that if the SO2 level is low in preparation for a malolactic fermentation, you don’t want the wine to stay still too long in this situation. You want to either bring the SO2 level up to a protective level, or have an active MLF. Having neither for a stretch of time is jeopardizing the wine.Shop Heating Belt

That’s how to get a malolactic fermentation going in your wine. Get the temperature and these other things set and your MLF starter should take off just fine. There may be other reasons why a malolactic fermentation won’t start, but I’m confident that the above covers 99% of the issues.

If you’d like to read more about this we have another blog post about the reasons for doing a malolactic fermentation.

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.

Oaking Wine With Oak Chips

Man Oaking Wine With Oak ChipsHow do you go about oaking wine with oak chips? What type of oak chip would you recommend using on muscadine wine? I’d like to do a little experimenting. My wine is a combination of red and white muscadine grapes yielding a blush/rose type wine. What type of oak chip, quantity per 6 gallon carboy and length of time to soak would you recommend? Thanks much!

Name: Ed P.
State: Illinois
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Hello Ed,

Nothing wrong with a little experimenting. For me that’s part of what makes wine making so enormously fun.

One thing about oaking wine with oak chips, not all wines will benefit from it. Normally, the wines you would like to add oak chips to are wines with a lot of body. The tannins in the oak will help any excessive proteins in these full-bodied wines to clear out. This will give your wine a little more brilliant color.

The oak chips will also add their own smoothing affect to the wine’s character. A rounding-off of the rough corners, so to speak. Heavier wines tend to be harsher than lighter wine. Oak chips will also add some wood flavors to the wine. Some regard this as giving the wine more complexity. These heavy wines are the ones that you should be thinking about considering what wines to oak.

Looking at this from an experimental standpoint, your best option would be to take off a gallon of the wine and strongly oak it. This could be done by adding about 4 to 8 ounces of oak chips to the gallon for a two or three months. Once this is done you can blend a little/some/or all back into the other 5 gallons based on taste.Shop Toasted Oak Chips

Using this method for oaking your wine with oak chips would give you the most control over the final outcome. The downfall is that you would not want to store 5 gallons of wine in a 6 gallon carboy, so you would need to move the 5 gallons of wine to a 5 gallon carboy during this time. The same holds true for the one gallon sample you will be oaking. Also, you are risking loosing whatever portion of the gallon you do not wish to add back to the wine.

The other method for oaking a wine with oak chips would be add it to the entire 6 gallons of wine, and then taste it along the way to see how it’s doing. Usually, once every 3 or 4 weeks. While this is an easier method, you do run a better risk of ending up with a wine you might not care too much for.

How much of the oak chips you would want to add to the wine can vary. I personally like to use 2 ounces to 5 gallons and let it age out for many months. But others like adding 4 or 6 ounces and age the wine for a shorter period of time.

Without question, I would recommend using toasted oak ships. Plain oak chips are rarely used but still have their place. Whether you use Toasted French oak chips or Toasted American oak chips would not make an incredible difference. Shop Oak PowderEither can produce great results. The main difference between the two is that American oak will add sort of a coconut smoothness to the wine, whereas French oak chips will add more of a vanilla richness. One is not better than the other, it’s more of a matter of which one will work best with the wine at hand. Without tasting your wine, I would suspect you would want to use the American oak chips–just a guess.

Ed, I hope this information about oaking wine with oak chips is what you were looking for. Just realize that oaking a homemade wine with oak chips is something that does not happen overnight, so you will have time to sample the wine and make careful judgments as to when enough is enough.

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.

Careful! Using Reverse Osmosis Water For Wine Making Can Be A Problem

Using Reverse Osmosis In Wine MakingYour newsletter states that using distilled water for making wine is not recommended but what about tap water filtered via reverse osmosis? Can I use reverse osmosis water for wine making?

Thank You
John
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Hello John,

You are correct. We do not recommend using distilled water. Not only does the distilling process remove valuable, free oxygen from the water, but it also removes all the minerals. Both are much-needed commodities for the yeast during a fermentation. If either are missing, it can lead to a sluggish or stuck fermentation.

Likewise, we do not recommend using reverse osmosis water for wine making, either. While the free oxygen does remain in the water through osmosis filtering process, critical minerals are still being removed. Magnesium sulfate can be added back to the water in an attempt to restore it for fermentation, but this is more or less putting a band-aid on the issue.Shop Magnesium Sulfate

Your better option would be to purchase bottled drinking water. These bottled drinking water typically will either have the original, natural minerals in them, or the water has been completely purified and then had an optimal blend of minerals added back. Either way, this would be a better option than using distilled or reverse osmosis water in wine making.

It is also important to note that while free oxygen in the water is good for the fermentation, it is bad for the wine once the fermentation has completed. Having free oxygen in the wine after the fermentation can lead to oxidation or browning of the wine.

Fortunately, most all of the oxygen that is in the must before fermentation is either consumed by the yeast or quickly driven out by the CO2 gas from the fermentation. So, while we do recommend using water that isShop Aeration System saturated in oxygen before the fermentation, after the fermentation, we recommend using distilled water for making any necessary adjustments or for topping-up after the fermentation.

To sum it up, using reverse osmosis water for wine making is really not ideal, essentially because of that lack of trace minerals that are removed in the process. You would be better served in most cases by using tap water over reverse osmosis or maybe even bottle drinking water, if you are so inclined.

Happy Wine Making,
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.

Why Using Pectic Enzyme Gets You A Clear Wine

What Using Pectic Enzyme Does To WineI have made delicious peach wine in the past, but last year, the peaches were ripe when I was out of town. My son cleaned, sliced and froze them in freezer bags til I could get home. It’s been 10 mos. and the wine refuses to clear – I’ve tried everything. Was pretty sure I had read you could freeze fruit til ready to use, but maybe not? That’s the only thing I remember doing differently…”Blue Moon” Peach Wine anyone?

Name: Carol
State: Maryland
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Hello Carol,

Freezing the peaches would not have anything to do with the wine being cloudy. I think this has more to do with using pectic enzyme. Freezing the fruit will only help to break down the fiber allowing you to get more flavor from the peaches. Freezing the fruit is something we recommend doing all the time. So even though this is the only apparent difference from other times you’ve made this wine, this is not the cause of your peach wine being cloudy.

Assuming that the fermentation went along just fine, the number one reason for a peach wine to be cloudy is because of something called a pectin haze. Peaches have a considerable amount of pectin in them when compared to other winemaking fruit. Pectin is the gel that holds the fruit’s fiber together. It has a milky appearance to it when removed from the fruit.

With most fruit the pectin is broken down and cleared during the fermentation. The wine yeast produce enzymes that help to do this. Most fruit wine recipes will also call for pectic enzymes as additional insurance to see to it that all the pectin cells are broken down. You can read more about this in a previous blog post, Why Do Some Wine Recipes Call For Pectic Enzyme? When using pectic enzyme the pectin cells are broken down into a substance that is clear and watery.Shop Pectic Enzyme

If all the pectin cells are not broken down then they add to the cloudy appearance of the wine. In the case of peaches, sometimes not all the pectin gets broken down. Sometimes this is caused by a stressed wine yeast, but it can also be caused by using pectic enzyme that is old or not using enough pectic enzyme. If any fruit is gong to expose this error it would be the peach wine due to its abundance of pectin cells. Other fruits high in pectin are plums, strawberries and persimmons.

It is important to understand that a pectin haze can not be cleared out with fining agents such a bentonite, isinglass or Sparkolloid. This is because these types of clarifiers are primarily used to clear out particles. Pectin is not a particle, but rather, something that is molecularity bound to the liquid. No fining agent can touch it. It needs to be broken down through enzymatic activity. That is why using pectic enzyme is so important in these situations.

You can try adding more pectic enzyme to the wine, but it may take a while for the full reaction to take place. The enzymes work much more slowly after the fermentation when the activity is not present. Patience may be required on your part. It could even take several months.

Shop Mini Jet Wine FilterIf you would like to verify that it is a pectin haze you are dealing with you can take a small sample of the wine and add extreme doses of the pectic enzyme to it to see if it will clear the wine: say, a teaspoon to 4 oz. to 8 oz. of wine. You should see a reaction with in days, if not hours, at this dosage.

Hope this information about using pectic enzyme helps you out.

Happy Winemaking!

Increasing Your Wine’s Fruity Flavors

Increasing Wine FlavoringJust wondering if your liqueur flavorings could be added to a fruit wine as a wine flavoring additive… for a little stronger flavor… Our blackberry wine, from last year, is not real fruity…. and wondered if this would give it a flavor boost…

Thank you,
Sandy M.
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Hi Sandy,

To answer your question, yes, you can use these liqueur flavorings as wine flavoring additives to increase the flavor your wine. It is recommended that you do not add more than one bottle of flavoring to each five gallons. These extract flavorings are very strong, and should be used with care. Adding more than one or two bottles can bring a bitter aftertaste to the wine.

One of the wine making tips I tell people when using any kind of wine flavoring extract or additive, is that the full flavor impression does not usually take effect immediately. It takes a little time for the extracts flavoring to come together with the wine. Letting the wine sit a day to let the flavors mingle is recommended before making any decisions to add more flavoring.

Shop Liqueur FlavoringsBefore you decide to add liqueur flavorings to your wine, there is a point I’d like to bring up. One of the things that can throw you off as a home winemaker, particularly if you’re just beginning to learn how to make your own wine, is experiencing the flavors of a dry fruit wine. Dry means the wine has no taste-able sweetness to it, which is normally the case after fermentation, if the fermentation has completed successfully.

One of the effects that dryness has on a wine is that it reduces the fruity impression. When all the sugars have been fermented out of the fruit juice it takes on an entirely different character.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because, increasing the fruity flavors of the wine may be just a matter of adding some sweetness back to it, and bringing the wine back into better balance. This is simply done by adding a sugar/water syrup mixture to the wine until the desired effect has been achieved.

A wine stabilizer such as potassium sorbate will need to be added, as well, to keep the fermentation from starting up again. This is something that should be done at bottling time.Buy Wine Ingredient Kits

Even if you like your wines dry, adding some sugar to the wine to make it a little less puckering can bring out a substantial amount of fruitiness, so never rule out back sweetening a wine, regardless of your personal tastes.

Learning how to make adjustments to a wine before bottling is a big part of home winemaking. By utilizing tools such as wine flavoring additives you can increase the flavor and pleasure of your homemade wines.

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.

Why Do Some Wine Recipes Call For Pectic Enzyme?

Fermentation Using Pectic EnzymeThis is Greg again with another question.  I have been making wine with your concentrated homemade wine kits for several years and have had a lot of fun for sure.  I would like to make apple wine…  saw the apple recipe you have on your website.  It looks a lot like making wine from concentrate.  The only thing I do not understand is the pectic enzyme. What is the purpose of adding pectic enzyme to a wine?

Greg
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Dear Greg,

Pectic enzyme is called for in almost all wine recipes that use fresh fruit. The recipes you see in books like The First Steps In Wine Making and the wine recipes on our website will all call for pectic enzymes. However, you do not need to add it to wines made from concentrated homemade wine kits, like the ones you have been making wine with. This is because the necessary pectic enzyme has already been added to the concentrate by the wine kit producer.

The purpose of using pectic enzyme in wine making is twofold:

  • First and foremost, pectic enzyme helps to break down the fruit’s fiber or pulp. This allows more flavor and color to be extracted from whatever fruit is being used during the fermentation.
  • Shop Pectic EnzymeSecondly, it helps to make sure the wine has a clearer, more translucent, appearance after the fermentation has completed and the wine has had ample time to clear up.

Pectic enzyme accomplishes both of these tasks by breaking down the pectin cells in the fruit. Pectin is the gelatinous material that holds together the strands of fiber found within fruits such as strawberry or grape. It is also the “stuff” that makes apple sauce thick and cloudy.

By breaking down these pectin cells, the fruit’s pulp becomes less thick. This allows more of the fruit’s character to be released during fermentation or even when running the pulp through the grape presses. Because pectin is somewhat opaque, if it isn’t sufficiently broken down during the fermentation, the resulting wine will have a pectin haze. For the most part, this type of defect is not correctable once the fermentation is complete.

When making wine from concentrated homemade wine kits, the flavor and color extraction has already been taken care of for you. No pulp is involved and Pectic enzyme is not necessary. It’s one more variable that these kits take out of the equation so that you can be a successful home wine maker.

shop_wine_pressSo as you can start to see there is a reason for adding pectic enzyme to a wine. Pectic enzyme has a purpose. It helps to extract more color and flavor from the fruit, and it helps to insure that the resulting wine is clear.

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 Sulfites To Homemade Wine

Adding Sulfites To WineI started fruit wine making in May. Yesterday I came across reading something on your blog which caught my attention. Something that I haven’t read or was told before. That is to add Campden tablets and sorbate after each racking. Do I need to do this after each racking or is it OK with every other racking?… By me not adding any since I started and going on my 3 and 4th rackings am I in jeopardy of losing my wine?…

Eric — LA
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Hello Eric,

The fact that you haven’t been adding sulfites [Campden tablets] to your homemade wine doesn’t mean you have ruined it by any means. There are winemakers that never use sulfite and turn out good wines. But having said this, I would urge you to start adding sulfites to homemade wine.

Sulfites such as Campden tablets and sodium metabisulfite make sure your wine does not spoil during the wine making process. After the wine has been made, sulfites help to insure that your wine will keep for many years and not just weeks or months in the wine bottle. Sulfites also help your wine to be free from the effects of oxidation. This is when the color of the wine darkens and the flavor taken on a little bitterness. Adding sulfites to homemade wine is not an absolute necessity, but it only makes sense to do so.

Potassium sorbate on the other hand is a different beast. It should only be used before bottling the wine – if at all. It is required if you are planning on back-sweetening your wine at bottling time. If it is not added along with the sweetening sugar, you stand a very strong chance of experiencing a re-fermentation of your wine while in the bottle. This can eventually result in popping corks and fizzy wine.

Shop Campden TabletsThere is no reason to add potassium sorbate at any other time than at bottling. In fact, if it is added before the fermentation has completed it will most likely result in a sluggish or stuck fermentation. I would not recommend adding it at bottling time if you are not making a sweet wine. It is not necessary.

If you are making wine from fresh fruit, I always recommend adding sulfite to homemade wine about 24 hours before adding the yeast. Leave the wine must uncovered during this 24 hours so that the sulfite gas may dissipate. Then add the wine yeast as you normally would. Doing this will easily destroy any wild molds, bacteria, etc. that may be coming along with the fruit.

I always recommend that sulfite be added before bottling, as well. This is the dose that keeps the wine fresh and free of oxidation while in the wine bottle. Before fermentation and before bottling are the two times I would never forgo.

I also suggest adding sulfites to wine after the fermentation has completed. This is with the understanding that the wine is going to sit for a while before clearing up. This will keep any airborne contaminants from growing on your wine while clearing.

Shop Potassium BisulfiteOnce the wine is clear and you have racked it off the sediment, I would also recommend adding a 1/2 dose of sulfites if you plan on bulk-aging the wine. If you plan on bottling within a few days don’t worry about it.

Eric, at this point I would add a dose of Campden tablets. Just on per gallon. If you are on your 3rd or 4th racking you shouldn’t need to rack your wine any more other than to bottle it, at which point I would add another dose of Campden tablets. No potassium sorbate should be added unless you are sweetening your wine.

Adding sulfites to homemade wine is important and highly recommended. It’s like buying insurance for making a wine that doesn’t spoil or oxidize. If you do not add sulfites you can make wine successfully, but most will find it hard for the wine to keep over extended periods of time without refrigeration.

Happy Winemaking,
Customer Service at E. C. 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.

Can I Use Potassium Sorbate To Stop A Fermentation?

Wine Fermentation That Needs To Be StoppedAs the yeast eats the sugars, the sweet taste disappears as the sugar is eaten. I have heard you can’t stop the yeast from doing their job. But if I want a sweeter wine and my reading has reached an SG of 1.010, can I put potassium sorbate in the fermentation to stop it there for some sweetness instead of letting it ferment to the end at .998 and having to try and back sweeten a dry wine?

Byron J. — FL
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Hello Byron,

This is a great question because it covers a two wine making topics that often trip up home winemakers: using potassium sorbate and sweetening a wine.

Let me start off by saying that it is possible to stop a fermentation in progress, but it is much more difficult than just using potassium sorbate to stop a fermentation and/or sulfites such as Campden tablets and sodium metabisulfite. These wine making ingredients will give the fermentation a blow to the gut, but vary rarely will they permanently stop a fermentation. Not good enough for a homemade wine that is destined to be bottled. The last thing any winemaker wants is fermenting bottles of wine.

The potassium sorbate does not stop or inhibit the fermenting in any way. What it does do is stop the yeast from reproducing themselves. During a typical fermentation the wine yeast will go through several re-generations. By adding potassium sorbate to a wine you are making sure that the current generation of yeast is the last generation of yeast. Eventually, the wine yeast will begin to die, but not all at once. Some yeast will live longer than others always leaving a possibility of a re-fermentation occurring, even months down the road.

Shop Potassium SorbateSulfites, like the Campden tablets and sodium metabisulfite, will destroy some of the yeast cells but not all of them. Domesticated wine yeast are somewhat immune to the effects of sulfite. They are acclimated to the sulfites when they are being produced. This is done on purpose so that a fermentation can exist with some of the protective benefits of sulfites.

Since potassium sorbate won’t stop a fermentation, here is what a commercial winery does when they want to stop an active fermentation:

  1. Chill the fermentation tanks down to about 45°F. This causes the wine yeast to stop their activity and drop to the bottom. This can be done in a matter of 3 or 4 days depending on how fast the tanks chill. As a home winemaker, refrigeration should be done for at least a week.
  1. Rack the wine off the sediment. The sediment is mostly yeast cells at this stage of the winemaking process, so by racking or siphoning the wine, you are leaving most of the yeast behind.
  1. Filter the wine. It is vital that the wine be finely filtered at this point. While almost all of the wine yeast is gone, if some is left in the wine they can propagate themselves into larger numbers, regenerating a new colony of yeast that can ferment the wine after it has been bottled. Not a good thing. A winery will typically filter a wine down to .5 micron. This will require filtration under pressure with an actual wine filter system.

Shop Potassium MetabisulfiteThis is how a winery controls the sweetness of a wine, but there is a much, much easier way available to the home winemaker. It doesn’t involve using potassium sorbate to stop a fermentation, and it doesn’t involve going through all the steps laid out above.

  1. Allow the fermentation to finish. All the sugars will be gone and the wine yeast will start dropping out.
  1. Rack the wine off the sediment. Again, this will leave most of the yeast behind – well over 90%.
  1. Add sugar syrup to taste. The sugar syrup can be made by taking equal parts water and sugar and heating them in a sauce pan until completely clear. You may want to take a measured portion of the wine and add measured portions of the sugar syrup to establish a dosage, first, before committing the entire batch.
  1. Add potassium sorbate and sulfite to the wine. The dosage should be listed on the containers they come in, but you want to use 1/2 teaspoon of potassium sorbate per gallon and 1/16 teaspoon per gallon of either: potassium metabisulfite, sodium metabisulfite, or 1 Campden tablet per gallon of wine.
  1. Bottle the wine right away. If the wine is allowed to sit, some of the sulfite will dissipate, so you will want to bottle the wine on the same day.

By allowing the wine to finish, you will have much greater control on the sweetness of the wine. Instead of saying I want the wine to finish at a specific gravity 1.010, as you have suggested, you can actually sweeten the wine to taste. This is important because some wines require more sugar than others to get the same effect of sweetness than others. Every wine is different.Shop Mini Jet Wine Filter

By operating in this way you can also bulk age the wine first. This is a great advantage, because it allows you to sweeten the wine after the harshness has been aged out. Often times when sweetening a young, too much sugar will be added. This is because the winemaker tries to cover up the harshness with sweetness — a harshness that won’t be there later.

Byron, I hope this information helps you out. Again, I’m glad you asked about using potassium sorbate to stop a fermentation for the simple fact that it’s answer will help to clear up a lot of confusion among new winemakers.

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.

The Virtues Of Adding More Fruit To A Wine Recipe

Bowl Of Wine Making FruitYour blueberry wine recipe on your website states you need 13lbs of blueberries for making 5 gals. Will adding more fruit to this wine recipe add more color and flavor to the finished wine?

Thank-you
Gary C.

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Yes, adding more fruit to any wine recipe is going to intensify the flavor and add more color. But, before you take this bit of information and go running with it, here are some considerations that you may want to think over first.

Do You Really Want More Flavor?

Almost all of the wine recipes on our website are shooting for a pleasant, medium-bodied wine. If you follow the amounts called for and follow the homemade wine instructions, you will end up with a wine that everyone can enjoy, wine drinkers and non-wine drinkers alike – a wine perfect for passing out as personal wine making gifts at parties, family gatherings, etc.

If you over-do the intensifying of the flavor by adding more fruit, it has been my experience that non-wine drinkers will not be as appreciative of what you’ve made. The flavors that will come forward will be very foreign and challenging for non-drinkers to like.

What About The Fruit Acid?

When you add more fruit to a wine recipe, you are obviously adding more fruit acid as well. A wine’s acidity needs to be in a certain range to have any chance of tasting right. By adding more fruit to a wine recipe, you are potentially taking the wine out of this range. This could lead to your wine tasting either too sharp or tart.

Fortunately, you can overcome this by reducing one of the other wine making products called for in the recipe, Acid Blend. This is a blend of the acids that are naturally found in fruit. In the case of the blueberry wine recipe, it calls for 2 tablespoons of Acid Blend. When adding more blueberries you would reduce this amount to compensate.Shop Acid Test Kit

Now comes the question, “By how much does the Acid Blend need to be reduced?” This can only be answered with the aid of an Acid Testing Kit. Once all other ingredients – besides the Acid Blend – have been added to the wine must, you would use the Acid Testing Kit to determine how much Acid Blend, if any, is actually needed for the wine to taste in balance – not too sharp, or not too flat. Our acid testing kit comes with directions that will tell you how to get the wine acidity into the right range.

The Alcohol Level Needs To Kept In Balance.

In general, the fuller the flavor of a wine, the higher the alcohol level must be to keep it in balance. Wines that do not have enough alcohol as compared to their flavor intensity, will taste harsher. The astringent characters of the wine will be highlighted in the wine’s final flavor profile.

To help put this into better perspective, lighter white wines tend to be around 10% alcohol, while the heaviest of reds tend to be around 14%. The particular blueberry wine recipe you are considering is shooting for around 11.5% to 12%, that is, if you follow the homemade wine instructions.

This alcohol level is based on both the amount of sugar and fruit called for in the wine recipe. Both of these ingredients are wine making materials that provide food for the wine yeast to turn into alcohol.

If you decide to add more fruit to your wine recipe, then you should probably shoot for more alcohol. Not necessarily 14%, but maybe somewhere around 12.5% or 13%. There is no exact amount that is correct. This is where art, finesse and experience come into play.

To control the finished alcohol level of a wine, you need to control the beginning sugar level. This is done with the “potential alcohol” scale on the wine hydrometer. Once the crushed fruit and water are mixed together, instead of adding 11 pounds of sugar as directed by the wine recipe on our website, just keep dissolving sugar into the wine must until the potential alcohol scale on the wine hydrometer reads 13%.Shop Hydrometers

More Flavor Means More Aging.

Another consideration that must be thought through before increasing the amount of fruit is the amount of aging that will be required before the wine is considered mature and ready for consumption.

Here again, the more fruit you add to a wine recipe, the more aging the wine will need before it comes into its own. With the original 13 pounds of blueberries, maximum aging would be around 6 to 9 months. With 20 pounds it may take as long as 12 to 18 months before the improvement brought by aging is fully realized.

This does not mean that you can not drink the wine before this; it just means that you can expect the wine to continue improving with even more time. Again, neither I nor wine making books can tell you when the wine has reached full maturation, this is for you to learn how to determine on your own as you sample the wine through out the aging process.

As You May Begin To See…

There are a lot of factors that go into putting together a solid wine recipe: picking out the various wine making products; determining their amounts, etc.

Shop Wine Making KitsAll the wine recipes we offer on our website have been bench tested and used many, many times. While you can alter them as you like, realize that any changes you make to any one ingredient, usually means that you will need to change another ingredient to keep things in line.

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.