Why Does My Wine Taste Better The Next Day?

Wine Poured From A CarafI really enjoy the wine making information in your newsletters. I bottled my first wine, a California Merlot, last May. It aged in 6.5 L carboys and had 8 months of French oak chips. I racked it twice. It is still a bit young, but interestingly, if I decant the wine and drink it 24 hours later, it is a much better wine. Can you speculate as to why does my wine taste better the next day?

James — MI
Hello James,

The wine taste better the next day because you are allowing time for it to breathe. What is really going on when a wine breathes is it is being introduced to fresh air again, something that it hasn’t had contact with for quite some time. By pulling the cork and simply letting the wine bottle stand or by pouring the wine into a carafe, the air will start a mild oxidative process that will soften the rough edges of the wine’s tannins.

It also allows time for any odd gasses to escape that may have developed during the aging or maturation process. Allowing a wine to breathe has also been known to intensify both the flavor and bouquet of a wine — something that can be a problem for wines that have not been fully aged, however this is not true in every case.

While allowing time for the wine to breathe can be a benefit for some, for many it will have no benefit at all, and for others it may even bring damage, particularly with older wines whose flavor structure has been known to collapse very shortly after decanting.

The wines that are most likely to benefit from breathing are younger, heavy reds that have not yet had time to take complete advantage of the aging process. And, it just so happens that young, red wines is what’s readily available to the home winemaker.

How long you should let the wine breath is another issue. Usually we are talking minutes not hours. More than likely 60 minutes would have been just as good as waiting for the next day to drink your homemade Merlot. As a general rule-of-thumb the younger the wine the more time it may need to take full advantage of breathing, but to say a wine needs until the next day to breathe is excessive from any perspective. Think in terms of a few minutes with a probability of improvement on up to an hour.

Shop Wine Making KitsWith all this being said, unless you have previous experience with decanting a specific wine, giving it time to breath can be a bit of a crap shoot. In the case of your Merlot, you have specific experience with it, so I would not hesitate to let it breathe for 30 minutes and see what you think.

In the case of an unfamiliar wine: if it is white, allowing time for it to breathe is pointless; if it has been aged more than 4 years, not recommended; and if it has been aged 8 or more years, it could be risky in the sense that the wine’s structure could collapse altogether giving the wine a flabby character. Stick with the red wines that are heavy in tannins and short on aging.

James, I hope this answers your question as to why your wine tastes better the next day. You are not the first to bring this up.

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.

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.
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.

Is Older Wine Better?… Not Necessarily!

Buy Couple Shopping For WineFrom the incredible prices being cried out at a Sotherby’s wine auction, to the fluffy articles that float around in today’s life-styles magazines, people are continuously being fed the notion that the older the wine is, the better it will be.

But is older wine better? Unfortunately, the answer is maybe – maybe not! The ol’ mantra: “the older the wine the better”, is just that – a mantra. It’s a generalization that is just as likely to be false as it is true. The reality with any wine is that there will always come a time when it would be best to drink up!

Wines don’t endlessly increase in quality like an investment fund or like a home increases in value. They have a life cycle, a beginning and an end, much like any living thing. At first, there is a steady rise in quality; then a flattening out, or plateauing; and eventually a long, slow decline.

The aging cycle of a today’s commercial wines are fairly well mapped and predictable. Some wines have very long life-cycles, involving many years, even decades. Then there’s other wines who’s aging potential is not so long. Based on the type of wine, how it was made, combined with an observation Buy Wine Ingredient Kitsof its character at bottling, a timeline can be laid out by the winery that shows the optimum time to drink that particular wine. Once this theoretical point is reached, any additional aging is futile. In fact, too much aging beyond that point will result in a very slow decrease of the wine’s quality.

The very same holds true for homemade wines. There will come a point in each wine’s life when more aging will not be a good thing. Holding on to it will only provide you with less and less quality as time goes on – a direct mocking of the phrase, “the older the wine the better”.

The whole point of bringing this to light is that some home winemakers get into the game of saving their wines instead of drinking them, putting bottles away like heirlooms, thinking they’re going to become more exceptional as time goes by, saving them for their granddaughter’s wedding and all, but in reality this is little more than a waste of good wine.

By all means let the wine age. It my take 3 months. It might take 3 years. Every so often pull a bottle out and see how it is doing. Is it becoming more mellow? Is it developing any complexities or layers of flavors? If yes, then great, let the wine age a little longer. But when no improvement can be detected between samplings, then simply put, it’s time to start drinking.
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.

Summer Time Wine: The best way to enjoy wine in the summer

It’s summer time! What better way to celebrate warm weather than with a refreshing glass of wine?

This year has been pretty crazy, so kick off your shoes, lay back, and enjoy a heavy pour or two. (We don’t judge.)

Summer Wine Pairings

Wines are great by themselves, but can be even better when paired with the right food.

Food and wine go together like sand and the ocean. Let’s dive into the must have wines for this summer and their perfect pairings.

White Wines

White wine has a nice refreshing taste perfect for hot weather. Here are our favorites that are guaranteed to have your taste buds singing!

Pinot Grigio: This wine fluctuates in flavor depending on the region it’s fermented, but always pairs well with seafood. We recommend fresh boiled lobster or garlic lemon creole shrimp to compliment the wine.

Chardonnay: because this buttery wine is subtle in nature, it is important to pair it with mildly flavored food. Chardonnay is best paired with roasted chicken or a creamy alfredo.

Red Wines

Red wine is typically a bit more heavy than white, so people tend to shy away from it in the summer. However, there are great red wines that are just as refreshing in the hot weather.

Pinot Noir: This versatile wine is nice and light for a refreshing taste. It pairs great
with meats such as grilled pork chops.

Carménère: This is perfect for those red wine and steak lovers. The rich cherry flavors make it an absolute dream to sip on. Carménère is best served slightly chilled with a thick and juicy steak.

Rosé Wines

Rosé wine has the perfect pink color to really get you in the summer mood. With a variety to choose from, there’s always a delicious taste inside each bottle.

Grenache Rosé: This wine has a refreshing aftertaste for those extremely hot
summer days. Keep it light with a nice house salad or a caesar salad wrap.

Sangiovese Rosé: This bold wine is best served chilled to taste the layers of peach,
melon, and rose. It’s very versatile and can be paired with anything you want! We recommend orange chicken or even thai.

Summer Activities

Not only does wine pair well with food… it can taste that much better during one of your favorite summer activities.

Here are our favorite outdoor summer wine activities.

Backyard Picnic

If you’re still not ready to go out to a public restaurant, bring the restaurant to you! Set up a cute picnic in your backyard and order food from your favorite eatery.

Grab a picnic blanket, napkins, two glasses, and a bottle of wine. Even a boombox with some summer jams to set the mood.

Make sure you’re pairing the right food with the wine you choose. We suggest a rose wine to give you that summer feel and cool you down while you’re outside in the hot sun.

Wine Tasting

Another fun idea at home is a DIY wine tasting. Invite your friends over, and set up a nice wine tasting in your kitchen or outdoor space.

Grab a variety of red and white summer wines and try guessing the fruits and flavors that make up each wine. Make sure to have light snacks on the counter too for a proper tasting and pairing.

Beach Day

Sun, sand and six feet apart… the beach never sounded so good!

Grab your friends and your wine cooler. Sipping wine blissfully on the beach is hard to beat. After riding the waves, or building sand castles, make a toast to social distancing while having fun.

Don’t forget the sunscreen! Excessive UV rays are great for grapes, not necessarily you.
Whether you’re at home or outside, summer wines are the way to celebrate great weather, tasty food and fun activities.

Have a great summer!

Find Your Perfect Match on Valentine’s Day

Wine with Valentine's dinnerIt’s hard to believe that Valentine’s Day has been celebrated for over 15 centuries, and most of us are still searching for our perfect match.

We’re talking about the perfect wine pairing, not soulmates. Cupid has that covered.

Whether you’re dining in or hitting the town, we have some easy tips to impress your date, but more importantly, your tastebuds.

Breaking the Rules

For years sommeliers and connoisseurs alike have preached “rules of engagement” for wine and food pairings. Before wine was truly mass produced, these guidelines made sense.

But today, there are more options from regions across the world to experiment with. It’s time to break away from those stubborn standards!

But we know Valentine’s Day might not be the best time to take a risk, so we’ve put together some loose guidelines to help make your night special.

Back to Basics

Let’s start with some general pairing rules:

Hors d’oeuvres

Appetizers are meant to be an invitation to your delicious courses, and your drink should reflect that. Sparkling wines or Champagnes usually go well here because of their airy body. It’s easy to drink, never overpowering, and a festive start to the evening.

The main event

If you’re having multiple courses for dinner, you can build up to fuller bodied wine. Different courses bring out different flavors, so feel free to switch up your sips to compliment each.

On a budget? Changing wines between courses is not a necessity. Pick a wine you feel compliments most of your meal and stick with that for ease.


Sharing a sweet treat with your Valentine? Pair decadent dishes with ports or wines with very concentrated flavors. Your wine should be sweeter than the food to avoid bitterness.

Raise a glass for a toast. You’ve just completed Wine Pairings 101!

Still need a little more guidance? We’ve got you covered.

All in the Details

Now that we’ve got the basics covered, let’s talk about specific food types.

Red Meat vs Fish

Traditionally, people have sworn by the “red meat, red wine” and “white fish, white wine” rule. This can be a good start, but there’s a better approach. Pair your wine to compliment the most dominant flavor – the sauce. Often times, sauces are the secret behind bold flavor.

So go crazy and pair a Zin with your tuna!

Spicy vs Creamy

There’s a delicate balance between wine and spicy/creamy foods. Not everyone experiences the same tastes, so lean into your intuition here.

Fatty or dense dishes can mesh well with lighter options such as Cava. Spicy entrees are balanced by Riesling or deep Rosé. And creamy dishes are heightened by buttery Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs.

Best of luck finding the perfect match for your Valentine’s Day dinner, and share your favorites with us.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Some of Our Favorite Food and Alcohol Pairings

We recently wrote a blog about tips for wine and cheese pairings – and that got us thinking, why stop there!? All kinds of alcohol, not just wine (but also wine), pairs well with many different food combinations. The right match-up can enhance the flavors and experience of both and it can be fun to experiment and find new combinations that work. Food and alcohol are made for each other – think about every fancy dinner, barbeque, sports game viewing, live concert etc. that you’ve ever been to or seen, how did the food and alcohol combination impact the experience? Arguably, the food and alcohol helped make the experience and the enjoyment often happens subconsciously – we thought it would be important to call attention to this and why it is happening specifically.

While we could write an entire book, because drilling down into the specifics of why certain alcohols and foods pair together is truly scientific – we wanted to call out a couple of our favorite food and alcohol pairings. Any of these your favorites too?

White Wine and Seafood
White wine and seafood is a go-to delicious food and alcohol pairing – the white wine is light-hearted and delicate enough to match the weight and substance of raw fish and light, briny shellfish. If you’re typically going with Pinot Grigio, why not try champagne the next time you have seafood?
Red Wine and Red Meat
Specifically steak, we hope everyone has gotten to enjoy (at least once) the delectable combination of a decent steak and a full-bodied red wine. The tannins from the wine help to soften the fat in the meat and further release its flavor. The enhanced flavor from the fat then helps to release more of the fruit flavor from the wine – it’s a winning combination to say the least.
Red Wine and Dark Chocolate
Heavy and heavy goes together – be sure to pair the chocolate weight with the wine weight, and in general, don’t go with a particularly dry red (like a Cabernet). Chocolate also has tannins and you should try and match like with like.
Beer and Pretty Much Any Food
Beer is great because it has a complexity of flavors and goes well with almost all foods to some degree. Like pairing wines, you should match strength with strength, but also don’t be afraid to break the rules. You’ll probably have a few poor experiences, but you could also discover your new favorite!
Japanese Lager and Sushi
Absolutely one of our favorites – there is nothing better than a crisp Sapporo, Kirin Ichiban, or Asahi to pair with a large plate of sushi after a long day at work. You don’t have to stick with Japanese beer, but the macro Japanese rice lagers have been strategically designed and brewed to achieve interesting flavors that pair well with adventurous sushi plates.
Pilsner/Lager and a Soft Pretzel
Think about the signature taste of a baseball game, need we say more?
Stouts and Desserts
Similar to red wine and chocolate, full-bodied and sweeter stouts pair well with a variety of desserts. Many stouts naturally have a chocolatey flavor so they accentuate the flavor of a chocolate dessert of any kind. Maybe try a dessert beer next time you’re looking to indulge?
Also, as a bonus tip, stop “enjoying” these food and alcohol pairings, they weren’t meant to be!
Pizza and IPAs – the intensity of the IPA will totally overpower and destroy the flavor of the pizza.
Spicy food and lagers – while a crisp lager does calm the spice in your mouth, you’d be better off enjoying an IPA that will help to enhance the spice and experience overall (looking at you hot wing and Miller Lite drinkers!).
Artichokes and anythingJust don’t do it.
Blue cheese – incredibly difficult to pair with any alcohol as it overpowers all other flavors it comes into contact with – skip the blue cheese on your next cheese board.
We hope that this quick list either confirmed, made you think, or inspired some food and alcohol pairings for your next event, evening at home, or next dining out experience. Be adventurous!
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.
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4 Tips for Pairing Wine and Cheese

The marriage of wine and cheese is a food relationship we are all thankful for (along with peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs, hamburgers and fries etc.). A study published in Journal of Food Science showed that people actually perceive wine as tasting better when consuming it with cheese. These delicacies have many similarities in the variances between styles and types: textures, densities, and tastes – wet, dry, bitter or sweet. Both are unique to their maker and, while the sky’s the limit, it can be helpful to follow some loose guidelines for pairing the right bottle of wine with the right cheese to create an indulgent experience. Check out a couple of wine and cheese pairing tips we’ve picked up along the way.
Tip #1 Taste the wine first.
Before you begin your combination adventure, try the wine. For those who don’t know already know their favorite wine, pick a bottle (hopefully recommended by your local wine store), take a sip, think about what you’re tasting – note about the flavor, smell, and texture. Sure you could pick any cheese, but think about your favorites and how a particular cheese could make this wine even better.
Tip #2 Pair funky cheese with sweet wines.
Sweet wines like Moscato and other desert wines pair perfectly with smelly and bold cheeses. The sweetness of the wine helps to balance out the “funky” smell in cheese and the smelly cheese helps to balance out the sweetness in the wine. Opposites attract!
Tip #3 Aged cheese pairs best with bold reds.
As cheese ages, the flavor becomes richer due to the fat content increasing over time. Aged cheese pairs well with bold reds because the high fat content counterbalances the high tannins in the wine.
Tip #4 Feeling overwhelmed? Go with a nutty cheese.
Sometimes we’re stumped with choices for pairing wine and cheese – be it unfamiliarity with both or simply facing too many options to choose from. When it doubt, it is always safe to go for a firm nutty cheese like brie, swiss, or cheddar. Nutty cheeses pair well with both reds and whites and they’re delicate enough to have the fat content that counterbalances high tannins.
Some other great wine and cheese combinations that you may not have known:

  • Pinot Grigio & Mozzarella
  • Sauvignon Blanc & Goat Cheese
  • Chardonnay & Gruyere
  • Riesling & Ricotta

Pairing different wines and cheeses should be fun and not daunting, at the end of the day you’re indulging in one of the greatest food relationships known to man. Be adventurous, creative, and find a style that works best for you. Have a favorite wine and cheese combination that we didn’t mention? Let us know!
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.

How to Spot a Good Wine Store

When you’re not making your own wine and shopping Adventures in Homebrewing for all your homebrew needs, you’re likely out looking for inspiration and new wine adventures from your local wine store. Note the emphasis on local – most often our favorite wine store or liquor store is the closest one to our house or work. You’ve probably not thought much about it because of the convenience, but is it really the BEST wine store you could be taking your business? “Best” of course is relative and open to opinions, but there are a few common elements of wine stores that serve as good indications to their wine knowledge and professionalism.
wine bottles in wine store
Aesthetically Pleasing
What is the first impression that your wine store gives off? Sleek, clean, and well organized? Or cluttered and chaotic? Be sure to pay attention to the details while you’re browsing – are things easy to find and well-labeled? Are the bottles dusty? Is the selection past its sell-by date? Are bottles being stored properly? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, it may be time to take a second look at where you’re shopping.
A good wine store is clean and well-organized – you want to feel good about shopping there and the owner should want to create an environment that encourages customers to stay and browse. Wine should be stored properly, out of direct heat or sunlight, and organized by region, type, etc. (some even by taste!) to help you easily find what you’re looking for.
Decent Selection
Do they have at least one of each type of wine from each region? Is it only box wine and wine coolers? Did you just now realize your favorite wine stores doesn’t have a bottle over $30? The various types and styles of wine are seemingly endless, so no store will ever be able to stock them all, but it is beneficial to both shop owner and consumer that they offer an array of options at different price points. The best curated stores have hand-picked selections that will make the dedicated customer or casual shopper satisfied with their purchase, regardless of the wine occasion.
You know you’re shopping at the right place if the owner (or employee) is passionate and knowledgeable about the different labels – being able to make recommendations is key for making happy customers and keeping them coming back. If you don’t remember the last time your local wine store suggested a wine to you, or if you haven’t bought anything that didn’t have a screw top recently, it may be time to find a new place to shop.
Prices for all Shoppers
We all want to be adventurous with our taste in wine and want to be able to afford to do so – it doesn’t have to be difficult to find a great bottle of wine for cheap and your local wine store should help to enable your journey to your next favorite label. VinePair says that if loosen the purse strings and be open to spending $20 or more – you’ll expand your options and find new, better wines to experience.
A good wine store will have a large variety of stock at every price point – they’ll offer loyalty programs, daily or weekly deals, and bulk discounts – excited for their customers to discover new wines. For both customer and owner, it is important to note the distinction between reasonably priced wine and cheap wine.. they are two very different things. There are a vast number of great wines between $15 and $35 and your wine store should help you on your journey to finding your favorites.
Breaks You from Your “Comfort Zone”
Sticking to what you know is comfortable, even if the quality of your go-to wine isn’t great. A good wine store will do things to encourage you to break away from what you know and be open to potentially discovering new tastes. They’ll offer events and wine tastings, bring in experts to talk about how the wines are made and what meals they pair best with, and be a warm/inviting space for shoppers to expand their pallet. Attending wine tastings is fun, insightful, and a great way to find new wine stores. They usually have a bottle discount on the wine their tasting too.
We didn’t set out to bash your local wine store, but rather we wanted to point out some common traits shared by passionate store owners and employees that might make you reconsider your current wine shopping experience. Just because something is local to you does not mean it is the best for you – we want our customers to be educated on how to find good wine and discover their new favorites through amazing tasting and shopping experiences. You are here because of our shared love of wine, and I’m here to help you recreate your newly purchased favorite with all of your winemaking needs.
Happy wine shopping,
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.

The Ultimate Wine Pairing Guide

Not sure what wine to serve at your next dinner party? Check out our brand new wine pairing infographic for help selecting the right wine for the right meal. Throughout the month of July we will be featuring various recipes and suggested wine pairings for each food category, so keep checking back!
Ultimate Wine Pairing Guide by Adventures in Homebrewing