Hi everyone! Is winter over yet? I don’t know how it is where you are, but Mother Nature sure seems confused this winter! I’m ready for spring, for sure!
Lately I’ve been pondering the idea of water. Specifically, when it comes to home winemaking, what’s the best kind of water to use?
The first two batches of wine I made (the Pinot Grigio and also the Pinot Chardonnay), I utilized bottled spring water. I really didn’t want to keep buying gallons upon gallons of water from the store for many different reasons, including 1) extra costs and 2) adding to the pile of plastic in our landfills. While I try to control what gets recycled in my house and what doesn’t, I really can’t control where the plastic actually goes once it leaves my hands. But I digress…
For my next batch of wine, I want to see if I can just use my tap water. Doing a search on the ECKraus blog, I found question that was posed from a beginning winemaker regarding using tap water in winemaking. Specifically, the reader asked: “Is it OK to use tap water to make this wine kit?”. The folks at ECKraus responded that for most urban areas, the tap water is fine to use. Basically, the biggest issue with using tap water in winemaking is the chlorine that is added during the treatment process in order to control for bacterial growth. If there is too much chlorine in the water, that is bad news bears for your wine.
How am I supposed to know how much is too much? Another resource I stumbled upon said that if you can smell chlorine, there is too much. If you can’t smell it, it’s probably fine. I wasn’t sure how accurate this actually was, so I decided to dig a little deeper and look into the water quality reports for the water in my city. You can do this for your own city/town as well, as I believe water quality reports are in the public domain and anyone can have free access to this information. For my town, last year’s water quality report was just a click away online. According to these data, chlorine levels in my tap water are within the recommended limits put in place by the EPA. Just because the chlorine levels in the water are safe to drink, are they low enough to be OK to use in my wine?
Since I’m not 100% convinced that it’s OK to use tap water in winemaking, even though I can’t smell chlorine and water quality reports suggest levels are within the acceptable range, I decided I’m going to boil the water first, just to be extra sure. The ECKraus blog post that I mentioned previously mentioned that leaving the water out overnight would get rid of any excess chlorine, though I am too lazy to wait that long and I worry about other things getting into the water as it sits there (the pets may get curious….). So, since the instructions for my next batch of wine indicate that I need to add warm water anyway, I’m going to sterilize a big pan, boil a bunch of water, then once it’s cool enough to be at the appropriate temperature listed in the instructions, I’ll knock out Day 1 and get this new batch of wine started!
Wish me luck!
My name is Leigh Erwin, and I am a brand-spankin’ new home winemaker! E. C. Kraus has asked me to share with you my journey from a first-time dabbler to an accomplished home winemaker. From time to time I’ll be checking in with this blog and reporting my experience with you: the good, bad — and the ugly.