Ask the Winemaker


Secure the best grapes possible; crush and ferment the grapes; age the wine and bottle the wine.

When grapes are crushed, they produce a mixture of skins, stems and juice. This mixture is call “Must”.

The basic techniques are similar but the routines differ. The major difference is red wine need skin to juice contact to bring out the color. White wine needs little to no skin contact.

A crusher; fermentation vessel, punch down tool (our Must Plunger); a basket press; glass or stainless steel storage; Brixs; 5 to 10 feet of ½” or ¾” food grade tubing; 750 mL dark wine bottles corks and a floor corker.

A hydrometer is an instrument used to measure liquid density of the grape juice. It is a sealed glass tube with a weighted bulb at one end, it will measure the Specific Gravity (SG) or the Brixs of the grape juice one is about to ferment. These readings will give a winemaker the idea of Alcohol by Volume (ABV) one will be able to produce from the batch of crushed grapes ready to be fermented. The ratio is called specific gravity (SG) or the Brixs value of the must. The Brix scale of the hydrometer is the preferred scale most experienced winemakers use.

I am sure you realize wine is a food and in preparation of and food, work area must be kept clean and sanitary. In view of this, here are the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of maintaining a clean and sanitary work area.

  • Do Wash and sanitize any equipment used prior to its use and in storage.
  • Do Use a non-foaming soap such a B-Brite to wash the winemaking equipment
  • Do Make and use a 10% percent solution of metabisulfite and water
  • Don’t Never use any chlorine based cleaning products, such as bleach, on the wine making equipment and never store this product in the area.
  • Don’t Breathe in of the potassium metabisulfite as it can be very potent.

Approximately, 90 pounds. Usually a 36 pound case of grapes will yield 2 and ½ gallons of juice. Therefore 2 cases will do it but the extra poundage will allow one to have more for topping and by the lost through filtering.

When making red wine, punching down the Must at least twice daily should be performed. In addition, every other day, one should take a Brixs reading and record the date and reading. Once the reading has dropped to 5 Brixs, begin checking the Brixs reading daily. Once the reading fall below Zero and better to a minus 5, fermentation has completed and the must is ready for pressing.

It’s advisable to place the pressed wine juice in a container and allow it to rest for 36 to 48 hours. This will allow the gross Lees to fall to the bottom. When ready siphon/pump the juice into the storage vessel, leaving the gross Lees in the bottom to be disposed of later.

Yes, but the level of sulfites used in a wine should be as low as possible, only just enough to have the desired effect to protect the wine. However, I believe that sulphur is necessary in the wine making process. The SO² is an antioxidant, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and binds with acetaldehyde causing wines to lose flat flavors. All of these are very beneficial to wine and outweigh the risk of having a wine go bad.

Before adding any potassium metabisulfite, it’s important to measure the amount of SO² that exist in the wine. Using a SO² meter one can determine this number. Once you have the amount of free SO², go to the calculator on www.winemakermag.com  to determine the correct amount needed to make the wine safe.

The preferred time is 18 months but if you don’t have the equipment to make wine the following year, bottling will have e to occur prior to the next harvest

Most winemaker prefers to add oak to their wines and the best method is to age wine in oak barrels. However, this isn’t always possible for a whole bunch of reasons. Therefore, there is an alternative that can take the place of a barrel and they are called, cubs, beans, chip, and staves. Using a container such as the OakFlavoring Tube, one can load it with American or French Oak cube or bean and lower it into a carboy, demijohn and even a naked barrel and within a few months; the oak will have infused its flavor in the wine. Always remember, be conservative when adding the oak alternatives and taste the wine frequently.

Firstly, measure the free SO² and make sure you are in the 25 to 30mg per liter of wine. Then, you’ll need approximately 25 to 27 Bordeaux style bottle for the 5 gallon carboy of red wine. You’ll also need the same amount of corks. As you cork each bottle of wine, turn the bottle cork side down and return it to the case or store it in a wine rack ensuring the cork makes contact with the wine.

Winemaker Products LLC