What will the alcohol content of my wine be when it is finished?
  • Rule of thumb is 55% of your pre-fermentation Brix level.
What is Cork Recovery Time?
  • After bottling you should leave the bottles in the upright position for a period of time prior to turning upside down or on its side for storage and aging. The argument for how long to wait is widely debated with opinions ranging from five minutes to 24 hours. I have read nothing that says you will hurt your wine by waiting 24 hours, however, there are plenty that are concerned that 5 minutes is not long enough.
  • The bottom line is that waiting to invert your bottles is absolutely crucial, and the longer you wait (up to 24 hours), the safer you'll be.
Why does my wine smell like eggs?
  • The egg smell is hydrogen sulfide (H2S), produced by the yeast during fermentation. Some yeasts, particularly the Montrachet strain, produce more of this aroma than others. This aroma is rare in ingredient kits and is usually a result of insufficient yeast nutrients.
  • Usually the aroma can be reduced or eliminated by aeration/vigorous stirring.
  • If this does not work you can add a product called Bocksin which is Silicum Dioxide.
Which is better, Glass carboys or Plastic carboys?
How important is it to top off (filled to the top) my carboy?
  • Pretty important… Much like an apple that's been cut open whose dges or sides will turn brown from oxidation, both will ultimately develop a bad flavor. So what is the best way to keep your carboys full? There are a lot of ways to handle keeping your carboys full and you just have to choose which way is best for you.
  • The most common method is to add an inert gas, which is heaveier than air and safe on wine. 
  • You can top it off with another wine you are making or with a bottle of wine from your wine rack. Be careful to top off with a wine that is compatible.
  • Another trick is adding glass marbles to your carboy until they disperse the wine enough that the majority nof the oxygen is forced out of the carboy.
  • If you have a 6 gallon carboy and do not have any other wines to add or do not want to add any other wine you can put it in a 5 gallon carboy and put the balance in a combination of smaller containers such as a ½ gallon jug or a ½ gallon jug and 750ml wine bottle (yes there are stoppers made for wine bottles).
  • Lastly, and I do not recommend is topping off with water. Topping off with water will obviously dilute your wine and change your alcohol, acid, and PH levels.
Why do I have mold on top of my wine?
  • Fortunately a not so often asked question is… If it is mold it can probably be treated, but if it is “Flowers of Wine” or Mycoderma it may be more difficult as it may have eaten up most, if not all of the alcohol if not caught early, and your wine will need to be disposed of. If caught early enough, while there is minimal growth and before the entire surface of your wine is covered, you can treat Flowers of Wine with 1-2 Campden Tablets per gallon of wine (50 to 100 ppm SO2). A few days after treating it, taste the wine- If it tastes fine you can proceed to age or bottle. Flowers of Wine will not grow in wine with an alcohol content in excess of 10.5%, so if your alcohol level is higher than this, it is probably mold.
  • Assuming you have mold and want to try to salvage your wine here is what to do: Start by carefully siphoning your wine out from under the floating mold in such a way that you do not transfer any of the mold to the new carboy or fermenter. Add 2 Campden Tablets per gallon and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice per gallon to your wine. After a few days taste your wine. If it tastes okay it probably is.
  • The only way to know for sure if it is free of mold is to have a microbiological test run on your wine. Whether or not to drink the wine without doing this test is up to you.
  • Both Mold and Flowers of Wine are preventable. Sanitization of your equipment, especially your racking equipment as it can be difficult to dry creating a prime location for mold growth, maintain proper SO2 levels 30 to 50 ppm at all times, keep proper acid levels as high PH low acid wines are far more susceptible. Alcohol is a terrific preservative. If you produce a wine that has 12% or better alcohol levels you can prevent mold. Exposure to air during secondary fermentation should be eliminated by keeping your carboy/vessel full and using an airlock, an added measure is to use a 10% Metabisulfite solution in your airlock.
What will happen if I add too much or too little yeast?
  • Too much yeast can cause to quick of fermentation.
  • Not enough yeast can cause too long or even stuck fermentation.
How does changing fermentation temperatures change the characteristics of my wine?
  • At warm fermentation temperatures, more esters and higher alcohols are produced than at colder temperatures, resulting in more fruity, floral flavors.
Why don't the 12 gallon and 24 gallon primary fermenters have a drilled and grometted hole for the airlock?
  • Good question... Actually during primary fermentation you do not need your container to be free from outside air. In fact, during fermentation there is so much gas being given off that outside air cannot settle on and into your must. When producing small batches of wine from 1,000 to 2,000 lbs of grapes, many small wineries ferment in large bins and just cover them with cheese cloth to keep out bugs and dirt. So why the lid, seal, grommet and airlock on the smaller 6.5 gallon or 8 gallon fermenters? Some people will do long term aging in these, which is not something I would ever recommend because they are not air tight enough and long term exposure to these plastics can leave an off flavor to your wine, but they are okay for beer and many will use them for beer.
How important is it to rehydrate the yeast before adding it to the fermenter?
  • Very important! Extensive research shows that the yeast cell wall is very fragile during the first few minutes of rehydration. Some of the components of the yeast are going from a dry crystalline form to a gel like state and can go through this transformation successfully if rehydrated properly. With rehydration water at lower temperatures the transformation from crystalline to gel is less successful, the cell wall becomes porous and leaches out vital parts of its insides. Rehydration in 60°F water can result in a loss of 60% of the yeast viability.
  • Rehydration in distilled or deionized water is lethal to the yeast. The cell walls require the presence of some minerals, sodium, calcium, magnesium and or potassium, during rehydration. Tap water at 250 ppm hardness is optimum. Most tap water has enough hardness to do the job. The presence of 0.5% yeast extract, yeast hulls, autolyzed yeast or peptone in the rehydration water will give the yeast an added boost that will get it through its lag phase quicker. After the yeast cell wall has been reconstituted, the yeast returns to its normal ability to be selective.
  • Most fermentations should start with an inoculation of 3 - 4 million viable yeast cells per milliliter of must. A normal healthy fermentation will reach the stationary phase with a cell population up to 100 - 150 million viable yeast cells per milliliter. Because of this significant increase in biomass, it is critical that the active dried yeast gets off to a good start. Winemakers that carefully rehydrate their active dried yeast are taking a key preventative step to avoiding stuck and sluggish fermentations. Remember to use only clean 104°F tap water and please refer to our Easy 3 Steps Protocol for more information