Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I make wine and beer in the same equipment?

No. While the glass carboy presents no problem, the plastic primary fermenter and plastic secondary carboy should be restricted to one or the other since the plastic does have the tendency to take on a wine or beer taste and odor after even a single use.

last updated - 2010-10-13 18:19:15

2. How should my wine be stored?

You should keep it in a dark place. Light will excite molecules and oxidizes your wine. It should be vibration free (storing wine under the stairs is not a good idea.) You should have it in a humid place between 50 and 80 percent. You should always keep it away from odors (paint cans or anything with a strong odor) The reason for this is because the taste of your wine can be affected. Maintaining a constant temperature between 16-21C prevents your wine from premature aging. Rapid temperature changes in your wine storage location are detrimental to your wine. You should keep your wine bottles on their side so that the cork stays moist; otherwise the corks will dry out and allow unwanted air in. Wine asks for two things only, to be left lying quietly in a cool dark place, and to be served slowly, giving it plenty of time and room to breathe the air.

last updated - 2010-10-13 18:05:46

3. My wine bottle has exploded, why?

The wine was not completely finished fermentation prior to bottling. You can avoid this from happening by using your wine hydrometer. The S.G. reading should read 0.995 or below prior to bottling.

last updated - 2010-10-13 18:07:06

4. My wine is brown and taste bad, why?

This is caused by oxidation. Always rack your wine carefully to avoid splashing. You should use a syphon hose that reaches the bottom of your carboy or pail when racking or when bottling. Always remember to fill from the bottom up and do not allow your wine to be exposed to the air for any period of time.

last updated - 2010-10-13 18:08:49

5. My Wine or Beer has not started to ferment ?

This may or may not be true. What you are really saying is " I am not seeing bubbles pass through my airlock."

The wine could in fact be fermenting but the fermentation gas (co2) is escaping from somewhere other than through the airlock due to an ineffective seal.

How can we confirm this?…

Simple, the only true way of checking fermentation progress is by using a hydrometer. Take three specific gravity readings over a period of 24 -36 hours. If these readings are the same then we can safely assume that fermentation has not started. If the readings are coming down then fermentation is taking place. In this case there is no need to worry.

Let the wine ferment until the desired specific gravity is reached and finish it off accordingly. However, if fermentation has not started then we need to get it going by adding fresh yeast. This is a little more tricky. We need to identify the cause of the problem and remove it. It is a process of elimination.

Why has fermentation not started, is it the yeast?…

Yeast is a living organism and can very quickly lose its viability if it is subjected to adverse storage conditions i.e. damp, prolonged excessive heat or direct sunlight. The yeast may have been fine when packaged but if it has lost its viability unfortunately this only becomes apparent when we come to use it. Get into the habit of starting the yeast off in a glass or cup initially to ensure that it is working. This way we know that if there is no ferment after it has been added to the wine "must" it is not the yeast that is causing the problem.

What other reasons could there be?…

A common cause of non-fermentation is temperature during primary fermentation. If the temperature is too cold the ferment becomes very sluggish almost to the point of not working. Usually if you give the " must" a good stir and move it somewhere warmer the ferment picks up.

Yeast cannot tolerate long periods of heat so if the temperature becomes too hot the yeast cells are killed. The aim is to put your fermenting vessel somewhere not too cold, not too hot and where the temperature remains fairly constant as fluctuating temperatures also affect the performance of the yeast.

If your kit is one where sugar has to be added, determine if all the sugar has completely disolved . Un-dissolved sugar will clog the yeast cells and inhibit them from doing their job.

After you cleaned your fermenter did you thoroughly rinse all the sterilising fluid away? It could be that the presence of sodium metabisulphite is inhibiting the yeast cells.

Have you actually added yeast? This might sound stupid but it has been known to happen. Remember, viable yeast added to a combination of grape juice, sugar and water would produce ferment. If fermentation is not apparent use your hydrometer to confirm.

Identify the cause · Remove it · Add fresh yeast if necessary

last updated - 2010-11-23 22:46:40

6. Should I filter my wine?

Yes. It is recommended that you filter your wine. By filtering a clear wine, you are "polishing" your wine which will remove any impurities that your wine may have such as yeast cells and other unwanted material. It improves the taste and the look of your wine. Filtering your wine enhances the quality of your vintage and ensures that the wine will be sediment-free in the months to come.

last updated - 2010-10-13 18:11:29

7. What are sulphites? Do I need to use them?

Sulphites are added to wine as sodium metabisulphite or potassium metabisulphite. Both chemicals act as a source of free sulphite ions in the juice. The sulphite does two useful things. 1) It prevents contamination of the juice by wild yeasts and other spoilage organisms. 2) It acts as an antioxidant, by sacrificially oxidising itself, forming sulphates in the process. Without sulphites, white wines tend to go brown and flat, like a sliced apple.

If you are making table wine from supermarket juices, for early drinking, then you do not need to use sulphites. But if you are using fruit or vegetables, or if you intend maturing the wine, careful use of sulphites is recommended.

last updated - 2010-10-13 18:36:56

8. What does the Bentonite do for my wine?

Bentonite aids the yeast in growing quicker and stronger in the initial fermentation. It also helps to settle out the dead yeast cells so that you are not transferring a lot of sediment into your secondary fermentor after racking.

last updated - 2010-10-13 18:12:12

9. What does the Metabisulphite do for my wine?

It protects your wine from spoilage and aids in clearing. It also helps to prevent oxidation. You can dissolve 50 grams of metabisulphite in 4 litres of water and use it as a sterilizer for all of your equipment and containers. It does a great job.

last updated - 2010-10-13 18:12:56

10. What does the Potassium Sorbate do for my wine?

It inhibits the reproduction of yeast cells. It does not kill the yeast cells but it will prevent your wine from renewed fermentation. This is neccessary for all wines, especially when you sweeten your wine before bottling.

last updated - 2010-10-13 18:13:43

11. What is Bottle-Shock?

Bottle-shock or Bottle-sickness is a temporary condition of wine characterized by muted or disjointed fruit flavors. It often occurs immediately after bottling or when wines (usually fragile wines) are given an additional dose of sulfur (in the form of sulfur dioxide or sulfite solution), and are subject to other forms of handling and transport. Therefore, with all the degassing, transferring, filtering, bottling, and general movement of the wine, it requires a few weeks rest for the condition to disappear.

last updated - 2010-10-13 18:10:00

12. Why does my wine feel slightly fizzy on my tongue?

It's possible that the wine had not finished fermenting when bottled or it has some residual CO2 that was not released during the de-gassing stage. To avoid this, maintain the proper fermentation temperature until the fermentation is complete. The hydrometer reading should be 0.995 or below. Also, ensure that all of the CO2 has been driven off during the de-gassing process before fining, filtering and bottling.

last updated - 2010-10-13 18:16:29

13. Why should I put shrink capsules on my bottles?

Shrink capsules are not only for decorative use but they are an important part of your winemaking as it protects the cork from unwanted pests such as spider mites, fruit flies, etc… and still allows your wine to breathe.

last updated - 2010-10-13 18:17:03