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FAQS

Below is a list of Frequenly Asked Questions (FAQS). This list is furnished to help you find answers to some of the more commonly asked questions regarding wine making. If you can not find the answer to your question or if you need more information, please send us an contact us.

  1. During primary fermentation, I noticed a strong smell coming from the bucket. What is that smell and does it mean my wine is no good?
  2. In order to keep the carboy topped off, I have to keep adding more water. Am I diluting my wine?
  3. I have read about toping off. What is it and when do I need to do this?
  4. You have so many different brands of wine kits. Does price really make a difference? If so, which kits are the best?
  5. Campden Tablet are very hard to crush. Is there something I can use in place of the Campden Tablets?
  6. The instructions tell me to "clean and sanitize" everything that touches my wine. Is there a difference between cleaning and sanitizing?
  7. I need to add some sugar to my fresh fruit wine. Do I just add it to the must?
  8. I am confused. Do the wine kits make 5 or 6 gallons of wine?
  9. How do I foritify a port style wie?

During primary fermentation, I noticed a strong smell coming from the bucket. What is that smell and does it mean my wine is no good?

The smell is produced by the yeast converting the sugar to alcohol and carbon dioxide. The smell should be similar to those created by baking. Rest assured it will go away in several days and that there is nothing wrong with your wine.

In order to keep the carboy topped off, I have to keep adding more water. Am I diluting my wine?

The wine kit manufacturers anticipates that you will add approximately 1 liter of water to top off your carboys. Anything more than that will start diluting your wine. It is for this reason that I don't worry about transferring too much sediment in the first racking. You need the liquid, so if you bring along some of the sediment, it will not hurt your wine and will reduce the amount of liquid required later to top off.

I have read about toping off. What is it and when do I need to do this?

Topping off is the process of adding more liquid to your carboy to reduce the amount of oxygen in your carboy. This is necessary to prevent your wine from aging too fast and becoming flabby or worse, spoiled. Once you have stabilized your wine, you need to keep your carboy topped off. The general rule of thumb is no more than 2 inches of air between the wine and the bottom of the stopper.

You have so many different brands of wine kits. Does price really make a difference? If so, which kits are the best?

As with most items offered for sale, price does make a difference. In this case, the higher the price, the more fresh juice included in the kit. Use the following link to learn more about our wine kits:

Guide to Selecting a Wine Kit

Campden Tablet are very hard to crush. Is there something I can use in place of the Campden Tablets?

Campden Tablets are used to add sulfites to your wine to protect it from spoilage. Potassium Metabisulfite does the same job. In place of a Campden Tablet, use 1/8 tsp of Potassium Metabisulfite.

The instructions tell me to "clean and sanitize" everything that touches my wine. Is there a difference between cleaning and sanitizing?

Yes, there is a difference. You clean the bottles to get rid of all of the dirt, dried wine or other foreign matter in or on your wine making equipment and supplies. You sanitized the same items to eliminate items that could spoil your wine, i.e., mold. You do not want to lose a batch of wine to mold just because you did not sanitize properly.

I need to add some sugar to my fresh fruit wine. Do I just add it to the must?

No! If you just add it to the must, it may not dissolve. The recommended way is to add your sugar to some boiling water to dissolve the sugar. After the water has cooled, you can add it to your must.

I am confused. Do the wine kits make 5 or 6 gallons of wine?

All of the wine kits sold by finevinewines.com make 6 US gallons or 30 bottles of wine, except the Port, Sherry and Ice Wine Style kits that make 3 US gallons. If you use a bucket sold by finevinewines.com, the ridge on the inside of your primary fermenting bucket is the 6 US gallon mark.

How do I fortify a port style wine?

There are two methods that could be used.  The first method is to remove wine from the 3-gallon carboy to make room for the flavor bag and spirits.  Add the flavor bag and spirits to the wine - stir gently and top up.  This results in three gallons of sweetened, fortified wine and some additional unsweetened and unfortified wine that can be used for future topping up or bottled as is.  The second method is to rack the wine to a container larger than three gallons, add the flavor bag and spirits, stir gently and transfer to a 3-gallon carboy and a smaller jug with minimal headspace.  This results in more than three gallons of sweetened and fortified wine.  We will be using the second method in this article.

The amount of spirits used will depend on whether 190 proof or 80 proof spirits are used for fortification.  In the past we have used Everclear and E&J XO Brandy with good results.  We have also had reports of good results using E&J VSOP and vodka.  If you are using a flavored brandy, make sure it is a flavor addition that you want in your port.   

First we will need to determine the impact on the alcohol content from adding the flavor bag.  The following formula can be used where two wines are blended when the volume and the alcohol content of both wines are known.

                                                (A x D) + (B x E)
                        C         =          -----------------------
                                                        (D + E)

                        A = alcohol content of Wine #1
                        B = alcohol content of Wine #2
                        C = alcohol content of the blended wine
                        D = volume of Wine #1 used
                        E = volume of Wine #2 used

Our 3-gallon carboy holds 11.66 liters of wine when filled 2 inches from the bottom of the bung.  The alcohol content of the port is 15%.  The flavor bag contains one liter of juice with an alcohol content of zero.  Since the flavor bag does not contain any alcohol, we need to determine the alcohol content of the port blended with the flavoring pack.  Substituting this information into the formula results in:

                                                (15 x 11.66) + (0 x 1)
                        C         =          --------------------------
                                                        (11.66 + 1)

                                    =          (174.9) + (0)
                                                ----------------
                                                       12.66

The blended wine (#1 & #2) will have a volume of 12.66 liters and an alcohol content of 13.8%.

Next we need to determine the amount of spirits to be added to bring our blend to the desired alcohol content.  The following is a variation of the above formula:

                                                (A x D) – (C x D)
                        E          =          ----------------------
                                                          (C – B)

Wine #1 will be the 190 proof (95% alcohol) Everclear.  Wine #2 will be the port that based upon our first calculation is now 12.66 liters at 13.8% alcohol.  Our goal is to determine how much Everclear will be required to fortify the port to 20%.  Substituting this information into the formula results in:

                                                (13.8 x 12.66) – (20 x 12.66)
                        E          =          ----------------------------------
                                                              (20 – 95)

 

                                    =          (174.7) – (253.2)
                                                ---------------------
                                                          (- 75)

                                    =          1.05

Based on this calculation about one liter of Everclear added to 12.66 liters of wine plus the flavor bag will result in a port fortified to approximately 20%.
                                   
If instead of Everclear, 80 proof (40% alcohol) was used, the calculation would look like this:

                        E          =          (13.8 x 12.66) – (20 x 12.66)
                                                -----------------------------------
                                                            (20 – 40)

                                   
                                    =          (174.7) – (253.2)
                                                ---------------------
                                                           (- 20)

 

                                    =          3.92

You can see from this calculation that almost 4 liters of 80 proof spirits would need to be added to obtain a port fortified to 20%.  This large addition will have a significant impact on the aroma and taste so be sure that if you are using flavored spirits that the flavor will add to the experience.

In our example we fortified the port to 20%.  The port can be fortified to 18% and would require a smaller addition of spirits.  Generally, the higher the alcohol content the more bottle aging required to smooth out the rough edges of aroma and taste.

 

 

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