Frequently Asked Questions
QUESTION: How do I sweeten my wine after it has finished fermenting?
Once fermentation is complete you can sweeten your wine by adding a sweetener (wine conditioner). You would add the wine conditioner prior to filtering. One ounce per gallon takes the edge off and two ounces per gallon starts making the wine fairly sweet. The best thing to do is to add to taste. Be careful not to over-sweeten.
QUESTION: 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.
QUESTION: 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.
QUESTION: My wine has started to ferment again, why?
This happens when the wine is bottled before fermentation has completed. To avoid this from happening you should maintain the recommended fermentation temperature. It’s very important to take a Specific Gravity Reading before bottling. This will tell you if your wine has finished fermentation (0.995 or below.)
QUESTION: My wine is brown and tastes 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.
QUESTION: My wine tastes like vinegar, why?
Your wine might have a bacterial infection due to improper sterilization of your equipment. It’s very important to make sure that all of your equipment is sterilized well. A sulphite solution is the best to use. Hot water alone will not kill bacteria. Cleanliness in the surrounding area is also very important. Any spilled wine should be wiped right away because it attracts fruit flies and one fruit fly can infect your wine. You should use food grade plastic, and it’s a good idea to periodically replace your tubing.
QUESTION: My wine tastes harsh but it looks fine, why?
Your wine probably just requires aging. Aging is a very important step in winemaking.
QUESTION: My wine tastes sweet, why?
Your wine will only taste sweet if it hasn’t finished fermenting. To make sure that it has finished fermentation take a S.G. reading, it should read 0.995 or below.
QUESTION: My wine won’t ferment, why?
It’s probably due to incorrect temperature. The temperature should be between 70 and 80F. If the temperature is too cool, the yeast will become inactive; if the temperature is too high, the yeast will die. You can, in most cases, restart it by using a Yeast Starter. Pull ½ gallon of your must and put it into a sterile gallon jug, add 2 teaspoons of Yeast Energizer and one pack of Champagne Yeast- Mix well, cover lightly, place in a warm spot (on top of fridge), once you have a vigorous fermentation (6-12 hrs) add to your original must.
QUESTION: 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.
QUESTION: 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.
QUESTION: 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.
QUESTION: 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 necessary for all wines, especially when you sweeten your wine before bottling.
QUESTION: Why do your instructions say not to "top-up" in Stage 3?
Wine kits are designed to make 23 L. of balanced wine. When you start the wine, you add enough water to bring the must to 23 L. There is always some wine left behind with the sediment after racking. If you top up with water, you are diluting the wine and therefore the finished wine will not be as it was intended. If you are following the instructions and not leaving the wine for long periods of time without any fermentation occurring, there is no risk of oxidation with the head space.
QUESTION: 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.
QUESTION: 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.