by Jason Harris
Tim Vandergrif, Winexpert’s technical quality control person, has provided a lot of great information about their wine kits, including the following tips:
1. Always make six gallons. The kits are designed to make six gallons, and if you make less than this you will find that your wines are overly acidic and may not complete fermentation. Tim makes the analogy that if you were making frozen orange juice and the instructions said add three cans of water, would you make better orange juice if you added only two? No, you would end up with overly sweet orange juice with so much acid that you might get heartburn before finishing your glass.
In order to make six gallons of wine, you will need a primary fermenter that holds at least seven and one-half gallons (25 liter), and a six gallon (23 liter) carboy for secondary fermentation. Six gallons is two finger widths below the bottom of the stopper in a six gallon carboy.
2. Always follow the instructions. Even if you think you know better, for example, when instructed to stir the wine while the sediment is still on the bottom, stir up the sediment! Brew King has planned for everything; when the instructions say to top up with water, they planned for that event and made sure that the final product would be the correct strength and not watery. Brew King constantly refines their kits and the instructions, so be sure to follow the instructions that come with each kit.
3. Stir the wine. One of the best ways to ensure that your wine comes out great is to follow the instructions and vigorously stir. In the first steps, when mixing the grape juice concentrate with water, it is important to thoroughly mix the wine to ensure complete fermentation. If you neglect stirring, the concentrate may separate from the water, just as oil and vinegar will separate in salad dressings. If unstirred, your wine will have excess sugar at the bottom of the fermenter which will prevent the yeast from finishing their job.
Vigorously stirring the wine when adding the fining agents will both drive off carbon dioxide and help the wine clear. A lot of stirring is required at this point to remove the carbon dioxide from solution. Getting the carbon dioxide out of your wine is important to avoid a carbonated effect which is perceived as tingly or a slight coarseness to the flavor. The other benefit of thorough stirring is that it helps the finings and the yeast work together to make the wine settle clear.
In order help you stir your wine, we carry a spoon and paddle which will fit into the top of your carboy, as well as two types of stirrers that fit into your electric drill for easy and highly effective stirring.