Deal of the Day
Wine Making Glossary

Acid

Having enough acid keeps the wine from tasting "flat". Having too much acid gives the wine a medicinal flavour. All fruit has some acid. Some fruits require more to be added.

Air Lock

An attachment used to exclude air from the secondary fermentor. It allows the carbon dioxide gas produced by the yeast to excape without allowing fresh air to enter. This keeps the wine from spoiling.

Campden Tablets

Sulphur Dioxide. Inhibits the growth of wild yeasts, moulds and bacteria, thus reducing the chance of a batch of wine going bad. Add one or two tablets when the batch is started. You may also add one at each racking.

Cleanliness

Most important. It takes a whole year to produce a batch of wine. Clean all equipment well before and after use. That's too much time and effort to waste.

Fining

A clearing agent for wine. It is a gelatin. When dissolved in a little wine and stirred back into the batch of wine, the finings attach to any small particles still suspended in the wine and drag them to the bottom. The wine may then be racked and bottled. DO NOT use more finings than the instructions on the bottle say to use. Too much, and the gelatin will stay suspended in the wine instead of sinking. The result is a cloudier wine than before the finings were added. Go through the fining process twice rather than using double the quantity.

Process:
Use wine finings or plain gelatin. Gelatin: use 1 teaspoon per 6 gallons of wine. Finings: 1/2 teaspoon per 5 gallons or as per package directions. Soak in 1/2 cup cold water for 1/2 hour. Bring to a boil to dissolve. Cool. Stir into wine. Let sit 10 to 14 days. Rack. If not clear enough yet, repeat process. DO NOT increase amount of gelatin or finings. The mixture will stay suspended in the wine, preventing it from ever clearing. Bottle once wine is clear.

Fruit

The body of the wine. Provides the general flavour, colour and acidity of the wine. Much of the sugar also comes from the fruit. Always choose firm, ripe fruit. Over ripe fruit may be on the verge of rotting and spoil the wine. Under ripe fruit may be sour or lack flavour.

Hydrometer

A tool used to measure the specific gravity of the wine and calculate the potential alcohol level.

Nutrients

B vitamins. The yeast needs these in addition to the sugar to live.

Pectic Enzyme

Breaks down the pectin found in some fruits. Pectin is what makes jellies set. Results in a clearer end product.

Primary Fermentor

A bin or bucket for mixing the ingredients. It must be at least 50% larger than the batch of wine. Example: 5 gallons of wine should be in an 8 gallon bin. This gives room for the yeast to foam up in the first stage of winemaking. Loosely cover the bin when not stirring.

Racking

Siphoning the wine off of the sediment. Sitting on the sediment, or lees, can impart a bitter flavour to the wine. Regular racking during the winemaking process will contribute to a clear, bright wine.

Secondary Fermentor

A jug or carboy that is fitted with an airlock. It is for longer storage of the working wine. Common sizes are 1/2 gallon, 1 gallon and 5 gallon.

Specific Gravity (SG)

The density of the liquid -- measured with a hydrometer. The sugar content determines the specific gravity. If the SG is too low, add more sugar (1/2 cup at a time for one gallon of wine). The SG is also used as a means of measuring the alcohol content of the finished product.

The hydrometer has a scale for SG and another for Potential Alcohol. Do the first measurement before adding the yeast.

A SG reading of 1.100 gives a potential alcohol reading of 13%. Measure again when fermentation is complete. An ending SG of 1.010 gives a potential alcohol reading of 1%. The difference, 12%, is the approximate alcohol content.

Sugar / Honey

Provides the raw material for the yeast to make the alcohol. Different sugars and different honeys add a slightly different flavour to the wine.

Tannin

Found in grape skins and seeds. Gives a wine some astringency or character. Too much makes a wine bitter. Can be purchased in powder form to add to non-grape wines. Raisins or teabags can be used -- 1 pound raisins or 1 teabag per gallon is usually enough.

Water

Dilutes the fruit juice so the flavour is not too strong. Also dilutes the sugar. Too high a sugar content can kill the yeast. Some recipes use hot water to soften the fruit and draw out the juices.

Yeast

Wine yeast must be used to make wine. The yeast converts the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Bread yeast produces carbon dioxide, but no alcohol. The yeast dies off when the sugar is used up or its alcohol tolerance level is reached -- usually a maximum of around 13 - 14%.

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