Question: Headaches and Preservatives in wine?
Answer: "Preservatives are an important part of wine making. Don't worry about adding small amounts of them to your home-made wine. Keep in mind we can make wine without adding any additional sulphite. If you choose to add no preservatives then remember to sanitize your equipment very well, avoid any overexposure to oxygen, heat and forego extended storage of the wine (2-6 months depending on type of closure and temperature). Additional sulphite allows for longer aging and keeps the wine from developing infections and oxidization. If you are concerned about the use of sulphites in wine read on!
Most wines made at home or in uvints have about 20-30ppm sulphite which is very low. Even organic wines are allowed to add up to 100ppm free SO2 in the finished wine. sulphite occurs naturally in the skin of the grape and most fruits making it impossible to make a wine without any sulphite. Small amounts are also produced during fermentation. Not only do sulphites keep wine from developing infections like film yeast, mould, and acetobacter (vinegar bacteria), they also keep the wine from oxidizing and losing its delicate bouquet. Without the use of sulphites you have to be terrifically careful to keep all of your equipment very sanitary and you still have to drink your wine up as quickly as possible before it spoils. That said I have made many wines without additional sulphites and they can last a year with cool storage and a good closure like a crown cap or a synthetic cork. Natural corks generally allow too much exchange of oxygen.
Many people worry that they may be allergic to sulphites. True sulphite allergies are very rare. It's more likely that they have been exposed to a high level of sulphites in the past. In the 1970's restaurants would douse their salad bars with 2000 PPM (part per million) sulphite solutions in order to keep the produce fresh. Mixing this with acidic foods, such as salad dressings or vinegar, would cause the salad to release clouds of sulphite gas, provoking unpleasant reactions.
What most people describe as a sulphite headache is a reaction to bio-amines. These are compounds formed in wines for various reasons, one of the commonest being malolactic fermentation in the presence of sugar. Malolactic fermentation is a natural process that changes the malic acid in wine to lactic acid and CO2. This process creates a softer, less acidic wine. Many commercial wineries start malolactic inoculation before the end of alcohol fermentation, guaranteeing the formation of bio- amines. Since wine kits don't need to go through malolactic they do not form bio-amines, and consequently do not provoke bio-amine headaches.
Potassium Metabisulphite is a stable source of sulphite in winemaking. The use of sulphur compounds is not a recent innovation. The Dutch shipping companies popularized the use of sulphur in the 16th century by refusing to ship any wines not treated. They insisted on the use of sulphites because the treated wines were the only ones that survived a long sea voyage without spoiling.
Sulphites work by releasing free sulphur dioxide, which inhibits yeast, mould and bacteria. It does this in two ways: one, it kills some of the organisms outright, and two, it blocks the surviving organisms ability to reproduce. Remember if your winemaking equipment is kept physically clean, you've rinsed it well and stored it in a manner that it can dry out properly nothing will grow on it. No food or water equals no bacteria, mould and germs. This can be applied to the spread of most bacteria in life. A good way to produce quality wine and keep your body healthy in general without a whole lots of unnecessary chemicals.
Question: “Has anyone had any trouble or have any suggestions for kits with grape skins? We made a wine kit over a year ago – this one I followed the instructions to let it age for a year- and when we opened a bottle, there was a line of sediment down the side on which it was laying. We also made a Merlot last summer and ended up with the same result. Both kits we racked several times (at least 5) – we don’t care for filtering – and both have this thin line of sediment. We have a Pinot kit clearing now and added some extra Sparkolloid the last time we racked it – but I was wondering if anyone had any other suggestions for these types of kits.”
Answer: Amongst the answers was this response from a commercial winemaker: “ If a red wine has thrown a sediment, it doesn’t mean there is a problem. Even if the wine was perfectly clear when bottled, the natural aging process results in precipitation of solids in the bottle. Any fine, reasonably concentrated red wine WILL throw sediment over time. To prevent this, one would have to strip much of the character of the wine. The sediment is a sign that the wine has “stuffing”; it is NOT a flaw.” I would add to this that adding sparkolloid is okay it will continue to throw sediment also.
General Wine Kit Questions
Q:My friend makes really good wine and I am considering starting myself. What do I need to get started?
A:Most new winemakers actually get started because they have tried wine made from our kits. Wine Kitz stores offer a starter package of equipment consisting of everything you will need to process your first wine kit. All of the equipment is re-usable and high quality. Once you have your equipment kit, it is a simple matter of choosing the type of wine you wish to make. Just follow the step-by-step recipe included in the ingredient kit and you are guaranteed to make fine wine. Some Wine Kitz stores also offer in-store winemaking. You choose the type of wine you wish to make, mix the ingredients in the store (takes about five minutes) and return 6-8 weeks later to bottle the finished wine using modern bottling and corking equipment!
A:How long will I have to age my wine before I can drink it?
Q:What are the best conditions to make wine?
Fortunately, great wine can be made in most household environments. You don't need a lot of space. Most winemakers make wine in the basement or in the kitchen as it is handy to have a water source nearby. Best temperature range is 65 - 75 F. (18 - 24C.). Because you are working with a kit, there is virtually no odour involved.
Q:What are the best conditions to store wine?
A:If you intend to age the bottled wine for a long time, it is important to have a cool environment with a temperature range of 50 - 64 F. (10 - 18 C.). In this range, the wine will gently mature at an ideal rate. If the storage conditions are warmer, the wine will mature rapidly so avoid prolonged aging.
Q:Can I really make wine that tastes as good as the best commercial wines?
A:For over 45 years, our customers have resoundingly told us that the wine they make from our kits ranks with commercial wine costing much more. We invite you to blind taste the wine you make with comparable commercial wine. We believe you will be very pleased with the comparison.
Q:How do I know what quality of wine kit to purchase?
A:Our business is built on providing a wine very similar to the commercial wine that you like at a fraction of the price. Our trained staff will make suggestions based on the quality and price point of the wine you purchase. We strongly suggest that, when you get started, you make the highest quality wine kit available. The cost savings are well worth it and you will have wine that tastes like fine commercial wine at a fraction of the cost!
Q:How many bottles does a kit make?
A:Most kits make 23 litres (6 US gallons) or about 30, 750 mL bottles. To a newcomer, this may sound like a lot of wine but keep in mind that, if you are like most winemakers, you will likely give some bottles away because you are so proud of the results