In any endeavor, problems may occur and especially in homemade wine making we cannot just disregard these problems and should nip it in the bud as soon as possible. Here are some ways on how to prevent homemade wine making problems:
Problems and Prevention
1. Failed batches. Cleanliness and proper sterilization of all equipments and area to be used. Use a sulphite solution for cleaning equipments and the work area because plain hot water will not be ale to kill all the germs and bacteria. Be sure that the airlock always has sulphite solution and that it is never left empty.
2. Oxidation. This happens when wine is over exposed to air which happens when wine is poured or splashed. Always use a siphon when transferring wine from one container to another. Oxidation may also occur when the airlock is left dry and when there is too much air space over the wine left in the fermenter. To take care of this add store bought wine to lessen the air space every time you need to rack the wine.
3. Moldy or rotten taste. Select the best quality fruit or concentrate for your homemade wine. Rotten or moldy fruit will bring its taste to the wine making it taste the same. Quality fruit and materials equals quality wine.
4. Vinegar. Contaminated or unsterilized equipment is usually the cause why wine turns to vinegar. A 10% alcohol content and no air is needed to prevent vinegar bacteria from thriving in the wine while adding sulfur dioxide to new and finished wine will stop any growth of this bacteria.
5. Exploding bottles and corks. This is caused either by bacteria in the bottle or the wine was bottled when fermentation has not yet finished. Either refrigerate the wine bottle or put an airlock on the bottle until the fermentation stops is the best way to prevent any bottle or cork explosion. If the cork pushes out a little due to air that was trapped between the cork and the wine, re-cork the bottle and let it stand up for a day or two to let the air out.
6. Smell or flavor of yeast. This is due to either bottling before fermentation was finished, the use of the wrong yeast such as baking yeast and lack of racking before the wine was bottled. The best thing to do is to return the wine into the demijohn or fermenting bottle.
7. Hazy wine. If a good quality grape or fruit concentrate was used then this should not be a problem. The best solution is to use a fining agent like bentonite to take away the haze.
8. Soapy taste. Again this is due to equipments, demijohns and fermenters that were not properly cleaned, sanitized and rinsed. Use a sulphite solution when cleaning your equipments and rinse properly.
9. Corky flavor and scent. A corky flavor or scent is due to a substandard, defective or inferior cork that was used. It can also be due to a cork that has a lot of pinholes which allowed air into the bottle or the cork was over-soaked which leaves a woody taste. Be sure that quality corks are used and that the wine is properly corked or covered.
10. Woody aroma. Again this is due to over-soaking of the corks or it can also be due to a wooden barrel that was not properly kept. Adding or using oak chips and over-aging with it can also leave a woody taste. Proper upkeep of wooden barrels and leaving behind the oak chips used in the primary fermenter will help in keeping the wine’s original taste and aroma.
There may be other problems that you may encounter while making your wine at home but the basic rules of clean, sanitized and properly rinsed equipments and avoiding the use of substandard and inferior supplies will help in preventing a lot of these problems.