Your Choices: Decisions to Make when Making Wine at Home

wine at homeOne of the great advantages of making your own wine at home is that you are able to take control of as much of the process as you want.

If you want to grow and harvest your own grapes or any other kind of fruit and produce wine you can control every aspect of the process. If, on the other hand, you choose to purchase grape concentrate, you can begin making your wine from that point on. Making wine at home is largely about making a number of different decisions and taking various factors into consideration. Each factor and each decision will have an impact on your final wine.

One of the first choices you will need to make if you elect to make grape wine and use fruit in order to do it instead of concentrate is whether you want to de-stem the grapes or use the entire cluster. When making this decision it is important to keep in mind that it really does make a difference. If you decide to use the whole cluster then you will find that your wine has a certain flavor and even nuance that is not present if you de-stem the grapes first. This flavor may or may not be appealing to you. Some people describe it as somewhat green. If you like that sort of flavor, then using a whole cluster is an excellent choice. A number of very good, award winning wines are produced using the entire cluster. If however, you do not think you would like that flavor, then it is best to go ahead and de-stem the grapes before you use them for your wine.

Another choice you will have to make when making wine at home , is how you want to ferment the must. Yes, there are choices to make here as well. You have two basic choices. You can either ferment in a barrel or a tank. Most winemakers prefer to ferment using a tank. This gives you greater control over the process because the sleeves on the tank give you the option to either heat or cool the must. For example, in the beginning of the fermentation process you may wish to ensure the tanks are cool in order to extract the color from the grape skins. This can also help to stabilize the wine. Of course, you can also choose to ferment your wine in a barrel. This is a popular method when producing white wines because it tends to give them some character that might not be possible from tank fermentation. In the end, it is really up to you and your personal choice, but you will need to make this decision before you produce your first batch of wine at home.

You will also need to give some thought to the types of yeast that you wish to use. Most beginners making wine at home are not aware of the fact that grapes picked straight from the vineyard actually have yeast on them. These are naturally occurring yeasts.  As a result, you may choose not to add any additional yeast to the fermentation mix. In this case, you can allow the natural or native yeasts to work on their own. The one downside to this problem is that you may run into a problem known as a stuck fermentation. This is when the yeast reaches a certain point and then it just simply stops. Generally, yeasts that are created in the lab will be more stable. Of course, there is a downside to this as well. Many winemakers feel that lab created yeasts are lacking in flavor when compared to natural yeasts.

When making wine at home , if you do choose to use natural yeasts, you will need to be prepared to handle a stuck fermentation in the event that it does occur.

Adding a yeast nutrient or energizer can often help to combat this problem by providing the natural yeasts the kick they need to finish the fermentation process.

Finally, you will need to give some thought to whether you wish to filter or not filter your wine. There is no set rule regarding this matter when making wine at home. You may find that a wine that has been unfiltered will have a great amount of richness however, do be aware that there are bacterial issues which may arise if you choose not to filter your wine. In addition, wines that have not been filtered tend to have a cloudier appearance than those that have been filtered.

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A Look at the Steps of Making Wine at Home

wine at homeIf you are a true wine connoisseur, the next step in appreciating a fine wine may be to make your own wine at home.

While the process may seem to be complicated, wine can be made rather easily at home. Before beginning the process of making your own wine at home it is important to understand the basic steps of winemaking.

In order to make wine at home you will need either grape concentrate or grapes. If you have a sufficient growing area, you may choose to grow your own grapes and make wine from that. If you choose to use grape concentrate, keep in mind that you will need to use high quality grape concentrate. This can be purchased online as well as in wine and home brewing stores. In addition, you will need yeast and brewing equipment. If this is your first batch of wine you may wish to consider purchasing a wine kit rather than buying all of your equipment separately. After you have had a chance to experiment with making wine at home and decided whether it is an endeavor you wish to continue you might then begin accumulating various pieces of equipment for brewing larger batches of wine.

There are five to eight basic steps involved in the process of making wine at home , depending on whether you are using grapes or concentrate. If you are using grapes then the fruit will obviously need to be harvested first. After the grapes have been harvested, you will then need to remove the stems from the grapes. This is an absolutely essential step as very bitter tannins are contained in the stems that can have a heavy influence on the wine.

After the stems have been removed, the skins of the grapes will then need to be broken in order to release the juice from the fruit. There are certainly many different ways in which to do this. Crushing is the preferred method for most winemakers. The degree to which the fruit is crushed will have an impact on the resulting wine. If your goal is to create a wine that has a fruity aroma then you may wish to leave the berries almost completely intact.

The next step is known as the primary fermentation. During this step the yeast cells contained in the wine will feed on the sugars. Alcohol and carbon dioxide is produced as a result. In some cases, you may wish to add additional yeast. This helps to ensure a stable and consistent conversion which may not be the case if you rely solely on the yeast that is found on the fruit itself.

After the primary fermentation, more juice will need to be extracted from the fruit. It should be noted that the juice that is extracted in this step is typically not as high of a quality as the juice that is extracted during the crushing phase. This is because the juice that is obtained during crushing, known as free run juice, has had less contact with the stems and skins. This does not mean that press juice is useless however. Even large wineries may choose to use press juice in order to increase their yield.

A secondary fermentation occurs after the pressing, at the same time as the wine is aging. As the winemaker, it will be up to you to determine how long the wine should ferment.

Blending is an optional part of the process however, one which can assist you in creating a highly customized wine. Blending is most commonly used in order to improve two or more batches which may be slightly lacking.

The last step of the process is bottling. The wine is poured into bottles and at times you may wish to add sulfites in order to help end fermentation as well as to preserve the wine. Finally, the bottle of wine is sealed with a cork.

Making wine at home can be a very enjoyable experience.

As you learn more about the process of making wine, you will likely gain a more thorough appreciation of wine.

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Introduction to Wine Grape Growing

grapesWhile wine can certainly be made from a variety of different vegetable matters, most wines are produced from grapes.

Ironically, grapes commonly grow in areas where it is difficult if not impossible to grow other crops. Bordeaux, France is known for producing some of the best grapes, and wines, in the world however, at first glance the unfertile, stony ground in that region would seem an unlikely growing region. In order to completely understand the process of making excellent wine, it is important to understand how grapes are grown and harvested. This is especially important if you wish to grow your own grapes for the purpose of winemaking.

There are actually more than five thousand different varieties of wine grapes.

There are only two broad families however. They are Vitis Vinifera and Vitis Labrusca. Vitis Vinifera is a European type of grape and include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Riesling. Vitis Labrusca includes American grapes such as Concord, Catawba, Delaware and Niagara.

The process of growing grapes is known as viticulture. Factors such as soil, color, chemicals, geology, topography and climate are all important to that process. In most cases, grapes begin to bud during the spring and then grow and develop fruit during the summer.

During the growth period, it is extremely important to minimize the growth of the leaves, so as to allow more sunlight to reach the grape cluster. Attentive growers must also take care to be on the watch for indications of disease, pests and of course, drought.

By early fall the grapes are reading for harvesting. The exact time at which grapes need to be harvested can depend somewhat on the local climate as well as your own personal judgment.

The phase during which grapes begin to change color is known as vraison. This is an especially important phase for red or black grapes. Regardless of what color they will eventually become, all grapes begin as dark green and hard. It is only during the ripening phase in the sun that they begin to take on their true color. It is during this time that white varieties of grapes will begin to achieve their golden hue and red varieties of grapes will begin to take on their deep purple hue.

The natural sugar content as well as the ripeness of grapes determine the appropriate time for harvesting. When grapes are typically ready to harvest, the leaves on the grapevines of white varieties will begin to turn yellow while the leaves of red varieties will take on a red hue.

You may have wondered what accounts for the different price of wines when you purchase them in a wine store. The most expensive wines are produced from the first pressing of the grapes. This is frequently referred to as free run wine. Second and third pressings of the grape juice results in wine that referred to as press wine. Press wine is less expensive than free run wine because it is typically not of the same quality. Most press wine lacks the smoothness of free run wine. This is the great advantage of being able to grow your own grapes and then press them for your personal wine. You can have the advantage of enjoying first press wine and the smoothness that is associated with it.

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How to Start your Own Wine Journal

journalMany years ago homemakers made a practice of keeping kitchen journal s.

A lot of information went into those journal s, including successfully adapted recipes and the likes and dislikes of guests who were frequently invited to dinner. These kitchen journals made the process of running a kitchen far more efficient.

If you are going to make wine at home, it is a good idea to consider keeping your own wine journal or notebook. One of the keys of producing good wine is being consistent. A wine journal will allow you to do that as well as track your progress as you develop advanced skills. In the beginning your notes may not seem like much however, over time this information can become extremely valuable. You may think that you will be able to rely on your memory however, this can be quite dangerous if you want to consistently develop good wines. After a few batches, there is a very good chance that you will forget exactly which details worked best and which you would like to avoid.

The type of information that should be recorded in your journal includes any information that would have an impact on the final outcome.

Of course, it is not necessary to list trivial information that will not really have any impact however, you will definitely want to include information such as the brand of yeast you used and temperature recordings for your wine must.

Other information that should be included in your winemaking journal includes:

How much fruit you used

The type and amount of sugar you used

Amount and type of yeast

Amount and type of nutrients

It is also important to keep specific information about dates as well. You should make a note of when the yeast is put into the must as well as the dates of when rackings are performed. In addition, any time you add ingredients, you should make a note of this as well. Also, be sure to note when you bottle the wine. You may also want to include any information about how the wine looks or even how it tastes when you do a sample taste test.

Hydrometer readings are also critical to the development of any batch of wine so it is a good idea to record those readings and the dates they were taken. Over time, you will be able to gain a lot of insight from the hydrometer readings that you record. Keep in mind that you should take hydrometer readings when the fermentation process is first begun as well as during any rackings. Readings should also be taken at the end of the fermentation process as well. In the event you add any fruit or sugar to the must during the fermentation process, it is also a good idea to take a hydrometer reading before the addition is made as well as after.

Practically anything that you feel comfortable with can be used for your winemaking journal. If you want to keep it simple, consider using something like a spiral composition notebook. The one problem with using this method is that you may find it difficult to keep your notes consistent. To combat this problem you might want to develop your own wine log. This can be easily done using any word processing program on your computer and then printed out and placed in a 3-ring binder. When every page is identical you will have prompts to help you remember the type of information that should be recorded. This type of binder will hold up better over time as well. In addition, depending on the width of the binder, you can easily add more pages as you need without worrying about running out of space.

You may also find it helpful to add other reference information that will be right at your fingertips. For example, you might wish to print off conversion charts and place those in your binders so that you can access the information quickly while working with your wine.

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The Importance of Cleanliness and Patience in Winemaking

winemakingWinemaking can be an extremely satisfying activity and hobby with a wonderful end result that also makes for wonderful gifts.

If you have already experimented with brewing ales and beers you may already be familiar with many of the steps associated with the process of making wine. Winemaking is generally the next step for many home brewers. If you have already done some brewing at home, you probably already own much of the equipment that is required and are familiar with the patience and cleanliness that are required in the process.

If this is a completely new process to you however, and you have not previously done any home brewing then it is important to make sure you understand the role of both patience and cleanliness in the process of successful winemaking.

Cleanliness is one of the most important steps of winemaking. If your work area and equipment are not clean you will find that you encounter innumerable problems in the process and the end result will not be successful. One of the keys to producing good wine is to make sure that your equipment as well as your work area is kept very clean and sterile.

Before you begin any new batch of wine you will want to make sure that your equipment has been cleaned and sanitized thoroughly. The most common cause of homemade wine becoming contaminated is equipment that has been poorly cleaned. In fact, it has been estimated that as much as 90% of failures in winemaking can be attributed to poor sanitation.

To avoid this problem, make sure that you sanitize all of your equipment that will touch either the juice or the wine. This can be easily done by rinsing all equipment using a solution of MetaBisulfate. Potassium MetaBisulfate is an active ingredient that is used in Campden tablets a compound that is frequently used for sanitizing brewing equipment.

Place 3 tablespoons of the compound into a 1-liter container of hot water. If the container is kept tightly sealed and stored at room temperature, the cleaning solution should last up to six months. Using the solution, make sure all equipment is rinsed thoroughly. Next, rinse all equipment with cold water.

Make sure you take the time to clean all equipment before you store it as well as before you take it out of storage before each use. This will help you to avoid any contamination problems and assure that your equipment lasts as long as possible.

In addition, patience is quite important as well when winemaking .

One of the most common mistakes of many new winemakers is a lack of patience. They want to rush through the steps and as a result discover that their wine is not all that it could be. Remember that just because wine is ready to bottle that does not necessarily mean that it is ready to drink. While it is common to be anxious to drink your homemade wine, waiting is well worth the effort. At a minimum, it is usually about a month from the time your wine is bottled before it will be ready to sample. Generally however, you should wait at least six months before your wines will have developed sufficient character and be ready for drinking. For heavy reds, be prepared to wait at least a year for the wine to improve. While waiting may be difficult, you can be assured that it will be rewarded with a bouquet that is absolutely delicious.

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Timing your Racking

rackingRacking is one of the most essential parts to making stellar wine.

Generally, you will need to rack the wine at least two times and in some cases you may need to rack it as many as four times. Making sure that you rack in a timely fashion will ensure the wine is properly clarified as well as prevent off flavors.

If you are not familiar with racking, it is important to understand that racking does not refer to bottling the wine. This is a misinterpretation. Basically, racking involves siphoning the wine from one container to another. The purpose behind this is making sure that all of the sediment is left behind.

The first racking typically occurs about five days into the fermentation process. In some cases, you may wait one to two days however, the first racking should always occur by day 7. This is because by this time you will need to place an air lock on the container in order to protect the wine must due to the fact that the fermentation has slowed down. Outside contaminant could easily influence the wine, so you will need to provide necessary protection using an air lock.

You will also usually find that at this point in the fermentation process at least 70% of the sediment will have already begun to appear. If you rack between days five and seven, this will be a good opportunity to get rid of most of the sediment. It will be some time before the remainder of the sediment appears. Racking at this point is also important because it presents you with a chance to remove pulp from the must. This is imperative if you used fresh fruit instead of concentrate. If you leave pulp in the must for any longer, you may find that your wine has a harsh taste.

The second racking should take place when the fermentation process has been completed. The amount of time necessary for this to occur may vary. In some cases it may take only a few days following the first racking while in other cases it could be several weeks following the first racking. The amount of time depends on how quickly the fermentation progresses. After you have completed the second racking, do take care to re-apply the air lock as the must will still need some time in order to clear.

The third racking should take place after the wine has become completely clear. This will give you the chance to get rid of any remaining sediment. Under specific circumstances, you may find that it is necessary to perform subsequent rackings. For example, when you are aging a heavy red wine in bulk, you may find it necessary to rack the wine approximately every three months or so. This is because some sediment may still occur over the course of the wine being stored in bulk for a long period of time.

In the event you decide to use clarifiers or finings you may also need to perform subsequent racking s.

In this case, you would need to rack the wine once before the wine is treated and then once again after treatment. It should be noted that it is entirely possible to rack your wine too many times. This should be avoided as it can cause the wine to become over-oxidized.

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Troubleshooting Fermentation Problems

fermentationAs we all know, fermentation is one of the critical stages of winemaking.

Without fermentation, it is impossible to create wine. In some cases however, you may find that you have problems with the fermentation process. Usually, these problems will take the form of either fermentation that just does not occur at all or else is too slow.

One of the reasons that this may occur is that the temperature was either too cold or too hot. Remember that yeast cells are live and in order to become activated they require a temperature that is between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideally, you should aim for around 72 degrees however, if you drop below 70 or go above 75 degrees, you will have problems.

When the temperature is too cool, the fermentation will likely not occur at all. When the temperature is too warm however, the yeast can become damaged and will also perform poorly.

This is why it is critical to ensure that you have a stable temperature in the room where you ferment your wine. If the temperature in the room fluctuates, you will generally have problems. Basements tend to make the best places for fermentation provided the area does not become too cool during the winter. In that case, you can provide a small heat source. Making sure that your fermentation containers are not placed directly on the floor may also help. You can also use a thermometer to monitor the fermentation. A floating thermometer can be placed right in the wine and you can lift it out when you want to check the temperature.

Improperly starting the yeast can also result in problems with fermentation. This is also commonly due to problems with temperatures. Most yeast packets require the yeast to be rehydrated, or moistened, with some warm water prior to use. Ideally, this should not cause any problems. That is, unless the water temperature was too warm. Most yeast packets call for the temperature to be somewhere between 95 and 105 degrees. If the water exceeds these temperature limits even just a small bit, the yeast is likely to be destroyed. As a result, it is unable to support the fermentation process.

As a result, it is important to make sure that you actually verify the temperature of the water before you add the yeast. In addition, it is important to make sure that you do not leave the yeast in the water for too long. Generally, you will need to leave the yeast in the water for about fifteen minutes. If you walk off and forget about the yeast and leave it in the water for even a few minutes longer, you will also run the risk of destroying the yeast cells. Therefore, it is important to keep an eye on the clock and make sure that the yeast does not remain in the water for any longer than 15 minutes at the most.

Adding too much sugar can also cause problems in the fermentation process. Remember that while it is necessary for yeast to have sugar in order to produce alcohol, you can add in too much sugar. When the sugar level is too high, it may begin to have a detrimental effect on the ability of the yeast to produce alcohol. This is why it is critical to verify the amount of sugar that is already present in a batch from the fruit itself before you add in any additional fruit. Remember that the fruit itself will have its own amount of sugar. This level can vary from one fruit to another, making it even more important to verify the sugar content level. A hydrometer can be used for this purpose. If you have not previously used a hydrometer it is a good idea to invest in one and become acquainted with it. A quality hydrometer can help you to avoid many of the problems that might otherwise ruin a good batch of wine.

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An Introduction to Making Sparkling Wines

sparkling wineSparkling Wine s

While many people who make their own wine prefer to make wine that is suitable for everyday drinking with meals, there may be times when we you wish to make something more special that would be suitable for special occasions and parties. The obvious choice is sparkling wines. If you have considered making sparkling wines but have been intimidated by the thought because it seemed too complicated, rest assured that it is not nearly as complicated as it might at first seem.

The term sparkling wine refers to wine that has been carbonated.

Many people think of sparkling wine as champagne however, the word champagne is used to refer to sparkling wine that is produced in the Champagne region of France. In Spain, this version of sparkling wine is known as Cava and in Italy it is known as Prosecco.

Regardless of the different names that are used to refer to sparkling wine, the same age-old process can be used to make sparkling wine at home. The basic process calls for beginning with white wine and adding sugar and yeast to the mixture. The wine is then corked so that carbon dioxide will begin to build up. Since the bottle is corked, the bubbles will then become forced back down into the wine.

The process really is quite simple and there is no reason why you cannot begin producing your own version of sparkling wine at home with a few bottles, some sugar, a lemon and some yeast along with your own white wine.  Remember that your bottles will need to be sanitized first. While the bacteria that may grow in bottles that have not been sanitized will not necessarily hurt you, it will definitely affect the taste of your wine and could ruin the entire batch.

The first step in the process is to make your white wine somewhat more acidic. The acidity of the wine will give it a texture that is more flavorful and overall crisper. To do this, add the juice of one lemon per twenty-five ounces of white wine.

The next step is to add in the yeast and the sugar. Both of these items are necessary in order for the carbonation to occur. You must make sure that your measurements are exact however, when you add the sugar into the wine. If you use too much sugar the result will be too much carbonation. This can actually cause the bottles to explode so you want to make sure you use only one teaspoon of sugar per twenty-five ounces of wine.

After you have added the sugar into the wine, you will then need to add in the yeast. You will only need to add  teaspoon yeast into the wine and sugar mixture. Make sure that you sprinkle the yeast carefully into the wine do not just dump it into the wine. Now, using a large spoon, stir the mixture to be sure the sugar and yeast become well combined. You may even note that the carbonation process has already begun to occur.

Now, it is time to bottle the mixture. To achieve successful results, the mixture must be properly bottled. The biggest mistake in making sparkling wines is to pour the mixture into a bottle and stick in a cork. Many home brewers prefer to use what is known as swing cap bottles that contain a metal rod attached to the cork. Once the cork has been inserted into the bottle, the rod can be locked into place. This works to pressurize the contents inside the bottle. You can purchase these types of bottles at most home brew stores as well as online.

When you pour the wine, be sure to leave about two inches of space in the neck of the bottle. This will allow plenty of room for the pressure to build as the carbonation process occurs. If you do not leave enough space, the pressure will have nowhere to go and you could end up with exploding bottles. Once the bottles have been filled, they should be placed in a location that is cool and dry. Generally, they should remain there for between one and two weeks. When you are ready to drink the wine, do make sure that you chill it first.

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Guide to Temperature Storage of Wine

temperatureAfter your wine has been bottled you will need to take careful steps to ensure that careful temperature s are maintained in order for the wine to remain stable.

In most cases, it is best to store your wine in cool temperatures. For long-term storage, most bottled wines do better when stored at a temperature of about 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason why it is so important to store wine at cool temperature s is because cool temperatures help to reduce the effects of oxidation.

Keep in mind however, that you do not necessarily need to obsess if you absolutely cannot obtain a storage facility at exactly 55 degrees. The improvement provided for each degree in temperature you are able to reduce in the storage area is really only marginal. Of course, a dark area that has a temperature of 65 degrees is always going to better than an area with a lot of light that has an average temperature of 75 degrees. Being able to store your wine in an area at 55 degrees however, would only be slightly better than the 65 degree storage area.

The most important key is to try to avoid fluctuations in temperature in the area where you store your bottled wine, even if this means that area is slightly warmer than 55 degrees. Changes in temperature can be very difficult on bottled wine. Over time, temperature fluctuations will wear down your wine. Wine that is stored in an area with temperature fluctuations will take on a weak aroma and may begin to lose its character. The main reason that temperature changes have such an effect on bottled wine is due to the expansion and contraction that occurs.

When temperature s change, anything in that area naturally expands and contracts.

With bottled wine, the glass in the bottle will expand and contract however, the wine inside the bottle will also expand and contract. They do not expand and contract at the same level however. Wine tends to expand and contract at a far greater level than the glass in the wine bottle. The result is the buildup of pressure inside the bottle. The aroma of the wine may then seep through the cork. In addition, the expansion and contraction process can result in carbon dioxide seeping into the wine through the cork and the vacuum that is left in the process. This can result in a very bad taste in your wine.

In some cases, you may not be certain whether the temperature in your storage area is stable. In that case, it is a good idea to set up a monitoring system to make sure that the temperatures are remaining stable. It is not uncommon for an area that was thought to be quite stable to have temperature fluctuations. In some cases, these fluctuations can amount to as much as 10 degrees each day. Over time, this can prove to be disastrous for your wine. Therefore, if you are not entirely certain that your storage area is consistent in terms of temperature it really is a good idea to monitor it over a period of time to make sure that the temperature is remaining consistent. Keep in mind that when monitoring your storage area, you should check the temperature at least twice a day at different times in order to get an accurate idea of whether the temperature is remaining stable on a daily basis.

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Guide to Oaking your Wine

OakingOaking Wine

Certain wines can certainly benefit from the addition of oak chips. Just a few of these wines include Chardonays, Cabernets, Pinot Noir, Chianti, Merlots, Sauvignon Blanc, Burgundy, Pinot Blanc and Fume Blanc.

Oaking provides a way to develop a wine that is quite complex. The depth of the complexity is greatly determined by the type of oak that is used as well as the wine itself. Oak can provide a wide variety of flavors to wine including coconut, vanilla and even spices such as cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. In some cases, oak can even add a somewhat earthy tone. The type of flavor that is added to your wine is largely determined by the type of oak that is used. For example, American oak when used with white wines such as Merlot tends to add an aroma that is decidedly vanilla in nature. Generally, most of the oak that is used for flavoring in wine is either American or French. Hungarian and Yugoslavian oaks are also now being increasingly used as well however.

In the past, wine was oaked by placing it into an oak barrel. The wine would then stay in the barrel until it reached the aroma and taste that was desired. There were few ways in which to control the process other than by choosing the type of oak as well as the size and age of the barrel. A vintner could also decide whether they wanted to use a toasted or charred barrel or not. This process typically took quite a long time. Older barrels tended to take even longer.

Today, the method of oaking wine has shifted from using just oak barrels to use oak pieces.

This has made it much easier and more affordable for home vintners to oak their wines. Today, winemakers can choose to use oak chips as well as oak beans and oak powder for the purpose of oaking their wines without the concern and expense of having to use large barrels.

You will need to give some thought to which method you think will best suit your purpose however. There are advantages as well as disadvantages to each. For example, oak chips are commonly preferred because they are easily available and can be obtained in a variety of different types. The problem with oak chips is that once you have put them into your carboy, you have to find a way to get them out. Oak powder works quite well during the fermentation process and you do not need a lot of oak powder to achieve the results that you want. The flip side to this is that if you are not careful, you can easily over oak your wine. In addition, it can be difficult to rack your wine using oak powder.

When oaking your wine you will need to decide when you wish to add the oak. Generally, the oak is added either during fermentation or after the wine has been racked and you are ready for bulk aging of your wine.

Oak powder really does work best if you decide you want to oak during the fermentation process. Over time the oak powder will absorb wine and eventually it will just sink to the bottom of the container.  For a small batch of wine, you should not use any more than 20 grams of oak powder per gallon. You may wish to use less than that. If you decide to oak your wine during bulk aging, oak chips tend to work best. Plan to use somewhere between two and four ounces of chips for every six gallons of wine. Ideally, it is best to make sure that you sanitize your chips before you put them into your wine. You can use Campden Tablets for this purpose. Just soak the chips in some water, add a tablet and allow them to sit for a few minutes.

Finally, remember that as when trying anything new with your wine, it is best to start small with oaking. You can always add more, but it is virtually impossible to take it away once it is there.

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