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Man!! it smells like vinegar

My wine tastes awful

Fermentation stopped way to soon

Why is it so cloudy I racked it good

Wine is bitter or tart. 4/15/99 I added some information here


Vinegar Smell

Dump your wine, it has been infected by a bacteria. These bacteria can travel airborne or with the not so famous  Fruit Fly.. these flies tend to just appear around your winemaking. DO NOT. let them into your wine. For a way to kill them go to my Tips Page]


Awful Taste

Well this is a broad subject Guys.. If the wine is still fermenting then that's pretty normal, you could be tasting a lot of the yeasty flavors, wait for ferment to proceed further, rack and taste again.. Also bad fruit if used can impart a bad taste into your wine if this is the case try racking some off and adding fresh fruit juice to mask the flavor, or add some sodium metabisluphate and let it age for a good while. If that doesn't work then you choose whether to start over or just drink it like it is.   Often tasting a wine right after the addition of Campden tabs will taste a little off, give the SO2 time to dissipate out of the wine( a couple of days) and taste again. I can tell you I seldom like the tastes of my wines until a month or two into their making, Wines get so much better with age. I do taste often though at the start to try and determine if final flavor will be what I want. I had a peach wine that I intended to make 3 gallons of and ended up with five, after 3 days of fermenting I detected that the peach flavor was going to be weak because I didn't use enough fruit. I went to the store the next day and bought more peaches, some peach nectar juice, a can of Pineapple in natural juices, and 1 can of frozen white grape juice, and some bananas (Boiled for the juice). I racked the wine and left a say 3/4 gallons behind along with the lees, and then added all this and it Really added a Great peach flavor to the wine, along with some body... See how easy that was..Don't panic..  you can usually fix things.. just stay on top of what you are doing...

Ferment Stopped

Stuck fermentation can be caused by a lot of things. If you put too much sugar in your must to start with and the yeast has eaten enough of the sugar to produce around 14-16% alcohol, then the yeast will die off and you are left with a sweet wine. I have never had this happen as I always measure my sugar content with a hydrometer. If this does happen you could add a different kind of yeast that will tolerate high alcohol content and hope that it will consume the rest of the sugar in your wine.. be warned if this works you will have a super high alcohol wine!! Another reason for stuck fermentation could be the ambient temperature that you are fermenting at. make sure you don't let the temp. get to cold, if it does and the ferment sticks, move the carboy to warmer location.. this should get it going again. Lack of nutrient in your must can also cause a stuck ferment. in this case add some yeast nutrient and keep must warm for a few days. There are also certain fruits that just cause stuck fermentation and have a hard time getting started in the first place. blueberry comes to mind. remember to use a good yeast started for these hard to get started fruits and don't ever add too much S02 (Campden Tabs) as this will inhibit the yeast.

Cloudy Wine

Given sufficient time most wines will clear. Remember on my home page I told you to always let your wines age in bulk, this gives them time to clear. If a wine does not it is usually due to a haze. Most hazes are due to protein, or pectin.  I often fine my wines especially white wines, and this will usually render the wine brilliant. filtering will also clear a wine perfectly except on certain hazes. I can suggest finning to get rid of a haze, and if its pectin related then use Bentonite. It works wonderfully!! There are a lot of finning chemicals on the market and one that works great for general purpose finning is clairo KC. also Gelatin is good for smoothing a high tannic wine and for a clearing aid. I suggest you do some research on finings and do some testing on small lots of wine.. Find one that works and stick with it. Once a wine is fined you can then filter if you want to..  REMEMBER- finning and filtering of wines can reduce color and some flavor!! so be discresionate in your decision to use either..

Tart or bitter wine

This is a very sore spot with me, because I often get some tartness in my finished wines, especially the red fruit wines. I have so many varying stories for why this happens. I know that excess Tannin in a wine can lend some tartness, and so can to much acid. Also fermenting on certain fruits with seeds and pits in them can cause a bitter taste in a finished wine. I always measure my acid content so I know its not over acidity. I generally add only 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of tannin to my wines to get the mouth dryness feel I am looking for, so I cant figure out why this phenomenon happens. I am in the testing phase with Tannin and hope to figure out if it causing the tartness. It could be that this is just what happens to some fruit wines!!     However, there are things you can do to fix this once it has occurred!

  • Use a gelatin finning to help smooth the wine and let age awhile..1-2 months
  • Sweeten the wine just enough to overcome the tartness, I have done this and it works well and can still leave you with a semi-dry wine which is how I like a lot of my wines anyway.

I will keep you posted on this page when I find the answer to this question and try and find a way to eliminate this all together. try some different experiments and see what you can come up with, if you get an answer to this please let me know

4/15/99 here's what I think I have just discovered!!!
It occurred to me the other day, that acid in a wine HAS to be the cause of tartness in flavor, there can be no other culprit, other than just the harshness of a finished wine..  I have in the past added what I though would be a close proximity on the acid I wanted and didn't really test for the content until after primary fermentation was finished, I would then adjust it if I needed to (It was never to low)   AND I ALWAYS SHOT FOR ABOUT .65% TARTARIC.  I think that this is to high for a fruit wine. I am going to adjust my thinking from now on and aim for about .55% tartaric on my fruit wines and see if this makes a difference, and I bet it will!!  .65 is the high end for acid content in a fruit wine, and .50 is the low end. Also I will test my must before adding any acid from now on, so that I can be real accurate as to how much to add. If your having the tartness problem try this solution I bet it will help!! 

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