Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Wine Making Guy Has Moved!

If you're looking for Scott "The Wine Making Guy", he's moved to

See you there!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Winemaking Designer Carboys?

I was recently reading a monthly newsletter I get from one of the local wine making supply shops I frequent and came across a new cool "toy" I HAD to get and try out - a plastic clear carboy.

These carboys are made by "Better-Bottle" ( and seem to have an OEM relationship with RJ Spagnols.

This new carboy caught my attention for a number of reasons:

Plastic Carboy for Winemaking1) It's made up of the same material (PET) that is used in regular water cooler bottles so I knew my wine wouldn't get a plastic taste to it. They are also almost "unbreakable" (mind you so was the Titanic) and can be cleaned with hot water.

      PET = polyethylene terephthalate

2) At 1.5 lbs it is about 1/10th the weight of the equivalent glass carboy so wouldn't hurt the back as much when I move a full carboy around.

3) It is clear (unlike the current opaque plastic carboys - which stain from what I hear) so you can see how well your wine is clearing.

4) Cost wise it is about the same as a glass carboy ($24.99)

5) The wider neck makes it even easier to clean the a a regular carboy.

Note: Due to the increased size of the neck you'll have to use a size 10 bung for the airlock.

I've quizzed wine making shop owners about what they see as the main drawbacks to using this new plastic carboy is that it tends to scratch on the inside when using a carboy brush. Apart from that it appears to be pretty equivalent to a glass carboy.

I haven't used it yet so would be interested in hearing from you if you have one and your experiences with it.

If you have used it before please let me know via the "comments" option below!

- Scott

Saturday, February 2, 2008

An Ingenious Way To Degas Your Wine

I was recently shown a very interesting and effective way to degas your wine and wanted to share it with you all.

I couldn't do this method justice by trying to describe it in writing so I shot the video below over the weekend so that I could post it to my website and to my Blog.

Give it a try and let me know how it works out for you!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Prawn Wine Anyone? Proof That You Can Make Wine Out Of Just About Anything!

One of the things I love about helping people with their wine making is hearing about all of the crazy things people make wine out of! I guess I'm a "traditionalist" though as I typically make wine from wine kits and fresh fruit.

For example, I currently have the following wine kits from Winexperts on the go:

  1. Piesporter (Vintner's Reserve)
  2. Pinot Noir (Vintner's Reserve)
  3. Napa Valley Stag's Leap District Merlot (Estate Series)

    (my wife and I are big fans of Stag's Leap Artemis, which is a Cabernet Sauvignon so we thought this kit would be interesting to try - cost us $150 though so BETTER be good ... ).

    You can view the PDF for this one by clicking here.

  4. Chocolate Raspberry Port (Limited Edition)

    (one of my readers has made this kit as well and said it was a big hit at Christmas)
On the fruit side I currently have on the go:
  1. Blueberry Wine
  2. Crabapple Wine
I have also completed a batch of Canadian Wheat Ale, which is quite tasty (need to tone down the carbonation though) and have a Mexican style beer waiting for it's turn as well.

So needless to say, our house has been a perpetual "fermentation zone" for quite some time now.

In any event, I figured the wines that I make are pretty much what everyone else makes and man was I wrong!

In fact, it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I discovered that people actually make wine out of "non-grape" fruit as well. My ski patrol friend Brian, for example, loves making wine from rhubarb, choke cherries and raspberries and this is mainly because he both loves the wine he can produce and he gets his fruit for free (not a bad deal).

Then there were the wines made from fruits I've never heard of including:
  1. Pomerac
  2. Otaheite Apple (Pomarosa, Malacca Apple, Plum Rose)
  3. Samarangense
Next, there was Rob who emailed me today and mentioned that he was making wine from Ribena. Well ... I guess all you need is sugar right?

There's Peter from the UK who loves to make wine from Beetroot (claims it went over quite nicely).

>> By the way, he sent me the recipe if you'd like it. You can contact me by going to

Then there's Ian (also from the UK) who I think gets the award for pushing the wine making limits with his wine made from:
  1. Tomatoes
  2. Coconuts (ok ... this one doesn't sound toooo bad)
  3. Sycamore (maple)
  4. Prawns (yes ... that's right ... prawns ... as in ... shrimp)
Don't believe me that you can make wine from prawns? Here's Ian's recipe and I double dare ya to try it!

"You have to cook and blend 1lb of prawns in with flour, I found that half a banana helped with them . Get it to room temperature, add 2 lbs of sugar, leave them for a few days and then add the yeast. " -> He did admit though that it took him a few tries to "get it just right"

I could go on with a bunch more entertaining wine recipes that I've heard but I'll spare you the details.

It goes to show you though that once you feel you have your wine making skills honed and under control that you shouldn't just limit yourself to just one style of wine as you never know what new and exciting flavours are waiting for you just around the corner.

It's just a matter of getting out of your comfort zone and trying something completely different.

Now get out there and make some wine damn it! :)

To your wine making,



Sunday, January 20, 2008

Potassium Metabisulphite vs. Sodium Metabisulphite: Is There A Difference?

My father spent this past week with my family and I wanted to show him some of the interesting wine making projects we were doing. He has a PhD in bio-chemistry so I thought he'd be intrigued by the process and I wasn't disappointed!

He asked me a very intriguing question: is there a big difference between potassium metabisulphite and sodium metabisulphite as chemically they are quite similar. Why would you use one over the other?

I remember reading somewhere that you wouldn't want to use sodium metabisulphite as a stabilizer in your wine because it adds sodium to it and potentially could could change the taste of your wine. Potassium metabisulphite is therefore the preferred item to use.

I also discussed this with the owner of one of our local wine making supply stores and confirmed that potassium metabisulphite is definitely the way to go and that the only use of sodium metabisulphite in your wine making should be as a sterilizer for your wine making equipment.

This was further confirmed in Alison Crowe's "The Wine Maker's Answer Book" on page 107, where she states:

"Most home winemakers use potassium metabisulphite, available in either powdered or solid (Campden tablets) form, to add sulfur dioxide. There's also a sodium form of sulfite (which isn't recommended for use in wine) as well as a self-dissolving effervescent potassium metabisulphite tablet. I recommend using the powdered form."

> By the way, if you are looking for a good book that covers all of the intricate details about wine making then I highly recommend you purchase Alison Crowe's "The Wine Maker's Answer Book". It is available for purchase via

Interested in learning more about both sulphites? Here are some good descriptions on Wikipedia:

Potassium metabisulphite -

Sodium metabisulphite -

If you are interested in finding out how to properly calculate the amount of sulphite needed for your wine go to Winemaker Magazine's "Sulphite Calculator", which is available by going to:

Would be interested to here what your thoughts and experiences are with using these sulphites!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Your Wine Could Be Sick

Home Wine Making Blog: When you think about a wine you normally don't think of it in terms of being in a good mood, humorous or even under-the-weather, but there is a term used by the wine industry that might make you think that such terms are appropriate.

Bottle sickness is often used to describe a wine that has taken a plunge in quality, usually right after bottling. It is referred to as a 'sickness' because the effects are temporary and with a little rest the wine will come back to its good-ole self once again.

Bottle sickness (also referred to as 'bottle shock' or 'travel shock') occurs when the wine absorbs too much oxygen in too little time, something that is likely to happen during bottling. Wines can handle the slow, gradual infusion of air that is naturally allowed by wine corks. In fact, most red wines will benefit from such a scenario, but when the oxygen comes too fast a build-up of an element called acetaldehyde starts to become prevalent in the wine.

Acetaldehyde is naturally found in any wine, at least in small, unnoticeable amounts, but in higher amounts its presence can be detected as an odor of rotting apples or nuts. This is what's noticed in wines that are suffering from bottle shock. The overall impression the wine gives can be described as flat or flabby, or just plain lacking in fruitiness.

Over the course of time the acetaldehyde will slowly convert to alcohol, bringing the wine back into line with something enjoyable to drink. How long this takes depends on the severity of the sickness. It could be as little as a few days or as long as a few weeks.

This is just one more reason of many as to why aging is so important. You could pick up a newly bottled wine from your cellar one week and wonder why it's so lifeless then the next week be overwhelmed by its superb flavor.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

When To Use An Airlock

Home Wine Making Blog: "On many occasions we have been asked this simple question, 'Should a fermenter be sealed with an air-lock during the first few days of fermentation, or should it be left open, exposed to the air?'

This question arises because there is so much conflicting information floating around in books, on the internet and in other places as to which method is correct. In fact, even our own website recommends just covering the primary fermentation with a thin towel, while the box ingredient kits we sell recommend using an air-lock.

Even commercial wineries are not consistent in this area. While most wineries will put white wines under an air-lock and expose red wines to air, there are many, many wineries that will do the very opposite.

The reason we recommend leaving the must exposed to air during the primary fermentation is because this method leads a more vigorous fermentation, one that is able to complete more thoroughly and rapidly. Wine kit producers recommend sealing up the primary fermentation with an air-lock because they are more concerned about eliminating any risk of spoilage than providing the fastest fermentation possible.

Spoilage can be of concern on those rare occasion when the fermentation does not start as planned, but if the fermentation takes off in a timely manner, spoilage is of no issue. The activity from the fermentation will easily protect the must by stifling the growth of any unwanted organisms.

So, What Should You Do?

While we do recommend using a thin, clean towel to cover the fermenter during the primary fermentation and nothing more, if you are concerned about your fermentation not starting there is a compromising method you could follow:

When you first pitch the yeast into the must, put an air-lock on the fermenter. After a few hours, once you see that the fermentation has begun--indicated by activity or foam on the surface--you can then take the air-lock off and safely allow air to get to the must. This is, in a sense, giving you the best of both worlds--the protection and an invigorated fermentation.

As A Side Note:

It is important to note that an air-lock should always be used after the must has gone into its secondary fermentation. This usually starts around the fifth or sixth day, or when the first racking is performed. It is about this time you will notice the fermentation's activity level starting to taper off."