Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Wine Additives

In many ways wine is easier to make than beer, but all of the additives can get confusing.  In a culture pushing towards preservative free foods and beverages, it is easy to be turned off by the word additives, but almost all of these items, with the exception of many of the clarifying agents, are naturally produced in wine to some degree. The home winemaker just needs to use them in a way to help them control the outcome of their wine and to keep it fresh and palatable over a long period of time... something that humans have been doing since ancient Greece. Here is a list of items to help you make your next batch of wine.


Kills unwanted bacteria and helps to protect your wine from oxidation. Used by the home wine maker to inhibit bacterial growth, stop fermentation at a desired point and even for sanitation, these are important chemicals, and while sulfides are also naturally occurring in wine, some people do have sulfite allergies.
Campden (potassium metabisulfite): Forms sulfur dioxide gas prevents microorganism growth and acts as an antioxidant.
Sodium Metabisulfite: Acts in the same way as Potassium metabisulfite, but adds sodium, which some people try to avoid in their diet. Tannin: This naturally occurring preservative is found in many plant materials including parts of the grape itself. Tannins lend a sharp bitterness that helps balance the sweetness from the grape juice and enriches the body.


Sorbate: Although not a sulfite, it goes hand in hand. Sorbate is used to inhibit future cell growth and multiplication, but when Sorbate is used a sulfite needs to be added also, not only to kill current yeast/bacteria cells, but to prevent a compound called geraniol from forming which can give you off flavors and aromas.
Dimethyl Dicarbonate: The application of DMDC is particularly useful when wine needs to be sterilized but cannot be sterile filtered, pasteurized, or sulfured

Yeast Nutrient and Energizer

Diammonium Phosphate: A major element in most yeast nutrient mixtures:
Energizer: Vitamin mixture, almost pure vitamin B, Which is also found in yeast nutrients.


Used to break down fruit cell walls to increase juice production and clarify.
Pectic Enzymes: Used mainly in home wine making to clarify by removing pectin haze.
lysozyme: Slight flavor modification by changing malic acid into lactic acid


This is an additive in the sense that flavors can be leached out of oak barrels or cubes to add a level of complexity to the wine that it might not have otherwise. Oak Tannins are similar to grape tannin, but can react with people differently.
Oak Essence: To impart oakiness at any stage of production

Fining and Clarifying

These are additives, but they are “added” in an effort to attract unwanted particles from your wine and eventually fall out of suspension, leaving virtually all of the additive behind and out of the bottle. You could call the take-outatives. + indicates positively charged (attracts negative particles). - indicates negatively charged (attracts positive particles)
+ Albumin:  This is one of the proteins found in egg whites, and yes many wineries in Europe still use egg whites to fine wine today, although it is required that the bottle is labeled as such.
+ Casein (potassium caseinate):  Milk byproduct usually used as a substitute for gelatin it can reduce tannins from reds and brown color from whites.
+ Isinglass: - Made from the swim bladders of fish this fining agent is not very aggressive and best used as a final touch to wine that is already fairly clear.
+ Gelatine:  Like Bentonite this animal protein can be used before and after fermentation, This fining agent is popular in clearing out unwanted tannin (negatively charged) from red wines. Gelatine has the potential to create haze in relatively tannin free white wine.
- Bentonite:  Popular in North America this volcanic clay is super absorbent and fall out of suspention well. It can also be used before or after fermentation.
+ Sparkolloid:  Fossilized remains of algae this is a brand of clarifying agent that is a mix of polysaccharides and diatomaceous earth.
- Kieselsol:  Silicon Dioxide works well with positively charged agents and has the benefit of removing bitterness from white wines.
+ Chitosan:  This fining agent is gentle on the character of your wine, but should be used in addition to a negatively charged agent. Chitosan is the structural element of the exoskeleton of crustaceans.
+/- Super Kleer:  Promotes flocculation of suspended proteins & other matter, producing a clearer wine. Kiesosol & Chitosan formulation

Bocksin: Fixes Hydrogen Sulfide problems (rotten egg smell)

Acid Control

Acid helps determines the very nature of the wine itself. Color, flavor, intensity, aroma, and brightness, so controlling acid is critical in wine making, or at least wine recreation. An acid test kit may be used to determine the acidity and usage

+ Increases Acidity (lowers pH)

Tartaric Acid: Sour/Bitter flavor found in many plants, particularly grapes and bananas. High in antioxidants
Malic Acid: Contributes to the sourness of green apples and grapes. Part of an acid blend.
Citric Acid: A natural preservative used to add an acidic taste to foods and soft drinks.
Acid Blend: Combination of citric, malic and tartaric acids used to increase acidity of wine.
Ascorbic (Acid Vitamin C): Has anti-oxidant properties, acting as preservative and helps preserve color in white wines.
Lactic Acid (bacteria): Responsible for the sour flavor of sour milk products and sourdough breads.

-Decreases Acidity (raises pH)

Calcium Carbonate (chalk): Used for acid reduction in wine (raise pH). First reduces tartaric acid, so care in dosage should be taken to prevent complete deduction of tartaric acid. 1/2 ounce in gallon reduces acid by .1 pH unit.
Potassium Bicarbonate: Used for acid reduction in wine. Use at a rate of 2gm/liter for acid reduction. Dissolve in small quantity of wine then add to batch ¾gm/gallon reduces acid by .1pH unit.

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