Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I use a cork in commercial screw top bottles?
A: Many more commercial wines are using screw top or twist off bottles. And as frugal winemakers using used wine bottles is a great way to save money. Some of the screw top bottles may be properly sized to accept a standard #9 cork. However the opening, the portion where the thread is, is quite thin. Putting a cork in these type of bottles might result in cracking or breaking the opening, therefore they are not recommended.
Q: I have a friend who lives in British Columbia that has their wine made at a store, can you do that in Alberta?
A: Good news! The Government of Alberta amended the Liquor Act in May, 2018 to allow what is called Ferment on Premises. The AGLC, the administering body for the Liquor Act has developed the Rules and Regulations and Creative Connoisseur has applied for a license. We hope to be up and running in February 2019.
Q: What's the difference between Pinot Grigio & Pinot Gris?
A: They are the same grape, one coming from France (Gris) and the other Italy (Grigio); however the styles are an interesting contrast. Pinot Grigio is naturally, lighter, lemony, easy drinking and invariably dry. While Pinot Gris is spicy, weightier, generally more complex and varies from dry to markedly sweet.
The Pinot Grigio grape is a natural mutation of the red Pinot Noir grape, and it can sometimes resemble Sauvignon Blanc, without the grassy and herbal notes. Pinot Grigios are usually not aged in oak as this would overpower the wine and takes away from its simplicity.
Q: I've heard about a 7-day accelerator for wine kits. Will this work on Winexpert products?
A: From the lab rats at Winexpert comes this response: Our laboratory trials showed that the accelerator products do not work with any of Winexpert's kits. Not only do they not produce a finished, clear wine in seven days, none of them were able to complete primary fermentation in that time and when the wines finally did finish (on average several weeks later) they were difficult to clarify and significantly degraded in quality. The seven day kit products, while producing a clear, stable wine product (after several weeks) were not favourably compared to four-week kit products in blind tastings.
Q: Can I sweeten a dry wine? If so, how?
A: There are three options to make a sweeter-style wine. The first option is to choose a wine kit with an F-Pack . This is a flavour pack that is included in select kits to enhance the flavour and add sweetness as well. These kits are usually the Piesporter, Liebfraumilch, Gewürztraminer and White Zinfandel. If the wine kit you are making does not have an F-Pack then Wine Conditioner can be used. Wine conditioner is a liquid invert sugar that has extra stabilizer in it to prevent re-fermentation. This is added to the wine after filtering, just before bottling. The third option is to use the Sweet Reserve method.
Sweet Reserve Method: On day one , simply pour (1 cup for 4 week kits, 2 cups for 6 week kits) of liquid from the concentrate bag into a sterilized plastic jar or freezer bag. Keep this juice in the freezer until you are at the stabilizing stage. Add one cup of dextrose or regular table sugar to the primary fermenter to replace the juice you have set aside. The additional sugar added will ensure that your wine will have the same % of alc./vol.
Stabilizing: After adding the add packs, thaw the sweet reserve and add to the wine. No further conditioner should be required at the bottling stage, although it can be added if desired. The benefits of sweet reserve are most evident with fruity wines, such as Riesling, Piesporter, Chamblaise, and Beau Soleil/Bergamais. Again, the sweet reserve method can be used for any style of wine where a little extra sweetness, flavour and body is wanted.
Carbohydrates & Winexpert Kits With the recent press on the Atkins and South Beach diets, many winemakers have become keenly aware of their carbohydrate intake, and the question comes up, “ How many carbohydrates do wine kits have? ” Rest assured, Winexpert kit wines have exactly the same amount of calories and carbohydrates as commercially available wine. That means that dry wines (those without F-Packs) have approximately 4 grams of carbohydrate per 5 ounce serving, and about 100 – 200 total calories (higher alcohol wines have higher calorie values, but have the same amount of carbohydrates). F-Pack wines will have higher levels of carbohydrate due to the natural sugars in the pack, but its not very much: for every ‘point' on the dryness scale you need to add about one gram of carbohydrate.
Q: Should distilled or filtered water be used in making wine?
A: The easiest answer to this question is if you enjoy drinking your water, you can make your wine with it. The high levels of acids and minerals that are in a wine kit itself make any content in the water you use negligible. Chlorine levels in the public water supplies are federally regulated and are not high enough to affect your wine. Chlorine also dissipates very quickly into the atmosphere so any perceived flavour will dissipate during fermentation. If your house is equipped with a salt exchange water softener, that water can't be used for winemaking because of the high levels of sodium.
Q: Would I get a better quality wine if I used a 19 litre carboy instead of a 23 litre carboy when making 4 week (7.5 litre) wine kits?
A: At first thought, one would assume that by doing this, you would get a fuller-bodied wine. This is true, however, the wine will also have more tannins, higher acidity and higher alcohol. This wine would then require a much longer time to age. The wine will also be improperly balanced. Also, there may be troubles with fermentation and clearing due to the higher pH, acidity and sugar levels. Think of it as making frozen orange juice and adding only two cans of water instead of three. Another thing to remember is that by making only 19 litres, you will end up with about five less bottles of wine.
Q: What purpose does Bentonite serve in the winemaking process?
A: Bentonite is a type of clay which when used as a fining agent leaves your wine clean and bright. It not only improves wine appearance, it also makes the wine stable. Stable means it won't change appearance, taste, aroma or chemical composition while in storage. Finings are more powerful than most people suspect. Too much finings can lead to a stripping of color and flavour if a juice is too light and thin to begin with. Although it may seem odd adding clay to your wine, you'll be glad a little was added to polish it up, when the finished product is clear and delicious.