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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Winemaking? and How can I make it?
How long will I have to age my wine before I can drink it?
What are the best conditions to make wine?
Can I really make wine that tastes as good as the best commercial wines?
How do I know what quality of wine kit to purchase?
How many bottles does a kit make?
How do I sweeten my wine after it has finished fermenting?
How should my wine be stored?
Why should I put shrink capsules on my bottles?
What are wine sediments?
What are wine diamonds/crystal sediments?

What is a red wine headache?

It true that red wine is good for one’s health?
What is the cone-shaped indentation in the bottom of a bottle called and what is its purpose?

What is Winemaking? Let's start off at the beginning.
Wine is made from grapes. At a winery, the grapes are crushed, and pressed, and the juice is gathered into a large vat (called a fermenter). Natural yeast, which was on the skin of the grapes, is now free to begin fermenting the sugars in the juice, turning them into alcohol. After the fermentation has finished, the winery drains the wine into a sealed container where it can clear and age. Once the wine has cleared, it gets filtered, put into bottles, corked, labeled and boxed. Sounds easy, right? Well, it is. We left out some of the details, but in essence, that is how wine is made. And, anyone can do it.

Here's how:
Wine product manufacturers take the same grape juice, and pasteurize it so that the yeast doesn't activate. Often the juice is concentrated to remove the water, the juice is then aseptically packaged in bags or pails, to be shipped off to a winemaking store. When you arrive at an Ontario Winemaking Store, you will choose a wine suited to your taste. Each store has brochures which describe the quality and taste you can expect. When you have chosen your wine, the store owner will help you pour the contents into the fermenter and you then add the yeast. You are now finished until your bottling date. The store owner will do the rest including stabilizing and filtering your wine. In approximately four to six weeks you will return to bottle your wine. Clarkson Vine has everything you need including bottles, corks, labels and capsules.

Now: take your wine home and store it in a cool and dark place. Most wines will be ready to consume in six to twelve weeks.

 

How long will I have to age my wine before I can drink it?
Your wine will be very palatable soon after you bottle, particularly if you decant the wine for an hour or two before serving. As the wine ages in the bottle, you will be excited to find how the wine softens and matures. Our staff can provide you with aging guides for each brand of wine kit.

 

What are the best conditions to make wine?
Fortunately, great wine can be made in most household environments. You don't need a lot of space. Most winemakers make wine in the basement or in the kitchen as it is handy to have a water source nearby. Best temperature range is 65°- 75°F. (18°- 24°C.). Because you are working with a kit, there is virtually no odour involved.

 

Can I really make wine that tastes as good as the best commercial wines?
Our customers have resoundingly told us that the wine they make from our kits ranks with commercial wine costing much more. We invite you to blind taste the wine you make with comparable commercial wine. We believe you will be very pleased with the comparison.

 

How do I know what quality of wine kit to purchase?
Our business is built on providing a wine very similar to the commercial wine that you like at a fraction of the price. Our trained staff will make suggestions based on the quality and price point of the wine you purchase. We strongly suggest that, when you get started, you make the highest quality wine kit available. The cost savings are well worth it and you will have wine that tastes like fine commercial wine at a fraction of the cost!

 

How many bottles does a kit make?
Most kits make 23 litres (6 US gallons) or about 30, 750 mL bottles. To a newcomer, this may sound like a lot of wine but keep in mind that, if you are like most winemakers, you will likely give some bottles away because you are so proud of the results!

 

How do I sweeten my wine after it has finished fermenting?
Once fermentation is complete you can sweeten your wine by adding a sweetener (wine conditioner). You would add the wine conditioner prior to bottling. One ounce per gallon takes the edge off and two ounces per gallon starts making the wine fairly sweet. The best thing to do is to add to taste. Be careful not to over-sweeten.

 

How should my wine be stored?
You should keep it in a dark place. Light will excite molecules and oxidizes your wine. It should be vibration free (storing wine under the stairs is not a good idea.) You should have it in a humid place between 50 and 80 percent. You should always keep it away from odors (paint cans or anything with a strong odor) The reason for this is because the taste of your wine can be affected. Maintaining a constant temperature between 16° - 21°C prevents your wine from premature aging. Rapid temperature changes in your wine storage location are detrimental to your wine. You should keep your wine bottles on their side so that the cork stays moist; otherwise the corks will dry out and allow unwanted air in. Wine asks for two things only, to be left lying quietly in a cool dark place, and to be served slowly, giving it plenty of time and room to breathe the air.

 

Why should I put shrink capsules on my bottles?
Shrink capsules are not only for decorative use but they are an important part of your winemaking as it protects the cork from unwanted pests such as spider mites, fruit flies, etc… and still allows your wine to breathe.

 

What are wine sediments?
As high-quality red wine ages in the bottle, it will likely produce fine sediment. This sediment is a result of a natural chemical reaction in which the dissolved grape tannins slowly combine with minute amounts of oxygen to produce the highly desired balanced and mellow character in aged red wine.

 

What are wine diamonds/crystal sediments?
Wine diamonds, also known as potassium acid tartrate, is a monopotassium salt. It is found in its natural state in several fruits, especially in grapes. Wine made from grapes, fresh grape juice or grape juice concentrate can sometimes produce these crystals commonly known as “Wine Diamonds”. You may notice these crystals when you remove the wine bottle from the refrigerator or cold storage, as it is the cold temperatures that cause the diamonds to form. This phenomenon can be present in white and red wines. It is entirely natural and is not a defect. In fact, it reflects a high quality juice and will accompany a wine with great taste and aroma. The most practical way to resolve wine crystals is to stand your bottle upright, allow the crystals to fall to the bottom and then decant the wine. Alternatively, wine filers placed directly in the wine bottle are a very easy resolve.
“Indication of a very fine high quality wine”

 

What is a red wine headache?
There are many people who cannot drink wine without getting a headache. In many cases headaches from red wine only is caused by the “Tannin” (red pigments) in the wine. If headaches occur from drinking red and white wine, it is probably from the “Sulphite” used during winemaking. Sulphite can be reduced in the Clarkson Vine winemaking process.

 

It true that red wine is good for one’s health?
As long as it’s not abused, red wine can, indeed, have a beneficial effect on your health. For a long time researchers were aware of the cardiovascular benefits of the flavonoids contained in red wine. More recently, they’ve discovered two other classes of antioxidants that further contribute to the well being of the drinker. The first, called saponins, act to prevent the absorption of cholesterol in the body while the second, resversatrol, is thought to inhibit tumor development in some cancers.

Flavonoids are antioxidants found in the skin and seeds of red grapes. They are known to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the so-called “bad” cholesterol, while boosting levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol. There’s also evidence that flavonoids help keep blood vessels dilated and stop red blood cells from clumping together, thus diminishing the risk of heart attack or stroke.

The skin of the red grape is also the source for saponins. This cholesterol inhibitor is also found in soybeans and peas. Its concentration in red wine is 10 times higher than in white wine. Resversatrol also comes from the grape skin. As well as it’s potential benefits for cancer patients, this antioxidant appears to help in the formation of nerve cells, which makes it important in the treatment of such neurological diseases as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. There has also been some publicity to the effect that resversatrol may have an anti-aging effect. This is based on a Harvard study in which the life span of yeast cells was extended by 80 % when resversatrol was added to them. It remains to be seen whether the same benefits will result with human cells.

Another compound found in the skins of red grapes, polyphenol, acts to inhibit the chemicals in the body that make blood vessels constrict. This reduces the fatty streaks in the vessels, making them healthier which, in turn, makes their owner less likely to suffer a heart attack.

 

What is the cone-shaped indentation in the bottom of a bottle called and what is its purpose?
This cone-shaped indentation is called a "punt". This tradition seems to go back to the earliest days of bottle winemaking, long before the bottles were widely used for wine. One theory is that early glass blowers discovered that a deep indentation made a stronger bottle than a simple round or flat bottomed carafe. Other experts speculate that the indentation reflects the shape of the rod used to hold the bottle in place while it was being blown. Alternative theories are available, for instance, the fact that the crease around the punt does a great job of collecting sediment. This prompts the assumption that the wine bottle makers intended it that way. One thing is certain, there is no real need for the punt in modern wine bottles. But, as with many other traditions in winemaking, for example the natural cork, tradition is important part of marketing commercial wine and a lot of winemakers feel vaguely uneasy if they are not given what they are accustomed to!

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