After waiting for so long for your wine to ferment, taking the time to make sure that your winemaking supplies are perfectly clean, and completely measuring all the ingredients from the wine kit, there is nothing better than to see that your homemade wine is coming along beautifully and actually looking like properly made homemade wine. However, a beautiful clear liquid is not always to be found.
If you are peering into your wine and it looks just… wrong; if it is cloudy or hazy and not clear, then you have a problem. Below are four common issues with the way wine looks and solutions to use when you have one of these winemaking crises. All of the problems will look similar in description, the wine looks cloudy, but I will provide you with a few ways to diagnose which problem pertains to you.
Problem: The most common winemaking problem is yeast not falling to the bottom of the barrel. This is even a common winemaking problem for large wine producers and vineyards.
Diagnoses: There is no way to diagnose this problem, however it is the most common so I would recommend starting here.
Solution: Move the wine to cooler environment and add some stabilizer, such as potassium sorbate, according to the package instructions.
Problem: Another very familiar predicament is a pectin haze. Pectin is a naturally occurring gelatinous compound found in grapes, it is especially frequent if the winemaking must is boiled or cooked before being fermented.
Diagnoses: Test for pectin haze by adding methylated spirit to a small amount of wine. Use the ratio of 4 parts of spirit to 1 part of wine. Mix it together and leave it for 30 minutes. If the liquid clots or forms jelly or strings then there is pectin in your wine.
Solution: Add ½ ounce liquid pectin enzyme per gallon of wine and let sit until clear. You may have to siphon the wine to remove the sediment.
Problem: Pectin haze is not the only hazy culprit, there is also starch haze. This is caused by the boiling or squeezing starchy materials used in the winemaking process. Any starchy material can cause this, potatoes, turnips, apples or pears.
Diagnoses: Test for this problem by taking a small amount of wine and adding a drop of brown iodine solution. If the wine turns to a blue or black color then there is starch in the wine.
Solution: Add a fungal diastase or amylase according to package directions and let the wine sit until clear.
Problem: Another reason for a cloudy appearance in the wine is a lactic acid bacteria infection. Sometimes this drawback just happens from the use of lactic acid in the winemaking process.
Diagnoses: This will produce not only cloudiness but also a thick, slimy, or oily appearance.
Solution: To solve this problem add 2 campden tablets per gallon of wine and beat the wine forcefully with a spoon. Let the wine sit and then after 10 days rack the wine to remove any sediment.
Other Problems: If none of these diagnoses or solutions helped then it may be another problem. Your homemade wine will probably clear but it could take up to one year.
Solution: If you can not wait that long you can add fining materials like bentonite or kaolin. However if the wine has an odd color or metallic flavor it is best if you throw it away and start anew in your winemaking adventure.
Winemaking is a constant test of attention to detail, trial and error, and most of all patience. If you can get past that you can see that making mistakes and finding problems is all part of the fun of making wine. Fixing dilemmas in how your homemade wine looks is only one of the many steps along your winemaking roller coaster ride.