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When Should You Use Wine Making Additives (And Which?)

Wine Making Additives

Sometimes you just don’t quite get the results you were hoping for from your home wine making efforts. Sure, the wine may be perfectly drinkable, but even after aging properly sometimes the flavor just, well, falls flat.

There are a lot of reasons why this can happen such as not following your recipe correctly, inferior quality ingredients, or any number of other causes. However, there are a lot of additives and other products that can help ensure that your wine turns out just how you envisioned it when you began. Beyond “insurance” type additives, there are other additives you can use to add some unique characteristics to your wine.

Wine Additives That Help the Process

For example, it’s probably not practical for you to keep oak barrels around to age your wine in; however, you can still get that flavor into your wine with oak chips. Not everyone is a fan of heavily oaked wines, but some wines definitely benefit from a touch of this woody, earthy flavor. They’re inexpensive and as experienced amateur winemakers can tell you, a little goes a long way.

Another wine making additive you may want to think about adding to your arsenal of wine making supplies are tartaric or citric acid. These additives are an easy way to give a wine that’s lacking structure a little bit of much-needed zing. There are other acids available for use in wine making, as well as blends that can give a flat tasting wine a little lift.

Sodium metabisulfite is one especially useful additive; this ingredient inhibits the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms that can spoil a perfectly good batch of homemade wine. It also helps to prevent oxidation, which can easily ruin your wine. It’s not a necessity, strictly speaking, but it’s definitely an ingredient you should think about picking up.

Tannin is present in red grape skins (and to a lesser extent, in grape juice). It imparts an astringent, “pucker” character to the flavor of your wine. Sometimes, you may find that there’s not quite enough “pucker” in the juice or concentrate that you’re using to make a particular batch. Not only does tannin provide this quality to your wine, but it can also eliminate the vegetal flavors that can make an otherwise good wine unappealing.

There are many other additives and specialty ingredients to discover, but that’s part of the fun of making your own wine: there’s a lot to learn about and to try for yourself. You may be surprised by how much better additives can make your wine.