So you have your new wine making kit and all the basic wine making supplies needed to start your first batch, but you’ve noticed a few potential additives and chemicals that have names more suited for chemistry class than wine making.
Wine additives and chemicals can go a long way in ensuring that your abilities with a wine making kit are optimized, as they do all the little things necessary to make sure your finished product is as delicious as you envisioned.
Here are a few common additives and chemicals you can use in your wine making kit:
- Ascorbic Acid
This antioxidant (commonly called Vitamin C) rapidly reduces oxidation in the wine making process and thus acts as a preservative to keep your wine as fresh as possible. Adding ascorbic acid to your wine making kit during the filtration process ensures maximum effectiveness, and it has a minimal effect on taste.
- Wine Tannin
In addition to acting as a preservative and antioxidant, using wine tannin in your wine making kit provides you with more flavor elements, and better wine texture. Tannin is derived from the grape skins and seeds (it has a wood-like taste), and is much more prominent in red wines than whites.
- Campden Tablets
Campden Tablets are extremely important when using your wine making kit, as one tablet per gallon of must effectively eliminates certain bacteria and prevents unnecessary growth of yeast during the end of the fermentation process to control sweetness. Campden Tablets also dechlorinates tap water before you begin using your wine making kit.
- Acid Blend
You could add malic, tartaric, or citric acid to your wine making kit separately, but the acid blend contains a measurement of each acid found in various fruits to help bring out the desired fruitiness in your wine. The acid blend also increases the tartness of the wine, and is perfect if you enjoy options from your wine making supplies!
- Pectic Enzyme
The pectic enzyme helps break down the ingredients in your wine making kit, especially naturally occurring pectin coming from the fruits used. Pectin is used to create the gel-like consistency you see in jams and jellies, and this enzyme works to prevent gel clumps from forming in your wine making process.
- Isinglass Liquid Fining
Sometimes, when you’re ready to declare another successful experiment in your wine making kit, there are some floating sediments that need to be removed before moving onto you next project. Isinglass is a pure protein extracted from fresh-water fish that clarifies wines. It is considered extremely effective in fining your wine of any floating solids.
Bentonite is a perfect substitute wine making supply that sifts out the protein, tannin, and yeast particles left in your wine after fermentation. Interestingly, bentonite carries a negative electrostatic charge that bonds with the floating particles and forces them to the bottom of your wine making kit.
- Calcium Carbonate
Calcium carbonate works to lower the acidity of your wine in the fresh juice or must stage before fermentation. Acid affects the crispness and overall flavor of a wine, and calcium carbonate is one of many wine making supplies that tempers acid levels early on in the wine making process.
Notice the tears or film that forms when you swirl your glass of wine? That is caused by glycerin, a natural bi-product of fermented grapes that adds body to your finished wine. Glycerin is added to your wine making kit after the wine is finished, and it also extends the wine’s flavor on your tongue.
Of course, these aren’t the only additive wine making supplies that help ease the process of using your wine making kit, but they are considered some of the most common. Now that you understand what these chemicals are and how they are used, you can begin trying them out with your next wine making experience.
For more information, check out our Wine Maker’s Glossary of Chemicals and Additives.