Do I need a lab at home?

Recent lab work at Vint Hill Craft Winery started me thinking about doing lab work at home. If adding tartaric acid to the wine at Vint Hill improved the aroma and taste, could it do the same for my wine at home? If adding aging tannins improve the tannins in the wine at Vint Hill can adding aging tannins help at home?

First, I would need to purchase equipment and supplies. Tartaric acid was simple. A short trip to Maryland Homebrew was all that was needed to pick up a two-ounce container of tartaric acid. Aging tannins proved to be much more difficult. Most wine and beer supply stores do not carry aging tannins. Winery supply stores sell large bags of these substances. I would rather not purchase something that would last a decade or two. For equipment, I was interested in buying a pH meter and a scale that could measure a hundredth of a gram. was my best bet.

The Hanna HI 9813 is an instrument that measures pH. Basically, turn it on and stick the probe in the wine and read the pH. This particular meter was made in Romania. For the scales, I purchased the Escali Liberta. This is a pocket-sized scale. It can measure grams down to the hundredth. It is quite small. The scale part is about four square inches. It is for measuring small quantities. I decided to purchase the model that included a 50-gram weight so I could calibrate the scale. This particular scale allows you to place a container on the scale. The scale will then subtract the weight of the container and accurately measure the weight of the substance you put into it.

Later this week, I can don my white lab coat, if I had one, and “play” lab technician.

3 comments to Do I need a lab at home?

  • “Need” a lab at home? I don’t think you need one but, in my opinion, having the right equipment for the job could make the final product (wine) better. Purchasing the right equipment, meaning good and reliable equipment, can set a wine-geek back several hundred dollars. My home wine lab includes: benchtop pH meter (with cleaning supplies), TA assembly (and chemicals), magnetic stirrer, SO2 apparatus (and chemicals), and a bunch of glass/plastic wear. Knowing the pH/TA of your initial juice (and monitoring throughout) and periodically evaluating SO2 levels is a very good way to ensure consistency of your wines.

    The online store MoreWine is a good place to buy small quantity tannins, acids, and other winery related necessities.

    Good luck and have fun!
    Brad Johnson (Two Wine Brothers, wine blog)

  • carol muldrow

    How do I test the alcoholo level in my wine jelly after it is cooked?

  • admin

    Assuming that you boiled the jelly to a full rolling boil for one minute, there will be no alcohol left.

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