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Wine Making 101 Glossary

Acid Blend -  a granulated blend of the three most commonly found fruit acids: citric acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid. It is added directly to a wine or must to raise its acidity level when necessary.

Back Sweetening - The process of adding additional sugar into the wine after the wine has been stabilized to enhance the aroma and taste. 

Carboy - A large globular plastic bottle with a narrow neck. The term carboy comes from the Persian word qarabah which means "big jug". Usually used as a secondary fermentor.

Corking - The process of inserting a wine cork into the bottle in order to protect the wine. 

De-gassing - Degassing your wine is an important step in the final stages of the wine making process. It’s the process of removing carbon dioxide left over from fermentation.

Fermentation-Locks (aka Air-lock, bubbler, or breather) - An airlock is a device used to release carbon dioxide from carboys, but to also keep oxygen out. 

Fermentation  - The process where glucose (sugar) is broken down and converted to alcohol and carbon dioxide.

Filtering- Filtering wine enhances its appearance, shorten its aging time, lighten its body and color if so desired, or make the wine more stable, reducing the chance of re-fermentation while in the bottle.

Glycerin - Glycerin gives your wine more body. It increases the wine's mouth-feel giving it a fuller, more pleasant texture.

Hydrometer - Tool used to measure density of a liquid. Used mostly for sugar control and several other purposes in winemaking. 

Oxidization - Oxidation happens when a wine’s exposed to air. It changes color and creates aromas and flavors generally considered to be grassy, nutty or apple-y.

Potassium Metabisulfate - Is often referred to as "SO2" or "sulfites".  It has several uses in winemaking. At the crush, sulfites are generally used to help control the spoilage bacteria and indigenous yeast that may already be present. sulfites also help to inhibit the enzymatic browning of both musts and finished wines so that all of their delicate complexities can be preserved. Later, during storage and in the bottle, sulfites at the proper levels will further protect a wine by continuing to inhibit spoilage.

Potassium Sorbate - Stops Fermentation. 

Primary Fermentation - The first stage of fermentation, when the yeast is introduced to the sugar.

Racking - The process of transferring wine from one fermentor to another, leaving behind any sediment or lees (dead yeast).

Sanitization - Sanitation is the most important thing to your success in making a good wine, because failure to sanitize will ruin your wine every time. 


Sanitation is more than cleanliness, though cleaning is just as important.

What Needs to Be Sanitized?

Here is a list of everything that should be sanitized before, after and during the winemaking process.

  • Stoppers/bungs

  • Airlocks

  • Tubing

  • Bottles

  • Hydrometer tube

  • Hydrometers

  • Fermenting containers

  • Wine thief/ baster

  • Measuring equipment

  • Paddles, rods, spoons, brushes

Anything that would ever come in contact with the wine needs to be cleaned and sanitized.

Siphoning - Siphon or “racking” wine, is needed in order to separate the wine from the lease  (dead yeast and plant matter) that has sunk to the bottom of the carboy or barrel as it matures.

Specific Gravity - The ratio between the density of sugar and the density of water.

Sterilization - Sulfites are used to prevent wild yeasts and bacteria from harboring in bottles or equipment.

Stabilizer - Non-toxic tasteless additive which prevents renewed fermentation. No further fermentation will occur if sugar and stabilizer are added together. 

Sulfites - The use of sulfur dioxide in must of wine as a sterilant or antioxident.

Tannins - Gives a stringency and helps clear wine. Usually comes from the grape skin and stems.

Wine Conditioner - Wine Conditioner is a combination of sugar and sorbate solution which can be added to a finished wine to add residual sweetness. The sorbate helps prevent fermentation of the sugar that you are adding. 

Yeast - Yeast eats the sugars and turns the juice into alcohol. 

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