Jul 24 2012

Video: Winemaking Disasters and Mistakes

Published by admin at 4:17 am under Main Content

Winemaker’s Formula 2.0

Have questions? Post them below and in the next video – I will answer the most popular winemaking questions.

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50 responses so far

  • Harry_ria

    Hallo I had 5 gal of cherry juice put it in some botles en corked it fot later making wine it started to ferment on me so i opened all botles and put in in a pail with a air lock it stopt fermenting so took a reading incresed my sugar cotend to 2090 and now i can not get the fermentation started again what to do help me i dont want to waist 15 gal of juice my e mail is harry_ria@bell.net

  • Paul

    How to procced to invert sugar for 100 liter grape juice making wine?

    one liter=1000 cmc

  • Claude Greeson

    On occasions I have ended up with a vinagar taste and smell even tho I have tried to work very clean…..

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  • Meowkat007

    We put a small hose through the cork into a container of water using alka seltzer to take care of the smell. Is that the right thing to do?

  • Canada91

    How did opening a bottle of wine in your shoe work out?

    • mikefirst1

      wine all over the floor for me! You?

  • Bettarahmed

    its a red wine and my qyestion is why there are a fom coming out off the btl as i know only sparkling wine or chambgane has the foam thanx

  • Regcrompton

    Can you please explane Chitosan and its uses in wine making.
    Also what is the procedure to calculate the alcoholic content of our wine using an hydrometer or any other instrument.
    Regards Reg C

  • Susan Taylor

    Hello, & thank you so much for offering information for free ;) I started my wine in a red can…Is this ok? & on top of that, when I started it, I only put a net cloth over it….Is this ok? It has been fermenting for 5 days now, so I strained it & started over again, but this time I put rynolds wrap on it to make it more air-tight…..I beleive it is fermenting better now, but has never really foamed yet :( Am I doing something wrong? What now without throwing out all the money, time & effort to do this…..First Time Here :( Thanks so very very much for any info ;) Sincerely Susan

    • mikefirst1

      a can? I would never use a can. You need to get the wine into glass.

      Also – for wine – you WANT the gas to escape.


  • Thea Goujon

    last years wine in carboys in shed tastes awful..sort of earthy! Do I throw it away?

    Thelma Johnston thea.gouon@virgin.net

    • mikefirst1

      you need to bottle it ASAP. Once in the bottle, the wine will undergo a taste change within 6 to 9 months.


  • Blondepi

    Can I pick my grapes ( a day or 2) prior to making the wine?

  • ShirleyStoddard

    I have crushed the grapes, added the yeast fermented and now have the wine in a carboy with an airlock. The wine looks as though it is settling. But the bubbles in the airlock are very slow to form. is this normal?

  • Bobjphelan

    I have been told that it is very important to keep the juice in the bucket during primary fermentation until you get a specific gravity of 990 to 996. I have not been able to get it below 1.010 to 1.000 for different types of California juice. Do you agree with this and how long should I wait for primary fermentation to be complete?


  • Malcolm Dale

    Dear Mike,
    Can you show a list on video of when: To add campden tablets, when to add tanning, when to add citric acid, when to add yeast nutrient, when to add yeast, when to add chemicals to stop fermentation, when to add clearing chemicals etc. We all know the what but few know the when?
    Malcolm Dale

    • mikefirst1

      Well – a better question is IF you need tannins and IF you need acid. You should always measure the must first to see what it needs. The yeast nutrient goes in at the beginning and the stabilizer (sorbate) goes in just before you bottle.

  • Y Cymro

    Hi Mike, what if you want to make a sparkling wine (as I have done with apples). Won't the stabiliser prevent this?

  • Dwd1859

    How long should I keep red wine bulk aging before transfering to bottles?

  • RGN

    I've been making wine from concord grapes the last two years. My problem is that the wine is tart. Is this due to acidity, or is there something else I should be looking at?

  • Randy Crump

    these videos where very helpful. thankyou. I have a recipe to make wine with grape concintrate. Its for one gallon. Now if I want to make a carbouy full do i add 5 times the ingrediants. That would be alot of yeast.

    • mikefirst1

      Not for the yeast – for 5 gallons, you would just use one small packet. Make a yeast starter first consisting of lukewarm water and a little of the grape juice. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, or until it starts bubbling, and then pour it in the carboy.

  • Bchinneck

    I'm the crazy guy that has a Carbouy full of what I think is totally fermented wine. “I have not seen a bubble in 3 days” It has spent 8 days in Primary Fermentation, that bubbled away merrily. I racked it and with in a day the bubbling decreased to a bubble or two per minute and now on the 10th day after racking there are no signs of any bubbles. Does this tell me that I'm ready to Rack again and make ready to bottle? I would hate to “Rush any wine before it's time!”

  • Pete Skalsky

    Mike I think I screwed up! My wine was ready to rack today. I tasted it and it seemed awefully sweet. any suggestions? P.S. I don't have a hydrometer yet!

  • Tcurtisfree

    what do you do if you are making organic wine?

  • Lr Johnson

    I made wine from a kit one time but I got little fermention reaction. The end result was a product that tasted more like cool aid rather than wine. Is there anything I could do to mKE it taste like wine or will I have to pour it doen the drain?

  • Civilsig

    Can you put too little potassium sorbate in your batch of musk?

  • Liam O Ruairc

    ferementation has stoped due to too much heat how do i get it to start again

  • Sherryr804

    Mike, can this be corrected and how?  If the wine in the bottles is forming and the cork does not blow out, what do you do with it.  Is the wine still good.  Many thanks

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  • wood

    Another good video Mike, thank you. Had a tip you could pass on to your followers to help keep contaminants out of their airlocks. A small (2″ square) piece of foil squeezed tight over the cap keeps dust particles and nasties from setteling on top or through the little holes while allowing gases to freely escape. Old mycology trick. New untouched aluminum foil is about as sterile as can be fresh out of the package because of the manufacturing process too, so no need to sanitize it. Thanks again.


  • Kathy

    When I move my wine to the carboy in the secondary fermentation process, should they be filled to the top?

  • Plemfitr

    I have used conditioner in the past. I made some inverted sugar, can I add pot. Sorbate to make my own conditioner?

  • Donna McQueary

    I have made several batches of Merlot from a kit with great success. I thought I would venture out on my own, so I bought “The Joys of Wine-making”  by Terry Garey and tried MANY different recipes which use basically the same “chemicals”. After aging for a year, I tasted three different wines and they have a slight rubber taste to them. Other people have told me that my description wasn't quite what they would use but agreed that the flavor was somewhat tainted. What could have gone wrong? Everything was sanitized properly and measured accurately. Ms. Garey herself was kind enough to respond to me that she didn't know the answer either.

  • Sam Marino

    I am confused… I was told by a reputable wine-maker that if you do a malolactic fermentation (by adding a culture), that you do NOT want to add Potassium Sorbate at the end (S.G. of .996 or less) because the Sorbate interacts and causes an off taste.  OK, so… if you don't add the Sorbate (for that reason) is it still going to cause all of the pressure and foam like in your video after a couple months?  (Mind you … you still add the sulphite as normal…. you just omit the Sorbate).

  • Gaillewis56


  • Asprabagheria

    hi mike, in the video you used/to slow down the fermentating prosess (potassium*/somthing) to lower the acid level possiblibly, to slow the pressure or neuturlaze*  last year we tryed. potassium carbonate did I use the right element? for acidity balence?
    good chating with ya hope you can help me out if you can sorry my dad not here at the moment this is his son Pete, Itry to look for any resorcess i can use and put em to work. me and my pops work as a team lest years wine wasent grate but were hoping for the best!
    good day. 
    and thanks for your responce in advance

  • sweepint

    I am planning on doing some rubarb wine in Aug. I have all the plants at home is there anything i need to do special for this.  This will be my first try at wine .
    Thank you

  • sweepint

    I am planning on doing some rubarb wine in Aug. I have all the plants at home is there anything i need to do special for this.  This will be my first try at wine .
    Thank you

  • Molliesbranch

    HI Mike.

    Just had a wine disaster yesterday, so your video was of great interest. As a first-time wine maker, I had a few enthusiasts who put extra juice in an old whiskey bottle with sugar and put it under my cabinet. When I opened the cabinet, days later, to grab a bowl my leg hit the bottle. What a shocking explosion of grapes and glass. I'm still finding glass and am thankful no one else was in the kitchen. One flying shard of glass could have been deadly. 

    Now for my question: I put uncrushed grapes in the carboy. At first the fermentation was going crazy, but the liquid came out the sides of the cork and my local brewing resource told me to take out some of the liquid and add more sugar right away. I had only put one cup in and a whole pack of yeast. I did as recommended and shook the carboy, but it's been two days and the fermentation seems to be at a standstill. Have I ruined my five-gallons of grapes or is there still hope? Should I add more yeast? I'm using concord grapes. Thanks!

  • CLA

    What is the best way to measure PH, acid and sulfite levels? I have tried the cheaper approaches for Ph (sticks) and mixing the solution drop by drop for acid and I am not really satisfied with either and I have no idea on how to measure sulfite levels. 

  • Herman

    How do you test and balance the acid content and what should it be and when do you test it?

  • Joan kroboth

    Joan Kroboth
    I am a beginner. I put my frozen grape juice” thawed ” along with sugar,yeast & water.It bubbled in water for about 2 weeks then quit. Should I have put it over in another container then? I didn’t know about the camden tablets before. Will my wine be good or dump it ?

  • Ronald DeLaPorte

    How much potasium sorbate ?

  • randy

    what about using screw on lids on wine

  • john

    is it possible to make a sparkling wine at home and if so I suppose the method is different

  • Joe Kropil

    Not quite at this stage yet, but very informative and helpful information …. will be making my first gallon of wine soon… will let you know how it’s going. Thanks for the good advice.

  • Michael

    We are making Blackberry wine and it calls for 20 pounds of berries (5 gal batch). How much deeper, richer fruit flavor can I get by increasing the amount of berries and at what point might it not yield an in increase and be a waste of berries. We want to end up with something between a dessert and table wine in sweetness range but want it to burst with blackberry flavor. Thanks.

  • lee Mattingly

    Do you recommend cork or screw tops for sealing wine bottles. Which kinds do you recommend? Thank you for any help.