The final part of our Most Common Errors to avoid continues with another winemaking related error, although it can happen with beers and ciders too…
5. Adding sachets in the wrong order
In you wine kit, you’ll find 5 sachets in addition to the main pouch of Fruit Juice Concentrate. Yeast, Oak Chips, Stabiliser and 2 Finings Sachets. That’s a lot of sachets which need adding to your wine at different stages.
So it’s not surprising to know that people get them mixed up or add them at the wrong stage of the process. If you’ve made this error, sometimes you can get away with it, but if you’re unlucky you might ruin your batch and have to start again, so remember to follow the instructions to the letter and you’ll know you’ve done it right.
Let’s look at the sachets closer and see what they do.
Wine Yeast & Nutrient – it’s pretty obvious what this sachet does – add it once you’ve mixed your ingredients and the wine temperature is below 30°C, add this sachet and stir. The yeast then does its thing with the help of the added nutrients, converting the sugars to alcohol during the fermentation period. If you add the sachet at another stage no fermentation will happen until that point.
Oak Chips – these impart flavour to your wine and should be added at the same time as the yeast & nutrient to maximise contact time. The later they’re added, the less flavour you’ll get and if they’re added after fermentation you could get oak chips in your finished wine.
Stabiliser – this is an important one – the stabiliser stops residual yeast from working at the end of fermentation and protects the wine from harmful microbes. So if you add it too early, it will stop the fermentation process and if you add it too late, more gas will be produced and you won’t be able to clear it.
Finings A and B – the most commonly mixed up sachets, but it’s important to get them in the right order. These are used to strip impurities from the wine to make it crystal clear. If B is added before A, it can stop A from working properly and so the wine doesn’t fully clear. A good tip to remember the order is Finings B is the Bigger sachet!
With the Beer and Cider kits, there’s not as many sachets to mix up. But it’s still important to put them in the right order. The hops in beer shouldn’t be added too early or they could mask the other flavours for example. And in the Cider kits, if you add the sweetener sachet too early, you won’t be able to taste if fermentation has finished.
Hopefully you won’t get your sachets mixed up and you can see why they need to be added at the stage advised in the instructions.
So, please take care – set your sachets out in the right order when you open the kit and read through the instructions before starting to help avoid this costly mistake.
Last but not least is storage. Once you’ve bottled your wine, beer or cider, they should be kept in the right conditions in order to preserve, and in wine’s case, improve your drink. If they’re not stored properly, they can fizz over, discolour or even taste slightly off. So be sure to think about where you’re keeping your creations.
There are 2 main factors that can affect your drink – light and temperature.
Light – the reason the MYO Swing Top bottles are brown and the wine bottles are dark green, is to protect the drinks in them from sunlight/artificial light. However, the glass doesn’t provide 100% protection from light so keep them stored in a dark room as light can affect the colour and even ruin the taste of the drink.
Temperature – the best temperature to store your finished drinks is around the 13°C mark, except for the first week for beers and ciders, where you want to keep them around 22-27°C to allow them to carbonate. After this, a basement/cellar/cupboard under the stairs – somewhere with no heating, are all ideal environments to store your drinks.
Other factors to consider include shelf life and position. Your beers and ciders should be consumed within 3 months, and wines in 12 months, so try not to forget about them (very difficult to do!) It’s also important to keep your beers and ciders stored upright (including in the fridge) so the sediment can settle at the bottom of the bottle.
It might seem like a minor part of the process, but if you want to make the most of your hard work and time, taking care where you store your drinks will add that extra little bit of quality and you’ll enjoy taking that first sip even more.
That’s all of our ‘Common Errors’ series. Of course, there’s lots of other mistakes out there – if we haven’t covered them here or in our FAQ section, give us a shout and we’ll try our best to help.
Take care, and happy brewing…cheers!