Do I need an appointment to make wine?
You do not need an appointment to start a batch. It is a good idea to give us a quick call at (613)818-8785 or (343) 488-8498 before coming in to make sure we have the variety and quality level you would like in stock. If we do not we can order it in which usually takes about a week.
What do I need to do to make my wine?
You come in and sprinkle yeast on your selected wine. Six weeks later come back and bottle it. It is that easy, and only takes about 30 minutes to bottle a batch of 30 bottles of wine!
Can I do a split batch of wine, say 15 bottles of white and 15 bottles of red?
The kits come with 23 liters of juice which makes 30 bottles of one type of wine. We do not make split batches as the raw product cannot be properly divided. Consider making wine with a friend; if you each do a batch and then trade you get a wider selection of wine! You must each be present when starting and bottling your wine.
When do I have to pay for my wine?
By law, you need to pay at the time the batch is started. This is because it is illegal for us to sell the batch of wine to anyone else once it is started.
Can I bring my own bottles?
You can bring your own bottles. We suggest that you remove the labels in advance and make sure the inside has been rinsed after use. Avoid saving screw top bottles as they often break where the threading is on the glass when a cork is put in the bottle. When you arrive, our state-of-the-art bottle washer will ensure proper sanitization before bottling your wine. We will supply the bottles for your first batch of wine at Vintner's Cellar Ottawa absolutely free!
Some places make wine in four weeks. Why do you take six weeks?
We take extra care to make sure that your wine is fermented naturally and that the CO2 has had a chance to come out of the wine during the stabilization process. We feel this is a quality issue and do not rush the process in order to give you the best quality wine possible.
When is my wine ready to drink?
After bottling, we have suggested aging times based on the type of wine. The aging time suggested does not vary between quality levels.
What is the shelf life of homemade wines?
We guarantee our wine for two years as long as it is stored properly. (See storage tips below.)
How should I store my wine after bottling?
Optimum conditions for storing wine include stable temperatures around 55°, humidity of approximately 80%, and darkness. Cool temperatures slow the aging process, increasing complexity and varietal character of the wine over time. At home, basements are usually ideal for storing wine because of their cool, constant temperature and darkness. If no basement is available, consider storing wine in a little-used closet in an air-conditioned part of your home. Leave your wine upright for 24 hours, then afterwards, store your wine on its side so that the wine is in contact with the cork. This keeps the cork moist, and maintains the air tight seal.
What is the alcohol content of your wines?
Our wines typically have 11-14% alcohol content.
If you add more yeast to my wine will it have a higher alcohol content?
It will not. The alcohol content is determined by the amount of sugar in the juice. The yeast eats the sugar to make the alcohol. The yeast will naturally die off around 14% alcohol content, so adding more sugar will not increase the alcohol content significantly.
How do I determine the alcohol content?
You need a hydrometer to determine the alcohol content of the wine. A measurement must be taken before fermentation, and then after fermentation.
Why don't you have Canadian Juice Kits?
The VQA (Vintner's Quality Alliance) mandates that a wine must be made from grapes grown in Canada. The actual percentage varies from year to year, but a minimum Canadian grape content is required. The wine must also meet stringent quality standards in testing. As a result of the growing Canadian wine industry, it is difficult to obtain large volumes of quality grapes on a consistent basis.
What's the difference in making wine from a kit versus making wine from fresh grapes?
Concentrate and Semi-concentrate kits have had a portion of the water removed to reduce shipping costs. This water is added back in before fermentation to bring the juice back into balance. We use reverse osmosis water at the store to ensure that no flavours are added by putting the water back in. Our Supreme 100% Juice Varieties have also been pasturized so that they have a shelf life of about a year. This is advantageous as all wild yeasts, and bacteria are killed off. This means that only the wine making yeast is present during fermentation.
Why do my friends' homemade wines taste like vinegar?
The wine may have been improperly made, needs more time to age, or may have been made from a low quality juice.
What is the single biggest reason home-made wine doesn't turn out right?
One of the most important parts of wine making is cleanliness and sterilization. It is essential that anything that touches the wine be sanitized before use (including your hands and bottles). Many wines do not turn out properly because they are contaminated with a wild yeast or bacteria.
Why should I use glass bottles?
Glass bottles do not imbue flavor into the wine as long as they have been properly cleaned. You will notice we use Italian glass carboys in our wine making process for this reason. We strongly discourage using plastic bottles for your wine as it can change the flavor of your wine over the storage time. We will not guarantee any wine that is bottled in plastic containers for this reason.
How should I clean my bottles?
We recommend that you rinse your bottles after drinking the wine, remove the label, and then place them in a box upside down. We do not recommend using a dishwasher as the bottle is not cleaned properly. Our state-of-the-art bottle washer will clean and sanitize the inside and outside of your bottles when you return to the store to bottle your next batch.
How can I remove labels from my bottles?
The labels from our store are designed to come off very easily by soaking in water for 10 minutes. Other retail outlet labels can be very difficult to remove. Try methyl hydrate (read instructions on the bottle) to remove the adhesive residue.
Is it necessary to filter wine?
It is not necessary to filter wine, you can use finings to clarify the wine but this takes a fair amount of time. We filter all of our wines to achieve the best quality possible.
I get headaches from my wine. Why?
You may have a sulphite allergy. If this is the case beer and wine will give you headaches. If only red wine gives you headaches then you may be allergic to the tannins found in the grape skins. White wines are made from the meat of the grape; red wines are made from the meat of the grape and the skins.
Can you make Sulphite Free Wine?
It is impossible to make sulphite free wine. Sulphites are created during the fermentation process. We do have a lower sulphite content than many commercially made wines though as we use the sulphite to sterilize our equipment but do not add it as a preservative.
What happens during fermentation?
During fermentation the yeast consumes the sugar and creates CO2 and alcohol as a byproduct.
What is cold stabilization?
Cold Stabilization is the process through which the yeast is killed off by lowering the temperature of the wine to below 0C for at least a week. Large commercial wineries use cold stabilization as it also removes tartaric crystals (wine diamonds) before filtering. We have a cooler in the back which we stabilize your wine to just under zero degrees to minimize your chances of getting tartaric crystals. Take care to not store your wine under this temperature.
If wines like Merlot are available in all of your quality levels, why would I spend more?
Making wine is very much like cooking. The quality of the juice heavily influences the quality of the wine that is produced. The better the quality of the juice the higher the price usually is (We do have Monthly Sales). You would not expect to buy ground beef and end up with a high quality steak for grilling...would you?