Temperature for white wine fermentation

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Senior member
Feb 13, 2010
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Hi folks,

I've been doing tons of research before starting my second batch of wine.
I've read, and talked to lots of "home wine makers" (here, and elsewhere) who ferment white wine) at 70-75 degrees F.
So, while doing some wine tastings, I started talking to commercial wine makers at some of the local wineries here in Maryland. Almost all told me they ferment white wines "cold"...55 degrees F.
What's the deal, can I do it, or is it beyond the realm of my skills??
I'm confused?

Most of us probably ferment in the 75 degree range. It's easy to get a fermentation going and also visable signs of fermentation.

I have heard that cooler temps will help to keep some of the flavor of the juice. Commercial wineries have the equipment and ability to monitor closely and slow ferment while not having a stuck fermentation.

Others will pop in a little later and input as well.
I'm still a newbie, so I tend to follow the instructions for the yeast. The Lalvin D-47 that I'm using now recommends 59-68deg F.
I ferment my fruit and white wines at temps in the low 60's. That beind said I start my wines at normal temps to get it going good and then drop the temp as I dont (but should) make a good starter yeast. if you make a good starter yeast you can o the whole prcess of the wine making part under cooler temps but trying to start a yeast at those temp may or may not get it started. If I want the wine to go very dry then I also warm the wine back up to mid 70's at around 1.015 to make sure this happens cause it can stall near the end at those temps. If Im actually looking for a sweeter wine then Ill keep it at those temps and if it still makes it to dry then Ill sweeten back. You have to look at each individual yeast strain to see what temps that yeast is good to and they all vary, some considerably! These cooler temps will help keep the fruity esters from burning up during fermentation which will make you lose flavor. Red wines are almost always fermented at warmer temps more like what the kits state. The kits state these directions because the yeast will do their job and be much more predctable at these tempsand thus are much much more likely to finish fermenting. Commercial wineries also have sterile filtration units so that if the wine doesnt finish fermenting they can strip all the yeast out of the wine with these very tight micron filters because a incomplete fermentation can be risky and may start back upm in the bottle at a later time. We have this ability to if you want to spend the money on a Enolmatic filter or the pump like I have with a whole house filter that must have a filter installed with a micron rating of 0.45 or less.
One thing to remember (as jet touched on), different yeasts have different responses to temperature. And wineries have access to a much greater range of yeasts than the home wine maker (especially if sticking to the standard packages available from most retailers).

Another point is that the commercial wine maker may ferment their whites for a much longer period than the normal home wine maker. When I lived in BC, the earliest whites from the previous year's harvest came out in April or May, with others later in the year. That means that some whites from the 2009 harvest are just coming to market, with others due in August or September or maybe later (especially oaked Chardonnays). At least that's how I recall it.

When it comes to kits, the manufacturers recommend that the wines be fermented at 70-75F. And it's worth reminding newcomers that kits are a different beast from grapes or juices because of the processing that they receive.

Wade, if you back sweeten does it really make a difference if some of the fruity-ness is lost? Can most tell a difference.

And on another topic, is there a wine making convention where all of this stuff is displayed and processes shown?
Pretty much all learned from forums like these. sweetening a wine does not add natural flavor unless using an f-pac but if making a white wine especially where you may be fermenting to dryness you want it dry yet fruity so sweetening it is not what yiu want to do. Have you ever had a nice crispy fruity dry wine, I have and Grapeman here makes a very nice white wine like this, probably a few, i have only had 1 of his so far but have another to try in my cellar as we speak and its calling me soon.
What are most f-paks, the original grape juice unfermented? How many ounces are they? I have never made a kit.
They are usually an inverted sugar that is artificially flavored when speaking of kits. When speaking of what fruit wine makers may make up, its usually fresh fruit condensed down on the stove to extract all the juices and sugars to give the wine back some flavor that may have been lost during fermentation or just wasnt really there at all due to not enough fruit in the recipe.