The success of your wine business depends on a delicate balance of the right fermentation techniques, processing methods and grapes. Without perfect harmony between these three, wine spoilage can occur, and this can have devastating consequences for your brand reputation, customer satisfaction and your bottom line.
Main causes of wine contamination
The UK is big on its wine, having produced 91,323 hectolitres in 2022 alone. Whether your favourite is red or white, all wine is susceptible to contamination within the production and fermentation process. The main causes include:
- Cork taint – how you cap your wine is going to have some effect on the taste and cork taint is a drawback when using natural cork. It leaves behind a mouldy aroma that overtakes any fruity tastes.
- Oxidisation – when wine has had too much exposure to oxygen, it loses its brightness and gains a sour, vinegar-like characteristic.
- Heat damage – fermentation temperatures heavily influence the colour and flavour of wine. Heat damage can ‘cook’ wine and compromise the seal to cause oxidisation.
- Bacterial taint – many microbes are active during winemaking, and each imparts its own flavour. In the right quantities, they add an appealing complexity but too many can spoil the batch and cause some unappealing fragrances.
Strategies to protect wine production
Wine is an organic asset that is sensitive to many things that can influence its taste and value. To protect your manufacturing process and product against contamination, consider these strategies:
Control heat and humidity
Heat and humidity are wine’s worst enemies but, luckily, preventing cooked wine is just a matter of storing it in the right conditions. Optimum storage conditions are at a constant temperature between 13 and 15 degrees Celsius with humidity levels that don’t exceed 70 per cent. Anything too high or too low can prevent the corks from drying out and encourage microbe growth.
Proper maintenance and corrosion prevention
For large-scale wine production, the purity and quality of your wine are determined by the cleanliness and durability of the equipment. All materials in the food and wine industry should be corrosion-resistant, non-toxic, stable and non-absorbent.
Every stage of winemaking is complex and prone to error, so you may find that manufacturing insurance offers some peace of mind. If machinery does break down, it can come in handy to help minimise operational interruptions.
Air quality and ventilation
Wine breathes through the cork, which gently lets in enough oxygen to allow the wine to age over time. Unclean or musty air risks altering the flavour and bouquet of your wine so maintaining good air quality in your cellar or storage area is essential. Chemical compounds like those in fresh paint or cleaning supplies can seep into your wine so be careful about storing these nearby.