Every winemaker has a theory on what temperature to ferment at. We have seen great wine fermented from a variety of different temperature schedules. You should pay attention to the temperature. It's definitely a good habit to note the temperature of the must each time you stir the wine (a good way to do this is to use a fermometer (MT410)) for future reference. The act of fermentation produces heat and can cause the must to be 10°-15° F higher than the ambient temperature.
A Typical Temperature Schedule
If you have control over fermentation temperatures, a recommended white wine schedule is to start slowly and inoculate at slightly warmer temperatures, such as the low 60s. Then, once activity starts, gradually allow the must to cool down to the desired temperature as the fermentation gets underway (such as the mid to upper 50s).
Yeast create different compounds at different temperatures. The general rule of thumb is that more esters are produced at higher temps, while more clarity of the fruit will be had at lower temps. However, this can also be strain dependent and there are no hard and fast rules. We encourage you to experiment with fermentation temperatures, but we do recommend staying within the tried-and-true 55°- 65° F range.
For white winemaking, the best ways to control fermentation temperatures are to either ferment in a space that already has cool ambient temps (a basement or cellar), or use some form of refrigeration to create cold (air conditioner or glycol system). Each option has advantages and disadvantages:
Note: In addition to perfectly controlling fermentation temperatures, the same glycol set-up can be used to cold stabilize wines! What's more, with the addition of a fan unit, you can use it as an air conditioner to maintain cellar temps throughout the year. How's that for getting the most out of your investment!
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