Originally Posted by amazinglarry
Hi all, I'm a BJCP ranked avid homebrewer looking to help his newly retired dad make wine. I was just thinking that I'd get some good yeast, hit the juice with some nutrients and oxygen and then call it a day. Any problems with this? Do you oxygenate wine? Do you need to make a starter for the yeast? Do different grapes have different gravities? I have a temp controlled fridge, what do you ferment wine at? What are some of the better clearing agents (are they the same as beer)? Should I treat my water?
Sorry for so many questions. feel free to get as nerdy and techy as you want.
Most of the time, most water is fine and chlorine/chloramines aren't an issue. You do aerate the must, and in fact in high OG meads and wines, daily stirring/degassing is helpful. Most wines start at 1.085-1.110 or so and will stay in primary about 5 days. The wine is moved to secondary and airlocked after that time, usually at about 1.010-1.020 but it's easy to miss it if the fermentation proceeds fast. Racking to secondary after it drops below that is ok, but it's important to top up after fermentation slows/ends.
I don't use many finings, as I want vegetarian friendly wines, but SuperKleer KC is popular, because it has agents for both positive and negatively charged hazes, so it's an easy two-step one day addition. Otherwise, bentonite in primary (it's a clay) or sparkelloid at the end of fermentation work well as well. Time is also a great clarifyer, as is cold conditioning.
You can do anything from Welch's juice (I have a recipe or two posted) to buying grapes and make good wine. It's probably easiest to start with a simple country recipe, or a wine kit. Wine kits make 6 gallons, so a 6 gallon carboy for secondary is a must. (get it? Must? winemaker's joke. And a pretty stupid one).
Anyway, if you can make beer you will find wine simple. Until you consider TA and possible adjustments and the find it even more difficult to get perfect! It's just as obsessive in a different way.
You don't need a yeast starter- one 6 gram package (or is it 5 grams?) is enough yeast for up to 6 gallons of wine.
Winemaking grapes are usually available in the fall, but you may be able to find some frozen if you don't want to start with a country wine recipe or a kit wine. That's the hardest- usually requiring destemming, crushing, sulfiting, pressing, etc, but certainly possible for even a new winemaker.