Originally Posted by mrj
I'm very new to this whole thing. I bought an old book about making what the author called "folk wines." He can be a little vague, but I figured I'd give it a shot.
Forgive me for going into detail, but I want to include everything to make sure I didn't make any simple mistakes.
I followed the instructions for making a carrot wine closely. Mashed the carrots, added to boiling water along with sugar, raisins, oranges, lemons and then later yeast.
This fermented in an enameled pot for about two weeks. When there was no visible sign of fermentation, I strained the wine through cheese cloth and a plastic mesh filter into mason jars, since that's all I had. I placed the rubber lined lids on top, but without the o-ring that tightens the lids down.
Now the mason jars are sitting in a cool place while the remaining sediment settles to the bottom. After it settles, I will siphon off the clear wine and refilter the rest. I'll do this every month or so for about a year, and then bottle.
My questions are:
1. Is it fine to let the wine sit in the mason jars? Will it spoil?
2. Does my timeline seem generally in keeping with best practices?
The resting lid on mason jar is going to allow oxygen to access your wine and you will make vinegar. Tightening ring will not solve issue because you need a way for gas to escape while keeping air out.
If you can find a gallon glass jug, like from a cheap jug wine, transfer wine into it and apply a bung and airlock. No airlock, use a strong latex balloon over the bottle neck. Still cannot get a gallon jug, what about wine bottles, takes five for a gallon batch, can use balloon for airlock--or visit LHBS and snag some bungs/airlocks, and most shops have gallon glass jugs for $4-6.
The other option for mason jars is to drill hole in lid, place rubber/silicone o-ring gasket and attach airlock; or drill hole in top, add rubber/silicone o-ring, insert tubing which is then inserted into a container, wine bottle- mason jar, which has been filled with water. You just made a blow off tube, but also an airlock for your fermenting wine. The gaskets are found at hardware store or LHBS for next to nothing; same with the tubing. If at hardware store, tell the staff you are using it for winemaking, here is a website with the tubing--
As far as the 'racking', off the sediment as wine clears....no need to do this monthly. Once solid material is removed, you typically rack off any gross lees, that thick layer of yeast cells and pulpy bits and then rack only if more sediment, aka lees, develops as the wine clears. At this point you should have just fine lees and these are just thin layer of yeast sediment which only need to rack every 2-3 months. Some people do not rack off of fine lees until closer to bottling time. Fine lees do not typically interfere with flavor, while gross lees left for too long can impart nastiness. Ideally, I would anticipate you have the racking off gross lees if they develop, then in one month rack again, then go to an every two month schedule until wine is clear and no longer dropping sediment. Around six months you should find you do not need to rack any longer and you can then allow to bulk age until you decide to bottle.
A wealth of info that winemakers of all levels of experience typically enjoy reading, especially beginners is at www.winemaking.jackkeller.net
Have fun. Sara