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Old 03-16-2006, 04:05 PM   #1
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Default I think I want to give wine a shot...

Is there a vinter's equivalent of www.howtobrew.com?

I've been tossing around the idea of making some wine (red). Ive got 8+ years of beer brewing experience under my belt (or hanging over my belt if my pants are too tight), so I probably have a good bit of the necessary equipment already.

My local homebrew shop sells wine-kits, but I believe they make 5 gallons, and I don't know if I want to jump in with a 5 gallon batch as a first try, so I'm kind of checking out what my options might be for doing a smaller batch. (Can I use grape juice from the grocery? What brand(s)?)

However, if I'm going to have to press grapes myself to make a smaller batch, I might just have to bite the bullet and use a 5 gallon kit.

I'm going to start digging through old threads to see if I can get some of the more basic questions answered, but I'd like to know who the experienced vinters are so that I can start bugging the sh*t out of you.

-walker

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Old 03-16-2006, 04:57 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Imperial Walker
Is there a vinter's equivalent of www.howtobrew.com?

I've been tossing around the idea of making some wine (red). Ive got 8+ years of beer brewing experience under my belt (or hanging over my belt if my pants are too tight), so I probably have a good bit of the necessary equipment already.

My local homebrew shop sells wine-kits, but I believe they make 5 gallons, and I don't know if I want to jump in with a 5 gallon batch as a first try, so I'm kind of checking out what my options might be for doing a smaller batch. (Can I use grape juice from the grocery? What brand(s)?)

However, if I'm going to have to press grapes myself to make a smaller batch, I might just have to bite the bullet and use a 5 gallon kit.

I'm going to start digging through old threads to see if I can get some of the more basic questions answered, but I'd like to know who the experienced vinters are so that I can start bugging the sh*t out of you.

-walker

The Green Board has a long thread on it, about being creative with juice and concentrates from the grocery store. I used to make a lot of wine in my younger days, out of Welch's and such. It didn't turn out too bad, but nothing you would call great.

Right now I have a Winexpert kit in the primary. It cost over a hundred dollars (six gallon kit like most others), but it is said to produce 25 dollar quality bottles of wine, if you don't screw it up, and if you let it age properly. They also make kits in the mid 40 dollar range that reach maturity quickly.

I'm not sure where a real comprehensive website like howtobrew is.

Here is one for making the kits:

http://www.grapeandgranary.com/vresinst.html
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Old 03-16-2006, 05:10 PM   #3
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Thanks, LL....

I've found some on-line places that sell concentrated grape extract and claim that you want 2 or 3 cans of it for a 5 gallon batch. $20/can.

I supposed I could make a 2 gallon batch with a single can of that as my first attempt.

I've clearly got a lot of researching to do before I attempt this. (Gotta figure out how to de-gas the stuff and whatnot... was thinking I could put a plastic whip on a power drill and give the wine a good beating.)

I also have NO idea about the fermentation schedule (racking to secondary, etc, etc)

Also, I'd like to avoid buying a corker if possible. There is a thread on here about botting it in beer bottles and the general consensus was that this should work fine if you don't plan to age it for years and years. I don't plan to make enough to last years and years, so beer bottles would be fine by me.

Honestly, I was hoping to have just a few bottles of red wine ready by August (to consume after we move into the house we are buying.) Do I have enough time for that? I would get a solid 4 months of time between making it and drinking it if I get on top of this ASAP.

If I (and more specifically, SWMBO) are happy with the first attempt, I might gather some minimalist-yet-specialized gear and be a little more serious about it, but this first attempt needs to be done with what gear I have on-hand if possible.

-walker

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Old 03-16-2006, 05:32 PM   #4
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I actually learned to make wine before I started homebrewing. SWMBO's dad grows his own grapes, muscadines to be specific. We pick them towards the later part of August or so and he has a press and all. It's a chore for sure. We made 15 gallons and 3 of us worked about 8 hours each day one weekend. That was just to get the juice. He added a lot of sugar, which I really didn't want, but he likes his sweet where I like a mine a litter more dry.

With that said I'd say the cost of those kits is a bargain. Muscadine turns out more a reisling I'd say. It's more of a desert wine. His is also around 15-16% ABV so you can't drink that much.

As far as schedules he looks at the wine and transfers it from the initial fermentation buckets to carboys. He calls it "cleaning it". He sometimes repeats the process a couple of times. His wine always turns out clear and the final stage there is no sediment on the bottom of his carboys.

He also uses different enzymes and things that kill the yeast if the taste is right to him. On the other hand he can add other items that will give it sweetness, but won't ferment. It usually sits in the carboys about 3 months or so and then we bottle and let them sit for a while as well.

He does store his wine in beer bottles with conventional caps. You can make bottle bombs with wine as well though.

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Old 03-16-2006, 09:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Imperial Walker
Thanks, LL....

I've found some on-line places that sell concentrated grape extract and claim that you want 2 or 3 cans of it for a 5 gallon batch. $20/can.

I supposed I could make a 2 gallon batch with a single can of that as my first attempt.

I've clearly got a lot of researching to do before I attempt this. (Gotta figure out how to de-gas the stuff and whatnot... was thinking I could put a plastic whip on a power drill and give the wine a good beating.)

I also have NO idea about the fermentation schedule (racking to secondary, etc, etc)

Also, I'd like to avoid buying a corker if possible. There is a thread on here about botting it in beer bottles and the general consensus was that this should work fine if you don't plan to age it for years and years. I don't plan to make enough to last years and years, so beer bottles would be fine by me.

Honestly, I was hoping to have just a few bottles of red wine ready by August (to consume after we move into the house we are buying.) Do I have enough time for that? I would get a solid 4 months of time between making it and drinking it if I get on top of this ASAP.

If I (and more specifically, SWMBO) are happy with the first attempt, I might gather some minimalist-yet-specialized gear and be a little more serious about it, but this first attempt needs to be done with what gear I have on-hand if possible.

-walker
Your questions are all pretty simple ones really - Wine is very similar to beer once it's in primary and fermenting. You just let it ferment out and rack it off the sediment to secondary. Repeat the racking when it throws more sediment and maybe add finings if need be to help it clear - all the while under an airlock. With a 2 gallon batch you can 'degas' it by shaking it - No need for drill attachments and if you've kept it under airlock all the while most of the CO2 will be out. The main difference between wine and beer (apart from the whole wort prep boil thing) is that once the yeast has finished you don't need it in wine anymore. clearing it out helps with clarity and flavour. Campden tablets help.
Concentrated grape extract is good for quick results, just keep the ABV on the lower scale (say 11%) and you'll have something that's pleasantly drinkable easily for August. Use your beer bottles and caps for this first batch - You have all you need already with regards equipment with your beer gear except maybe some smaller carboys. Look out for champagne bottles - you can cap them as you know.
Just go for it, it's easy!
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Old 03-17-2006, 12:21 AM   #6
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Though I don't like it as much as beer, wine is easier for me to make.
I've made it from whole fruit, canned fruit , and fruit juice. The only whole fruit that worked out good was apples and Muscodine grapes. The pear and bad apple came out worse than shoe polish ! With the canned fruits and juices, I added raisins to give the yeast something to get hold of . Start with something that tastes good to begin with. Use plenty of sugar. Choose a yeast that finishes like you want it. You can buy yeasts that finish sweet or dry. I prefer sweet. If a batch finishes out too dry for your taste, add potassium sorbate and sweeten to taste.

Like beer, wine can be as simple or as complicated as you want it. Some wines can be drunk in polite company, some are made to be swilled in the cellblock while your buddy watches for the gaurds.
It's all up to you.

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Old 03-17-2006, 12:34 AM   #7
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the kits take all the guess work out of it for the first time.
i had never made wine before but the wife likes the kit wine(at a cost of $2.00 per bottle) as much as the store bought(at $10.00 to $14.00 per bottle)

now i can spend more on beer equipment!!

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Old 03-17-2006, 02:28 AM   #8
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thanks for all the info guys.

I talked with the owner of the LHBS and he's going to set me up with everything I need to make a 2 gallon batch (and he said he would cut me a deal on a small carboy.)

He did, however, tell me that one particular brand of wine kit that he sells (6 gallon kit) makes a much MUCH better product and includes all the additives that I will need in a single box.

Christ... I wonder if I should just get a corker and 6 gallon kit and go for it?

-walker

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Old 03-17-2006, 04:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Imperial Walker
Christ... I wonder if I should just get a corker and 6 gallon kit and go for it?

You might see if the guy at the HBS rents corkers. Mine rents the bad ass blue Italian ones for five dollars a day (which will do champagne bottles). I'm sure you have carboys out the yazoo, but if you do a kit, you really want a 6 gallon for the secondary. Not a 6 1/2 or a 5. Oxidation seems to be a much bigger concern with wine than beer, especially after you do the degassing.

Some people use the kits to make 5 gallon batches, but this isn't recommended, due to the fact that the kits are "balanced" and are designed for 6 gallon batches. You could get too much acidity, etc if you don't do six.

I would probably go for the kit. They have all the ingredients (as you know) that you will need right in them. The only thing extra you might need is a 1/4 tsp more sulphite powder if you intend any of the bottles for long term storage.
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Old 03-17-2006, 08:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sudsmonkey
Like beer, wine can be as simple or as complicated as you want it. Some wines can be drunk in polite company, some are made to be swilled in the cellblock while your buddy watches for the gaurds.
It's all up to you.
This says it all! As sudsmonkey said it's easier than beer - try a small batch first, use your LHBS for guidance.

and if i ever get locked up i'll be looking for you as a cell mate sudsmonkey, i'll buy the champagne on our release!!!!
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