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Old 10-01-2013, 01:19 AM   #1
tommyboy937
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Default Muscadine Wine from VA

Greetings Home Brewers!

I am new to the site and new to home brewing! With that being said, ill give some back story about what I am up to so somebody may understand my questions. I am in the process of collecting items to build an all grain brewing set up. I have been piecing together different items over the last few weeks and after discussing my new found hobby with some co-workers I found out that brewing wine is also pretty simple and I can use one of my carboys for that while I complete my all grain beer setup.

I was introduced to the local Virginia Muscadine grape and was told it makes a nice sweet wine that has a unique taste. Of course I started to peruse the internet for what on earth i needed to do with my 15 lbs of grapes. I found MANY different articles with many different ways of brewing 5 gallons of wine. I used a bit of local tribal knowledge and some of what I found online to form my Muscadine wine. 15 lbs of grapes, 5 lbs of sugar, a packet of wine yeast, yeast nutrient, 5 campden tablets, a 1/2 teaspoon of wine tannin, and an ounce of toasted oak chips in the must followed by an ounce of fresh oak chips in the primary carboy after a few days. I put it in the carboy after the SG got to around 1.04 with a brix of around 3. Right now i have no idea what my SG should be after a couple days in the first carboy.

TLTR

I could use some wine basics links.

Proportions (fruit to sugar and explanations)
Basic steps

(All wines I am sure have a similar process, crush fruit, add stuff , leave bucket for a few days, filter out big ol' chunks, put in carboy with pulpy stuff left in it, option to add sugar? , then at a certain point rack into secondary, then at another point rack into tertiary, then bottle)
I know i can find great information out there but some websites are way to detailed and some are way to plain. A middle of the road quick explanation of the process would help!

BONUS QUESTION: Anybody ever put toasted oak chips in Muscadine wine? The color is getting really nice and deep but I have 0 clue what it will taste like...




It looks like turning it for the picture loosened up some sediment, it was looking a bit clearer.
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Old 10-01-2013, 01:24 AM   #2
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Was I supposed to "top up" when i did this first transfer?

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Old 10-01-2013, 02:36 AM   #3
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First off, this is one of the best places as far as community as I am sure you have read so far.

Top that baby off. Minimal headspace in wine. Check out some of the 'show me your wine' posts. Get all those chunks out of there. All. Toasted or not will be later, in tertiary or aging. I personally would not so soon in your wine career.

Read through some of the mead forum, there is a lot of cross over.

Sounds like you already have the gist of winemaking. You just need some gallons under your belt and some empty bottles.

Sugar to fruit varies. I usually try to get a minimum of 6# per gallon and an OG of 1.08 - 1.10. Depending on what I'm making. Lighter flavor the fruit the lower OG to start, for me anyway. I usually leave in primary until 1.04 or so. I do not add any sugar at this point. Maybe apple juice in an absolute worst case, which contains some sugar. But never directly adding sugar.

Winemaking seems like there is not any set way to do anything. People favor their technique, but there are variances.

For example, I just did 20 gallons of pear, I aimed for 1.08 but overshot and hit 1.09. Pear is a delicate flavor. I could have watered it down a bit, but I am going to roll with it. I've never done muscadine, but I hear you can bump them up a bit.

Jack Keller and Luc are two fruit wine makers that I read a lot about.

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Old 10-01-2013, 02:40 AM   #4
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Ok, I take the don't oak so early comment back.

Oaking is simple, but can ruin a wine in a hurry. I just encourage to do a small amount first to test it out. Hell, I recommend it! Testing stuff out, experimenting, it's what it's all about!

Have fun, keep those pictures coming and keep us in the loop!

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Old 10-01-2013, 03:19 AM   #5
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Thanks StoneArcher! Great comments! I am surprised with how fun wine making seems to be. I do worry a bit about "experimenting" because I don't want to waste using a carboy for months just to toss it in the end.

I think the challenge I am wanting to face is the challenge of taking the "backwoods" fruit wines like Muscadine and trying to bring some depth of flavor.

That may sound offensive, to be clear I am backwoods, but I prefer more complex flavors.

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Old 10-03-2013, 04:50 PM   #6
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SO, I topped this up

1) don't use cold water
2) I had to "restart" my dormant yeast by adding a lb of sugar
3) can I continually add sugar once a week until I get to my desired SG?

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Old 10-03-2013, 05:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tommyboy937 View Post
SO, I topped this up

1) don't use cold water
2) I had to "restart" my dormant yeast by adding a lb of sugar
3) can I continually add sugar once a week until I get to my desired SG?
Regarding item #3, if you do that the yeast will eat the sugar every time you add it until it reaches its alcohol limit and dies in it's own waste I've read that this method is used in making ports, but never done it myself.

Like SA said, wine typically starts in the 1.080 to 1.100 range. You'll want to hit that BEFORE adding yeast. Then rack to secondary once fermentation has slowed, typically around 1.010 to 1.020, sometimes higher.
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Old 10-03-2013, 06:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TexasWine View Post
Regarding item #3, if you do that the yeast will eat the sugar every time you add it until it reaches its alcohol limit and dies in it's own waste I've read that this method is used in making ports, but never done it myself.

Like SA said, wine typically starts in the 1.080 to 1.100 range. You'll want to hit that BEFORE adding yeast. Then rack to secondary once fermentation has slowed, typically around 1.010 to 1.020, sometimes higher.
Great to know! I went from bucket to carboy at 1.05ish , it dropped down to 1.01 before I topped it up. Ill take the SG again later in the week when I add more sugar.

My only worry here is contamination and oxygen getting back in while I add sugar and measure SG....

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Old 10-03-2013, 07:00 PM   #9
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Is there a forum mod that could change the title of this post to "Muscadine Wine from VA" ?

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Old 10-03-2013, 07:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tommyboy937 View Post
SO, I topped this up

1) don't use cold water
2) I had to "restart" my dormant yeast by adding a lb of sugar
3) can I continually add sugar once a week until I get to my desired SG?
1. Why not?
2. No, don't ever do that. Because each time you restart the fermentation, you have a "new" primary so to speak and then you'll have to rack again when it slows down and the yeast stalls. The only time it's common to do this is if you're making a sweet dessert wine, and so you add sugar incrementally like that to overwhelm the yeast and then have residual sweetness. The issue with that technique is it makes sweet, hot, 18-20% rocket fuel that takes about 4 years to be good.
3. See #2.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tommyboy937 View Post
Is there a forum mod that could change the title of this post to "Muscadine Wine from VA" ?
Ok, done!
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