New to wine making, have some questions.
First off, let me say thanks in advance for any answers or suggestions I'm given. I'll probably be on here frequently with questions since I'm so new at this... Well, i'll just fire away.
1. I've gotten recipes, how-to, instructions, etc. from books I've bought and online recipes. The ingredients are so inconsistent. For example, I started my first batch of wine last week (nectarine). One book I have said use 2 tsp of peptic enzyme per gallon, one book said 1 tsp per gallon, and the peptic enzyme bottle said use 1/2 tsp per gallon. Every ingredient was this inconsistent. I guess winemaking isn't an exact science? What's a good rule of thumb or proven online recipes?
2. My books say (which they may be wrong) I need to keep it between 70-75 degrees during the primary fermentation. That's not possible. I can't keep it in the house (wife hates the smell), so I keep it in the garage (closer to like 90 degrees). My friend that makes great wine, which got me started in this btw, says he keeps his in the garage/shop every time and has no problems. What's the deal there? What to do in the winter?
3. I used fresh nectarines on my first try. Would using frozen berries be acceptable? I would like to try a batch of raspberry wine and frozen berries is pretty much the only way. Would that taste any different than fresh?
5. Can you stir too much in the primary fermentation stage?
6. I'm making a 5 gallon right now, if I decided to make a 1 gallon batch, would I still use one packet of yeast? Does it matter?
I'll post more questions as they arise. Again, thanks in advance for any assistance, I'm new to this.
welcome to the hobby, lemme see if i can answer some of your questions.
1. Brewing is NOT an exact science, you are correct on that. Most recipes are made by trial and error until the brewer gets what he wants. His ideal brew may be different than another, so the recipes differ. Try different recipes for the same thing, always change something in a recipe your repeating, for better or for worse. For the pectic enzyme, I think 1/2 tsp should be fine since an enzyme does not stop working until an equilibrium is reached or there is no more substrate to eat. thus, the ammount dosn't matter, but more enzyme will work faster.
2. 90 degrees is really too high for the yeast to actively survive in. The yeast will work somewhat, but you might end up with off flavors or risk the death of all the yeast in the batch.
There are 2 solutions here:
make it work for your wife: Some people have scrubbers that make the smell go away. you may have to look into this more in depth, but its the same idea as a filter.
make it work for the temp: What some home brewers do in your situation is place the fermenter into a water bath, sometimes with added ice/frozen bottles. water does not change temperature fast, so the water will remain cool when the air heats up, hence cooling your fermenter.
3. Frozen is just fine, many people use frozen fruit. I have never heard anyone complain about the difference between the two, but I would guess fresh would be a bit better due to the obvious "freshness"
4. Wait a second... there is no 4...
5. Yes you can. For most brews, stirring is not actually needed, but for some they do require light stirring just to keep things from getting stuck. the main problem with stirring is that it stirs up the sediment in the bottom, making it cloudy. ideally the lees and sediment should all be at the bottom of the fermenter when fermentation is finished.
6. You could go ahead and use less, but you might want to make a starter just in case. considering how cheap yeast is (dry yeast at least) you might as well use a whole packet for 2 gallons or so. the idea is that all the yeast will settle out when completed, more yeast makes this more difficult.
I hope this helped you out a bit, and good luck with your brews.
Thanks for the reply. A few things make more sense now.
One question about the temperature. Can I move it into the house and not hurt anything? It will be about a 20 degree temp drop.
Yes, that'll be fine. The ambient temperature drop is sudden, but it'll take a bucket or carboy of 90+ degree liquid a long time to cool down. I'd recommend one of those plastic thermometer strips (like on an aquarium) to monitor temperature inside the fermenter. The ambient temperature sometimes is quite a bit different than the temperature inside the fermenter.
Your question about recipes is true- they all seem different. Well, in the case of pectic enzyme, some fruits take more and/or longer to break down. Some fruits, like apples, might need more. Some fruits might not need so much. A good analogy to me, though, is this- say you want to make spaghetti sauce. You could get 200 recipes- all different but basically with the same ingredients. Some you will like better than others, and you can sometimes tell by looking at the recipe. With experience, you can just sort of "know" what will work. Well, the same is true for wine. Once you've got the basics, then it's all up to you.
Here's a wonderful website to help with learning the basics: http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/basics.asp
Also, as far as temperature, a good guideline is on the yeast manufacturer's website. Just look up the yeast you are using, and it will tell you the fermenting temperature range.
One of the great things about winemaking is that we all have our own ways, and most of them aren't wrong. I don't agree with everything the other poster might do, but he's not wrong. Just different than I do things.
ok, it's making more sense now..
So in the secondary fermentation, between 60-65 degrees is best. How do most people keep it there? Do I pretty much need a fridge dedicated to this or is the temperature really not that important.
I now know that it's not a science and everyone does it a little different. I'm just looking for the things I HAVE to get right. What are the things that MUST be a certain way. Is temperature one of these things or is it a preference thing?
Sorry I'm being OCD, but if I do something, I like to do it right and with some sort of knowledge.
I appreciate all your time.
Well, I have a cool-ish house where I live. So, I keep my wines in the laundry room. You'd have to find out what works best for you, but 70-75 degrees won't hurt the wine. Again, some wine yeasts work fine up to 80 degrees, but when primary is over, a nice room temperature is comfortable for them. Really high fermentation temperatures may cause some off flavors, like fusel alcohols or cause faster breakdown of the yeast in the lees (autolysis).
If you really, really, can't move the fermenter into the house (don't you have a spare room somewhere or a basement?), then try using a cooler with some water and bottles of ice (frozen water bottles work great) but be careful not to get it too cold. (Pictures of my ice cube igloo cooler are in my gallery)
I know you said your wife hates the smell- but I honest don't know of any smell if fermented at the right temperature with a good (unstressed) yeast, unless you're making Edwort's Apfelwein where I heard there is a rumor of "rhino farts".
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