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Home Brew Forums > Wine, Mead, Cider, Sake & Soda > Wine Making Forum > No Airlock
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Old 07-12-2007, 06:26 AM   #1
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Default No Airlock

The Welch's Grape Juice Wine in the index instructs you to cover with a napkin...Do you mean a paper napkin? With wine recipes I have noticed during primary most say cover with plastic, napkin, etc...Are you not suppose to use an airlock during the primary, until the yeast slow down?

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Old 07-12-2007, 12:51 PM   #2
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Correct- no airlock until secondary for most wines. You really need the oxygen during the primary.

Winemaking and beer making differs slightly in primary/secondary fermentation. In wine, primaries are usually open, just covered with a towel to keep pests out. There is so much co2 coming out, and the must needs the oxygen. You usually transfer to secondary when the s.g. is under 1.020 and then you use an airlock and undergo a true "secondary fermentation". The wine should get to .990 or so. Primary usually lasts 3-5 days with wine. A paper napkin is fine- a clean dish towel is ok, too. Not plastic because it doesn't breathe. After primary, just like with beer, you want to rack quietly without splashing as to not oxidize. But in primary, you can stir the must and knock down the "cap" if you get one.

By the way, I'd put this jug in another container, like a large bowl or basin. It does foam up and grape juice stains hardwood flooring (ask me how I know!)

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Old 07-24-2007, 03:00 PM   #3
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I've never heard or read about this before. You said it is this way for most wines. What kinds get the airlock and what don't? Whats the difference?

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Old 07-24-2007, 03:09 PM   #4
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All wines, from the wineries to the home winemaker. For primary, you cover it loosely to keep fruitflies and the like out. When the sg reaches 1.020-1.030, you rack and then airlock it. You can airlock it from the beginning, if you want, but no need.

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Old 07-24-2007, 03:13 PM   #5
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When I'm washing my yeast I'll place a paper towel over the mouth of the jar and hold it in place with a rubber band.

I also give it a short spritz of Star San across the top while it sits on the counter.

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Old 07-24-2007, 03:18 PM   #6
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WOW! How did I miss this until now? Thanks, I'll give it a try next time. What kind of defference does it make?

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Old 07-24-2007, 03:58 PM   #7
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Well, this is also assuming that you've properly sulfited your must. Without any sulfites to inhibit it, you'll end up with vinegar or otherwise contaminated must. You want to get enough oxygen in there, but protect your must from bacteria, insects, or wild yeasts.

Here's some good reading on this: http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/adding.asp

And: Always begin fermentation in a primary, without an airlock, unless specially instructed to begin in a carboy. The inoculate (yeast culture added to the must) needs exposure to oxygen for the first 48-72 hours to assist the yeast in rapid reproduction and increase the population to a density suitable for rapid fermentation. If the must has been sulfited, they need the large surface area to take in the oxygen needed. The top of the primary need only be covered with a clean cloth of tight weave, such as muslin, held in place with an elastic band. If you have a primary with rigid lid drilled for an airlock, use the lid but plug the hole with a ball of cotton for the first few days.

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Old 07-24-2007, 04:45 PM   #8
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I learned something today! Thanks for you help!

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