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Old 11-24-2009, 02:57 PM   #1
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Default Weighing Down Grapeskins

I'm making a Cellar Craft Old Vine Zinfandel (with grapeskins). The instructions direct to either stir 2X daily or weigh down the grapeskins (in a muslin bag) to keep them wet. Because I'm lazy and don't want to risk infection, I don't really want to stir the mix. What can I use to hold the bag under the surface? What do you use?

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Old 11-24-2009, 04:01 PM   #2
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Most people use sanitized marbles or a heavy piece of glass such as a paperweight but any heavy non-reactive substance will do.

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Old 11-24-2009, 04:01 PM   #3
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Almost every winery either punches down or pumps over. Winemakers don't worry about infection because the alcohol level gets to high. Don't get me wrong sanitization is important, but I never have heard of an infected wine. You want the cap of skins to stave off oxidation. Punch it down once in the morning and once at night. Just leave your punch in the fermenter to keep it clean.

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Old 11-24-2009, 04:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mitch171 View Post
Don't get me wrong sanitization is important, but I never have heard of an infected wine.
Sanitation is, in fact, very important in home winemaking. The results of lack of cleanliness or sanitation does indeed result in bacterial, and other, infections in wine:

Lactic acid bacterium - The wine develops an oily look with rope- like treads or strings.

Flowers of wine - Small flecks or blooms of white powder that grow to cover the entire surface and can grow quite thick. They are caused by spoilage yeasts and/or mycoderma bacteria, and if not caught at first appearance will certainly spoil the wine.

Acetification - caused by any of several of the vinegar bacterium.

Brett - Medicinal odors created by the yeast Brettanomyces bruxellensis.

Mannite : A serious disease of wine, characterized by a very bitter taste, caused by a very high proportion of d-mannite (loosely termed mannitic bacteria).

Cork Taint - Caused by airborne fungi that come in contact with chlorophenol compounds.

Sanitation is essential in both wine making and brewing. Those who fail to follow strict sanitation guidelines do so at their peril.
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Old 11-24-2009, 04:44 PM   #5
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Side question - I have a fruit wine that has been slowly fermenting for the past 2 days and I never punched it down at all (first time winemaker). How bad is this? I'll stir it tonight, but is there a chance the fruit is moldy? Should it be thrown out?

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Old 11-24-2009, 04:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
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Side question - I have a fruit wine that has been slowly fermenting for the past 2 days and I never punched it down at all (first time winemaker). How bad is this? I'll stir it tonight, but is there a chance the fruit is moldy? Should it be thrown out?
It'll probably be ok. Go ahead and look at it tonight, and if it's just a little dry with no mold, it'll be fine. Lots of times the foamy krausen covers the fruit and it's only dry on top. Just punch it down and stir it up.
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Old 11-24-2009, 05:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by summersolstice View Post
Sanitation is, in fact, very important in home winemaking. The results of lack of cleanliness or sanitation does indeed result in bacterial, and other, infections in wine:

Lactic acid bacterium - The wine develops an oily look with rope- like treads or strings.

Flowers of wine - Small flecks or blooms of white powder that grow to cover the entire surface and can grow quite thick. They are caused by spoilage yeasts and/or mycoderma bacteria, and if not caught at first appearance will certainly spoil the wine.

Acetification - caused by any of several of the vinegar bacterium.

Brett - Medicinal odors created by the yeast Brettanomyces bruxellensis.

Mannite : A serious disease of wine, characterized by a very bitter taste, caused by a very high proportion of d-mannite (loosely termed mannitic bacteria).

Cork Taint - Caused by airborne fungi that come in contact with chlorophenol compounds.

Sanitation is essential in both wine making and brewing. Those who fail to follow strict sanitation guidelines do so at their peril.
All of these with the expectation of cork taint (which you cannot prevent) are caused by infected wineries and would not be prevented by sanitization methods. I have been making wine and worked in the wine industry. Brett is even considered a favorable quality to some, most Californian reds are infected with brett. If others are present they would be killed off with metabisulfate before yeast is added, and again after fermentation ends. I have never had any issues with contamination at my home wine making or any of the wineries I have worked at. It is more the winery that get infected than the wine.
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Old 11-24-2009, 05:47 PM   #8
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We're not going to get into an argument here on sanitation. Please keep in mind that you're talking about different things. Sure, metabisulfite might kill some organisms that improper santitation lets go- but some home winemakers don't use sulfites.

You can do whatever you like in your home winemaking- but telling others that sanitation isn't important because commercial wineries like brett infections is probably out of place in a topic called "weighing down grapeskins". Keep on topic, or go start your own thread.

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Old 11-24-2009, 06:03 PM   #9
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Point taken, but to the op I would still not be worried about the sanitization issue of punching down the skins rather than weighing them down. In fact the skins help protect the wine while it is sitting in an open fermentor from oxidation. The cap of skins also is a good indicator or when to press off of the skins. When the cap stops being held up as well fermentation has slowed down.

So I would recommend sanitizing your stirring tool and then use it, when you are done leave it in the fermenter so you don't have to re sanitize it each time.

Again the process may be very different for kit wine and fruit wine as I have no experience in this.

I don't know how you wold make wine without metabisulfate, of course I have never done a kit so maybe that is a different process. Metabisulfate is the only way I know of to kill wild yeast off of fresh grapes. Metabisulfate also prevents oxidation during long term bulk aging and bottling.

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Old 11-24-2009, 06:52 PM   #10
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I consider it appropriate to use plain shot glasses as my weight. I used marbles a few times but I had one shatter and quite frankly not much interested in looking for marble shards in my beer or wine. Stainless ball bearings are fine as well.

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