Another Newbie wine maker with Fermentation problems

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Hi everyone, several people seem to be having similar problems here, but mine seems a little different. I'll cover the whole process of what I've done so hopefully someone can point me in the right direction.

This is my first time making wine in over 20 years, yes do the math, I was a teenage kid last time, but that was in the UK where the legal age is purely fictional, heck I used to go to the pub with the local Police when I was 14. But that's another issue.

So jump forward 20 years and change continents. I've been wanting to get into wine making for sometime and final took the plunge this year. I went out last Saturday on the last day for picking at out local Vineyard (Honeyflow farms in Dryden SE Michigan) . I picked 40 lb's of Fuch grapes. I got them de-stemmed there, which crushed them partially. When I got home I dove in with clean hands and carried on crushing them further, this was working but going slow so I grabbed the food blender and zapped small quantities until I had smooched the lot. Reading a book later I panicked because it warned that breaking the seeds could ruin the wine, but having a look the seeds seem to be whole. This gave m ejust under 5 gallons of must which I added four cambden tablets to.

I left the must for 24 hours then checked the specific gravity, it was 1.092 so I didn't add any sugar. At this point the juice tasted very sweet, just like grape juice as you'd expect. I then opened a packet of Pasteur yeast, mixed it in 100 deg F water and left for 10 mins. I was slightly surprised to see there was no foaming of the yeast but I mixed it into the must anyway. That was Sunday night. Monday morning, evening and Tuesday morning I pushed that cap to the bottom but couldn't not see any hint of fermentation. Last night the same thing, so I placed my bucket on a small heating pad (the sort of thing you use for a sore back) thinking the must may not be warm enough to start fermentation. This morning still no sign of fermentation, there is a change in odder to a slightly yeasty smell, a small taste indicates it's still sweet, but with a bitterness I assume to be the yeast. I've got the Must in my basement near the furnace, the house is at 68degrees and I think the basement is at a similar temp, that's why I added the heating pad.

I was slightly concerned that the yeast packet didn't have an expiration date on it, I got it in a 'kit' from the place I picked the grapes and suspect it may be quite old.

What should I do? Warm it up more, add more/different yeast? I was hoping to rack it into demijohns this weekend, should I still do that?

Thanks

Adrian Thompson
 
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Please offer suggestions, a fried who got grapes at the smae time/place now hasa a nice foamy must. Have I done something wrong and killed the fermentation and ruined my wine?

Thanks in advance

Adrian
 

Yooper

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Check the sg before you decide it's not fermenting. Keep pushing down the cap and stirring, to make sure it's getting plenty of oxygen and the fruit is moist. I wouldn't use the heating pad, unless you know the temperature of the must. Do you have a thermometer in it, or on the outside of the fermenter?

Anyway, check the sg ASAP and let's go from there.
 
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Great, thanks for getting back. I'm leaving work now, I hope to get home, check the S.G. and post it within the hour. As I said originaly my pre yeast SG was 1.092. I've been pushing the cap down and stiring twice a day. The cap is surprisingly thick (approx 3.5inches) and very solid, I but you could place a cup on it and it would sink!

Thanks

Adrian
 

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Ok, and sanitize a thermometer too, if you don't have one already in there or on the fermenter and let us know the sg and the temp as well as the exact type of yeast. It'll be worth it in the end!
 

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My LHBS reccomends I only store my yeast for a month but to keep it refrigerated. If I were you I would just try some different yeast. If you cant get to a LHBS then some Flashmans active yeast will work.......although I would try to get my hands on real wine yeast.
 

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I store yeast in my fridge for a long, long, time. No reason to only keep it a month- it's good for years.

Do NOT use bread yeast if you want a drinkable wine! It might come to pitching some fresh yeast, but only a good wine yeast.
 
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OK, so I'm home, I ran downstairs to the basement and popped the lid off my must. Oh joy of joy's there was some evidence of bubbling coming up through the cap, although that seemed to stop within about a minute of me removing the (loose) top. I pushed in the cap and removed/strained some of must. Big shock, the SG read 1.007, so somethings changed, for good or bad I have no idea, that's why I'm hear asking for help. I don't have a thermometer that reads lower than 100deg right now, I'll try and buy one tomorrow.

So, questions
1)Is it fermenting?
2)Is an SG of 1.007 normal four days after adding the original yeast?
3) Should I add more/differnt yeast?
4) If so what?
5) Can I still rack the wine this weekend?

Thanks for all your help.

Now onto another and potentialy even more important question. Does anyone have a fool proof (Emphasis on the FOOL) method of removing wine (well must) stains from cloths? Yes I was an idiot, I was in such a hurry I did this in my work clothes and splashed the must all overmyself. Do you think my wife would belive me that dark burgandy stains on tan pants is a fasion statement? No, bother..... If you never hear from me again you'll know why :)
 

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Aha- I knew it! The "cap" was a big clue. Your wine is definitely ready to be racked and go into secondary. When it gets below 1.020 or 1.010, it really should be airlocked. If you have a cover with an airlock, you should do it now even before you rack.

"Normal" isn't really any thing at all with winemaking and depending on what kind of yeast you used, it might easily be expected to ferment out in 3 days. No need to add more yeast- you have already made wine.

I'm being called to dinner. Good job on your wine.
 
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Great thank you. I've been to a friends house to borrow four, one gallon Demijohns (Carboy's I guess here in the US). I don't haved any bungs or air traps until I can get some tomorrow. In the mean time I've sealed the lid on my five gallon bucket and put a small diameter hose (Fish tank air line!) through a hole in the top sealed with silicone. I've got the other end in a jar of water. I hope the hose isn't too small in diameter. I doubt I'll be able to strain and rack the wine until Saturday morning.

Thanks again for the help.

Is there a wine making for dummies type book avaiable?

Thanks

Adrian Thompson
 

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Adrian Thompson said:
Great thank you. I've been to a friends house to borrow four, one gallon Demijohns (Carboy's I guess here in the US). I don't haved any bungs or air traps until I can get some tomorrow. In the mean time I've sealed the lid on my five gallon bucket and put a small diameter hose (Fish tank air line!) through a hole in the top sealed with silicone. I've got the other end in a jar of water. I hope the hose isn't too small in diameter. I doubt I'll be able to strain and rack the wine until Saturday morning.

Thanks again for the help.

Is there a wine making for dummies type book avaiable?

Thanks

Adrian Thompson
Good thinking- you made a blow off tube. I don't know of a book, but I always recommend this website: http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/basics.asp

It is a bit tough to nagivate, but it really is the best resource I've ever seen, from yeasts to all the information you'll ever need for winemaking.
 

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Yes, the Chick is correct.....Jack Keller's advice is very, very good. Follow his recipes, and you really can't go wrong.

After you took the reading of 1.007, did you taste the must? It may have gone from sweet to otherwise very quickly, and if fermentation is not complete, you may want to add a little more sugar. (Yooper, correct me if I'm wrong.)
 

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Jim Karr said:
Yes, the Chick is correct.....Jack Keller's advice is very, very good. Follow his recipes, and you really can't go wrong.

After you took the reading of 1.007, did you taste the must? It may have gone from sweet to otherwise very quickly, and if fermentation is not complete, you may want to add a little more sugar. (Yooper, correct me if I'm wrong.)
Jim, I'd never correct you! But at this point, I'd let it go. If the og was 1.092, it'll probably finish at .990 or so, and that's plenty of alcohol to keep the wine preserved. Any more sugar will boost the ABV, but require alot more time to mellow out. If it needs sweetening later on, we can help you with that!
 
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