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Bread yeast and other bad practices

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Crrb

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My interests lie exclusively in making wine the way my mother did,
She used bread yeast, didn't measure, ignored recipes, and the one time I remember her telling me how to make it, it involved drinking it once the bubbles stopped. She made good wine that people loved, and I've been trying to learn it without her for just short of a year.

If anyone makes wine in an even vaguely similar way, could you please drop any advice at all? I have so far been able to reliably produce a drinkable and alcoholic product, but I don't think I'll ever get close to hers without a lot of advice.

As a note to the people who will find this appalling- this makes me just as happy as your careful creations make you.
 

ShadesManna

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When I first started out making wine, I used similar practices to what you're describing. The recipes were spotty at best. They were taken from poorly translated, ancient texts on Gutenberg.org, and other historical documents. Directions were vague, and included things like, "float a piece of brown toast in a crock," and "cover the top with fine linen." It was mysterious. It was enchanting. Like a caterpillar emerging from a cocoon, the sludge turned into wine.

However, making wine this way is literally a craps shoot. You might end up with something delicious, or palatable, or sour, or undrinkable. Do I sometimes still explore recipes this way? Try out new concoctions? Definitely yes! As you describe, it is part of the joy for me in making wine. Some of us learn new things this way, or why things are the way they are.

Then you said, "I have so far been able to reliably produce a drinkable and alcoholic product, but I don't think I'll ever get close to hers without a lot of advice."Hands down: ask her. It sounds like some elements of her technique were lost in translation to you. Review things with her. See what you missed. It could also be that she has been doing it the same way for so long, she has been unconsciously adding steps she would not thing to tell you - same as old Italian nonnas who make "gravy," and their recipe, handed down, never tastes the same.

Or, you could keep exploring your own art. Work on making your own craft, your own technique, your own style. See what works for you. Tweak things here and there, with each batch. If you have the time, patience, and pocketbook for it, eventually, your wine will not be as good as your mom's. It will be yours.
 

Bocochoco

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I've literally craved and have regularly made Grateful Dead parking lot wine with Welches, citric acid, and Fleischmanns baking yeast ever since running away from home as a teenager and wound up on a Dead tour somehow lol.
Tastes fine to me but I actually dont mind the taste of yeast at all. In fact I prefer it suspended in it still with a slight carbonation. Rounds it out. I never actually wrote a recipe. Just used concentrate and no sugar. Drank it after it first settled.
 

bernardsmith

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Hi Crrb - and welcome, Making wine the way you want to might mean that you need to use the bread yeast your mother used and the crocks and other vessels your mother used which may have held all kinds of elements that your wine needs but does not get

But here's the truth: any and all wine is simply fruit that is inoculated with yeast. With more control you can make a better tasting wine but wine is simply the juice of fermented fruit.

Bread yeast does not flocculate well and so remains in suspension. Most fruit does not have the nutrients that yeast needs to reproduce and /or transport the sugars found in fruit through their cell walls to convert to alcohol (and CO2). And the people who loved your mother's wine may not be a random sample of people who drink and enjoy wine so their expectations for wine may not be the same as yours or the same as others on this forum.
But basically, if you take any quantity of fruit and "crush" the fruit so that skin or peel is broken and the fruit itself is exposed and you then introduce yeast that yeast will have the enzymes it needs to extract juice and ferment it. If you press the fruit to express the juice you make life easier for the yeast and if you dilute that juice with water you need less fruit to make a given volume of wine but the flavor is diluted too.

You don't NEED any tools or instruments to make a wine. You don't need to monitor how well (or not) the fermentation process is progressing. All you really need is the fruit and a vessel to hold the fruit, its juice and the yeast. If you use a crock pot then a plate to cover the crock is really no more than you need as long as you watch to see when the bubbling stops because once that stops that means the yeast has stopped fermenting and that means that they are no longer producing carbon dioxide (CO2) and THAT means that if there is any space in the container between the plate and the surface of the wine the wine can oxidize and oxidized wine tastes poorly (it CAN taste like sherry but it can also taste like crap AND it can quite easily become vinegar...

To ShadesManna - bread or toast was often used in country wine making to provide nutrients for the yeast and many if not most seasoned wine makers on this forum are likely to use a bucket as their primary fermenter covered with a cloth: wine making ain't brewing and wine makers have really no concern that their must or wine is going to sour in the primary in the way that brewers are almost neurotic about their wort. But then grain is covered with lactobacteria and lactobacteria will transform sugars into lactic acid faster than you can say "alcohol by volume".
 

bracconiere

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But then grain is covered with lactobacteria and lactobacteria will transform sugars into lactic acid faster than you can say "alcohol by volume".

i have that problem when i actually clean and sanitize my fermenter....any idea what naturally present contamination would keep it from going sour when i just rinse and pasteurize? maybe brett? (sorry to hijack, maybe it's relevant to the OPs wine recipe though)
 

bernardsmith

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If you don't properly clean surfaces and the surfaces are scratched then all kinds of bacteria can thrive in and on your equipment. What you might consider pasteurization may simply be enough heat to encourage those bacteria to thrive... Of course, the problem may not be so much bacteria in your vessels as oxygen in the wine - and if the acidity is too low (pH) then you encourage the wine to become vinegar... and those bacteria are a) all around. They just need alcohol and oxygen to consider that they are very welcome.
 

bracconiere

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sorry that was a question from a beer brewer to a winemaker....wrong forum, but i just know that when i try PBWing the old krausen, and then starsaning my beer is always sour, and then islandlizard told me to put in the sun and open air....walla, no more sour beer! it happens every time i try doing it the 'right way'!
 

bernardsmith

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ah... I see. I rarely brew beer but when I do I work hard to cool the wort quickly so that I can pitch the yeast as soon as possible. Allowing wort to cool slowly is an invitation for those bacteria to sour your brew. Typically, how long after obtaining your wort are you able to pitch your yeast?
 

bracconiere

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ah... I see. I rarely brew beer but when I do I work hard to cool the wort quickly so that I can pitch the yeast as soon as possible. Allowing wort to cool slowly is an invitation for those bacteria to sour your brew. Typically, how long after obtaining your wort are you able to pitch your yeast?

about 20 minutes.....but i aireate buy just scooping with a 3 quart pan and dumping it in the fermenter.....then add my very dirty dregs from the last batch, some gluco so that it's light beer....

and with that feel free to disregard my posts, lol...i was just wondering if a wine maker would know why my brewing style worked kinda like growing compost loving mushrooms, where you can't actually sterilize the compost, but have to only pasteurize it.....they are both fun-guy's! :)
 

bernardsmith

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I wonder if the krausen is not barm but potentially a source of bacteria infected crap. I would think that it is one thing to skim off the surface froth during active fermentation and use that as a source of yeast (that is what was called barm in the past) and quite another thing to scrape krausen from the walls of your fermenter after the fermentation is over and the froth and foam have dried and are probably hosting billions of bacteria just waiting for enough moisture for the beasties to go into over-drive. But let's not hijack Crrb's post. Oxidation is a bigger problem for wine makers. And olde worlde wine making techniques from the times of the Romans at least were usually fraught with all kinds of problems that resulted in wines that were undrinkable or could make you very ill (the use of lead as an addition to wine to increase its sweetness!). But "country wines" made at home and made with garden fruits and vegetables were often "good" and because those wine makers made the same wines year after year , generation after generation, using the same vessels and equipment in the same locales, their knowledge and with the help of the yeasts in the vicinity resulted in very drinkable wines.
 
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