First batch questions

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shtank

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I've been brewing beer for about a decade but I have never tried my hand at wine until now.

I made my first batch after finding Yooper's recipe and I just wanted to ask the more experienced folks just to make sure I have it all the steps ahead right.

My recipe:
3 gallons of Great Value white grape juice
8oz cran-cherry
3.5lb cane sugar heated in 16oz of water
2 tsp pectic enzyme
3 tsp yeast nutrient
50oz water
2 5gram packs of 71B yeast

I overshot my target OG so I added the 50oz of water to reach 1.098. I hope to finish around 1.010 giving me 12 abv.

I put it in a 6 gallon better bottle and set the fermentation temperature to 66. I plan to swirl it once a day for the first week.

Once I reach my final gravity of 1.010 (which I think will be now more than 2 weeks). I will rack off into three separate gallon glass jugs with airlocks for secondary fermentation.

It's my understanding that secondary needs to be done in smaller vessel to reduce head space and oxygen.

Should I add campden tablets during transferring to secondary or will that stop the yeast from cleaning up everything. And how long should I let them stay in the secondary fermenters.

After secondary is finished (stabilized) I plan to add campden tablets and potassium sorbate to a carboy, back sweeten if necessary and bottle.

I am also toying with the idea of adding wine tannins or oak chips to one of the three jugs.


Does any this sound right?

Thanks in advance

Cheers
 

jgmillr1

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Welcome to making wine. In many ways it is much simpler and forgiving than beer, while at the same time having more complexity.

You will certainly get many different suggestions from folks who have been doing it "this way" for a long time. Bottom line is that there are many approaches, most of which work just fine and each with its own advantages. This is what gives winemaking so much of the richness and variation seen from one winemaker to the other.

Anyway to get to your questions with my suggestions:
* At some point, you may want to buy a TA titration kit to get an idea of how much acid is in your wine. You can then make careful acid adjustments. The white grape juice (Niagara) can be a little high in acid but makes a good sweet wine.
* You also may want to purchase a pH meter at some point. This way you can be sure you are adding sufficient sulfites for the pH and ensure you do not over/under shoot a pH range that the yeast is happy with.
* Monitor the SG every couple days just to be sure it is starting to ferment without trouble. Then let it roll and you can check less frequently to be sure it doesn't stick. (Of course, with the white grape juice, a little residual sugar is probably desired anyway)
* Let the wine settle the yeast in your carboy before you rack it. This assumes you are not getting into the carboy and introducing air which risks spoilage for the wine. The headspace is filled with CO2 and is not a problem unless you disturb it.
* Sulfites are needed once fermentation is done to protect from spoilage and oxygen. These should be added during initial racking to your secondary jugs where you will need to minimize headspace.
* The wine can reside in the secondary as long as necessary to settle the yeast. Could take months. You can accelerate that by adding fining agents such as the 2 part "super-kleer" product.
* Be sure to add more sulfites when you add the sorbate. The sorbate is necessary if you plan a sweet wine.
* Run a taste bench trial to help determine your desired sweetness level.
* Tannin and oak probably are not good profiles for a sweet and fruity wine that the white juice makes. I wouldn't suggest you go there, but if you like it then go for it.
 
OP
shtank

shtank

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Welcome to making wine. In many ways it is much simpler and forgiving than beer, while at the same time having more complexity.

You will certainly get many different suggestions from folks who have been doing it "this way" for a long time. Bottom line is that there are many approaches, most of which work just fine and each with its own advantages. This is what gives winemaking so much of the richness and variation seen from one winemaker to the other.

Anyway to get to your questions with my suggestions:
* At some point, you may want to buy a TA titration kit to get an idea of how much acid is in your wine. You can then make careful acid adjustments. The white grape juice (Niagara) can be a little high in acid but makes a good sweet wine.
* You also may want to purchase a pH meter at some point. This way you can be sure you are adding sufficient sulfites for the pH and ensure you do not over/under shoot a pH range that the yeast is happy with.
* Monitor the SG every couple days just to be sure it is starting to ferment without trouble. Then let it roll and you can check less frequently to be sure it doesn't stick. (Of course, with the white grape juice, a little residual sugar is probably desired anyway)
* Let the wine settle the yeast in your carboy before you rack it. This assumes you are not getting into the carboy and introducing air which risks spoilage for the wine. The headspace is filled with CO2 and is not a problem unless you disturb it.
* Sulfites are needed once fermentation is done to protect from spoilage and oxygen. These should be added during initial racking to your secondary jugs where you will need to minimize headspace.
* The wine can reside in the secondary as long as necessary to settle the yeast. Could take months. You can accelerate that by adding fining agents such as the 2 part "super-kleer" product.
* Be sure to add more sulfites when you add the sorbate. The sorbate is necessary if you plan a sweet wine.
* Run a taste bench trial to help determine your desired sweetness level.
* Tannin and oak probably are not good profiles for a sweet and fruity wine that the white juice makes. I wouldn't suggest you go there, but if you like it then go for it.
Thank you for the response I will definitly be purchasing an acid test kit and ph meter. I should of mentioned that I am going for a sweet wine this go round.

So adding sulfates/campden tablets at every transfer is recommended at a rate of one tablet per gallon?

Degassing:
So is there a small window for degassing? After primary but before secondary?
It seems like it would just whip in a ton of oxygen.

Thanks again
 

jgmillr1

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So adding sulfates/campden tablets at every transfer is recommended at a rate of one tablet per gallon?
That would be excessive. You'll want to add a campden tablet per gallon after fermentation. That will suffice for a couple months or a couple rackings. If you are careful not to splash or can purge out your container with CO2 before racking wine into it, then you can minimize pick up of oxygen and reduce your sulfite needs. Adding 1/3 to 1/2 a tablet per gallon is a good "top off" amount when you rack later. You'll want pretty much a full tablet per gallon when you sorbate, sweeten and bottle.

Degassing:
So is there a small window for degassing? After primary but before secondary?
It seems like it would just whip in a ton of oxygen.
There are different schools of thought that range from "don't de-gas" to attaching a paint mixer to a drill. I'm of the "don't de-gas" camp. A couple rackings and time will de-gas the wine. As a side note, I filter though and that drastically de-gasses the wine. De-gassing can increase oxygen pick-up if you are not careful but it does tend to speed along the settling of yeast suspended in the wine. Depends how impatient you are, I guess.
 

bernardsmith

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Hi shtank, On a separate note, you state that you hope to finish at about 1.010. What is it that you have done to the must to have that expectancy. Unlike beer fruit and simple sugars are 100% fermentable. You pitch the yeast expecting that the final gravity will be at 1.000 or lower (alcohol being less dense than water you can finish below 1.000). What most seasoned wine makers do is allow their wines to finish fermenting, the stabilize (with K-meta and K-sorbate) and then add whatever additional sweetness they think is lacking in their wine. Expecting that a wine will finish significantly above brut dryness suggests a problem with the yeast, a problem with the must or that you are consciously step feeding the yeast with sugar to the point where the alcohol level in the wine will exceed the yeast's tolerance for alcohol. If none of those conditions hold then a more likely expectation is that your wine will finish dry rather than semi sweet.
That said, you can, of course, boil the wine (pasteurization?) to kill the yeast at any time... but most wine makers tend to avoid cooking their fruit unless they are making jam.
 
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shtank

shtank

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Hi shtank, On a separate note, you state that you hope to finish at about 1.010. What is it that you have done to the must to have that expectancy. Unlike beer fruit and simple sugars are 100% fermentable. You pitch the yeast expecting that the final gravity will be at 1.000 or lower (alcohol being less dense than water you can finish below 1.000). What most seasoned wine makers do is allow their wines to finish fermenting, the stabilize (with K-meta and K-sorbate) and then add whatever additional sweetness they think is lacking in their wine. Expecting that a wine will finish significantly above brut dryness suggests a problem with the yeast, a problem with the must or that you are consciously step feeding the yeast with sugar to the point where the alcohol level in the wine will exceed the yeast's tolerance for alcohol. If none of those conditions hold then a more likely expectation is that your wine will finish dry rather than semi sweet.
That said, you can, of course, boil the wine (pasteurization?) to kill the yeast at any time... but most wine makers tend to avoid cooking their fruit unless they are making jam.
Thank you! I will stabilize then back sweeten.
 
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