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First time, what kind of wine?

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loesher

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Hi guys! Im new to wine making and I purchased all the normally used tools/chemicals to start small one gallon batches of various fruit wines. I have a large basement with plenty of room so I plan on making a variety of wines. What fruit is the best one to start with? I want to learn as I go, but to keep my motivation high, Id like to start out with success. Also, some novice questions...
1. Using a secondary fermenter to age the wine vs. Bottling and aging. Is the 6 months to a year aging split between the two?
2. What stops the wine from going bad while aging?
3. How essential is using a mesh bag? My gallon jugs wont allow the use of them.

Thank you!
 

Yooper

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Welcome to the obsession!

You can age the wine in the bottle, but you probably don't want to bottle until the wine is completely and totally clear and no longer dropping any lees (sediment) after at least 60 days. The reason is because anything that drops out after that will end up in the bottle and then come out in the wine when you pour the wine. Sometimes that's just aesthetics, but wine lees can also taste pretty bad so you want to bottle once there is little to no chance of the sediment falling in the bottle.

You want to keep the wine "topped up"- that is, filled to within an inch or so of the bung, to prevent it from oxidizing or from allowing infection to take hold. Also, many winemakers use small amounts of sulfites (much lower amounts than in commercial wines) as an antioxidant and preservative.

A mesh bag is pretty essential if you're using fruit, otherwise it's a real chore to separate the pieces of fruit pulp from the liquid. A good way to do it is to start fermentation in a bucket and then rack (siphon) to the jug once the fruit is removed. Grocery store bakeries have buckets to give away or sell that used to contain frosting or peanut butter, and they are perfect.

So, you start the batch in the bucket, cover with a towel, and that's it. Generally, fruit wines are stirred a couple of times a day to keep the fruit from drying out and floating and molding. A bucket makes that easy. After about 5 days, the fruit is removed (that's where the mesh bag is so handy), and then the wine is moved to a carboy/jug and airlocked to protect it. Early on, the wine needs some oxygen and needs to have some of the c02 produced removed (stirring does that), but after that point, oxygen can ruin the wine so it is in the glass with an airlock.

While I love fruit wines, especially blackberry wine, if you want to start without a fruit mesh bag, why not try something simple like a fruit juice wine? https://www.homebrewtalk.com/showthread.php?t=27602

Once you feel comfortable with something like that, try a fruit wine or another juice wine from our recipe database: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forumdisplay.php?f=79

I love making wine, and I love the results. Not only just the "I made this!" feeling, but some of the best wines I've had have been made out of our home.
 
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loesher

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Thank you! I think Im going to skip the juice wine and go with the gallon jug idea you mentioned. Thank you again!
 

9226356

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I recommend strawberry wine. And highly recommend a 6.5 gal bucket primary and 5 gallon glass or PET carboy. It is very little extra and sometimes even less work than doing 1 gallon batches.
 

Cyclman

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I sulphite and age my wines in carboys, topped of almost to the bottom of the bung. Takes less room than bottled wines, and I have a pretty big pipeline, so when I need to bottle, then I do it.
 

bernardsmith

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I recommend strawberry wine. And highly recommend a 6.5 gal bucket primary and 5 gallon glass or PET carboy. It is very little extra and sometimes even less work than doing 1 gallon batches.
I agree that strawberry wine can be fantastic but asking a beginner to start with strawberries may not be the best approach if you are looking for a near fail safe wine - the amount of strawberries you need, the work you need to do to fix the color so that the color does not drain from the wine and the volume you are suggesting - to my way of thinking - may not help encourage a novice winemaker to become obsessed with this hobby.
I suggest that novices begin with single gallon batches; begin with fruit juices they can find in their supermarket - the juices that are stored in the chiller section - mango, pomegranate; mixed berry and the like. Or even apple juice if it does not contain preservatives. The juices are already prepared - although the lack of fruit skins and fruit pulp means that the flavor will not be as complex as they could be - and there is then no need to think about adding (AKA diluting the flavor with) water. The only thing that you need to think about is whether the starting gravity - about 1.050 will be sufficient (potentially, about 6 or 7% ABV), or whether you may want to add another lb of sugar to each gallon to bring the gravity up to about 1.090 - or a potential ABV of about 12%).
Starting with single gallons of fruit juice made from different varieties of fruit makes it relatively easy to experiment and see what different yeasts can do , what different nutrients do; what impact different temperatures can have on the fermentation - and the cost of ingredients is tiny and so the cost of a poor batch is insignificant.
 

Spookwoman

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Cover with towel, I have the lid on mine for 3 days now. First timer myself and using victoria plums topped up with shop bought ones. smell is divine and its the colour of mateus rose. Heading up the the local home brew shop to get some extra kit today so I'll have a chat to see what else I need.
 
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