Help making raisin wine for the first time

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Ariel

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Hi

I have been reading up on the basics of making wine. Right now I only want to experiment before I go out and spend a bunch of money on equipment and ingredients.

This is what I have done and I'm not sure what to do next.

  1. Jar 1: Thursday night I rinsed 1 lb of raisins. Put in a quart mason jar with bottled water and 1/3 cup of white sugar. Overnight I covered it with a napkin and then closed it in the morning. I see a good amount of bubbling activity. Last night I tried mashing the raisins as best i could to squeeze out the juice and added another 1/3 cup of white sugar.
  2. Jar 2: Last night I took another 1 lb of raisins and mashed it up as best I could with a wooden spoon. I added some of the water from my first jar and topped both off with water and 1/3 cup of white sugar.
What do I do next?

I have read that it should ferment for at least 7 days. Did I make a mistake by not fermenting all the raisins at the same time? After the fermenting period, I strain and squeeze out the raisins into one large jar. Since I don't have an airlock I could either burp it daily or do the balloon trick. Every week or so I rack the wine or don't rack it all if I plan to drink it all in 1-3 weeks after its ready? When do i know its ready to drink?

I forgot one other thing. Since its the winter I get my oven to 200, turn it off, and leave the jars inside to speed up the fermentation.

Thanks!
 

Krasdale

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That temperature will kill the yeast. Also way too much sugar. Why not start with a recipe the first time and tweak it on subsequent batches?
 
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Ariel

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That temperature will kill the yeast. Also way too much sugar. Why not start with a recipe the first time and tweak it on subsequent batches?

I have done it a few times and its been fairly active without the yeast dying. I just decided to jump right in and start fermenting to get the wild yeast started earlier on. Do you have a recipe I could still follow with what I have done so far?

What do you mean too much sugar? Most recipes put in equal weight of sugar. I put in less than that, especially after I add the other 2-3 lbs of raisins if I follow this same method to finish the wine.
 

Krasdale

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I have done it a few times and its been fairly active without the yeast dying. I just decided to jump right in and start fermenting to get the wild yeast started earlier on. Do you have a recipe I could still follow with what I have done so far?

What do you mean too much sugar? Most recipes put in equal weight of sugar. I put in less than that, especially after I add the other 2-3 lbs of raisins if I follow this same method to finish the wine.
 

Krasdale

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Looks good. My meaning was to start with any proven recipe and get some experience that will give you a feel for understanding why things are done the way they are.
Then changes are meaningful. I hate to do the same thing the same way twice in a row, but I force myself.
Looks like you are ahead of the curve.
 

dwhite60

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Google "Jack Keller wine". Man has a bunch of recipes on his site. If it's a five gallon recipe, divide the ingredients by five.

Jack has probably fermented everything.

All the Best,
D. White
 
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Ariel

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Are you in prison or in a place where you're otherwise not supposed to have alcohol?

No. I got the raisins for free. Its an inexpensive way to try to see what its like to make wine and make mistakes before I consider spending money on it. I also have no idea where to get wine grapes

Looks good. My meaning was to start with any proven recipe and get some experience that will give you a feel for understanding why things are done the way they are.
Then changes are meaningful. I hate to do the same thing the same way twice in a row, but I force myself.
Looks like you are ahead of the curve.

Oh ok. Thanks. Im trying to find one that doesn't rely on adding yeast

Google "Jack Keller wine". Man has a bunch of recipes on his site. If it's a five gallon recipe, divide the ingredients by five.

Jack has probably fermented everything.

All the Best,
D. White
Thanks. i did a quick look and didn't see a raisin wine one. Ill have to take a closer look than a minute glance at the site
 
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Ariel

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Side question:
I live in NYC and im trying to find free carboys/growlers or one for around $2. Any tips?
 

bernardsmith

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Raisins might not make a good wine. After all, raisins are oxidized grapes. A better approach might be to go to your local supermarket and look for fruit juices they keep in the chiller section. They tend to be pure juice. You do need to make sure that they do not have any sorbates added. Sorbates are used to inhibit fermentation and act as a preservative. If you can , I would look for gallon containers of the juice.
Rather than use wild or indigenous yeast I would use lab cultured wine yeast for these experiments. The technique is then to pour off a cup of the juice to provide the head room you need to allow the yeast to go beserk with the sugars from the fruit and then add (pitch) the yeast. Even if the lab suggests you rehydrate the yeast you really don't have to especially if you are simply making a gallon batch. Rehydration will ensure a large viable colony for a larger volume of juice with a great deal more sugar.

Now, you can experiment with this juice which will probably have enough sugar to result in a wine with about 6 or 7% alcohol by volume(ABV) Beer is typically 4 or 5% ABV so this is not the usual 12-14% ABV wine but it is wine and it can be very delicious and it involves very little work on your part: the yeast do everything. Once you have a gallon or two under your belt and you have begun to read more about wine making you might begin to add more sugar, find ways to make your own juice, look at making wines from honey or edible flowers, from vegetables
 
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Ariel

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Raisins might not make a good wine. After all, raisins are oxidized grapes. A better approach might be to go to your local supermarket and look for fruit juices they keep in the chiller section. They tend to be pure juice. You do need to make sure that they do not have any sorbates added. Sorbates are used to inhibit fermentation and act as a preservative. If you can , I would look for gallon containers of the juice.
Rather than use wild or indigenous yeast I would use lab cultured wine yeast for these experiments. The technique is then to pour off a cup of the juice to provide the head room you need to allow the yeast to go beserk with the sugars from the fruit and then add (pitch) the yeast. Even if the lab suggests you rehydrate the yeast you really don't have to especially if you are simply making a gallon batch. Rehydration will ensure a large viable colony for a larger volume of juice with a great deal more sugar.

Now, you can experiment with this juice which will probably have enough sugar to result in a wine with about 6 or 7% alcohol by volume(ABV) Beer is typically 4 or 5% ABV so this is not the usual 12-14% ABV wine but it is wine and it can be very delicious and it involves very little work on your part: the yeast do everything. Once you have a gallon or two under your belt and you have begun to read more about wine making you might begin to add more sugar, find ways to make your own juice, look at making wines from honey or edible flowers, from vegetables

Im not expecting it to be amazing. I may make it from Juice next but for me it loses the feel of making wine. Without having actual fruit it feels that I miss out on the whole wine making process. I'm also not ready to invest money into this right now.
 

bernardsmith

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OK but wine making does not necessarily mean that you are required to press the fruit to expel the juice. You can buy kits for home wine makers where the juice is already ready for you; where the juice has been concentrated so you need to add water to reconstitute the juice - and I am talking about juice from grapes grown for wine - table grapes are not really suitable for wine making - they have neither the sugar content nor the acidity and tannins best suited for good wine. But also wine making is much broader than using grapes. Sure, when you say wine most people think grapes, but any fruit can make really good wine as can honey (mead), as can flowers - elderflowers, for example. Heck! Rhubarb can make a great wine. Apples can make incredible wines. But I understand your point. You want to make wine from A to Z but many professional winemakers spend a great deal of their time growing the fruit they will turn into wine. That is really the start of the process....
 

Krasdale

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Side question:
I live in NYC and im trying to find free carboys/growlers or one for around $2. Any tips?
I scavenger gallon pickle jars and muffin mix boxes from delis, 2 gallon protein powder empties. 5 gallon frosting buckets from bakeries.
 
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Ariel

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OK but wine making does not necessarily mean that you are required to press the fruit to expel the juice. You can buy kits for home wine makers where the juice is already ready for you; where the juice has been concentrated so you need to add water to reconstitute the juice - and I am talking about juice from grapes grown for wine - table grapes are not really suitable for wine making - they have neither the sugar content nor the acidity and tannins best suited for good wine. But also wine making is much broader than using grapes. Sure, when you say wine most people think grapes, but any fruit can make really good wine as can honey (mead), as can flowers - elderflowers, for example. Heck! Rhubarb can make a great wine. Apples can make incredible wines. But I understand your point. You want to make wine from A to Z but many professional winemakers spend a great deal of their time growing the fruit they will turn into wine. That is really the start of the process....

I didn't mean to say that making wine is strictly from grapes. For my first time I want to get the feel that I actually did something closely resembling the process for grape wine. In the future I may move on to other methods and fruits to make wine.

My parents have a grape vine that has not bear fruit since it was planted. Ive been trying to nurse it for the past 3 years. Each year something new happens and the clusters never make it. Im hoping its a good grape to either eat or make wine so I could do the whole process from the start.
 
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Ariel

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Thank you for the help. I have some more questions.

I shook the bottles daily. Waited for little no to bubbling as my sign it was ready to strain. Monday I strained and squeezed out all the juice. Filled up my growler adding about a tsp of sugar and left it in the fridge closed.

Last night I tried some and the alcohol level was pretty high. I couldn't enjoy the taste because of the alcohol. What should I do at this point to help lower the alcohol and bring out more of the flavor?

The only thing I could think of is to water it down. I have no tools to measure the abv.
 

dwhite60

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I think you created a few problems.

Too much sugar resulting in too much alcohol.

The high fermentation temps you used probably created mostly "fusel" alcohols which are known to have a "hot" flavor. Most any yeast pushed over 70F will start making fusels. Bubbling means it's fermenting but doesn't mean it's fermenting optimally. Fusels might age out but it can take a long time.

Like others said, get a kit or find a proven recipe and duplicate it. You will be a LOT happier with the finished product.

All the Best,
D. White
 

bernardsmith

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I gotta agree with dwhite60. But the problem is not too much sugar the problem sounds like fusels and volatile alcohols caused by poor protocol. Here's my thinking: there is about 260 g of sugar in 1 lb of raisins and so if you fermented 2 lbs of the dried fruit you would have offered the yeast about 520 g of sugar. In 1/3 of a cup there is about 70 g of sugar and if you added 2 of those 1/3 cups you added another 140 g of sugar for a total of about 660 (all this is approximate - depends on how densely packed those cups were etc). Six hundred and sixty grams is a scant 1.5 lbs and 1.5 lbs of sugar dissolved in water to make 1 gallon will provide a starting gravity of 1.060 which has a potential ABV of between 7 and 8% ABV. Most beers are around 3-6 % and most wines are about 12-14%, so if this wine tastes "hot" then it's not because the ABV is too high. It's because the wine of the presence of fusels and other volatile alcohols like acetone.

One possible solution is to pour some wine into a bottle that you can half fill and simply cover the mouth of the bottle with a paper towel. This will allow some of the more volatile alcohols to evaporate off and may "cool" down your wine. And yes, this may also "oxidize" your wine so it won't have a long shelf life (If you don't drink it within a short period it may turn brown and taste more like sherry than wine)
 
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Ariel

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I kept it at about 65 degrees, room temp during the winter in my house. I tried watering it down and it wasn't bad. Next time I may try a kit. I have to first finish this bottle. I have almost 60 Oz to finish before I consider doing this again.
 

dwhite60

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I kept it at about 65 degrees, room temp during the winter in my house. I tried watering it down and it wasn't bad. Next time I may try a kit. I have to first finish this bottle. I have almost 60 Oz to finish before I consider doing this again.

65F in the house isn't the problem. The problem was the 200F in the oven while it was actively fermenting.

Next time, get a gallon of apple juice from the grocery, pasteurized, NO SORBATE!. Get a pack of wine yeast, add some to the apple juice, and let it roll at room temp at most. 65F would be awesome. So it doesn't foam over you need to have some airspace in whatever you ferment in.

You can make VERY GOOD WINE, easily, with just a few things, and PATIENCE!

All the Best,
D. White
 
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