Quantcast

How To Use The FastFerment For Wine

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Hello all!
I have posted a few threads trying to discover the correct procedures for making a great wine using wine kits such as Winexpert, Eclipse, etc.. I have taken suggestions from many of you and combined them into a procedure that I thought was best. However, I have been doing it all wrong. Since the directions that come with the FastFerment are for beer, and the directions that come with wine kits are for carboys, I decided to share my knowledge for those interested in using the FastFerment for wine-making. Recently, I made contact with the inventor of the original V-Vessel, now known as the FastFerment. His name is Mr. John Piazza of Ontario Canada. He explained how he uses the product with great success, running 450 of them at one time.

FastFerment Vessel
Overview
OK, let's get started. Whatever wine kit you use, please don't follow the directions for use in a bucket or carboy, and of course, SANITIZE all equipment before use!
As you can see from the picture I posted, there is a collection ball and a valve at the bottom of the vessel. This is where the yeast and lees drop out, a process which helps your wine to clear. A thermowell with a thermometer are also built into the fermenter for easy reading of the temperature of the wine.

FastFerment Vessel Without Stand
Vessel preparation and filling:
Here we go! Start off with 1/2 gallon of fairly hot water in a sanitized jug and add bentonite, shaking it vigorously so it is fully dissolved with no remaining clumps. Add this mixture to the Vessel with the bottom valve closed. Then, add the juice from the wine kit and stir well to fully combine the bentonite and juice. I use a plastic mixing paddle as pictured here.

Mixing Paddle
Now, top off the juice to 6 gallons with 72 - 75F water. If you are using local water containing chlorine, I strongly suggest to purchase drinking water from your local grocery store or dechlorinate the water. Take the initial SG reading at this time and make a record of it. Next, I add oak chips or powders that come with the kit using a mesh or nylon bag, thus reducing sediment. Your wine kit will have either American oak chips and a bag of Heavy French oak chips depending on what type of red wine your are making. You can tie a string to the bag and wrap it around the top of the opening of the vessel and let the bag hang down into the wine.
If the temperature of the wine is at 72-75 degrees, pitch the yeast. Fill the airlock half with water, insert it onto the lid, and cover tightly. After fermentation starts, wait 2 days and remove lid and open the valve to allow for sediment to start dropping into the collection ball. Replace lid immediately and tighten it well. Now, walk away from the vessel for 10 days. On day ten, open lid and add a small amount (maybe 1/4 teaspoon) of Fermaid K yeast nutrient, and re-tighten the lid.
After the nutrient addition, the fermentation will pick up quite a bit, with more rapid bubbling in the airlock. Walk away from the vessel again until day 21 or 22. At this point, take an SG reading to make sure that fermentation is complete (~0.990). Once fermentation is complete, and with the valve still open, degas your wine. Degassing removes the CO2 from the wine and gets it ready to stabilize. I use a mixing wand (see picture I posted) that attaches to an electric drill.

Metal Mixing Wand
Be careful not to hit the sides of the vessel while mixing, and also temporarily remove the mesh bag. Degas the wine for about 2 minutes per package of stabilizers. My approach is to pre-dissolve the potassium sorbate and potassium metabisulphite in 1/4 cup of cool water before adding the mixture to the wine. Add the premixed solution to the wine and degas for an additional 2 minutes with the valve open. Next, add ISO KLEER, or whichever clearing agent comes with you kit, and degas for an additional 2 minutes. After degassing, place the mesh bag containing the oak back in the vessel and tighten lid. With the valve still open, let the wine sit for about 2-3 more weeks. After allowing the wine to settle, close the valve, remove the collection ball, and filter your wine if you like, or just bottle as I do. Before I connect the filling hose, I put a mason jar or a small pot under the vessel and open the valve for a second or so to make sure there is no sediment remaining that can clog the filler hose.
Post-fermentation:
That's it! For those who want to age this wine in the vessel longer than 2-3 weeks, here is a neat trick the inventor told me about: Get yourself about 4 - 6 plastic soda bottles which have been emptied, labels removed, and sanitized well, and float them on top of the wine to reduce headspace if you are worried about oxygen getting to the wine. Using this method, you have only emptied the collection ball one time, and you still have plenty of quality wine. I age my wine in the bottle for at least 6 months before drinking, but you can sample it after 3 months. By using the FastFerment in this manner, you have eliminated changing out the collection ball multiple times and reduced your work! This is a hobby, not a job. Cheers and good luck!
By the way, I have no affiliation with FastFerment. This article is my way of sharing the knowledge I received from the inventor.
 
Thanks for the article. Did Mr. Piazza give any indication as to how long one might bulk age in these? I have three FastFerments that I bought during the initial release phase. Two batches I started back in December are still sitting in them.
I sampled those two batches a couple of weeks ago and they both have an off flavor I've never tasted in any of my wines before. And the off flavor is a recent development because it wasn't there just a couple months ago. I'm wondering if it's oxidation cased by the vast headspace these vessels have.
My solution to the headspace issue was to periodically purge it with CO2 from a spare CO2 bottle used in my kegging set up. I would loosen then lid a bit and simply press the CO2 hose against the rubber grommet. I even did a BBQ lighter test to make sure I had at least purged enough oxygen out of the headspace to below the lower flammability limit of whatever hydrocarbon is in that lighter (butane, naphtha?), and then I purged some more.
I really hope these wines aren't ruined. They were those nice, expensive, $150+ kits. That would be a lot of money down the drain.
 
@TexasWine Hi - He is against purging with CO2. I had asked him that question when I actually saw your post regarding this product. He basically runs a business where people go to his warehouse and use his equipment to make wine, so he tries to get the wines done quickly. However, I think I did mention in the article, that when he bulk ages wine he makes for himself, he degases first with that valve open, waits a few days and then stabilizes, then he fills all the headspace with emptied soda bottles that have been well sanitized and he has left the wine in there for 6 months sometimes. He said the off flavor could be the CO2, or sometimes when he bulk ages in the unit he leaves out the potassium sorbate. Hope that helps. He said the sorbate can cause off flavor that may disappear when bottle aging which is what I do.Cheers. Glad you liked the article! P.S. He also said when using the carboy method, your wine is subject to being exposed to O2 more than this airtight system so oxidation was not the cause, in my opinion. Be patient - age them a long while in the bottle - and I am sure they aren't ruined. Before I spoke to Mr. Piazza my wines were a bit off as well. I know what you mean about the price too! Pretty expensive to have something not drinkable, but I have confidence they will be fine.
 
I don't make wines from kits and I don't have one of those fermenters but if you are paying about $150 or more for a kit and you are not an experienced wine-maker I would think that it may be more important to follow the kit maker's directions than to go off on your own track. If there is any problem with the ingredients and you have not followed directions all warranties are cancelled. I guess that if you are prepared for that eventuality then no problem. Otherwise, it may be a more wise option to use the fermenter for brewing and use a carboy for kit wines...
 
@bernardsmith You make a good point, but my article was to provide precise directions on how to use the FastFerment for wine WITH KITS, which you can't find anyplace else. I didn't go off on my own, I followed the directions of the man who invented the fermenter.
Cheers! And please, do what you do to obtain the best quality wine/beer, or whatever. :) My article was not meant to sway people to use this item, it was meant for those who have them and don't know the proper procedure.
 
How many kits have you made with this method? What have your results been like?
You state that you are providing precise directions, but your nutrient schedule is not precise. After 10 days, fermentation is likely complete or nearly so, so the addition of Fermaid K will not provide any benefit at all. It is best to take gravity readings and add measured amounts of nutrients at set levels (e.g., 1/3 sugar depletion).
I find the soda bottle idea to prevent headspace very questionable. They would only reduce the exposed surface area by the amount that the soda bottle sits in the wine. If they are floating, it won't be all that much. There is a reason carboys are shaped like they are. When topped off, the narrow opening reduces surface area significantly. The shape of the conical is exactly opposite of what you want when aging. I would remove any suggestion of leaving it in the conical post fermentation. If he is confident in his claim that the system is airtight, there wouldn't be a need for any type of headspace management at all.
 
I'm not certain why you wouldn't ferment with the valve open? I mean if you don't, then why don't you get a great big air bubble when opening it to let the sediment down?
 
@Joecal1952I own a fast ferment system. Just picked 6 pounds of blackberries. The instructions with the Fastferment are pitiful. This article is not that much better. I've looked on YouTube and Googled til I'm blue in the face. What would be helpful, for me, is to have someone produce a step by step instruction on how to make fruit wine. When I say step by step, I mean how do you make the juice? Do you boil it? Do you strain the pulp out before you put it in the fermenter? This is all nebulous wherever I look. OH! I don't want to use sulfer...gives my wife a headache.
 
I just picked up my second Fastferment and have made 4 batches of fruit based wine in them without any problems. I have used this article as a guide to my fruit wines. Fermentation times are unpredictable, so you can't make a step by step guide for every type of wine. I have a watermelon batch that was fully fermented in 10 days, but my gooseberry batch is still only at 1.020 after 20 days. Your best tool and guide is your hydrometer and your ability to adapt to conditions. I want to get a third Fastferment, but will be waiting a while longer. I have 4 wine kits "scheduled" to go in the fermentors starting later this summer and fall.
 
Very little wine is actually "wasted". Far less than what you would waste if using carboys. Especially with this guide, since he only has to empty the collection ball once.
 
If you are using a wine kit or using a concentrate, Isn't it possible to close the valve on the fastfermenter, take the ball off and take a SG from the wine in the ball? Then empty the wine from the conical into a carboy, degas it if needed and let it finish there? While its setting in your carboy a person could start another batch of a different wine.
 
When adding the F pack, you do that immediatly after adding your stabilizer? At the same time, or is it best to wait a while?
 
Hello all!
I have posted a few threads trying to discover the correct procedures for making a great wine using wine kits such as Winexpert, Eclipse, etc.. I have taken suggestions from many of you and combined them into a procedure that I thought was best. However, I have been doing it all wrong. Since the directions that come with the FastFerment are for beer, and the directions that come with wine kits are for carboys, I decided to share my knowledge for those interested in using the FastFerment for wine-making. Recently, I made contact with the inventor of the original V-Vessel, now known as the FastFerment. His name is Mr. John Piazza of Ontario Canada. He explained how he uses the product with great success, running 450 of them at one time.

FastFerment Vessel
Overview
OK, let's get started. Whatever wine kit you use, please don't follow the directions for use in a bucket or carboy, and of course, SANITIZE all equipment before use!
As you can see from the picture I posted, there is a collection ball and a valve at the bottom of the vessel. This is where the yeast and lees drop out, a process which helps your wine to clear. A thermowell with a thermometer are also built into the fermenter for easy reading of the temperature of the wine.

FastFerment Vessel Without Stand
Vessel preparation and filling:
Here we go! Start off with 1/2 gallon of fairly hot water in a sanitized jug and add bentonite, shaking it vigorously so it is fully dissolved with no remaining clumps. Add this mixture to the Vessel with the bottom valve closed. Then, add the juice from the wine kit and stir well to fully combine the bentonite and juice. I use a plastic mixing paddle as pictured here.

Mixing Paddle
Now, top off the juice to 6 gallons with 72 - 75F water. If you are using local water containing chlorine, I strongly suggest to purchase drinking water from your local grocery store or dechlorinate the water. Take the initial SG reading at this time and make a record of it. Next, I add oak chips or powders that come with the kit using a mesh or nylon bag, thus reducing sediment. Your wine kit will have either American oak chips and a bag of Heavy French oak chips depending on what type of red wine your are making. You can tie a string to the bag and wrap it around the top of the opening of the vessel and let the bag hang down into the wine.
If the temperature of the wine is at 72-75 degrees, pitch the yeast. Fill the airlock half with water, insert it onto the lid, and cover tightly. After fermentation starts, wait 2 days and remove lid and open the valve to allow for sediment to start dropping into the collection ball. Replace lid immediately and tighten it well. Now, walk away from the vessel for 10 days. On day ten, open lid and add a small amount (maybe 1/4 teaspoon) of Fermaid K yeast nutrient, and re-tighten the lid.
After the nutrient addition, the fermentation will pick up quite a bit, with more rapid bubbling in the airlock. Walk away from the vessel again until day 21 or 22. At this point, take an SG reading to make sure that fermentation is complete (~0.990). Once fermentation is complete, and with the valve still open, degas your wine. Degassing removes the CO2 from the wine and gets it ready to stabilize. I use a mixing wand (see picture I posted) that attaches to an electric drill.

Metal Mixing Wand
Be careful not to hit the sides of the vessel while mixing, and also temporarily remove the mesh bag. Degas the wine for about 2 minutes per package of stabilizers. My approach is to pre-dissolve the potassium sorbate and potassium metabisulphite in 1/4 cup of cool water before adding the mixture to the wine. Add the premixed solution to the wine and degas for an additional 2 minutes with the valve open. Next, add ISO KLEER, or whichever clearing agent comes with you kit, and degas for an additional 2 minutes. After degassing, place the mesh bag containing the oak back in the vessel and tighten lid. With the valve still open, let the wine sit for about 2-3 more weeks. After allowing the wine to settle, close the valve, remove the collection ball, and filter your wine if you like, or just bottle as I do. Before I connect the filling hose, I put a mason jar or a small pot under the vessel and open the valve for a second or so to make sure there is no sediment remaining that can clog the filler hose.
Post-fermentation:
That's it! For those who want to age this wine in the vessel longer than 2-3 weeks, here is a neat trick the inventor told me about: Get yourself about 4 - 6 plastic soda bottles which have been emptied, labels removed, and sanitized well, and float them on top of the wine to reduce headspace if you are worried about oxygen getting to the wine. Using this method, you have only emptied the collection ball one time, and you still have plenty of quality wine. I age my wine in the bottle for at least 6 months before drinking, but you can sample it after 3 months. By using the FastFerment in this manner, you have eliminated changing out the collection ball multiple times and reduced your work! This is a hobby, not a job. Cheers and good luck!
By the way, I have no affiliation with FastFerment. This article is my way of sharing the knowledge I received from the inventor.
Hi there. I’ve just started a red wine following your instructions. It says to add 1/4 tsp of nutrient on day 10? Is this to ensure proper fermentation? I have some tronozymol wine yeast nutrient which says to add a tsp per gallon. Do I add 5 teaspoons as I have 5 gallons of wine or just a small amount like your guide suggested? I’ve hung the oak in a hop bag through the airlock so hope this works. Thanks in advance
 
Top