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Old 09-18-2011, 04:27 AM   #1
esdubyajay
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Default making wine the old-fashioned way

Hi. I am new to wine making and to this forum.

I live in Turkey and I am unable to find many of the commerically available sets/products for wine making here. But we have so many grapes this year that I figured it was time to learn to make wine, even if it is the old-fashioned way!

I have collected, destemmed and crushed my grapes. I stir it each day to get the skins back into the mixture. It has been fermenting for 6 days so far. I did not add any yeast, sugar, or water. It seems to be fermenting well, but I don't know how to tell when it is ready.

Since I do not have any equipment to measure alcohol content, how can I know when it has fermented long enough? Are there some signs of activity that I should be watching for? I don't want it to turn into vinegar!

Thanks for your help.

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Old 09-18-2011, 06:00 AM   #2
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Without knowing the original sugar content and a hydrometer, it will require an educated guess to know when to begin protecting it from air. What kind of vessel is the wine in at present? What kind of vessel will you use for the secondary fermentation period? Have you noticed a slowing of the fermentation process?

In any case, you are probably at or getting close to the point at which you should make the transfer. I have made a lot of wine from grapes without knowing the sugar content (except by taste) or having the benefit of a hydrometer. I would be happy to help but I need a little more information.

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Old 09-18-2011, 06:16 AM   #3
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well as long as it keeps making a cap it is fermenting as it gets closer to being done the cap will get where it stirs in easier as there is less of the skins at tops as long as it's foaming when you start to stir then it's working. once it gets to where it not working alot very little foam strain the mixture into another and get off all the skins and most of the sediment. Taste it and see how it tastes, should be getting an alcohol taste in it abit by now.

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Old 09-18-2011, 09:27 AM   #4
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Taste it and see how it tastes, should be getting an alcohol taste in it abit by now.
I agree with this. You should be able to taste when it is dry or near dry. Or vinegar if that is the way it goes. Good luck.

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Old 09-19-2011, 01:45 PM   #5
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Thank you all for your answers.

Rocky, I wish I knew where to get the equipment to do the measurements locally, but I've decided now is the time to live. I can't always wait for everything to be exactly right, right? Besides, they must have done it this way years ago, at least that's my logic!
My present vessel is a small plastic garbage can. There may only be a few gallons in it. I'll probably use a similar vessel for the secondary fermentation. Is that ok? The fermentation doesn't appear to be slowing. It forms a pretty solid cap each day and there are a lot of bubbles. Should I be listening for a lessening of fizzing? (By the way, I was in Montepulciano for a week this summer and we went to Montalcino where I had some Brunello. Great stuff... I want to move to Italy!)

Sirs, thanks for the tip about the cap. It is still pretty substantial. I'll start paying attention to it more. It certainly smells like it's fermenting, I just don't know when to stop.

Larry, am I really at risk of making vinegar? Is it a fine line that is crossed quickly, or do I have some leeway?

Thanks, again, everyone!

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Old 09-19-2011, 01:59 PM   #6
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if its fermenting good you should be ok it'll let you know when to strain off the solids it will die down to almost nothing in a day or so. One day you'll stir the cap and it'll foam up like normal then net day you go to stir and it'll be like the foam isn't there anymore just a little bit bubbling up thats when it is about ready. If you tranfer it inot another vessel at that time and strain it good then you should be fine to let it sit just cover it good with a cloth and some type of lid that will snap on it somewhat secure if you can't get to a place that has airlocks and such

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Old 09-19-2011, 02:25 PM   #7
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There has to be a way, since winemakers of old did not have hydrometers. Of course they had dad and grandpa to stand over them to show them the correct way.

Wish I knew what type of grape and how fast your natural, native yeast do their work. Problem is, CO2 bubbling up can make you think you are still fermenting, when it is only CO2, so it is difficult to know when fermentation is really finished.

When it becomes time, do you have a way to protect the wine from all oxygen?
Do you have an air lock? If not, you can make one with a sealed top that has a small hole drilled into it. Hook a hose to the hole (seal around the hose and hole well) and the other end of the hose place under the water of a jug or bottle filled with a sanitizing solution like water and kmeta or vodka. make sure this jug is lower than the bottom of your fermenter.

If you can do the above, when the wine has fermented for about 7 to 8 days (about right now), stir the wine; wait about two hours for the gross lees to settle; go ahead and rack wine to this container and add the air lock. (By stirring first and letting it settle, you will be leaving behind the gross lees but taking the yeast with you.) Leave it there for about 15 more days at a nice room temperature. Don't open the container during this time.

Unless the yeast are very slow fermenters, the wine should be dry by then. Now you can taste the wine to determine if it is still sweet. If not sweet, go ahead and rack again to a clean container. You really should have some KMeta to add to the wine at this time to protect it from bacteria and oxidation.
If the wine is still sweet, very gently stir up the yeast from the bottom, replace air lock; wait another week then taste again and repeat as necessary.

Good luck!

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Old 09-19-2011, 02:37 PM   #8
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You will soon be getting to the point at which you must protect the wine from air. You say it is in a small plactic garbage can and that is fine for now. For your secondary fermentation, you must have a vessel that keeps air out of the wine. As you reach the point where fermentation slows appreciably, you will need to transfer it to another vessel in which the wine can be protected. Large glass bottles or jugs will work well as long as they can be fitted with a stopper and an airlock. If you do not have a commercial airlock, you can fashion one with a length of plastic tubing inserted into the cork or stopper and with the other end submerged in a jar of water. Keep the jar of water lower than the bottom of the wine vessel. You will see CO2 bubbles escaping from the tube in the jar. This means that gas is exiting the wine and no air is getting into it. Of course, you must be sure that the end of the tube is always submerged in the water.

I spent a month in Pienza, which is roughly between Montalcino and Montepulciano. Do you remember the name of the Brunello that you had in Montalcino? We went the the vineyard Le Presi and had quite a bit of Brunello. Where did you stay in Montepulciano?

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Old 09-19-2011, 02:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Larry, am I really at risk of making vinegar? Is it a fine line that is crossed quickly, or do I have some leeway?

Thanks, again, everyone!
I am not Larry, but if you do not seal up the wine with an air lock, it will oxidize. As it oxidizes, over weeks it will eventually turn to vinegar. Just keep it sealed from air after you rack it from the bucket it is in right now.

Until you are able to properly stabilize and protect with Kmeta, I would plan on drinking the wine within 6 months.
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Old 09-20-2011, 12:48 PM   #10
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Funny! I woke up this morning with the realization that you likely have not pressed your wine, yet, either. You had written you destemmed and crushed your grapes only.

When you get ready to move from primary to secondary you will need to press the grape skins, seeds and remaining stems off. You won't want to take the skins and other such solids to secondary. The juice is what will go into your secondary container under air lock.

Sorry I missed that!

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