17 years of brewing new to wine

Discussion in 'Beginners Wine Making Forum' started by wineview, Sep 12, 2018.

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  1. wineview

    wineview Junior

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    Hi there,

    I have been brewing beer for 17 years and would like to start making wine. I am assuming I can use much of the equipment I already have. I brewed in 6 gallon glass carboys. I've heard glass can produce a fizzy wine but I already have one of those wands that attach to a drill. I used it to aerate my wort.

    I also have about 600 brown 12 oz. bottles and some Grolsch type bottles with the ceramic flip top and rubber washer. Is there any reason I couldn't use those bottles and cap as I did my beer? Seems there are a lot of screw caps out there in addition to corks.

    I think I would like to start with juice and skip the crushing step at this time. Any pointers would be appreciated.

    Thanks
    WV
     
  2. Scooter68

    Scooter68 Old Enough to know better but....

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    Fermentation in carboys is possible but you will find it easier to do the fermentation with a bucket. With a carboy you can end up with foam fountains which are both messy and wasteful of your wine. Also starting with a 6 gallon carboy for fermentation, you will only be able to fit about 5 gallons in there safely, to avoid those foam fountains.

    As to bottles certainly you can use 12 oz bottles but it will mean that serving more than two people will involve two bottles rather than one standard wine bottle. As the Grolsch - they may work but not sure that they will provide good long term seals, That's something that may be true for those 12oz bottles with beer type caps.

    If you have a recycling center nearby you can easily gather plenty of empty wine bottles while your wine is aging. Keep in mine that unlike beer, a good wine is best aged at least a year, whereas most beer is consumed well within that time I believe. (Not really knowledgable about beer making and storage.)
     
  3. wineview

    wineview Junior

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    I'm surprised to hear the term "foam fountains". Is the fermentation that vigorous? Some beer yeasts such as the Belgian strains ferment wildly in primary. Instead of using an airlock, a blow off tube is inserted into the drilled rubber stopper and the other end is placed in a sterilized jug of water. Once the primary has settled down an airlock replaces the tube.

    I have 5 gallon and 6 gallon carboys. Is it recommended to leave air space while fermentation is taking place or best to fill to the neck.

    WV
     
  4. mainshipfred

    mainshipfred Junior Member Supporting Member

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    By no means fill to the neck. I'm with Scooter, leave at least a gallon headspace while fermenting. But fermentation buckets are cheap. I would personally purchase one. I think common is 7.9 gallons.
     
  5. wineview

    wineview Junior

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    What kind of yeast do you recommend for a simple crushed red grape wine? Also, can I use my brew hydrometer? What kind of Starting Gravity and Final Gravity should I be looking for?
     
  6. mainshipfred

    mainshipfred Junior Member Supporting Member

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    Below is a link to the 2018 Scott's Handbook not only yeast but lots of other good info. I guess a beer hydrometer would SG is SG. Start a aroung 1.100 and finish 1.000 or below. Unless you plan on feeding the yeast look for a low nutrient needs yeast. The handbook under the fermentation section will tell you which have low needs.

    https://scottlab.com/content/files/Documents/Handbooks/ScottlabsHandbook2018.pdf
     
  7. AkTom

    AkTom Supporting Members Supporting Member

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    As a beer brewer, your hydrometer is the same. A bucket also allows you to stir your must (wine). You should actually get 2 8gallon buckets. There will be times when you have 2 batches going at once. Beer bottles are nice for single servings, and are good for sharing. Regular wine bottles can be single servings also. If your gaskets are good, Grolsh bottles will work.
    One last suggestion for now. Check out Steve’s allinonewinepump.com I use it for bottling beer and wine. No more siphoning for me. I guarantee you’ll love it. If not, send it to me. I’d love a spare. Not that I need one.
    Cheers
     
  8. Scooter68

    Scooter68 Old Enough to know better but....

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    Foam Fountains are not that common BUT once you've had even a minor one, you realize you NEVER want to experience it again. Wasted wine and a mess to clean up and depending on the area where it happens, darker wines can leave some telltale stains. The likelihood can be reduced by not overfilling any container and by knowing the properties of your yeast and planning accordingly.

    My one and only experience happened when I racked from a bucket to a carboy too soon with a yeast and wine must that had been producing steady and significant foam earlier.
    Racking for the 'secondary' part of the fermentation can Re- invigorate a slowing fermentation.
    Racking at too high an SG is also a mistake for the same reason.

    Not making these comments to scare you but, many of us have had our share of interesting experiences in wine making. Helping someone else not to experience some of those experiences is more the point.

    One nice thing is that while the aging process is much longer, the sanitization needs for wine making are a little less stringent, not to be ignored, but less demanding.
     
  9. wineview

    wineview Junior

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    Forgive me but I will make another brewing comparison. Depending on your yeast selection in brewing, temperature in the primary is very important. Is that true with wine?

    Does the churning of the primary raise the temperature in the fermenting vessel?

    I've noticed that many of you have warned against using a carboy in primary and recommended a bucket to allow for stirring etc. I have a 6 gallon stainless pot with a cover. I am assuming that would work as well as a bucket unless there needs to be a tightly sealed cover.

    If I went to a supplier and just bought the juice with no skins would that be a simpler first attempt way to go? I would think that would eliminate the stirring.

    When does degassing take place? Primary or secondary?
    How much sugar is recommended for 4-5 gallons of must?

    Thanks

    WV
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  10. wineview

    wineview Junior

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    I think I understand the process and appreciate your help with the fine tuning points.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  11. cmason1957

    cmason1957 Member Supporting Member

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    You really want something bigger than a 6 gallon stainless pot to make a 6 gallon batch of wine, even if you don't add anything like oak, skins, fruit, etc. If I have skins, etc. I use a 10 gallon Brute trash can or a 7 (I think it is) brew bucket. Space is a really good thing.

    Not sure you can go to a supplier and buy just juice with no skins. If you were to buy white grapes, I guess that is what you get. and with many wine kits, you can get no skins, also. I stir everything I make two or three times a day. I take an SG reading at the same time, just to be sure the ferment is progressing nicely. I may be kidding myself with this, but to me stirring it daily is the first part of the degassing step you speak of.

    For me, degassing starts in primary, as I stir it and then I let it happen naturally over time and racking using a vacuum pump (Allnonewinepump) removes any residual doing the normal rackings. If you are in a hurry, it takes places after fermentation has completed and you do it manually..

    Pounds of sugar is an impossible question to answer, it depends on how much sugar your fruit has. I generally shoot for 1.090 or 1.100 as a starting SG for red wines, most white wines a bit lower (around 1.080) and fruit wines about the same or a bit lower even. You have to measure.
     
  12. mainshipfred

    mainshipfred Junior Member Supporting Member

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    As cmason said you will want larger then a 6 gallon fermenting vessel. I think someone mentioned starting with a kit and if you do you more then likely will not have to add any sugar. A kit is the only thing you will immediately be able to buy in a store although it is grape season and depending on where yo live you may have access to juice buckets. Whites and low end reds are faster drinkers then high end reds and juice buckets so being you don't have any inventory you may want to consider these. Hope this helps.
     
  13. Scooter68

    Scooter68 Old Enough to know better but....

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    During the fermentation process the contain should be well covered but not airtight due of course to all the gasses coming off the must. Unfortunately those gasses AND the smell draws fruit flies and a variety of other critters large and small. So many folks tie a cloth over the the top to keep the curious critters out since some carry various bacteria and spores which can spoil a wine.

    Once you have your first ferment or two completed you'll get a better understanding of the process. You already have a solid background with your beer brewing - I doubt you'll find the adjustments difficult.

    Oh and as to temperature for yeasts - While packages indicate the minimum and maximums temps tolerated... I generally like to start a bit on the upper end of the limits * and then as soon as the ferment is underway, get the container into a lower temp area. That is not so difficult in the summer months but in the winter with lower temps in basements and garages etc. Trying to start a ferment within a few degrees of the minimum acceptable temp for a given yeast - can lead to frustration.

    * Example Lavin K1-V1116 yeast is listed as able to ferment in temperatures from 50 degrees f to 95 degrees f If my room temp is in the low 60s, I would try to get it up to at least 70. Also remember that an active ferment generates significant heat on it's own -ONCE it's started. I would always try to avoid working within 5 degrees of a yeasts limits if possible. Those temps are usually established under laboratory conditions with specifics conditions we may or may not meet at our home locations. I have done this a couple of times with fermentations during a real cold snap. The room temp was 63 degrees, within the yeast limits but it wouldn't kick off after 3 days. I raised the room temp to 68 degrees and the ferment kicked off and continued after I turned off the electric space heater and the room temp dropped back to lower 60s.
     
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  14. wineview

    wineview Junior

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    So I should assume a room temperature of 68-70 degrees would be optimal to get the fermentation going. In brewing, once the yeast takes off the temperatures rise dramatically. Is there a high temperature that one would want to avoid?

    WV
     
  15. Scooter68

    Scooter68 Old Enough to know better but....

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    That's a good starting point. But it really depends on the type of wine and the yeast. Most white wines do better fermenting as low as the yeast will permit to avoid losing essences. Reds are not so delicate.

    One thing you will learn on here - there are very few hard fast rules to things. If it works for you ....

    The yeast is the key though. Don't exceed it's limits - And yes wine temps rise considerably too.

    Some folks like to hold off fermenting their white wines until cooler weather.
     
  16. BigH

    BigH Senior Member

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    Much of it will come in handy. Invest in some 7.9 gallon white plastic buckets for fermenting reds. Makes punching the cap down easy. I ferment white juice in 5 or 6 gallons buckets. Fermonsters and carboys work too if you leave enough headspace for the foam.

    Most red wines benefit from a little bit of oxygen exposure through the cork while they age. You won't get that with capped bottles. You could bottle whites in your beer bottles, and reds that have taken on enough oxygen during carboy aging. Eventually though, you are going to want to upgrade to wine bottles and a floor corker.

    • Carry over all of your sanitation practices from brewing beer.
    • Consider upgrading your beer brewing to kegs. Many people keg their wine (no carbonation, just a few psi to purge the headspace and push the wine through the tapper)
    H
     
  17. szap

    szap Junior

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    The blow off tube works very well for wine. I have used it on my fermentation bucket and a carboy after the first transfer. Not sure if it would handle a carboy being used for fermentation.
     
  18. WinoDave

    WinoDave Member

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    Like you I brewed beer for years and then decided to try making wine. I believe you should start out just making a few inexpensive wine kits like a Island Mist or Vintners Reserve. This way you learn the process and about the chemicals you use in wine. When I made these I did use my beer bottles, carboys and caps. Fermentation in these is not vigorous. I think the only thing I bought my first time around was the stirring wand. A few batches later I bought the 8 gallon bucket for fermentation then I transfer to carboys for secondary. The one thing I do like about making wine is I have no worry about fermentation temp. My house is normally around 70 and if It gets to warm In the house then I let my wine ferment in the basement at 68. Wine making from kits is also less time consuming than beer and you get a great tasting wine. It’s now 2 years later, and I’m just starting to make wines from real fruit. I have a banana wine now in secondary and I have a gallon of muscadine grape juice that I’m getting ready to start. Good luck, lots of great info on this Forum
     
  19. wineview

    wineview Junior

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    I've heard a lot about headspace on this thread. How much headspace is enough headspace?
     
  20. mainshipfred

    mainshipfred Junior Member Supporting Member

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    It's not how much but how little. The headspace concern is with wine in secondary or bulk aging in a carboy. In this case you want the wine as close to the bottom of the bung as possible without touching it or about an inch below to allow for temp fluxuations.
     
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