5 beginner questions I couldn't find answers to

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sour_grapes

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I see so many people talk about using star StarSan or kmeta for sanitizing, but very few seem to use One Step. It's what my LHBS (when I had one) recommended, and what I've always used. There's no foam like StarSan, or fumes like kmeta. I've even drank it accidentally (a stupid story) and after a call to the poison center, they concluded it was no big deal. Is there no love for One Step?

IIRC, back in the day, One Step was marketed as a sanitizer and cleaner. That is no longer the case: They only claim that it cleans, not sanitizes. From the website of Northern Brewer:

Note: while technically a cleanser, One Step does have some sanitizing properties through the release of hydrogen peroxide. It can be used in no-rinse applications in most home brewing tasks.
 
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I see so many people talk about using star StarSan or kmeta for sanitizing, but very few seem to use One Step. It's what my LHBS (when I had one) recommended, and what I've always used. There's no foam like StarSan, or fumes like kmeta. I've even drank it accidentally (a stupid story) and after a call to the poison center, they concluded it was no big deal. Is there no love for One Step?
One Step is not a sanitizer, although I see that various vendors claim it is. It is a cleaner with sanitizing properties. I checked the vendor web site:


EDIT: I see Paul & I are on the same page.

Note: the vendor spec sheet says to call poison control if ingested. Also rinse off skin, as it's a strong chemical.
 

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The thing about K-meta is that it is a three-fer. Star-San is a single use product. As a three-fer, K-meta at stronger concentration sanitizes with SO2 which is hat you smell. At lower concentrations you can add this to fruit (grapes and other fruit) to kill indigenous (wild) yeast and bacteria and you can add the K-meta at that same lower concentration before bottling to inhibit oxidation. Star-San is fine but it does not have the flexibility and usefulness that K-meta does.

By your own statement, the kit DOES ask you to rack into a secondary fermenter when the gravity indicates that no more sugar remains to be fermented. As you and others all note, kits are designed to be as fail-safe for rank beginners as possible and personally, I would want to rack while the yeast is still spitting out CO2 as the CO2 is likely to inhibit contact with oxygen when you transfer from one vessel into the second, but I can see that it is likely that novices may rack (transfer) too early and leave behind too much of the yeast colony for the fermentation to continue without any significant interruption.

Unless you are making a very large volume of wine or a wine with an intended high ABV there is likely to be enough viable colony hydrated if you simply sprinkle the dry yeast atop the wine. Asking rank novices to hydrate at temperatures that don't hobble or kill the yeast, asking them to hydrate with nutrients that if poorly chosen will destroy the yeast is a marketing risk they are not prepared (rightly, in my opinion) to incur. The size of the colony and the procedures they ask you to follow ensures that the yeast they provide will quickly enough end their lag phase and begin to create an environment that favors their own colony and disfavors any other bacteria and straggling yeast cells left over from the kit maker's preparation of the must.

I generally make country wines and mead and have never found a need to hydrate my yeast BUT what I never do is mix the yeast into the must as soon as I sprinkle the contents of the pack on the surface of the must. A) because you do need to allow the yeast to rehydrate in its own time and they do this very well on the surface and B) Yeast prefer to form their colony themselves and when you stir the yeast into the must you are in fact breaking up that process. Leave 'em be and they will sink and swim all by themselves.
 
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vinny

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I am also new, so you may find my progression interesting. I started with country wines last January. Raspberry, triple berry, Dragon's Blood, etc. Then I thought kits might be the next thing to try. I followed them as close to the letter as I could. After the first 2, pitched on the same day, I started asking the same questions as you.

For the next 2, also both made at the same time, I followed the directions exactly on 1. It was off dry and had a secondary flavor pack, so I added all the other kit ingredients. The other one I only added k-meta, none of the other kit packs.

The last 2 I made I opened up the kit ingredients just to take out the yeast. I have always sprinkled my yeast, so I continue to do so, but other than that I made the kits completely without their additives. I racked to secondary around 1.010. I gave them enough time to age that the clearing agents were pointless, I don't back sweeten and was concerned of off flavors from the k-meta/sorbate pack. I'm a strict believer, if you don't need it, don't add it. It's just another variable to question later if there are off flavors or any other issue. I add k-meta as a solution I make with powder from the LHBS. I dissolve it in a shot glass and I don't bother to stir.

Of the last two kits I did, one had a large secondary flavor pack. I am ready to bottle and I intend to add some to taste in a glass. I want to see how the kit was intended to taste, but I no longer care if I make the kit taste as it was intended. I am making wine the way I like it, which is mostly dry, so I will test it to see if I surprise myself and prefer it back sweeted. If so, at this time I will add the sorbate. 4 months after the kits 'ready to bottle date'.

I have 5 more kits that I intend to put in primary in the next week or so. One is a fun wine. Island mist, or the like. I intend to make it per kit instructions and bottle within 4 weeks. The other 4 are reds, Pinot Noir, Malbec... These ones I plan to forego all kit rules and instructions to see if I can pull more flavor than the very reliable EC-1118 added to most kits. This yeast offers great success rates, but does not enhance the berry flavors, spice notes, and nuances of the specific varietal (grape). I will be using yeast with higher nutrient requirements, so I will need to add nutrient and watch them more closely.

The last 2 kits that I made that are now ready to bottle based on how they taste, were slated to get bottled a couple of weeks ago. I was worried I had disturbed some fine lees, so I let them sit after racking. When I shine a flashlight through the Pinot Grigio there are suspended particles, I don't think they will drop. There is no sediment on the carboy bottom after 2 weeks. Perhaps this is the protein @winemaker81 mentioned. Either way, I plan to filter before bottling. It is clear, just not 'crystal clear'.

I think everyone else has answered all your questions. I just thought you might find 'what I do' as a beginner relatable.

If I had the option, I would move on to an FWK kit, next. I am not in the US so I can't get my hands on them. I plan to give juice buckets a go next year. If that goes well, perhaps I will look into getting grapes. Like you, I am taking the progressive approach, and not jumping into the deep end without getting some bearings.
 
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QuiQuog

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IIRC, back in the day, One Step was marketed as a sanitizer and cleaner. That is no longer the case: They only claim that it cleans, not sanitizes.

One Step is not a sanitizer, although I see that various vendors claim it is. It is a cleaner with sanitizing properties.
Interesting. The owner of the LHBS was an old codger, I guess "back in the day" explains his use of it as a sanitizer. Maybe the combination of thorough cleaning and the minimal sanitizing properties of the One Step has proven enough? My combo has always been Straight-A cleanser and One Step. I don't think I've ever run into problems with contamination before. Although I do have some as of yet unexplained scum in one of my carboys from a previous post of mine. I wonder if that could be contamination.
 

vinny

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This is from the northern brewer website.

Note: while technically a cleanser, One Step does have some sanitizing properties through the release of hydrogen peroxide. It can be used in no-rinse applications in most home brewing tasks.

I guess it comes down to what you are comfortable with.
 

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I am also new, so you may find my progression interesting. I started with country wines last January. Raspberry, triple berry, Dragon's Blood, etc. Then I thought kits might be the next thing to try. I followed them as close to the letter as I could. After the first 2, pitched on the same day, I started asking the same questions as you.

For the next 2, also both made at the same time, I followed the directions exactly on 1. It was off dry and had a secondary flavor pack, so I added all the other kit ingredients. The other one I only added k-meta, none of the other kit packs.

The last 2 I made I opened up the kit ingredients just to take out the yeast. I have always sprinkled my yeast, so I continue to do so, but other than that I made the kits completely without their additives. I racked to secondary around 1.010. I gave them enough time to age that the clearing agents were pointless, I don't back sweeten and was concerned of off flavors from the k-meta/sorbate pack. I'm a strict believer, if you don't need it, don't add it. It's just another variable to question later if there are off flavors or any other issue. I add k-meta as a solution I make with powder from the LHBS. I dissolve it in a shot glass and I don't bother to stir.

Of the last two kits I did, one had a large secondary flavor pack. I am ready to bottle and I intend to add some to taste in a glass. I want to see how the kit was intended to taste, but I no longer care if I make the kit taste as it was intended. I am making wine the way I like it, which is mostly dry, so I will test it to see if I surprise myself and prefer it back sweeted. If so, at this time I will add the sorbate. 4 months after the kits 'ready to bottle date'.

I have 5 more kits that I intend to put in primary in the next week or so. One is a fun wine. Island mist, or the like. I intend to make it per kit instructions and bottle within 4 weeks. The other 4 are reds, Pinot Noir, Malbec... These ones I plan to forego all kit rules and instructions to see if I can pull more flavor than the very reliable EC-1118 added to most kits. This yeast offers great success rates, but does not enhance the berry flavors, spice notes, and nuances of the specific varietal (grape). I will be using yeast with higher nutrient requirements, so I will need to add nutrient and watch them more closely.

The last 2 kits that I made that are now ready to bottle based on how they taste, were slated to get bottled a couple of weeks ago. I was worried I had disturbed some fine lees, so I let them sit after racking. When I shine a flashlight through the Pinot Grigio there are suspended particles, I don't think they will drop. There is no sediment on the carboy bottom after 2 weeks. Perhaps this is the protein @winemaker81 mentioned. Either way, I plan to filter before bottling. It is clear, just not 'crystal clear'.

I think everyone else has answered all your questions. I just thought you might find 'what I do' as a beginner relatable.

If I had the option, I would move on to an FWK kit, next. I am not in the US so I can't get my hands on them. I plan to give juice buckets a go next year. If that goes well, perhaps I will look into getting grapes. Like you, I am taking the progressive approach, and not jumping into the deep end without getting some bearings.

I am certainly no expert in any wine kits but those that I have some familiarity with never offer any back sweetening and that may be because unlike country wines, grape wines tend to always have a perception of sweetness no matter how brut dry the wine is. Country wines tend to need some sweetening to help bring forward their fruity flavors.
That aside, the use of sulfates to help lengthen the shelf life of wines is, I think, older, than the use of hops to increase the shelf life of beers. Pliny the elder wrote about how sulfur was used to preserve wines in his days and he died 9n 79 CE (more than 2000 years ago... ).
 

ChuckD

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I see so many people talk about using star StarSan or kmeta for sanitizing, but very few seem to use One Step. It's what my LHBS (when I had one) recommended, and what I've always used. There's no foam like StarSan, or fumes like kmeta. I've even drank it accidentally (a stupid story) and after a call to the poison center, they concluded it was no big deal. Is there no love for One Step?
I have been using One-Step for three years now. I’m not sure about shelf life but it’s cheap so I mix a few gallons for every wine-making session.

ETA. I am very pro-sanitation so I clean with hot soap and water, rinse well, then use OneStep after every use. Be fore re-use I use OneStep again.
 
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Interesting. The owner of the LHBS was an old codger, I guess "back in the day" explains his use of it as a sanitizer. Maybe the combination of thorough cleaning and the minimal sanitizing properties of the One Step has proven enough? My combo has always been Straight-A cleanser and One Step. I don't think I've ever run into problems with contamination before. Although I do have some as of yet unexplained scum in one of my carboys from a previous post of mine. I wonder if that could be contamination.
Last year I wrote a post that defined commonly used terms, including sanitizing, sterilizing, and disinfecting.

In our context, sanitizing is the process of reducing the level of microbial life so they are not a danger to the wine. It's not removing all microbial life, just enough of it. Note that "all" fits the definition of "enough".

Cleaning, the removal of all foreign matter, is the first step, and realistically this is probably sufficient. By this I mean it's not absolutely necessary to use a sanitizing agent as the cleaning has done a good enough job. However, use of a sanitizing agent (K-meta or Star San) helps ensure the wine is safe from microbial life. It's generally accepted on this forum as a good idea and feedback indicates 99% of us use a sanitizing agent. [I use K-meta and/or Star San each and every time.]

One Step is not a sanitizing agent as it apparently fails the legal definition (I don't know what that is), so the vendor cannot advertise it as such. However, it has sanitizing properties and is probably sufficient, especially if all equipment has been properly cleaned.

Anyone using One Step -- IMO you are fine. I raised the point about One Step not being a sanitizer as it apparently is not. It's best to define and describe things accurately, then we all make our own decisions regarding what to do using facts.

 
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skylerl33

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1 - the dry yeasts will generally do a great job within 24 hours if just sprinkled on top. But many folks do a day or longer soak of their musts whether from kit (FWK instructions) or fresh picked grapes or thawing frozen must ("cold soak"), whether dosed with SO2 or not. So why not do a simple yeast starter if you are not sprinkling the yeast on right away? That is what FWK suggests and the ferments take off way faster. But either way, not a big deal, some may even want a slow yeast start to either extend fermentation/ contact with skins, or to give the native yeast & bacteria a little time to add some complexity before the cultivated yeast takes over (latter only works if you haven't dosed the must with SO2.
2. Many of us want to do extended macerations which mean we don't want to transfer to a carboy till 10-20 or even 50(!) days have passed. The key doing so is having a primary which you can reliably seal before the must stops off-gassing CO2 from AF (active fermentation) and/or MLF (malolactic fermentation). If you can seal your primary then a longer ferment+EM (extended maceration) is pretty low risk, just don't open it up for punch downs after you seal it up, and probably 2-4 weeks total is plenty.
3. Big fan of PBW (powdered brewers wash) for cleaning and Star San in a spray bottle.
4. I avoid all fining agents and I don't filter either, prefer to let time do its magic. Might need a year plus over 6 months though, and definitely want a wine whip or a vacuum pump to get the CO2 out.
5. I also never use sorbate.
Thank you so much for taking time to answer! All very helpful! I think I'm gonna give PBW a try, haven't tried that one yet!
I've done quite a bit of research on EM and Im very intrigued! I think I'll try it with my next kit I do (FWK with skin packs). While doing EM with a kit, when you move it into the secondary fermenter and seal it, by "seal it" you mean seal it with an airlock right? Probably a stupid question because obviously co2 is still being produced and needs a place to go, but just wanted to make sure you mean seal it + airlock as opposed to just seal it with a solid bung.
 

skylerl33

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I am looking at your questions from the other side. I have done fruit wine and mom and grandpa made wine, ,, I finally did the first kit as a state fair demo in summer.
5) sorbate is bad stuff and “killed” what normally happens. I only use sorbate on a young wine that is sweetened.
6) do some thinking on pressing, my yield is better than this first kit.
1) grandpa didn’t know what a yeast packet was, ,, and with fresh fruit today we still have the choice of skipping yeast. From a food point of view the kit is commercially sterile, this means that what you sprinkle in would be the only organism available to consume the sugar.
Mom didn’t know what Starsan was and pre covid/ clean the groceries I didn’t either. Great grandpa in Europe may have known that clay helped clear the wine, but usually used a few months time. Grandpa and the yeast and any Oneococcus present didn’t know what secondary fermentation was, but they did know that oxygen is the enemy creating off flavors.

Have fun with the next step.
Love it! Great perspective and really got me thinking! Thanks!! I have been searching for a decent basket press, but they seem to be very hard to find these days!
 

skylerl33

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As has been noted, making a starter produces a larger initial colony in an environment more ideal for the yeast. Wine yeast likes hotter, so starting at 95 F is good for the yeast, and the starter cools down to must temperature overnight.

For kits, it probably makes little difference, other than a faster start. For fruit (grapes, juice, non-grape), there is going to be competition in the form of wild yeast, bacteria, and mold. A starter helps ensure the desired yeast will stomp out its competition quickly. I now make starters as my personal risk tolerance favors ensuring a good start.

Most kits don't need nutrient -- it's been added already. FWK are different as the nutrient is added at the beginning, and a booster is added after 48 hours. For the reds, FWK uses RC-212, which has high nutrient requirements, so adding nutrient prevents H2S from forming. When you get to making wine from fruit (fresh, frozen, juice) pay attention to the nutrient requirements of the yeast you choose.


As already noted, there's only 1 fermentation, and kit instructions are optimized for beginners who have no experienced help, to ensure a successful outcome on every try.

When to rack/press the first time is a personal choice. Some winemakers rack/press whites and fruits around 1.020, as moving to a closed container slows down fermentation and limits blowing off of lighter aromas and flavors. Reds are often pressed after fermentation completes, which allows more "stuff" to be extracted from the grape pulp. And you can do anything in between (or beyond, some folks rack/press at 1.050). This answer probably doesn't help you much, but it sets the stage for a much more detailed discussion, where exactly what you are making may affect the discussion.

While wine is fermenting AND degassing, headspace is of little concern. Folks who follow the kit schedule have no problems with leaving headspace in the carboy up to the 8 week bottling time. Me? I'm just not comfortable with headspace beyond ~2 week after fermentation ceases, but again, that's my risk tolerance.


IMO the 10 minute wait time for K-meta is trivial. I clean all equipment after use (prior to storage), and douse with K-meta prior to use, including racking K-meta through all tubing. Equipment typically sets for 10 to 20 minutes prior to use, so the time limit is reached.

The amount of K-meta left on equipment, if it was shaken off, is trivial. The max safe amount of K-meta is a lot more than we actually use, so the trivial amount on the equipment causes no harm.

Run a fan while using K-meta. I'm reducing the amount of K-meta I use from 3 Tbsp/US gallon to 2 Tbsp. I replace the sanitizer when the jug is reduced to half, the liquid looks ugly, or 6 months pass -- whichever comes first. The SO2 concentration in the jug should be sufficient under these conditions.


IIRC, bentonite was originally added to kits to eliminate protein haze, and it helps the wine clear faster, post-fermentation.

K&C ensure clearing so the wine can be bottled in 4 or 8 weeks. Without fining, wine takes months to fully clear.

Next weekend I start an experiment -- I'll be bottling two 2021 wines that have been in barrel since February. Two-thirds of each wine will be bottled, and the remaining 1/3 will be treated with K&C, and carboy aged another 2 to 4 weeks. The experiment is to see how much sediment is precipitated by the K&C in a supposedly clear wine, and to see if the treated and untreated wines smell and taste differently 6 and 12 months from now. There is a lot of research published on most fining agents, while K&C has little that I've found.


As previously noted, sorbate is unnecessary if the wine is not backsweetened. It is included in kits to help ensure the novice winemaker does not produce 28-30 mini-volcanoes.

When making kits (I make mostly dry wines), I write the date on the package and toss it in a drawer. 12 to 15 months later, if I haven't used it in a backsweetened wine, I bin the package as sorbate has a limited shelf life, and it costs a lot less to buy some than it does to recork a batch.

I have another experiment in progress -- I recently bottled a 6 month old Elderberry, which I treated with sorbate + K-meta. I reserved 4 liters, which will bulk age another 4 to 6 months, then will be backsweetened and bottled without sorbate. I'm proving to myself that the yeast dies and sorbate is unnecessary, AND I will have identical wines to compare to see how much sorbate affects the taste.


If you're making wine from grapes, you need access to a press. Without it, you will leave a large amount of wine in the pomace.
Thank you as always!!! I love the experiments and will closely be watching for your results!!! Appreciate it!!
 

skylerl33

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I am also new, so you may find my progression interesting. I started with country wines last January. Raspberry, triple berry, Dragon's Blood, etc. Then I thought kits might be the next thing to try. I followed them as close to the letter as I could. After the first 2, pitched on the same day, I started asking the same questions as you.

For the next 2, also both made at the same time, I followed the directions exactly on 1. It was off dry and had a secondary flavor pack, so I added all the other kit ingredients. The other one I only added k-meta, none of the other kit packs.

The last 2 I made I opened up the kit ingredients just to take out the yeast. I have always sprinkled my yeast, so I continue to do so, but other than that I made the kits completely without their additives. I racked to secondary around 1.010. I gave them enough time to age that the clearing agents were pointless, I don't back sweeten and was concerned of off flavors from the k-meta/sorbate pack. I'm a strict believer, if you don't need it, don't add it. It's just another variable to question later if there are off flavors or any other issue. I add k-meta as a solution I make with powder from the LHBS. I dissolve it in a shot glass and I don't bother to stir.

Of the last two kits I did, one had a large secondary flavor pack. I am ready to bottle and I intend to add some to taste in a glass. I want to see how the kit was intended to taste, but I no longer care if I make the kit taste as it was intended. I am making wine the way I like it, which is mostly dry, so I will test it to see if I surprise myself and prefer it back sweeted. If so, at this time I will add the sorbate. 4 months after the kits 'ready to bottle date'.

I have 5 more kits that I intend to put in primary in the next week or so. One is a fun wine. Island mist, or the like. I intend to make it per kit instructions and bottle within 4 weeks. The other 4 are reds, Pinot Noir, Malbec... These ones I plan to forego all kit rules and instructions to see if I can pull more flavor than the very reliable EC-1118 added to most kits. This yeast offers great success rates, but does not enhance the berry flavors, spice notes, and nuances of the specific varietal (grape). I will be using yeast with higher nutrient requirements, so I will need to add nutrient and watch them more closely.

The last 2 kits that I made that are now ready to bottle based on how they taste, were slated to get bottled a couple of weeks ago. I was worried I had disturbed some fine lees, so I let them sit after racking. When I shine a flashlight through the Pinot Grigio there are suspended particles, I don't think they will drop. There is no sediment on the carboy bottom after 2 weeks. Perhaps this is the protein @winemaker81 mentioned. Either way, I plan to filter before bottling. It is clear, just not 'crystal clear'.

I think everyone else has answered all your questions. I just thought you might find 'what I do' as a beginner relatable.

If I had the option, I would move on to an FWK kit, next. I am not in the US so I can't get my hands on them. I plan to give juice buckets a go next year. If that goes well, perhaps I will look into getting grapes. Like you, I am taking the progressive approach, and not jumping into the deep end without getting some bearings.
Yeah! Sounds like I'm just a bit behind you in the progression, but glad to hear that others are doing a similar one! I've decided I'm definitely gonna do a couple (or a few) FWK kits and start making wine my way instead of following kit directions as gospel like you were saying! With all the knowledge and understanding that you and so many others have been lending me, I feel comfortable that I'm ready to take at least that next step. Thanks!!
 

Gilmango

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Thank you so much for taking time to answer! All very helpful! I think I'm gonna give PBW a try, haven't tried that one yet!
I've done quite a bit of research on EM and Im very intrigued! I think I'll try it with my next kit I do (FWK with skin packs). While doing EM with a kit, when you move it into the secondary fermenter and seal it, by "seal it" you mean seal it with an airlock right? Probably a stupid question because obviously co2 is still being produced and needs a place to go, but just wanted to make sure you mean seal it + airlock as opposed to just seal it with a solid bung.
@skylerl33 To answer your question about "sealing it" yes, I mean with an airlock, BUT I really have to emphasize that you don't do EM in the secondary fermenter.

When doing an EM you do the whole thing in the primary. So the AF happens first in the primary and most of us simply cover the primary with a towel or cloth at this point, which helps the AF yeast get the oxygen they need. You also punch down and stir 1-3 times a day once the AF has started, and measure your gravity and temperature (I tend to just leave a hydrometer and thermometer floating in the primary at this point). Many of us take notes on how these change from day to day. The measurements also help you decide when to add yeast nutrients (which is part of the FWK protocol).

When the AF slows (gravity gets to 1.020 or 1.010 or lower; temperature generally lowers as well), that is when you seal the primary. You do not transfer to secondary at this point if doing an EM. So this is where having a seal-able primary is important. Many buckets don't form a perfect seal. So many of us use Spiedel fermentors, Big Mouth Bubblers, or other similar fermenters with screw on lids.

Definitely have an airlock on. A solid bung would create dangerous amounts of pressure which could lead to really bad results (bung exploding out followed by some of your wine for instance). There are breathable bungs which some prefer to airlocks, which allow gas to escape, that might be fine at this point but I don't use those (so it is possible those are only suited to use when the wine is truly done with all fermentation and de-gassed as well).

You can look up the FWK instructions online (download the PDF from label peelers website for free), or wait till your kits comes which will include the booklet at your option. You will see that FWK's current protocol calls for 14 days in the primary, where, just as I have outlined above, you cover with cloth during the AF, then seal in the same primary under airlock for the remainder of those 14 days. Typically this means about 5 days of AF (because the yeast starter which is part of FWK's protocol really gets the AF going fast and vigorously), followed by about 9 days of EM. Of course, as you have read, many of us have experimented with longer EMs. If you do a longer EM you still keep it in the primary. You might consider keeping the seeds in a separate muslin sack and removing them if you do a longer EM.
 

plato25

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Now that I have a couple wine kits under my belt, I figure it's time for me start understanding the "why" when I'm doing something instead of just blindly following the directions that come with kits. I know that the kits are designed to be as simple and forgiving as possible, so I'm just hoping this post will help me gain a better understanding of what I'm doing and will help with my progression towards hopefully making wines from grapes some day (Hoping for next harvest season next year)
While this forum and so many members have been invaluable so far, there are a couple questions I've written down in my notes while making my kits that I couldn't find specific answers to searching through old posts, so I figured I'd throw em out there and hope to gain some much needed knowledge and opinions here in my own post.

1) Yeast question for kits - Both the kits I have done so far have been reds from WineXpert (gonna do a FWK next), and the directions just have you sprinkle the included yeast packets on top of the must. They never mention making a yeast starter or adding any nutrients. Both of my kits fermentations took off right away and had no issues, so I'm wondering why making a yeast starter and adding nutrients would ever be needed? My best guess is that the included yeasts with the kits (EC-1118 and RC212) are just yeasts that don't need that and start and thrive easily on their own? Would there be any advantages to making a yeast starter with these instead of just dumping onto the must dry of my kit?

21) Secondary Fermentation - I just noticed that the directions don't call to rack into a secondary fermenter at all during the fermentation process, which seems to be a standard procedure in all other winemaking. The directions want you to start fermentation, checking SG periodically, and then rack out when you reach the target SG <.996 into a carboy. You then move right on into clearing by adding kieselsol and then chitosans the next day. Would my wine benefit from being moved into a secondary vessel at about 1.020-1.030 instead of leaving in the original fermenter the entire time per the directions? My (assumed) understanding of the purpose behind moving into a secondary fermenter is to eliminate the large head space as the fermentation draws near completion and there is less co2 being produced to protect the wine from oxygen. Why would this be any different in kit wine making than any other method? I don't see a reason to leave it in one fermenter the entire time and risk oxygen effecting the wine near the end when it could be prevented by finishing it off in a carboy instead of a bucket. I guess my question is what is the real purpose of moving into a secondary fermenter and if there is a logical purpose, shouldn't I be doing it with my kit wines?

3) Sanitation products - I have been experimenting back and forth between using star san and k-meta for my sanitizing. I have been trying to see the pros and cons of each, I'm leaning towards just going with k-meta, but there are things about both of them that worry me. With the "3 tablespoon: 1 gallon water" k-meta solution, obviously the cough inducing odor and 10 minute wait times are cons, but my main concern is using this solution to sanitize bottles for bottling. I find it hard to believe that the remaining liquid left in the 750ml bottle after rinsing isn't adding to the so2 level, which of course would be in addition to the 1/4 teaspoon of k-meta I already added to the carboy. Is this not an issue? Is it perhaps better to sanitize bottles with starsan before bottling for this reason?

4) Clearing/ Fining - Both kits used the same things ingredients for what I believe the purpose is clearing the wine: Bentonite before fermentation, and a kieselsol/ chitosan combo after fermentation.
I am assuming these are used to speed up the clearing process so the wine can be bottled in 4/6/8 weeks, but since I am bulk aging all my wines 6+ months, could I skip these without any harm? Especially the bentonite (what a PITA). My wine should clear on its own in that time right?

5) Potassium sorbate - There is a packet of this included in the kits and the directions say to add it right when fermentation is done and you've racked it out of the fermenter. It is my (again, assumed) understanding that the purpose of this is to stop any wild yeast strains that are in the wine from starting to ferment. If I'm not back sweetening (which I'm not because I'm making dry reds), I don't understand the purpose of adding this at this step, or even at the time of bottling, especially since I am adding that 1/4 teaspoon dose of k-meta every time I rack and before I bottle. Shouldn't that do the job and make the sorbate unnecessary?

Sorry for the long winded novel and scattered thoughts, I thank you in advance for all the advice/ knowledge/ opinions I get! You have all been so unbelievably helpful and loaded with great information!!!
Ithink that CJJ Berry’s “First steps in Winemaking” cannot be bettered. Over 3 million copies sold and many edition, dozens of reprint. All of which keep it up to date. Dozens on Amazon and cheap I understand it’s not so we’ll own the US but that doesn’t take away that it is an excellent for beginners
 

skylerl33

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Ithink that CJJ Berry’s “First steps in Winemaking” cannot be bettered. Over 3 million copies sold and many edition, dozens of reprint. All of which keep it up to date. Dozens on Amazon and cheap I understand it’s not so we’ll own the US but that doesn’t take away that it is an excellent for beginners
I just bought a copy! Thanks!
 
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