A list of newbie questions. First kit

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Zintrigue

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This is my first kit so there's a lot I don't know here. I got told not to be shy about asking or being a bother, so here we go.

-Sanitizing: How important is this "One-Step," or oxygen wash? Can I just use dishsoap to get debris off and then use the sodium metabisulphite for sanitizing?

-Sediment: I can't tell how close I am to the bottom when I siphon. I hate the idea of leaving good wine behind in the fermenting jar, but I can't see through the wine to see how close I am. Do I bump the bottom to get an idea and go from there? The instructions say that if I disturb the sediment then I need to let the wine sit for a week and try again. Seems a bit extreme to me, especially when "time is of the essence."

-What in the world is Kieselsol?

-Degassing: I have a fancy stirring paddle with holes in it. When I "stir vigorously" to remove bubbles, is there supposed to be a bunch of foam on top of the wine or am I ruining a good thing here?

-What's Chitosan?

-Topping up: Some part of me is kicking and screaming at the idea of adding water to my wine just to make it "one gallon." I mean, we're watering down a beautiful thing here. Is this step necessary? Seems to me like they have that in there to guarantee that the customer gets five full bottles of wine from the kit without complaints, but I'm not a mouth-breather, I realize that there are variables in the process.

That's all I have for now. More to come when I start the Dragon Blood.

Thanks,
-Zintrigue
 

dcbrown73

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-Sanitizing: How important is this "One-Step," or oxygen wash? Can I just use dishsoap to get debris off and then use the sodium metabisulphite for sanitizing?
Yes you can, but dish soap has perfumes and dyes in it which can alter the flavor of your wine. One-Step is a bit expensive. Look for "Oxiclean Free" It's like $7 for 3lbs of it at Walmart That can last you a long time and you can wash your wine glasses with it rather than regular soap!

-Sediment: I can't tell how close I am to the bottom when I siphon. I hate the idea of leaving good wine behind in the fermenting jar, but I can't see through the wine to see how close I am. Do I bump the bottom to get an idea and go from there? The instructions say that if I disturb the sediment then I need to let the wine sit for a week and try again. Seems a bit extreme to me, especially when "time is of the essence."
You rack multiple times which helps in the end remove most sediment. That makes it less of a big deal when you get a little bit of sediment in the early rackings. One thing I do is use a reusable coffee filter to filter some of the sediment towards the end of racking. They are like $2-3 at a grocery store. I've been using the same $2 filter for a year. Just make sure you soak it in k-meta solution before using it so it's sanitized!



-What in the world is Kieselsol?
-What's Chitosan?
I recommend reading this page for an explanation on several fining agents.

-Degassing: I have a fancy stirring paddle with holes in it. When I "stir vigorously" to remove bubbles, is there supposed to be a bunch of foam on top of the wine or am I ruining a good thing here?
During the degassing process yes. Bubbles can form. Especially if you've recently added k-meta too. Be careful or you can create a volcano of foam if you are degassing too fast inside of a carboy!

-Topping up: Some part of me is kicking and screaming at the idea of adding water to my wine just to make it "one gallon." I mean, we're watering down a beautiful thing here. Is this step necessary? Seems to me like they have that in there to guarantee that the customer gets five full bottles of wine from the kit without complaints, but I'm not a mouth-breather, I realize that there are variables in the process.
I'm not a fan of topping up with water. That dilutes the wine taking away from the flavor and mouth feel among other things. I use other wines to top up. Topping up is important as it helps protect the wine from oxygenation.

I topped up my Dragon's Blood with a fruit wine that had a similar profile.

Good luck!
 
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DoctorCAD

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Number 1. Time is NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, "of the essence"

Your first wine kit will be ready when it is ready. Not a minute sooner. That "ready" is 6 months to several years. Get used to that and the rest is gravy.

Number 2. 6 gallon kits take exactly the same amount of work and time as one gallon kits. Go with the 6 gallon.

Number 3. Its a relaxing hobby, dont get too wrapped up in things.

Enjoy yourself.
 

Zintrigue

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Yes you can, but dish soap has perfumes and dyes in it which can alter the flavor of your wine. One-Step is a bit expensive. Look for "Oxiclean Free" It's like $7 for 3lbs of it at Walmart That can last you a long time and you can wash your wine glasses with it rather than regular soap!



You rack multiple times which helps in the end remove most sediment. That makes it less of a big deal when you get a little bit of sediment in the early rackings. One thing I do is use a reusable coffee filter to filter some of the sediment towards the end of racking. They are like $2-3 at a grocery store. I've been using the same $2 filter for a year. Just make sure you soak it in k-meta solution before using it so it's sanitized!





I recommend reading this page for an explanation on several fining agents.



During the degassing process yes. Bubbles can form. Especially if you've recently added k-meta too. Be careful or you can create a volcano of foam if you are degassing too fast inside of a carboy!


I'm not a fan of topping up with water. That dilutes the wine taking away from the flavor and mouth feel among other things. I use other wines to top up. Topping up is important as it helps protect the wine from oxygenation.

I topped up my Dragon's Blood with a fruit wine that had a similar profile.

Good luck!
Amazingly helpful, thank you sir. I've added the filter and the oxyclean to my amazon cart.

Number 1. Time is NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, "of the essence"

Your first wine kit will be ready when it is ready. Not a minute sooner. That "ready" is 6 months to several years. Get used to that and the rest is gravy.

Number 2. 6 gallon kits take exactly the same amount of work and time as one gallon kits. Go with the 6 gallon.

Number 3. Its a relaxing hobby, dont get too wrapped up in things.

Enjoy yourself.
Wait, then what's all this business about moving the wine to a new container before the sediment taints the flavor? (Is that racking?) And what if the specific gravity goes too low? I mean, is there ever a "too long" to have the wine sit in any of these phases?

I already have the one gallon kit, my mother got it for me for Christmas. One gallon is more my speed right now, I'm doing this in my kitchen with three kids running circles around me. If I ever gave myself a cellar name it would probably be "Crazy Monkey Cellars." Haha

-Zintrigue
 

dcbrown73

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Amazingly helpful, thank you sir. I've added the filter and the oxyclean to my amazon cart.
Make sure it's "Oxiclean Free". Regular Oxiclean has perfumes and dyes. Same as regular soap.
 

Boatboy24

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Wait, then what's all this business about moving the wine to a new container before the sediment taints the flavor? (Is that racking?) And what if the specific gravity goes too low? I mean, is there ever a "too long" to have the wine sit in any of these phases?

-Zintrigue
Yes, you want the wine off the sediment. But 'too long' is more like many days - weeks even.

As for your initial questions, David answers are good. My process is to rinse everything very well with screaming hot water when done using. Then prior to each use, I spray with KMeta to sanitize. I will sometimes use unscented oxyclean to get rid of stains or other stubborn 'stuff'.
 

Scooter68

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How long is too long can depend on what is in your lees - some seeds can release bitter flavor if they break down or have been crushed. So time is not the only factor - what is in the lees and how the fruit was processed can affect it as well.

As far as topping up - you can and should plan for the lees lost and over time, after several batches of the same fruit from the same source in the same form, you will learn how much lees to expect. Adding water is actually safer in one way - you are not adding other flavors, chemicals or incurring more cost to purchase other wine to use for topping off. (The most typical thing used other than water.) Even if it's the same type of wine - that wines flavor is not your wines flavor. I've had instances where I had to add 2 cups of water to a 4 liter carboy. If that 2 cups was a 'cheap wine' then I just added a significant amount to my 4 liter batch. Check out enough threads on here and you will see some pretty hefty amounts of lees in carboys in few cases we've seen 5/6 gallon carboys with about 25-35 percent lees. (That would call for another gallon of that cheap wine to be added at $$??) I'd just rather plan an amount into my batch to allow for the 'watering down.' Increase the SG the quantity of fruit etc and there should be no issue. OR One can even decrease the size of the carboy used for aging from 6 down to 5 gallons, split into multiple smaller carboys. I could go from my 4 liter to a 1 gallon carboy and that would allow my wine quantity to shrink by about 7 ounces without having add any water to top off.

There are multiple ways to make a great homemade wine very few are wrong, most are just different. If you and the others consuming your wine are happy with the results from the methods you use - that's what really matters.
 
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Zintrigue

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Make sure it's "Oxiclean Free". Regular Oxiclean has perfumes and dyes. Same as regular soap.
Yes, I was extra careful about making sure it was the Free one.

As for your initial questions, David answers are good. My process is to rinse everything very well with screaming hot water when done using. Then prior to each use, I spray with KMeta to sanitize. I will sometimes use unscented oxyclean to get rid of stains or other stubborn 'stuff'.
This is what I'll be doing from now on. Thanks!

How long is too long can depend on what is in your lees - some seeds can release bitter flavor if they break down or have been crushed. So time is not the only factor - what is in the lees and how the fruit was processed can affect it as well.

As far as topping up - you can and should plan for the lees lost and over time, after several batches of the same fruit from the same source in the same form, you will learn how much lees to expect. Adding water is actually safer in one way - you are not adding other flavors, chemicals or incurring more cost to purchase other wine to use for topping off. (The most typical thing used other than water.) Even if it's the same type of wine - that wines flavor is not your wines flavor. I've had instances where I had to add 2 cups of water to a 4 liter carboy. If that 2 cups was a 'cheap wine' then I just added a significant amount to my 4 liter batch. Check out enough threads on here and you will see some pretty hefty amounts of lees in carboys in few cases we've seen 5/6 gallon carboys with about 25-35 percent lees. (That would call for another gallon of that cheap wine to be added at $$??) I'd just rather plan an amount into my batch to allow for the 'watering down.' Increase the SG the quantity of fruit etc and there should be no issue. OR One can even decrease the size of the carboy used for aging from 6 down to 5 gallons, split into multiple smaller carboys. I could go from my 4 liter to a 1 gallon carboy and that would allow my wine quantity to shrink by about 7 ounces without having add any water to top off.

There are multiple ways to make a great homemade wine very few are wrong, most are just different. If you and the others consuming your wine are happy with the results from the methods you use - that's what really matters.
I had to google "lees," haha

Yes, I wondered about adding another wine to my 1 gallon batch, even if the flavor is similar, because I was worried it would change my finished product. I'm okay with less wine in the end, but I don't have anything smaller than my 1 gallon carboy.

How does one increase the specific gravity? Add more sugar? Is there a calculator for how much?

The purpose of topping off is to... reduce the surface area that could be exposed to contaminants? I'm wondering if it's worth the risk of not topping off.

(Hi, I'm that bull-headed imbecile that has to know the exact reason for everything, or else I'll try to think outside the box and do it differently)

Also. In the beginning when I'm moving the wine between containers to switch stages, is it acceptable to filter it through cheesecloth to reduce the amount of sediment picked up? Or a coffee filter, even?

Am I driving anyone nuts yet with all the questions?

Thanks for all your responses

-Zintrigue
 

StBlGT

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Topping up is to remove the headspace to prevent oxidation.

No filtering needed, unless you have tons of oak chips and grape stems/skins loose in primary that can clog your siphon. Otherwise, more sediment will drop anyways when fining and clearing.
 
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Scooter68

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Yes, I wondered about adding another wine to my 1 gallon batch, even if the flavor is similar, because I was worried it would change my finished product. I'm okay with less wine in the end, but I don't have anything smaller than my 1 gallon carboy.


I frequent the local recycling center OR you could look for a 1/2 gallon or 1.5 liter bottle of juice at the local market. *Just make sure it has a lid compatible with whatever airlock cap/stopper you use.

How does one increase the specific gravity? Add more sugar? Is there a calculator for how much?

Most folks use Fermcalc (app) or use an on-line web page to calculate such things. I don't use fermcalc but suppose I should check it out. I believe it has a method of helping you figure out how much sugar to add. Of course I am assuming you have a Hydrometer for tracking the SG of your wine already.

The purpose of topping off is to... reduce the surface area that could be exposed to contaminants? I'm wondering if it's worth the risk of not topping off.

Look at the carboy you have. The key is the surface area of the wine exposed to Oxygen. If your wine fills the carboy to somewhere in the neck you are good. Anything below that and you are exposing more of your wine to potentially oxidize. Depending on how long it's exposed you may not have a problem. But most folks want eliminate as many variables from the effort so I guess it depends on how much of a gambler you are. :<

(Hi, I'm that bull-headed imbecile that has to know the exact reason for everything, or else I'll try to think outside the box and do it differently)

Also. In the beginning when I'm moving the wine between containers to switch stages, is it acceptable to filter it through cheesecloth to reduce the amount of sediment picked up? Or a coffee filter, even?

I've done the coffee filter thing and honestly every time I try it ..... I wonder why I bothered. One issue is that you are inducing more oxygen to the wine when you do that. I imagine if you are organized and work things quickly you might not cause an issue. BUT the cheesecloth and coffee filters clog quickly when you have a lot of lees. You might look into a large funnel with a snap in plastic filter - but then you still get a clogged filter and have to rinse it (in distilled water or sanitizer) to do that. I've also used unbleached muslin cloth as a filter and then carefully twisted the corners until I can squeeze the liquid out of the lees. IF you go that route. I'd break your wine down into 1 gallon or 4 liter carboys and keep the 'filtered' wine to fill the last carboy. Bottom line - it's a messy job and I would get the majority of the wine into the clean carboy first and use that leftover Lees part as an experiment. Perhaps putting that partial carboy or 1/2 gallon carboy in the fridge to reduce the chances for oxidation (ONLY DO THAT AFTER fermentation is over completely) AND you can use that to top off on later rackings too.

Am I driving anyone nuts yet with all the questions?

Nah - It's more troubling to hear after the fact when someone has done something REALLY dumb, common sense dumb than to have someone ask questions before things go south. Of course sometimes you don't have that question when things are going well right? Sometimes - you don't know what you don't know until.... that's why this forum is so useful to one and all. Not just trouble shooting but trading ideas and sharing successes and failures as well.
 
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Ajmassa

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I always use a cheesecloth when transferring from primary bucket to carboy. I will siphon down to a few inches from the bottom. And then carefully dump the rest using a sanitized funnel and cheesecloth, stopping before the heavy sediment.
I posted a question about this in the "beginners" section called "racking a primary with oak chips?" Techniques suggested to me:
Put siphon in a round basket style cooking strainer when nearing the bottom of primary, keeping all lees outside of the strainer.
And Pantyhose on end of siphon tube with rubber band.
It seems One of those things that each winemaker does differently. Whatever their most comfortable with.
 

Zintrigue

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Scooter - I do have a hydrometer. It came with the kit and fulfills my wildest mad scientist dreams. I think I'll skip worrying about a coffee filter or cheesecloth for now and just leave a bit of wine behind. Sounds like the safest route.

Topping up is to remove the headspace to prevent oxidation.
Oh damn. Oxidation. The more I read into this the more I realize I might have been a little too enthusiastic in my degassing. The instructions say, and I quote, to "stir vigorously for 60 seconds" a few times a day for two days. Hearing about all this oxidation, and then reading about the wine whip that reduces it, I'm thinking maybe I've already screwed up.

Also, I can't tell when the wine is degassed. I don't like carbonated beverages, so I'm not familiar with their nuances to begin with. All I can tell from tasting this stuff after my two day adventure degassing (stirring like an enthusiastic child with turrets) is that it's bitter as heck. With a musty aroma that I don't find entirely pleasant.

I hope that the "clearing" stage gets rid of this. I don't know what to expect at this point. I can already tell it's going to taste like cheap wine, though. (Sorry if it's in poor taste to say such a thing here)

Anyway. If anyone has some insight on how to tell if the wine is properly degassed then that would be helpful. Then I could move on to the clearing step.

Thanks for all the insight, you guys are truly fantastic. <3

-Zintrigue
 

Ajmassa

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I personally Wait till potential bottling timeframe. If I feel noticeable fizz on my tongue, I just wait longer. It will go on it's own.
But with too much headspace and not wanting to top off, and no options for smaller size container, then waiting it out isn't an option due to potential oxidation.
In this case I would go for the Vacuvin. Which I learned of here on the forum. I haven't used it myself yet. But I no doubt will soon.
https://youtu.be/pKv-xPAL9Wk
 

Zintrigue

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Oh my, what a handy little device. I shall purchase that posthaste!

(Amazon is a very dangerous enabler)

Also, the instructions want me to degass the wine, then add clarifying agents and wait another week. They state that the wine won't clear if it's not degassed properly. I think I'll let it sit another day or two and then do the clarifying bit. Thoughts?

-Zintrigue
 

Ajmassa

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You said you already stirred the hell out of it correct? The wine won't clear properly in the few weeks the instructions shoot for if not properly degassed. But it will clear eventually. And you did stir. You should be cool.
Worst case scenario, you can't bottle in the kits 4 week time frame. And then bite the bullet, top off, and let it sit for a good bit.
I'm new to kits. But not to juice batches. I've Never degassed manually. Just time. And only agents I ever used was K-meta.
It's hard not to overthink the kits very specific instructions. But you won't ruin anything by doing things slightly different.
The only thing I am ever concerned with is headspace/oxidation. Everything else is fixable. CO2, cloudy, etc.
 

StBlGT

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Don't bottle in 4 weeks.....that is way too early. For sure you will have sediment in bottles. Also, degassing is very difficult with kits. Fresh batches seem to lose the co2 quicker and easier. Kits seem to hold on to gas FOREVER. I have the stirring wand that you put on the powerdrill, and while is somewhat works, it never got all of the gas out (even when i thought i did). The best thing, and i mean this 110%, that i ever bought for wine making was the all-in-one pump. It gets rid of the co2 with ease.
 

Scooter68

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Quote: I'll skip worrying about a coffee filter or cheesecloth for now and just leave a bit of wine behind. Sounds like the safest route.

If you have a spare 1/2 gallon or whatever size container it takes to hold the sediment with little to no headspace - just go ahead and move the lees into that. (Assuming that you end up with a quart to 1/2 gallon.) Those lees, if allowed to sit a while may just give up some more wine that you can use to top off. Or sample (It's always interesting to 'play' with the remains like that. You can ieven use an old T-Shirt to strain the sediment as long as you sanitize it first. I've twisted the remains of fruit like peaches or apples until the remaining lees inside the muslin cloth 'bag' are like a moist cake material. I hate to waste anything, that's why I tried those 'tricks.'
 

Zintrigue

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You guys are a wealth of information.

I ordered the pump on amazon yesterday, should be here tomorrow. I'll work out the CO2 with that when it gets here, then try the clarifying agent the kit said to use. I bit the bullet and topped up in the meantime, transferred to a carboy and stuck an airlock on it.

How do I know when the wine is properly clarified? Looks clear? Has a distinct taste/smell? Swirl some in a glass on the full moon and sing twinkle twinkle little star while waiting for it to smoke? (hah...)

Scooter - I've been playing with the wine I left behind, too. I'll try the old t-shirt trick.

-Zintrigue
 

Ajmassa

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I always felt like my senses are the best measuring tools.
You'll see if it's clear or still cloudy. Really The only way to know if it's cleared or not.
You'll feel the carbonation on your tongue if it needs more degassing.
You'll taste and smell the wine to know when it's ready to bottle.
Curious to see how u make out with the VacuVin. I just ordered one myself. Just make sure u get the proper bung to accept it on your carboy.
 
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