Am I doing OK?? I could really use some help

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JeroenK

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Hi all!

I'm from the Netherlands and I just started making wine, I hope. I just started without learning a lot about the process, and I just used a simple step-by-step tutorial provided with a starter wine-making kit. I came up with this idea because two friends of me just bought a house with grapes (and they weren't going to eat them, so I harvested them all when they were on vacation :))

I thought that all was going superb, but now I'm not so sure. Because I think the fermenting (is that the right use? The bubbling thing with the water seal?) stopped really soon. So I was wondering if I'm doing OK and if I maybe should add something/do something. I could really use some tips! I will try to explain my steps with some pictures.

So first, I don't have a hydrometer (yet) but I've read somewhere that grapes have the perfect balance between amount of sugars/sours/etc and juice. So I kinda decides I just use pure juice and no water and no extra sugars, just pure wine from grapes. Later on I realized that that way of thinking is probably not very good, and that I will be better off if I measure stuff. But anyway I'm now halfway the process and I can't turn back time :)

I started with cleaning and plucking the grapes from the bunch (am I saying that correctly?) and I crushed them all with my hand in a bucket (see attachment step 1, step 2 and step 3). I then added some enzymes and I waited approximately 12 hours with the lit on the bucket and a water seal on it.

After the 12 hours, I opened the bucket and I added yeast nutrition and i stirred, and I sprinkled yeast on top of the crushed grapes. Then for a week long I opened the lit every day to push the grapes under in the juice (step 4 and step 5 in the attachments) the fermenting was going really hard (I heard the water seal all the time) and it kinda stopped on day six/seven. That was also the time withing my step-by-step tutorial for separating the mush/pulp from the juice. So I used a cloth to separate the mush/pulp from the juice (see step 7 in the attachment) and I poured it all in a (I think it's called a yeast bottle?) and I sealed it with a water seal.

Note: I cleaned everything before using it with a combination of sulfite and citric acid. I've read that I also must use that in the wine, but it doesn't say so in my step-by-step tutorial, so... Should I still add it? And how much?

Anyhow. After separating the mush/pulp from the juice, at first a saw a difference in the water on the water seal. But the water is already in balance three days later in the bottle with the water seal! (attachment, step 7) should I add some yeast nutrition? Or citric acid? Or sulfite? It also kinda looks like something is forming on the surface of the wine, but I'm not sure. According to the step-by-step I should do nothing for another 4 days, and then I must put the bottle in a cooler place for one to two months

Thanks in advance!
 

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winemaker81

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To set your mind at ease, your wine is probably fine. A week is a typical fermentation.

First thing to do is get a hydrometer. Without it, you're just guessing.

Second, get a smaller jug, or several jugs. You have WAY too much head space (air space) and after the wine degasses (most of the dissolved CO2 is emitted), the wine will oxidize. During fermentation the yeast needs O2. After that, air is the enemy.

The correct dosage of potassium metabisulfite (K-meta) is 1/4 tsp per 5 gallons / 19 liters. For small batches it's easiest to use Campden tablets (1 tablet crushed in 1 US gallon / 4 liters). If you don't have them, you can dissolve 1/4 tsp K-meta in 5 Tbsp water, then add 1 Tbsp/4 liters.

I can't tell from the picture is something is growing on the wine or not -- it could be fruit solids.

At this point I'd let the wine rest another week or so -- watch the sediment level. It will probably get thicker, then compact a bit. After it compacts, siphon off the sediment, and at this point it needs to go into a smaller container.
 

NorCal

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Welcome. Good advice from @winemaker81 I would also taste it. If it is still sweet, you still have some sugars, if not it has completed fermentation. Give it a week, rack into a small container with little headspace and keep under airlock and add the SO2 per the volumes listed above.

You are on your way!!!
 

JeroenK

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Thank you guys for responding! I also spoke to the guy who sold me the starter kit and I told him the same story, with your comments. Because the fermentation is already completed, and I don't have smaller yeast bottles he advised me to just add some wine I like. So I've done that, and now I will have a mix wine, which isn't rare of course!

Thank you guys again,

PS: I've also added the advised amount of sulfite
 

winemaker81

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@JeroenK, topping with a compatible wine is a very good solution.

I recently started a FWK Barbera kit, and after the first racking I was too lazy to dig out and sanitize smaller containers, so I grabbed a bottle of Montepulciano off the shelf and topped the carboy. The 1-minute solution is a win.
 

Rice_Guy

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Welcome to Wine Making Talk.

@winemaker81 has given the normal process, ,,, I also would say once CO2 is mostly done the volume should match the container size. I and a lot of commercial folks blend to make a batch, so one option is to fill the empty space with another juice. (this will reactivate the yeast like a process called step feeding)
All of us have had a first fermentation and what you have looks typical.
 

JeroenK

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@JeroenK, topping with a compatible wine is a very good solution.

I recently started a FWK Barbera kit, and after the first racking I was too lazy to dig out and sanitize smaller containers, so I grabbed a bottle of Montepulciano off the shelf and topped the carboy. The 1-minute solution is a win.
What is a FWK Barbera kit?
 

JeroenK

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Welcome to Wine Making Talk.

@winemaker81 has given the normal process, ,,, I also would say once CO2 is mostly done the volume should match the container size. I and a lot of commercial folks blend to make a batch, so one option is to fill the empty space with another juice. (this will reactivate the yeast like a process called step feeding)
All of us have had a first fermentation and what you have looks typical.
Yeah I was really struggling in deciding to fill it up with (grape) juice or wine. I thought it would be a little weird to mix already fermented juice with juice that would start the fermentation process again. Yet, on the other hand, I thought it would be a little weird to add newly made wine with already good wine. But I thought that the best chance of creating a drinkable wine was to mix it with wine. Although it kinda feels like cheating a bit.
 

winemaker81

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What is a FWK Barbera kit?
Finer Wine Kits is a relatively new kit vendor, and Barbera is an Italian grape.

Every group has its acronyms and we forget they are not universally understood! 😉

Although it kinda feels like cheating a bit.
Think of it as protecting your investment, which is not just money, but time, effort, and for most of us -- pride.

Beside, you were going to drink the wine you topped up with, right? It's all going to the same place, so it's just a matter of drinking them (commercial + yours) separately or together.

I used to be a purist regarding wines and blending. If I needed to topup a Merlot, it needed to be a Merlot. These days? It needs to be red, but if I didn't have one I'd use a white. The important thing is to protect my investment.
 

JeroenK

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The pressure changes will do that. If it bothers you, pull the stopper out, let the pressure equalize, then replace the stopper.
It don't bother me, I was just curious if its normal, but you are mot panicking so then I will be fine too :) thank you!
 

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