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Apple Wine/Hard Cider

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Hello friends,
Yes, I'm a newbie to this forum and to home wine making as well. I'm posting this to see if what I have done so far is correct. The following recipe was given to me by a local farmer. So here it goes...

I am making 18 gallons of apple wine (three 6 gallon carboys). Everything was sterilized ahead of time. In each carboy I added 5 gallons of untreated cider (3 gallons went into the freezer to be added at later point), 5 pounds of sugar (I added an extra pound and a half of brown sugar to one just for the hell of it), 1 champagne yeast packet, 2 teaspoons of pectic enzyme, 5 campden tablets, 7 1/2 teaspoons of acid blend.
The carboys were placed in a dark corner of the basement at 68/70 degrees with airlocks. The must has been fermenting for 16 days. I stir each one once a day. They seem to be fermenting nicely (every 5 to 6 seconds still). My plan is to make half into wine and the other into hard cider.

Does this sound like I'm on the right track?

How do I know it's time to rack?

How many times should I rack?

Do I add one gallon of cider to the must after first rack? second rack? right before bottling?

Is a hydrometer necessary?

When I plan to make it into hard cider is it really as simple as I was informed? One teaspoon of sugar in a 12 once bottle with 11 onces of apple wine once fermenting is complete?

How long does it take to turn into hard cider?

Has anyone used oak chips to age instead of barrells (I can't afford a barrell at this time)?
Are there any advantages/disadvantages to doing this?

Does anyone know of a good beginer website devoted to making apple wine/hard cider?

I apologize for the long post but I just don't have much time to do any real research between work and the kids.
 
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Rocco
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For the apple wine, it sounds like you are on the right track. I just made some last month.

You really do need a hydrometer to know when the fermentation is completed. Once the brix is at 0 or -1 (or 1.000 for specific gravity) you rack the wine into clean carboys and add a 1/4 tsp of potassium metabisulfite to prevent oxidation and spoilage. After about a month you will want to rack again, adding about an 1/8 tsp of sulfite. Keep it in this stage until the wine is clear and then bottle or bulk age. If you are adding unfermented juice to sweeten the wine you will need to stabilize the wine with a proper dose of potassium sorbate along with the sulfite to prevent the new sugar from refermenting. I don't recommend using oak in an apple wine. The flavor is delicate and in my opinion will be over powered by the oak.

I can't help with the hard cider. Haven't made any.
 
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Adolphus79

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Hard cider and apple wine are very closely related. I think the major factor in defining which is which is the ABV. I make cider, and some people call it apple wine. I really don't know if there is a set standard as to what the difference is.
As far as making my New England style hard cider, it's as simple as fresh pressed cider and yeast (plus campden & pectic enzyme). Let the cider sit on the campden for 24 hours, then pitch the yeast and the pectic enzyme. After a couple weeks or a month (when fermentation has slowed), I rack it. After another month or two, when it's clear enough to read a newspaper through, I rack it again, and set it aside for bulk aging (for Malo-Lactic fermentation to take place). A year after I pitched the yeast, I bottle it.
You don't really want to stir the cider or mess with it at all once fermentation has started, due to concerns of oxidation and contamination.
I agree with Wine Maker, a hydrometer is one of your most important tools in winemaking.
If you want more information on cider, I'd recommend checking out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cider and http://www.homebrewtalk.com/forumdisplay.php?f=32 (HBT has an entire section dedicated to cider).
 
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Thanks for the info. What do you mean by "ABV"? Have you ever made sparkling hard cider?
 
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Adolphus79

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Thanks for the info. What do you mean by "ABV"? Have you ever made sparkling hard cider?
ABV is alcohol by volume, the alcohol content in %. Sparkling hard cider is the same method, but when you bottle, you will want to use beer of champagne bottles, and some priming sugar. Approx. 3/4 cup of dextrose (corn sugar) per 5 gallons. Boil a cup of water, then take it off the heat and dissolve the dextrose into the water. Pour this into your bottling bucket before you rack the cider. Give it a little stir, making sure not to aerate the cider any, then bottle. Let it bottle condition for 2-3 weeks to build carbonation.
 

weltercat

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That is a good question. The difference between hard cider and apple wine. I always thought that cider was unpasteurized apple juice that turned hard because of the wild yeast. Wine to me is yeast and sugar added to apple juice and getting a little higher ABV from wine yeast. It sounds like you are implying that cider is sparkling and wine is flat. I suppose you're right I just don't know.
 
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