Can I primary in a 6.5 g glass carboy & to do extended maceration on wet grape skins?

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Gilmango

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I have the RJS En Primeur Amarone kit with 2 kilos of wet grape skins. I'm excited about trying extended maceration (EM) but so far I just have plastic buckets and glass carboys from my home brewing set up. I may eventually buy a Speidel, or Big Mouth Bubbler, or Fermonster or something else with a wide mouth and tight seal, but I always read the 1, 2 & 3 star reviews and get scared off (mainly gasket issues both above - not a perfect seal, O-ring too thin / gets damaged / won't sit in lid; or below at the spigot - leaking, siphon tubes slipping off). As much as I welcome ideas about 'the perfect EM vessel', this post is really about whether I can do EM with what I have?

Basically, can I do a long primary with EM all in a glass 6.5 g carboy for 6-8 weeks? I would need to put the wet skins and oak in loosely (not in the muslin sack) and I have a giant funnel which should allow that. So the biggest issue might be transferring to secondary after EM, where maybe my siphon gets clogged with skins which have presumably sunk by then. But I think I have a viable Plan B if that happens, basically pour off liquid through nylon mesh bag via giant funnel, the nylon bag captures skins and oak, and I let the liquid settle again then siphon off the liquid to the secondary. Other downsides could be harder to punch down skins in carboy (so maybe I do some sloshing to keep them wet in addition to punching down as best I can), and hard to do 6 gallons plus skins in 6.5 gallon carboy (so I'd start with less water to avoid any risk of float over or foam over), and finally it is not recommended to use my Brew Belt on a glass carboy (so fermentation would be on the cooler side of BM 4X4's temperature range).

Alternatively, if EM in a narrow-mouthed glass carboy is too risky, can I do EM in a bucket without any sort of airtight lid? If so what could I do to minimize the risk of oxidation? Ferment at a colder temperature to slow fermentation down? Hold back and add some of the juice/concetrate later to extend fermentation activity? Limit punch down and stirring once terminal gravity is gravity is reached? If I do that how long could I EM after active fermentation stops?

Or should I just not attempt EM till I have a suitable wide mouthed primary with an airtight seal?
 

Brian55

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I have the RJS En Primeur Amarone kit with 2 kilos of wet grape skins. I'm excited about trying extended maceration (EM) but so far I just have plastic buckets and glass carboys from my home brewing set up. I may eventually buy a Speidel, or Big Mouth Bubbler, or Fermonster or something else with a wide mouth and tight seal, but I always read the 1, 2 & 3 star reviews and get scared off (mainly gasket issues both above - not a perfect seal, O-ring too thin / gets damaged / won't sit in lid; or below at the spigot - leaking, siphon tubes slipping off). As much as I welcome ideas about 'the perfect EM vessel', this post is really about whether I can do EM with what I have?

Basically, can I do a long primary with EM all in a glass 6.5 g carboy for 6-8 weeks? I would need to put the wet skins and oak in loosely (not in the muslin sack) and I have a giant funnel which should allow that. So the biggest issue might be transferring to secondary after EM, where maybe my siphon gets clogged with skins which have presumably sunk by then. But I think I have a viable Plan B if that happens, basically pour off liquid through nylon mesh bag via giant funnel, the nylon bag captures skins and oak, and I let the liquid settle again then siphon off the liquid to the secondary. Other downsides could be harder to punch down skins in carboy (so maybe I do some sloshing to keep them wet in addition to punching down as best I can), and hard to do 6 gallons plus skins in 6.5 gallon carboy (so I'd start with less water to avoid any risk of float over or foam over), and finally it is not recommended to use my Brew Belt on a glass carboy (so fermentation would be on the cooler side of BM 4X4's temperature range).

Alternatively, if EM in a narrow-mouthed glass carboy is too risky, can I do EM in a bucket without any sort of airtight lid? If so what could I do to minimize the risk of oxidation? Ferment at a colder temperature to slow fermentation down? Hold back and add some of the juice/concetrate later to extend fermentation activity? Limit punch down and stirring once terminal gravity is gravity is reached? If I do that how long could I EM after active fermentation stops?

Or should I just not attempt EM till I have a suitable wide mouthed primary with an airtight seal?
Skip it until you have the right equipment. I have three Speidels, no issues with any of them. Highly recommended.
 

Gilmango

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Thanks for the reality check Brian and CMason, just ordered a 30L Speidel which should arrive by next Tuesday. I think I can wait that long.
 

Gilmango

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OK, not planning a new post, but maybe the few of you who see this can advise if you see anything amiss in my plan for my first EM.

My 30L Speidel arrived and I started the RJS EP Amarone wine last Saturday, with a brew belt on, just a cloth over where the airlock fits, and my hydrometer and thermometer floating happily inside. Fermentation is nearly done (from 1.104 to 1.002). My working plan is to get down to 0.996, unplug the brew belt, remove hydrometer and thermometer, add a 1/4 tsp of K-Meta, stir it in and do a last punch down of the big sack of grape skins, then put on the air lock, and basically leave it alone for 4-6 weeks, but rock it back and forth every day or two to try to keep the sack of grape skins wet before they sink.

Is that basically the extended maceration protocol for kits? I know the K-Meta is optional, and that some start the EM as early as 1.020 to have a nice 'carbon blanket'. Since I opted to ferment to dry (with BM 4X4 and nutrients), I figure K-Meta is a good idea, but is there a downside? After the 4-6 weeks of EM I would then finally rack off the gross lees to a 6 gallon glass carboy, stirring in pectinase (included in this kit), more sulfite, and the C and K fining agents. Rack again a few weeks, bulk age a bit till I bottle.

Is that a sound plan? Thanks!
 

Brian55

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Sounds fine. I don't know that there's a protocol for EM. I keep it a bit simpler than your plan.
Phase 1: I punch down the cap and submerge the skins a couple times a day for the first week or so.
Phase 2: When fermentation starts to slow down usually around day 7 or so and near 1.010 I put it under airlock. From there it sits untouched for the remainder of the EM.
Phase 3: Pop the airlock off, check the SG, add the So2 to a carboy, then the wine. Vacuum de-gas for a day or three, re-rack, add oak, top it off with wine and let it sit for three months.
Phase 4+ Re-rack again, taste, So2, add new oak if needed. Repeat the last step as many times as needed to clear, then bottle when ready.
 

Gilmango

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Brian - thanks for the response and pointers. I basically followed your Phase 1 and 2, today is day 7 and I put on the airlock, biggest difference was that I was at .997 already. I added just a single campden tablet plus 2.4 oz. of sugar both dissolved in boiled water which I cooled and stirred in. Figured the sugar would give me that 'carbon blanket' as it fermented out since there is a good deal of headspace in the Speidel fermenter, plus it effectively adds 1 point to my O.G.

Now the hard part is just leaving it alone for 4-6 weeks (total of 5-7 weeks in the primary). The waiting is the hardest part! Plus I only have the single Speidel and am eager to start my RJS EP Super Tuscan kit next and EM that one as well. But from my reading here I know that time/patience will only help the finished product (and that I should not expect to drink either of these for at least a year).

I have no vacuum for phase 3 but hopefully my stirring and 2 or 3 rackings while it clears will de-gas it well enough. The rest of your Phase 3 and 4 sound like exactly what I will do, though I will probably add all of the fining agents included in the kit at the start of phase 3, before the re-rack. Thanks again.
 
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Brian55

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The use of your brew belt will speed up fermentation. I would skip it unless the room temp is below the mid 60s. In the future I wouldn't worry about the head space as there will be plenty of Co2 coming out of it during those 4-6 weeks. After racking into the carboy, you should definitely top it up with a similar wine.

Time for another fermenter, and few more carboys.

I would highly recommend a vacuum of some sort for degassing. Something as simple as a mity-vac brake bleeder, or a cheap e-bay vacuum pump will work. If you want to spend some money there's a member on here that sells a fancy kit with a vacuum pump.
 

Gilmango

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Thanks again Brian. It does get down as low as 60F in my house, hence the brew belt. First wine (RSJ Nebbiolo international cru 12L) the kit advised to ferment at 75F so I kept the belt on for the entire primary with the EC-1118. This one I used BM4x4, started with the belt on, then took it off after 36 hours as the fermentation was going strong and the wine was 77F, with the belt off the temp got as low as 64F at the end, so I put it on for the last 24 hours just to be sure it did not stall.

I have at least 6 glass carboys and a couple basic buckets from my beer making endeavors, so hoping not to add more but really happy I added the Speidel for EM. If I wind up liking these first wines enough (which I may not know for a year or two) to continue with winemaking I will look at adding a vacuum.
 

KCCam

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I highly recommend the All-in-One. Anyone I've ever seen comment about it (myself included) has always had nothing but good things to say about it, and about the quality, personal service you get from Steve. You could save a hundred bucks, maybe two, by doing your own, but if you're anything like me, it'll cost more in the long run. I bought a cheap pump from eBay. It sat around forever while I "thought about" how I was going to get the fittings and the tubing, etc., etc. Then it broke down when I finally did get around to using it. Either way, if you can afford it, do it. The work it saves on a single batch is worth it, IMHO. But then again, I'm getting on in years, and not having to lift a single full carboy to rack, degas, or bottle is a back-saver.
 
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