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WineXpert "Contre Le Vent" CabSauv First Batch Journal

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CabSauv

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Well I got my kit and juice yesterday and my first batch is underway. I figured I'd log my first batch on here in case I need to ask questions or for reference for other newbies who haven't started their first batch yet.

Type of wine: Cabernet Sauvignon
Date started: 3/26/2017
Starting specific gravity: 1.090
Recipe Tweak: 1/2 oak chips, 1/2 french oak chips, 1.5 tsp tannin

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CabSauv

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Sorry about the pictures, I forgot to rotate some of them before posting. Any mods able to fix that or allow me to remove and add them back with correct orientation?
 

Johnd

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Is your fermenter lid snapped down tight, or just sitting loosely on top?
 

CabSauv

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Is your fermenter lid snapped down tight, or just sitting loosely on top?
Sealed tight, I snapped it in and hammer fisted all the way around.
 

Johnd

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Sealed tight, I snapped it in and hammer fisted all the way around.
LOL, thought so. That's a PIA for stirring and checking, which you'll do incessantly on your first batch. It's not necessary, and if you like, just place it loosely on top so you can do your duties. All it really needs to do during fermentation is keep dirt, bugs, hair, stuff like that from getting in. Some even just drape a towel or cheesecloth over the top.
 

CabSauv

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LOL, thought so. That's a PIA for stirring and checking, which you'll do incessantly on your first batch. It's not necessary, and if you like, just place it loosely on top so you can do your duties. All it really needs to do during fermentation is keep dirt, bugs, hair, stuff like that from getting in. Some even just drape a towel or cheesecloth over the top.
Interesting. Well, that's lesson #1 learned post starting first batch primary fermentation. LOL.

I do have a question though, as it looks now, the potential ABV looks to be about 12%. I would really like it to be about 13%-13.5%. Can I achieve this by adding some sugar syrup to increase the must by 1 Brix in about 2-3 days or should I just add more yeast, or both? My fear is that fermentation stops and I end up with a sweet wine which I don't want.
 
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Johnd

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You could either add sugar or sugar syrup in the appropriate amounts, no additional yeast needed. Remember that if you increase the alcohol content that the alcohol may overwhelm the body of the wine, leaving it a bit "hot". These kits are alcohol, body, and acid balanced to produce a harmonious product. For your first kit, consider making it as is, until you get the hang of the process, how, when, and why to tweak the kits.

For the most part, if you're boosting the booze, a corresponding boost of the body is in order, its typically something planned before starting the kit.
 

CabSauv

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UPDATE 1:
The airlock started showing signs of activity about 20 hours after pitching the yeast. I popped open the lid after work about 26 hours after pitching yeast to take a look and give it a quick stir. The aroma was amazing! The SG is still at 1.090. Day 1 is in the books for primary fermentation.
 

Boatboy24

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UPDATE 1:
The airlock started showing signs of activity about 20 hours after pitching the yeast. I popped open the lid after work about 26 hours after pitching yeast to take a look and give it a quick stir. The aroma was amazing! The SG is still at 1.090. Day 1 is in the books for primary fermentation.
Looks like we've got another one on the line! Someone reel him in! :)
 

CabSauv

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Looks like we've got another one on the line! Someone reel him in! :)
Hey now, I'm an experienced wine drinker but if I can master wine MAKING, I can hole up in my cabin by the wood burning stove without ever having to leave! LOL :dg
 

CabSauv

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UPDATE 2:
She's chugging right along just beautifully. My entire laundry room has a wonderful aroma. I gave a stir and checked the SG which is just over 1.080 so it's reassuring to know that fermentation is occurring. The kit says to use the case the hydrometer came in for measuring but the hydrometer is so close to the bottom of the case at the start of fermentation I opted to measure directly in the bucket until I get a proper test tube or I'll just use the case later once the density decreases. My wife is already asking for some blackberry sangria and my dad is really interested in starting too. I find it ridiculous that I didn't start making wine sooner!

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Kraffty

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Looking like a pro already Doug. I'm guessing you're figuring your ABV based on ending at 1.0 but you'll probably end up at .992 putting you closer to 13% abv, not that it really matters much. The only suggestion I'd offer is to order a cylinder and base for testing with your hydrometer, looks like you're using the case it came in and it looks like a crash waiting to happen. A spare hydrometer is also really good to keep on hand.
Keep us updated.
Mike
 

CabSauv

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Thanks Kraffty! 13% would be perfect. Correct, as I mentioned in my post today (Update 2), that picture with the hydrometer was directly in the bucket because I ditched using the hydrometer case as it's just not stable or deep enough for proper measuring. I'll be going to the HBS to pick up a test tube and a few spare bits and bobs.
 

Ajmassa

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Nice man. I'm excited for ya. Nothing like a full red just starting to cook away. The smell at day 2 and 3 is enough to make anyone a lifer. One of my favorite parts in all winemaking.
I definitely suggest taking advice here over the kits instructions. At least for now. Letting her go all the way dry. And rack when SG stops dropping. Every step of the way you'll be learning and pretty much that doesn't stop. I know I'll be following closely.
Hard to tell from pics, but looks like you went with the 6 gal and not the 1 gal. Good move. The loose lid, fermenting dry for higher ABV than the "potential abv", spare hydrometer and cylinder tube is all great advice. And to be honest, it's the winemaking combined with people so willing to help and offer advice that you won't find on any instructions that encourages one to keep going.
I'd bet my house you'll be picking up more equipment and starting another batch as this one is aging!
 

CabSauv

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Nice man. I'm excited for ya. Nothing like a full red just starting to cook away. The smell at day 2 and 3 is enough to make anyone a lifer. One of my favorite parts in all winemaking.
I definitely suggest taking advice here over the kits instructions. At least for now. Letting her go all the way dry. And rack when SG stops dropping. Every step of the way you'll be learning and pretty much that doesn't stop. I know I'll be following closely.
Hard to tell from pics, but looks like you went with the 6 gal and not the 1 gal. Good move. The loose lid, fermenting dry for higher ABV than the "potential abv", spare hydrometer and cylinder tube is all great advice. And to be honest, it's the winemaking combined with people so willing to help and offer advice that you won't find on any instructions that encourages one to keep going.
I'd bet my house you'll be picking up more equipment and starting another batch as this one is aging!
YES! The advice I've been given so far, specifically from John, has been noted and followed up to this point. The kit instructions are a good reference point, but who likes following a piece of paper over personal experience? Not me. Yep, a 6 gallon kit. The 1 or 3 gallon kits wouldn't have been worth all the effort for just a few bottles. This place has been great and I'm glad I joined before starting, just reading a few stickied threads and a few PMs have taught me so much already. As a matter of fact, I'm going to the HBS for a solid bung for aging in the carboy, a test tube, and probably another hydrometer. After I get through this first batch, I may get another bucket and carboy to expand my winepire (I'm going to trademark that name) and my dad is already interested in starting up now.
 

Ajmassa

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I'm going to the HBS for a solid bung for aging in the carboy, a test tube, and probably another hydrometer. After I get through this first batch, I may get another bucket and carboy to expand my winepire

An extra carboy would be beneficial (if not needed) anyway making racking a one step process instead of carboy to bucket then bucket back into carboy. The more handling the higher potential for something to go wrong.
And funny you should mention the solid bung because there's a newer thread discussing this. Seems like most kit instructions call for a solid bung for aging but the vast majority do not use them for multiple reasons. And a bung with an airlock is used by most throughout aging.
 

CabSauv

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Ok, cool. Well in that case I am already good to go because I bought an additional air lock when I got my kit because I wanted a spare on hand in case anything went wrong with the other one during primary fermentation. So I probably just need another bucket, carboy, and bung or at least an extra carboy and bung at a minimum.

I do have one question about my current batch, should I degas with a good stir after primary fermentation in the bucket (and then let sediment settle) before racking to the carboy for secondary fermentation? I've seen some people recommend it and others don't mention it, and my kit makes no mention of it either. Is this step dependent on the type of wine or just a preference thing?
 

Ajmassa

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That's preference. Plus Your wine will still be producing some CO2 after primary as well. Some much longer. Everybody has their own way and none of them are really wrong per se. But no I don't do that because you're not topping off until after you stabilize after "secondary"-- (which is the same alcohol fermentation process as primary. Just the tail end of it and now in glass FYI. That one confused the hell out of me at first) And those CO2 gases are beneficial and protect the wine during your secondary. Because you should have a bit of headspace after racking to glass leaving behind all the lees that dropped out.
I actually never degassed at all until I started kits. They have you degas thoroughly so the clearing agents work properly and your able to bottle in the 6 or 8 week timeline. Prior to kits I would just rack and sulfite every 3-4 months and the wine would degas and clear on its own with enough time.
Without co2 or k-meta & stabilizing, that headspace is vulnerable to bacteria and oxidation. Headspace is also nice for CO2 fizz space when degassing and mixing in the agents after secondary.
 

Johnd

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I do have one question about my current batch, should I degas with a good stir after primary fermentation in the bucket (and then let sediment settle) before racking to the carboy for secondary fermentation? I've seen some people recommend it and others don't mention it, and my kit makes no mention of it either. Is this step dependent on the type of wine or just a preference thing?
You don't need to degas when you move to the carboy from the bucket.

Check your directions, some WE kits want you to transfer the sediment from the bucket to the carboy to aid the clearing agents, go ahead and follow their instructions if you intend to use the clearing agents. I've left the lees behind, despite the instructions, and never had a clearing problem, but on kit # 1, stick to the script, we'll throw some alternatives at you later.

Removal of gas is typically done after the completion of fermentation in the carboy, when you add your sulfites and clearing agents, you'll get to that down the road a bit........and we'll start a whole new discussion about degassing...yay...
 
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