Quantcast

Did I turn my wine into Vinegar?

Wine Making Talk

Help Support Wine Making Talk:

Shuler7

Junior
Joined
Oct 16, 2020
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Hello all!

This is my first post on this site, so please let me know if I am doing anything wrong!

I have been making beer for a few years now, and a friend had a newly bought wine making kit that they had no intention of using, so it was graciously donated to me! I figured I might as well start making wine then. For my first wine I bought 6 gallons of grape juice (no preservatives!) from Aldi and found some recipe online to turn it into wine. I figured I would start with a small investment to to get an idea of how the process differs from beer making. The result... It turned out ok! I bottled this wine yesterday (and started drinking this wine yesterday....) and while the taste is a little harsh it is drinkable. About halfway through the fermentation of my first wine I saw a special seasonal offer from my local brew supply store: Fresh California grape juice available only once a year! I thought I have to try that, so I went all in. I invested in as good of a juice as I thought possible to obtain where I currently live, and read as much as I could to make sure everything went alright. Tragedy struck this evening though; I was siphoning the nice wine into a new carboy so I of course took a sample for myself, and it smells of vinegar. This was the enemy I had read so much about but I was naïve enough to think that it couldn't happen to me. So this brings me to my question which has two parts: First, is this the truly the end of this batch of wine, or am I being overly dramatic? Second, if it has truly turned vinegary, what are some tips for making the most out of this wine/vinegar?

Any advice or insight is greatly appreciated! Thank you all for your time!
 

sour_grapes

Victim of the Invasion of the Avatar Snatchers
Joined
Sep 19, 2013
Messages
11,627
Reaction score
9,962
Location
near Milwaukee
My vote: You are being overly dramatic!

Vinegar (acetic acid) comes about when 3 things are present: Alcohol, acetobacter (bacteria), and oxygen. Plus some time. From the short description you gave above, I cannot imagine you had the conditions necessary to create vinegar.

Do you have a hydrometer and potassium metabisulfite? These are your most important two tools.
 

Shuler7

Junior
Joined
Oct 16, 2020
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
So to give a little more info in the process: When I first pitched the yeast I put a lid and airlock on my fermenter. Overnight, the the fermentation foamed out of the top of the bucket, so I removed the lid for the next two-three days and covered with a loose tea towel (a lazy attempt to keep the fruit flies out). I checked the gravity at this point, and the gravity was already down to around 1.002. In hindsight, I am worried that any contamination would have happened during this time: I should have placed the lid back on before the gravity got that low. Anyway, I then moved to a secondary a couple days later. I didn't add any sulfite because my thought is that there may still be a little fermentation going on and adding sulfite at this point would potentially stop any fermentation. Is this correct or should I have added sulfite when I transferred? In this carboy there is about a .5-1 gallon of free headspace at the top, which I was hoping would not be a problem since there should have been a little fermentation still ongoing. After two weeks I transferred again, and this is when I smelled the vinegar.

As for the taste, it is still drinkable, but I do believe it does also have a vinegar taste as well. It is a little hard to say though since maybe I am just smelling vinegar as I taste the wine.
 

stickman

Veteran Winemaker
Joined
Jun 16, 2014
Messages
1,696
Reaction score
1,630
It's actually fairly difficult to smell vinegar in wine. Do you smell ethyl acetate which smells like nail polish? If so, then you might have some vinegar, but I agree with earlier responses that this would be unusual this early in the process. My first guess here is that you might be just smelling a harshness associated with CO2 and young wine.
 

Shuler7

Junior
Joined
Oct 16, 2020
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
I wouldn't say it smells like nail polish, I would say the smell is distinctly like vinegar. Hopefully this is a good thing then and the smell will disappear over time. I will go with your suggestions and give the wine some more time then! In the meantime I added 1/4 tsp of sodium metabisulphate to hopefully take care of anything that is hanging around in there. Thank you all for your responses I will post an update at the next racking sometime near the beginning of December!
 

hounddawg

Dawg
Joined
Oct 23, 2014
Messages
2,380
Reaction score
1,551
Location
very N.E. Arkansas in the instep of MO, BOOTHILL,,
i agree with @sour_grapes and @stickman , when i ferment i use a open barrel with a towel or sheet over it, and i stir daily till fermentation is over, do you have a hydrometer, i only airlock, from a SG of 1.000 or lower I,E, .996,, until ferment is over oxygen is good but once ferment is over from then own oxygen is your wines enemy, young wines are harsh, not to mention how do you like your wine, dry? semi-dry? semi-sweet? sweet?, ,do you have a hydrometer.
Dawg
 
  • Like
Reactions: s w

Rice_Guy

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2014
Messages
1,184
Reaction score
826
Location
Midwest
VA (volatile acidity)/ vinegar/ acetic acid is distinctive. If it smells and tastes like vinegar, it is there, acetic acid is not unusual and is part of what is called a complex flavor in wine. ,,, That said you may have a higher sensitivity to acetic acid than the average population or you may be lucky enough to have the background to be able to put a name on it. (I have laughed at descriptors that show up on the customer complaint line for product I work on)
more info in the process:. . . or should I have added sulfite when I transferred? In this carboy there is about a .5-1 gallon of free headspace at the top, . . . After two weeks I transferred again, and this is when I smelled the vinegar.
As for the taste, it is still drinkable, but I do believe it does also have a vinegar taste as well. It is a little hard to say though since maybe I am just smelling vinegar as I taste the wine.
In the future, ,,, @sour_grapes noted what is needed to produce acetic acid. From your process description a gallon of head space/ oxygen is bad, it will encourage growth of acetobacter. Always minimize the head space. . you also want to minimize air to minimize acetaldehyde (oxidized ethyl alcohol)
It is normal to allow air exchange in the primary, the yeast is actively flushing oxygen out so it is less of a risk factor.
Normally when you go anaerobic you also add potassium metabisulphite, we want a reductive environment and it also keeps micro issues down. In my home winemaking increasing dosage of meta went along with blue ribbons in contest. ,,, if you don’t test assume zero at each racking.
You can not remove acetic acid at home! At this point plan to drink it young. Sugar can disguise/ balance some of the flavor. And hold in your back pocket that most folks can’t name the defect. The ethyl acetate is a further reaction of acetic acid with ethyl alcohol. The reaction takes time so again I suggest drink it young.
 

Latest posts

Top