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Well my polypropylene bucket with grommet lid seems to be airtight, or at least the airlock bubbles away and I would assume it wouldn’t if it wasn’t a good seal.
I'm still learning with every batch I make so my comments usually come from that perspective. I have left it on the skins in the primary bucket and not had issues. I'll still do that if I'm only going to EM for a couple of weeks. If it's going to be longer than that I like to get it into glass. Another thing that has changed for me is that I've started doing these kits in double batches in a 20 Gal. Brute. In those cases I monitor the SG and somewhere around 1.010 I will transfer it, skins and all, to a couple of Big Mouth Bubblers. In all honesty I do that regardless of what the instructions tell me. It's just what works for me from what I've learned through experience and reading this forum.
 
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Would it be better to leave that date open ended and state “below SG .998”
This is extended maceration, letting the pomace (skin packs) soak in the wine for a period after fermentation completes. It works by sealing the container prior to fermentation completes, so the CO2 fills the container, pushing out the air. This prevents oxidation and the humid environment prevents mold from growing on the pomace.

If you open the container to check SG, you let air in and your wine is now in danger.

While I can't answer why @Matteo_Lahm chose 15 days, my educated guess is that it's a duration that typically ensures fermentation is complete, long enough to provide benefit from the EM, and short enough that it won't exhaust the patience of new (and very impatient) winemakers.
 

Matteo_Lahm

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In our bench trials, we found that 15 days provide the best extraction from the skins without it becoming too tannic. Also, as I have said in previous comments, those last micro percentages of sugar take time. Even after the 15 days, there is still activity. In my observations, it takes weeks for wine to ferment totally dry. I always like the analogy that it starts like a rocket and finishes like a paper airplane. Even without the skins, there are advantages to this technique. As long as it is sealed at the proper time, it will be protected and it allows the wine to gas out more quickly because of the increased surface area.
Matteo


Matt
Why specifically 15 days? Is that just a general assertion that by then it will be fermented to “dry”? Would it be better to leave that date open ended and state “below SG .998”, I think that’s what other kits state. I find exact timelines on kits rarely work out as intended.
 

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Matt
Why specifically 15 days? Is that just a general assertion that by then it will be fermented to “dry”? Would it be better to leave that date open ended and state “below SG .998”, I think that’s what other kits state. I find exact timelines on kits rarely work out as intended.
I don't think 15 days is important, probably just a minimum. How are you going to measure SG without opening the fermenter and losing all your Co2?
 

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Like I said, that was when we thought the best results were achieved. As for measuring the SG at the very end, you can but it will be done fermenting. The yeast starter has for the most part resolved any issues of stuck fermentation. We’ve had not one report of it. In all the tests, they were totally dry by the time they were transferred to secondary fermentation.


I don't think 15 days is important, probably just a minimum. How are you going to measure SG without opening the fermenter and losing all your Co2?
 

Brian55

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Like I said, that was when we thought the best results were achieved. As for measuring the SG at the very end, you can but it will be done fermenting. The yeast starter has for the most part resolved any issues of stuck fermentation. We’ve had not one report of it. In all the tests, they were totally dry by the time they were transferred to secondary fermentation.
I wasn't asking, I was responding to @She'sgonnakillme. Not realizing there had already been several replies by the time I had done so.
 

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Even after the 15 days, there is still activity. In my observations, it takes weeks for wine to ferment totally dry.

In your bench trials, what are you observing to determine whether or not there is activity occurring? I.e., what is your metric for activity?
 

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For the bench trials, we looked for maximum color extraction without the wine becoming too tannic. When I say activity, I mean processing that last little bit of sugar. It takes a while and in my experience, it takes even longer than two weeks.

In your bench trials, what are you observing to determine whether or not there is activity occurring? I.e., what is your metric for activity?
 

sour_grapes

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For the bench trials, we looked for maximum color extraction without the wine becoming too tannic. When I say activity, I mean processing that last little bit of sugar. It takes a while and in my experience, it takes even longer than two weeks.

So are you saying that you make a measurement of the sugar as a function of time?
 

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I never thought about it that way. In my experience, when you get down to the lowest hydrometer readings, I’ve learned to depend on my sense of taste more than the instrument. It always takes weeks for me to not be able to taste any sugar at all.

So are you saying that you make a measurement of the sugar as a function of time?
 

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In my experience, when you get down to the lowest hydrometer readings, I’ve learned to depend on my sense of taste more than the instrument. It always takes weeks for me to not be able to taste any sugar at all.
Are saying that you can taste a change in sugar content even if you can't measure said change on the hydrometer? A hydrometer change of 0,001 is roughly a change by 2 g sucrose/liter, that would mean you can taste of change of roughly 1 g/liter from one time to another. Well, I guess Übung macht den Meister
 
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Are saying that you can taste a change in sugar content even if you can't measure said change on the hydrometer?
A former girlfriend could smell sulfite at levels far lower than anyone else in our AWS group could, so folks can be very sensitive to different things.

Also, reading a hydrometer includes judgment on the part of the reader, e.g., most are graduated at 0.002 increments, so the exact reading (unless right on a line) is a judgment call. I admit that I only take a careful hydrometer reading at 2 points -- initial and bottling. In between, if the reading is off by 0.002 it doesn't make any significant difference. It may be that the reading does not appear to change while the last drab of sugar gets eaten.
 

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You are exactly right. I view sugar processing almost as logarithmic. Once it gets going yeast can consume a third to half the sugar in 24-36 hours. In the next 24-36 hours, it will consume half that and a similar ratio will continue until the batch is done. when you get down to those final measurements on the hydrometer, it’s really difficult to gauge how much is left. That’s when I trust my taste buds.

Alcohol is essentially the excrement of the yeast organism. It’s kind of gross to think of it that way but it explains why it’s toxic to them. As the alcohol level increases, the activity slows down because they basically drown in it. This is the science behind why we use yeast starters in our kits. When you’re making a small batch, you don’t have the mass and insulation you would have in batches that are 50 gallons plus. Small batches don’t allow as much internal heat to build up which influences yeast reproduction and activity. The starters compensate for that. You start off with a raging hungry population that’s populous enough to finish off those last increments of sugar and it takes an army to do it. The very end of primary is the most dangerous and perilous point in your process. Getting the yeast over the finish line is difficult especially when you get up past the 13 1/2 to 14% ABV in our Forte kits. Leaving the primary fermentation bucket closed with an airlock until day 15 ensures that the wine ferments totally dry. When you rack after day seven, you are making the yeast population smaller. By leaving it closed and undisturbed, you get a nice clean result and, leaving the skins in that environment achieve a lot more extraction because of the higher alcohol content. Alcohol is a very powerful solvent.

As I wrote in the story of how these kits came to be, I’m the grandson of an Italian home winemaker who learned everything in the basement. Our process comes from adaptations of techniques I developed making wine in my house. My grandfather is gone 36 years and I miss him every day.

A former girlfriend could smell sulfite at levels far lower than anyone else in our AWS group could, so folks can be very sensitive to different things.

Also, reading a hydrometer includes judgment on the part of the reader, e.g., most are graduated at 0.002 increments, so the exact reading (unless right on a line) is a judgment call. I admit that I only take a careful hydrometer reading at 2 points -- initial and bottling. In between, if the reading is off by 0.002 it doesn't make any significant difference. It may be that the reading does not appear to change while the last drab of sugar gets eaten.
 

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That’s when I trust my taste buds.
I didn't say that I didn't trust your taste buds. I was more surprised/impressed by the fact that you can recall those small differences in sugar content from one time too another. I have been the head a development department within a food/beverage company and in that department we had a sensory analysis group and none of our trained testers could do that without having a reference point. Again, not saying you can't. Good for you that you can.

Also, reading a hydrometer includes judgment on the part of the reader, e.g., most are graduated at 0.002 increments, so the exact reading (unless right on a line) is a judgment call.
Having a precision hydrometer helps. Do you have a good one? AllaFrance
 
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I've enjoyed this thread very much. Thank you @Matteo_Lahm for passing along your knowledge in the wine development/crafting stage on this subject. As for me, I will be moving my 6 gallon Bordeaux from primary fermentation to secondary this weekend. No temp control to speak of, except room temperature (71 deg for 5 days then 69 deg) I did take daily readings until 1.001, then gave a good punch down and sealed my fermenter up tight and with an airlock . The last time I looked and smelled the young wine, it was fantastic.

I have 'rocked' the fermentation bucket a few times, with the hint from @winemaker81. That said, I'm not rocking it anymore to allow settling. I am looking forward to the final fermentation SG....it was 1.001 when I sealed it, and having witnessed my airlock burping for a few days I'm sure the SG is <.996. If not, I'll read it, then wait a day and read it again to see if the hydrometer reading has changed.

Am I certain that all the sugars have been eaten and fermentation is done? Nope. Do I expect it to be fully done? No, but I expect very very little until I add the packets in the next step. While I probably won't see a lot (any) of airlock activity post primary, I know it's possible.
 
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Having a precision hydrometer helps. Do you have a good one? AllaFrance
For my purposes, the one I've been using for decades is sufficient.

With your background in food production, it makes sense to have an interest in greater precision and accuracy. For me? If the FG is 0.995, 0.9954, or 0.996, it doesn't make any practical difference.

I use the OG and FG to calculate ABV to 1 decimal point, e.g., 13.1%. However, I accept that this a conceit, as FG and OG are not exactly precise, AND the formula(s) used approximate the ABV -- there is no exact calculation.
 

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Yeah, it’s hard for me to use low quality equipment after spending all those years in the food industry, having said that, I agree with you, that it doesn’t make any difference in most cases. It’s an overkill for sure.
However, the question I made before was about being able to taste a difference that couldn’t be detected by a hydrometer. I expect producers/developers of wine kits to have access to industry standard instruments. But let’s drop this discussion. 😊
 
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Odd / random thought and probably not quite right, but who knows. Could the sprinkling of yeast that other wine kit manufacturers have you do, as opposed to making a wonderfully robust yeast starter have something to do with the dreaded kit taste that most folks say doesn't exist with the FWK kits??
 

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Good point cmason1957, but I suspect that cooking the juice has more of an impact. Although, stressing the yeast is said to lend 'off' flavors, so I would like to see where this goes!
 
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Odd / random thought and probably not quite right, but who knows. Could the sprinkling of yeast that other wine kit manufacturers have you do, as opposed to making a wonderfully robust yeast starter have something to do with the dreaded kit taste that most folks say doesn't exist with the FWK kits??
I have sprinkled yeast on top of grape, juice, and fruit wines without producing kit taste, so I expect @G259's point is correct.

A good technique in problem solving is eliminate the things that do not fit, so this was a good thought.
 

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