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First batch is going to be... Weird. More help with batch 002!

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Mdrew

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I picked about 70lbs of an unknown type of grape from my neighbors vine. I de-stemmed all the grapes and froze them all in two double trash bags.

They smelled super sweet to me. Some were mushy, and none were hard. I think they were ready to pick. The color was both purple and green, but mostly purple.

I bought a kit from a local wine and beer place. They tested the grapes with one of those things you look in and hold up to the light, they said they said the grapes weren't too sweet (I was surprised). The recipient they gave me, with steps to follow was pretty straight forward. I went through it and ran into several issues.

I believe my primary fermentation stage, a medium sized food grade trashcan with cheese cloth bag and lid, was too cold. My basement got pretty cold, and I think I pulled it out of there too early. Specific gravity was 1.050 eventually it seemed to have stalled out and I did a restart with it, new yeast, dumped a half gallon or so out, and put in more excited, not dead, yeast. That eventually got my sg down to 1.000

One of the things I didn't like was adding frozen juice to makeup for the lees volume. The Welch's frozen white grape juice has loads of additives, whereas the purple juice was just grapes. I opted for the purple stuff, and it totally changed the color of my wine! After all this effort, I'd like to make as little modifications as possible to stay true to the neighbors vine.

I also did a poor job with sanitization. I'm concerned that the wine I bottled will poison people. I hope (?) if it goes off, it will be full of mold, and smell disgusting. To make it obvious it's gone bad. I read I need to store the bottles for 2 months for a white, and 6 months for a red before drinking. Should they be stored on their sides, with wine against the cork? Or upright, dry cork? Because I added that purple juice, I'm not sure if this is a white, or red wine even.

I never did a cold crash. I decanted only 2 times. Looked okay, and boom, it's in bottles. It tasted pretty sweet to me.

I've attached some pictures so you can get a look at some of the progress.

This next time around, I'd like to think twice before adding 12lbs of sugar. I want to check, and adjust the pH. I want to get a few of those aquarium thermometer stickers for the car boys so I can make sure the temperature doesn't get too off. I want to add grape juice that won't mess with the natural color.

What juice should I use? Or wine, if I don't know what type of grapes these are? How do I use the hygrometer through the whole process to know where I'm at in the fermentation process (a link to a how to would be aok)? Once I've got the primary fermentation done, how do I know how many rackings back and forth are necessary?

I just need more direction and hand holding here. I've got a few books on hold at the library, and am following Home Winemaking Channel on YouTube.

Thanks!
Drew
Tacoma WA
 

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balatonwine

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Shooting from the hip, those crushed grapes in the bucket (bag?) look like muscadine. Where are you located?

The bottled wine looks cloudy. Probably did not let it clarify fully, which means it probably is not degassed either. Seeing the cork on one seems either to have not been put in all the way, or is coming out from internal gas pressure. If the latter, that is a problem.
 

stickman

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I didn't see any mention of potassium sorbate, so I would be cautious about those bottles exploding, maybe store where a mess won't be a problem.
 

balatonwine

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How do I use the hygrometer through the whole process to know where I'm at in the fermentation process
Consider getting a hydrometer that reads in Brix (~amount of sugar). When Brix is zero, you are done with fermentation. And easier to understand and use than the SG scale.

Any must over 19 Brix can be fermented "okay" in theory (potential alcohol should be enough to protect the wine), but 20 brix or higher is of course better till about 25 brix, then there is too much sugar for most yeast strains to completely ferment and you may get stuck fermentation.

But acidity is also important. You might consider a pH meter to measure that (even a cheap one is good enough for unknown grapes).
 
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Mdrew

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You guys are terrific.

@sour_grapes I know how to read it, I just wasn't sure what to do with which numbers.
(FG - OG) x 131.25 = ABV %
Final Gravity - Original Gravity
source

@stickman holy smokes! Guess that's an important step. I reviewed the instructions I followed, and that potassium sorbate is in there. In fact, I think I remember putting those little white sprinkles in there before botteling. Whew.

@balatonwine I need to take a closer look at my hygrometer and see what I'm working with. Regardless, I'll figure it out, and make it happen. Noted on the acidity. I'll look into taking care of that in the initial stages on this next batch.

thanks again everyone!
 

Mdrew

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Just started batch 002. I'm going to pay much closer attention to the temperature this time around. I got some of those aquarium stick on strip thermometers that help, and I can borrow the kitchen instant read digital thermometer.
My first read Specific Gravity is a hefty 1.105, pH is 3.45.
IMG_20180214_143359.jpg
 

Arne

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I know this is a bit old and late, but keep notes on what you do. It will help you remember what you added and when, really useful if you want to try and replicate your wines. Hope yours comes out great and good luck with it, Arne.
 

Mdrew

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Thanks for the encouragement. That 002 batch is doing nicely. I've got a 5G and 1G down there. I decanted once already, and it's just sitting around aging and slowing building up more stuff on the bottom. Much slower than the first decanting of course. In a few more weeks, I'll see about cold-crashing it to get it to clear up more, or use a clarifier. I've moved the jars down to the basement where it gets much colder. There is zero action on the airlock, so I'm pretty sure I'm in 100% clarifying mode. The last racking was on 3/8, had an SG of 0.990 (originally 1.102 on 2/14/18 when I started, and had added all the sugar).
 

Mdrew

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I'm about to bottle this batch, and I was going to sweeten it a little before bottling. I had been reading about ciders, and how adding sugar (back sweetening) would restart fermentation. Will that screw up wine?! I hadn't even thought about that. Should I use xylitol instead of simple syrup?

I added potassium sorbate on 6/6/18, and it's been sitting in sanitized carboys since then waiting for me to sweeten and bottle.

I had a note to "wait five days before sweetening." That was after adding the potassium sorbate. Perhaps that's enough to kill yeast dead so they don't start fermentation again?
 

Johnd

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I'm about to bottle this batch, and I was going to sweeten it a little before bottling. I had been reading about ciders, and how adding sugar (back sweetening) would restart fermentation. Will that screw up wine?! I hadn't even thought about that. Should I use xylitol instead of simple syrup?

I added potassium sorbate on 6/6/18, and it's been sitting in sanitized carboys since then waiting for me to sweeten and bottle.

I had a note to "wait five days before sweetening." That was after adding the potassium sorbate. Perhaps that's enough to kill yeast dead so they don't start fermentation again?
If you added the appropriate amount of K sorbate just a few weeks ago, you are fine to sweeten with sugar, simple syrup, honey, whatever you like.
 

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