First batches for 2022

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Earldw

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Howdy everyone,
yesterday I crushed 175 pounds of ‘Ison’ muscadines Into a big igloo cooler. I pulled 5-1/2 gallons of free-run juice for a white, while the rest of the juice and pulp made about 16 gallons of must. I added simple syrup to bring the juice up to about 22 Brix. The white was in a 6 gallon bucket so I ended up pouring some of the sweetened juice into the other buckets to maintain some headspace. After that I added Camden tablets, pectic enzyme and yeast nutrient per package directions. I stirred up everything, laid the lid across the top and let it set 24 hours.

Today I made up 4 yeast cultures; three Montrachet’s for the reds and one Lelvin 1118 for the white. While the yeast was getting happy, I took the following measures all at 77.3F
Red batch 1 Brix - 23.2, pH 3.27
Red batch 2 Brix - 22.0, pH 3.33
Red batch 3 Brix 20.5, pH 3.26
White batch 1 Brix 23.7. pH 3.43, sg 1.102
You may note that there was no specific gravity on the reds. The pectic enzyme seems to have been pretty effective at turning the red must into a thin gell so the hydrometer was not very useful. I did record the white’s specific gravity for reference.
I made 3 Montrachet yeast starters for the reds and one Lelvin EC 1118 For the white. The first and second pitches were fine, but when I pitched #3 I messed up and grabbed the EC 1118 instead of the Montrachet. I guess this will be my first unintended experiment. Made another EC 1118 starter and pitched to the white.
I put a fermentation lock on top. Plan to stir the reds 3 or 4 times a day (it’s good to be retired!) and leave the white alone.

I did learn a couple of things. First, 175 pounds was pretty ambitious for my limited skills. It was easy enough to crush the grapes, but mixing became an issue using 6 and 7 gallon buckets. Next time I’ll add the yeast nutrient, Camden tablets and pectic enzyme in the cooler before transferring to the buckets. Also, the brix readings changed between the first day and the second. I’m guessing part of that was insufficient stirring and also some sugar release with the pectic enzyme breaking down the pulp.

I put another 40 pounds of muscadines in the freezer today so by next week as this batch finishes primary fermentation it will be time to start over with 120 pounds. Any feedback your willing to provide will be most useful!

Thanks,

Earl
 

BernardSmith

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Hi Earl, Not sure I follow.If you know the Brix which is the sugar content as a percentage of the liquid (22 Brix = 22% sugar and 78% water) then you know, or can calculate the SG (which is about 4 times the Brix for all intents and purposes) . So , a Brix of 22 is an SG of about 1.090 and a Brix of 20.5 is an SG of approximately 1.085 (the accurate conversion is far more complex but multiply Brix by 4 and you are in the ballpark.
 
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Earl, you have good ambition! It sounds like you're off to a good start.

Don't worry about the yeast -- as you said, it's now an experiment. It will work out fine in the end.

I have a stainless steel paddle I use for mixing -- it was pricey, but has proven its value. For larger batches, powdered K-meta is easier to use, and it's cheaper than Campden.

Don't fill the primaries more than 3/4 full, to avoid overflow if the yeast get jiggy. Rubbermaid Brutes in 12 gallon size are probably bigger than you need, but too big is better than too small!
 

Earldw

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Looks like the yeast is getting busy on the reds with the white just starting. I overloaded the buckets so this morning I pulled 3//4-gallon each from #1 and #2 to make #1a. I also pulled a gallon from #3 to make #3a.
Brix has dropped 5-7 points on each batch except for the white which dropped 0.2, but it is looking all foamy on top.
I tried to upload a video of the bucket bubbling; it literally looked like it was simmering on a stove, but I couldn't meet the file extension requirements. I would imagine if every newbee posted videos of wine cooking, the server would fill up pretty fast.
 

Hazelemere

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potassium metabisulphite leaves a better aftertaste than Campbden tablets. 1/8 tsp dry gives you 60 ppm sulphite in an American gallon and 50 ppm sulphite in an Imperial gallon.
 

Raptor99

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I have switched to Kmeta powder. I suggest getting a small digital scale that can measure down to 0.01 g. That is much more accurate then measuring by volume for small amounts. Also, you can adjust the amount of Kmeta based on pH, because a higher pH requires more Kmeta, lower pH requires less.

EDIT: See the chart at the end of this article https://www.accuvin.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/How-SO2-and-pH-are-Linked.pdf
 
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That is much more accurate then measuring by volume for small amounts.
An alternative is to dissolve the K-meta in water, e.g., I had five 4 liter jugs, so I dissolved 1/4 tsp K-meta in 5 Tbsp water, stirred well, and added 1 Tbsp to each jug. Using a good digital scale is probably a better solution, but I didn't (and still don't) have one. [I need to rectify this!]
 

Earldw

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Everything is cooking along. The reds have dropped to 8 Brix and the white to 18 Brix. The reds taste like wine while the white still pretty much grape juice.

Although the reds are tasting pretty good, they look like a deep red shade of pepto bismol. Makes me wonder how long I should let it sit on the skins?
 

Earldw

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Five days in and the reds have slowed way down. The one made with Montrachet has a Brix of 6.5° and is very noticeably more acidic on the tongue than the EC-1118; very bright, very tart and it comes hard at the end.
The EC-1118 batch is at 5.5° Brix and is actually starting to taste pretty good. The cap forms slower now than the Montrachet batches and it seems a deeper purple color.
The white is just cooking away, 15° last night when I gave it a stir. It looked like champagne in the bucket with a slight red blush. Last years white started that way and ended up a golden straw color.
 
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The EC-1118 batch is at 5.5° Brix
Is 5.5 the reading on the refractometer, or did you lookup the conversion?

If you're not aware, a refractometer is accurate prior to fermentation, but as fermentation proceeds, the lighter-than-water alcohol skews the reading. Conversion tables are available on the net.

For this reason, I use a hydrometer, as no conversion is necessary. I have fine mesh straining bags and wrap one around a Fermtech wine thief to strain out solids, so I can get a fairly accurate SG reading.

I say "fairly accurate" as CO2 present makes an exact reading difficult. However, during fermentation I need an approximation of the SG to know how far along the fermentation is. If the SG is 1.032, 1.030, or 1.028 it makes no difference, as I won't change a decision based upon the exact value. I don't need a solid reading until the end of fermentation.
 

Earldw

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Refractometer, and I didn’t know that. I’m more interested in the change in value than the value itself at this point so it can be skewed quite a bit before it would matter. There are so many suspended solids right now it looks like grape soup so a hydrometer would likely be even less accurate until some of that settles out. As you said, no decisions are being made at this point, far from 1° fermentation ending.
 
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Refractometer, and I didn’t know that. I’m more interested in the change in value than the value itself at this point so it can be skewed quite a bit before it would matter. There are so many suspended solids right now it looks like grape soup so a hydrometer would likely be even less accurate until some of that settles out. As you said, no decisions are being made at this point, far from 1° fermentation ending.

I think you are missing what Bryan was trying to point out. Let's say you started at 1.085 and it now reads 5.5. The correction tables say the SG is now 0.986 and you are done fermenting.
 
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There are so many suspended solids right now it looks like grape soup so a hydrometer would likely be even less accurate until some of that settles out.
I made a very high-tech jig for racking -- to avoid clogging the racking tube, you will want to make one:

jig.jpg


Wrap it in a straining bag, sink it in the must, and put the racking cane inside. You'll be VERY happy you have it.

I need to dig out a rat-tail file and clean the holes, and realized I need to drill a few more holes. It's simply 2' of 3" or 4" PVC, drilled with a 1/4" or 3/8" drill bit (can't remember which, and it doesn't matter much).
 

Earldw

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I think you are missing what Bryan was trying to point out. Let's say you started at 1.085 and it now reads 5.5. The correction tables say the SG is now 0.986 and you are done fermenting.
Is there a disadvantage to continuing primary fermentation for extraction purposes? They are covered with fermentation locks, getting a bubble every 45 seconds or so and when I open it up to mash down the cap, still see lots of foaming. My intention is to let it sit with the skins for about a week (thanks winemaker81), then dump the must through a strainer-bag lined wine press into waiting carboy’s, then collect the pressed juice separately for headspace adjustment.
 
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I don't like to leave my fermentation in a bucket for that long. Haven't ever done it, so I can't answer if it will cause harm or not. My thinking is to large an area exposed. Also, I mix my free run with pressed juice always. I don't think my hand crank fruit press can exert enough pressure to break seeds and cause overly tannic wine.
 

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