First batches for 2022

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Is there a disadvantage to continuing primary fermentation for extraction purposes?
Depends if you do it right or do it wrong. Wrong is, as Craig alluded, permitting too much air contact.

For me, the "right" way to make wine was putting it under airlock ASAP. It's only in the last few years that I considered extended maceration (EM), and it took several years of reading what professionals say and watching the results of folks on this forum trying it, for me to accept the idea.

I'm like that Dilbert quote: "Change is good. YOU go first!" I'm very much in favor of learning from the mistakes of others in lieu of making them myself.

For home winemakers, the best way to do any form of EM (letting the pomace soak in the wine following fermentation) is to do it in a sealed container where the airspace is full of CO2. [Professionals with the right equipment perform pump-overs and other techniques that are not readily available to home winemakers.]

EM is done by sealing the container when the SG is between 1.010 and 1.020. There is some disagreement as to the point of sealing, but I've gleaned that 1.010 is a good safe bottom number. The wine is continuing to emit CO2, which pushes the air out of the sealed fermenter, and protects it during the maceration.

Note: Folks add inert gas to the secondary to displace air in the headspace. However, gases mix very quickly, so it's impossible to determine if the air has been displaced. Pump enough inert gas in and it will work, but that's beyond my personal risk tolerance. Folks do it, they report it works fine, but I am not comfortable with it.

OTOH, CO2 emitting from the wine will push the air at the top of the fermenter out the airlock. It will mix with the air above the wine, but the continuous emission of CO2 pushes enough air out that it works. I have confidence in this method as the emission is continuous. YMMV

The FWK instructions state to seal the container at 1.020 and leave it sealed until Day 14. I did that with recent Frutta kits, and AFAIK, it worked fine. Fermentation completed and the gross lees dropped. Folks on this forum have performed EM as long as 8 weeks.

What happens during EM? Mostly tannin extraction. Aroma and color are extracted mostly during the first few days of fermentation, then that extraction levels out. Tannin extraction is rapid at first but continues for weeks, both from skins and seeds. Long term effect is heavy tannin extraction, which can make the wine astringent and bitter. Good for long aging wines, but not for drinkability in the first few years.

My take is that a short maceration period (e.g., press on day 14) is likely beneficial, but I'm not sold on the longer term effects for home winemakers. I'm watching what those doing it say.
 

Earldw

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Nice reply! Right now fermentation has slowed on both reds with the Montrachet batch still forming a 6” cap but getting much looser. The EC-1118 batch is barely forming a cap at all. Both batches are taking on a decidedly deep purple hue that seems to deepen between cap-mashing sessions.
I agree with keeping them under lock early, but then again I live in Florida so it works to keep the bugs out.
‘Since I have effectively doubled the skins in these two reds, and am far too novice to start undertaking such measures as you described, I believe I will press on Friday, get them in the carboy and return to dynamics that I am mor familiar with.
 

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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.
Your spot on about the grape press. Last year in an effort to be cheap and avoid buying a crusher, I tried just putting whole frozen then thawed muscadines through it with stunningly poor performance. I figure if whole grapes could survive the press, a seed has little to worry about.
I don’t really know if I will get much from the press. As I stir the must it looks like most of the soft flesh has dissolved from the skins eliminating anything that could hold juice. If I get my druthers, there will be one carboy of pure Montrachet, one carboy of EC 1118 and one carboy of a blend of the two plus pressings. Between that and different back-sweetening and aging, I can get a whole lotta data on what I like and don’t.
 

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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.
@Earldw You are right that you can use the change in Brix to determine whether the sugar content is still changing. But as @cmason1957 points out, to determine whether the fermentation is finished you will need to calculate the SG. To do that you need the original Brix and the current Brix. You can use a calculator like this: Homebrew Refractometer Calculator.

You have three different batches of reds. If the one that started at 22 Brix is now at 5.5, then the SG is now 0.985, using the above calculator.

@winemaker81 I never convert the Brix number to a "corrected" Brix. The Brix is correct in terms of what it measures, but if we want to know the SG once fermentation is started, then we need to use a calculator like the one linked above. BTW, the hydrometer reading is also influenced by the presence of alcohol. Otherwise the reading of a finished wine would be 1.000. We are used to that and take it into account. A high alcohol wine will likely finished with a lower SG than an lower alcohol wine.

If you use a refractometer you should always record the Brix and ignore the SG scale. The SG reading on the refractometer is only correct before fermentation has started.

Personally, I usually use the refractometer and rarely use my hydrometer.
 
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@winemaker81 I never convert the Brix number to a "corrected" Brix. The Brix is correct in terms of what it measures, but if we want to know the SG once fermentation is started, then we need to use a calculator like the one linked above. BTW, the hydrometer reading is also influenced by the presence of alcohol. Otherwise the reading of a finished wine would be 1.000. We are used to that and take it into account. A high alcohol wine will likely finished with a lower SG than an lower alcohol wine.
The difference is that folks understand what the SG reading represents, but many don't understand what the refractometer reading represents. Consider how many times in the last few years we'd had to counsel folk regarding understanding what the refractometer reading means.

I have no problem with folks using a refractometer for checking progress, but don't recommend it because the complexity in understanding. Telling folks "SG <= 0.998 for 3 days means the wine is probably done" is a bit different from "Brix 5.5 doesn't mean you have sugar left, the wine is done". Consider this from the POV of a beginner who is already nervous about what they are doing. You and I have been making wine long enough that little fazes us.

After 15 years of helping me, my elder son made his first solo wine a few years ago. He flubbed a few minor things as he didn't fully understand a few points. I assumed he did, after helping me for so many years, but I was wrong. The "watch what I do" method of teaching fails to convey subtle things. Now that we are collaborating on some wines, we discuss minutia, and that helps his understanding.

Remotely helping my niece & her husband since last spring has further opened my eyes, as things in the FWK instructions I considered well written still left open points of confusion. Some of it may have been over-thinking on their part, but that's also part of being a beginner.

When bringing a beginner on board, I'm very much in favor of simplicity. We can complicate things later. ;)
 

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Muscadines will be better with sweetening. How much is a personal choice. I don't drink Muscadine wine very often, so I'm no help with how much. I've never had any worth doing more than tasting, but then I don't like much in the way of any sweetness.
I have found that in my hobbies there are always the great debates; polyurethane vs tung oil, lagers vs IPA’s, amplified vs acoustic and sweet vs dry. For me, I drink dry and sweet wines for different occasions.
I drink dry wines when I want the wine to be the main focus with conversation as a supporting function. I also drink them when conducting business over cocktails; I simply don’t drink as much. For me it would be appropriate sipping a nice Cabernet Sauvignon at a hand-rubbed butcher block table listening to Eric Clapton unplugged in the background.
‘ Sweets are all about fun and playing, something you can gulp if you want after cutting the grass, or at a picnic with AC/DC blasting out at 100db. Drunk from a wine glass, a beer stein or a red solo cup, this is your party friend, not the intellectual one. Pairs well with smoked brisket and poker.
 
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@Earldw, in addition to personal taste, some wines don't work as well dry. Country wines need a bit of sugar to bring out the fruit. I'm a dry wine drinker and that said, I don't bottle dry fruit wines as IME they aren't as good as they could be.

Same with Muscadines. I made it once, bottled dry, and was very disappointed with how astringent the wine was. I hit NC wineries on occasion -- the eastern & southern parts of the state are Muscadine & Scuppernong country. None I've tried have been bone dry, as they benefit from a bit of sugar as well.

Another wine that needs sugar is highly acidic wines. The sugar balances the acid, reducing both the sharpness and the perceived sugar.
 

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When bringing a beginner on board, I'm very much in favor of simplicity. We can complicate things later. ;)
I agree completely. It is better for beginners to use a hydrometer. For those with some experience, if they understand what a refractometer measures and how to do the calculations they might find it more convenient to use.

Since @Earldw is already using a refractometer, it is helpful to explain how to use it properly. I think that he mentioned in one of his posts that he has a science/engineering background.
 

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Thanks for all the advise and information! We have 12-1/2 gallons of red settling with the white still cooking along.
 

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Earldw

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These guys have been in the 2° Fermenter for 7 days now. They are clearing up nicely which leads to my question: would you rack these wines now to get them off the fine lees?
 

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These guys have been in the 2° Fermenter for 7 days now. They are clearing up nicely which leads to my question: would you rack these wines now to get them off the fine lees?
If it's fine lees, there is no need to rack. Search on "sur lie" and "battonage", which involve stirring the fine lees to produce more complexity.
 

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If it's fine lees, there is no need to rack. Search on "sur lie" and "battonage", which involve stirring the fine lees to produce more complexity.
For the 6 gallon and 1 gallon carboys it looks like all white yeast sludge. The 3 gallon batch has a layer of yeast sludge and a less visible almost blue layer which I’m guessing is fruit pulp. Nice read on sur lie.
 

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Your spot on about the grape press. Last year in an effort to be cheap and avoid buying a crusher, I tried just putting whole frozen then thawed muscadines through it with stunningly poor performance. I figure if whole grapes could survive the press, a seed has little to worry about.
I don’t really know if I will get much from the press. As I stir the must it looks like most of the soft flesh has dissolved from the skins eliminating anything that could hold juice. If I get my druthers, there will be one carboy of pure Montrachet, one carboy of EC 1118 and one carboy of a blend of the two plus pressings. Between that and different back-sweetening and aging, I can get a whole lotta data on what I like and don’t.
I was terribly wrong about the pressing, lots and lots of juice was there.
 
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When you seal up for that 2nd week, do you still mash down the cap?
no -- once it's sealed, don't open it until you're ready to press. The idea in sealing is the wine constantly emits CO2, which pushes the air out and produces a safe cushion. If you open the container, you let air in, which opens the wine to oxidation.
 

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no -- once it's sealed, don't open it until you're ready to press. The idea in sealing is the wine constantly emits CO2, which pushes the air out and produces a safe cushion. If you open the container, you let air in, which opens the wine to oxidation.
Thanks, I’m thinking about what to do with a blackberry that is about ready to do something with. It’s been in the 1° for 6 days, sg is 1.006 and it’s slowing down. I let the sg sample settle for a few hours and the color seems a little pale for a berry so black. As my sg is already 1.006 and probably lower yet since sampling, I think I’ll press this one tomorow and get it into 2° fermentation. By next week this time, I should have another 30#’s of berries that I’ll follow the same steps with, but seal it up a little earlier then let it set for a week.
 

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@winemaker81 I do my primary in a bucket. If I was to leave it in there on the lees for a 2nd week, I'd be concerned about oxygen exposure. If you want to give it a 2nd week on the fruit pulp, do you use a carboy for primary fermentation?
No, I’m using buckets for !°. I do have a pretty good diversity of sizes though;2, 3-1/2, 5, 6, 7-1/2. Right now it’s in a 6, but If I put it in a 5, there would only be about 2” of headspace. Do you think that might help?
 

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