first post on this site need beginner advice 3 questions

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djlsdracula

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I have been a member of HBT since January and I have got some beer brewing under my belt.

Now I want to try wine making but I have some questions.

1. I am thinking about trying to make a fruit wine. A 5 gallon batch. I think I understand the process but I am limited on equipment right now. I was planning on preparing my must and fermenting in an ale pail for the first 5 days. Then I was going to transfer to a 6 gallon BB for secondary but I am concerned about the headspace left in the BB. Is it too much? Will there be enough fermentation left after 5 days to displace all the oxygen in the BB? I really don't want to buy a 5 gallon BB because this fruit wine thing might not be something I do very often. It's really just an experiment at this point.

2. I want to make a fruit wine with a combination of 2 or 3 fruits. The only site I've found that has general recipes for fruit wine is the eckraus site
the problem is that I ran some of the sugar additions they have in the recipes with brew calculus and they end up being 14% abv or more. I know that is within the range of the yeast but it would require a year or more of aging before the hot taste goes away. I want to make something in the 11-13% range. Is there a way to determine the gravity/sugar content of a certain fruit by weight so one can determine how much extra sugar to add? Or do you just stab in the dark and add sugar a little at a time until the appropriate O.G. is reached?

3. During primary fermentation is it better to cover the pail with the lid and airlock or a towel like I've read on some websites? I think the reason for the towel was to allow oxygen to pass through for the yeast because you wouldn't be able to shake the primary to add oxygen with all the fruit in there. I don't have an oxygenation system. It's on my wishlist though.
 

smurfe

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Welcome to the site. What I would do is probably just make a 6 gallon batch unless you have CO2 from your beer making. You could them blanket the wine with a CO2 layer and be good. Starting in the bucket and transferring to a carboy is just fine and the way most do it. What I do is stick an airlock with water in it in the lid but just set the lid on top for the first few days. If I leave it in the bucket longer and do sometime I will them snap the lid down tight. I always leave it in the bucket until explosive fermentation is over as when I transfer to the carboy I top off and don't want it foaming out the airlock.

In regards to the sugar use. With wine making you can do it a couple ways. You can use pure juice by juicing the fruit some way or do like many where you add the fruit in a sack to water to extract the color and flavor. You don't extract all the potential sugars from most fruit and have to add sugar. You will pour near boiling water over the fruit sack to extract that flavor and sugar. You can then check the SG and start adding sugar from there. Many just add a pre-defined amount an call it good. Most of us here recommend to keep the ABV in the 12% range or so. If you get it too high with some wines even after a year or two it could be still too hot to drink and enjoy.

Good luck with the wine. We are here to help. Fire away with further questions.
 

djlsdracula

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So. If I understand correctly the fruit in a bag method doesn't add fermentable fructose only color and flavor. All the alcohol comes from the fermentation of the added sugar?
 

Wade E

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You wil surely extarct sugars from the fruit but most of the sugar will be from the sugar you add. As far as the blanket vrs. the lid issue, anything to let O2 get to your wine is good as yeast need 02 to multiply and thrive. That being said I use the lid snapped down and stir a few times a day when fruit is in there to punch down the cap(keep all fruit wet) and this action gives the yeast plenty of 02. If you dont have the C02 system then make sure you rack to carboy at around 1.020 so that there will be plenty of fermentation to crete C02 to blanket your wine but i dont recommend it being that low in the crboy for too long. A vessel with much less headspace is a much better way to go.
 

cpfan

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1. If you have a 6 gallon carboy make 6 gallons of wine. What's an "ale pail"? A primary that stinks of beer and may contribute some beer flavour to the wine? If so, don't use it.

2. There are many many sites with recipes. Google "jack keller wine" for a well known site. If you have a hydrometer, use it to help to measure the potential alcohol in the primary. If you don't have a hydrometer, get one.

3. Tight lid with bung & air lock OR towel OR loose fitting lid? Your choice. I use a loose fitting lid on a large primary. EG 11-12 US gallon primary for a 6 US gallon batch. It really doesn't matter and anybody who insists that one is right over the other two is wrong.

Good luck, Steve
 

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