Found out I may not be as strange as I thought.

Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum

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Aug 27, 2020
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Hi all,

I'm new to posting here, although I have visited many times to "borrow" some knowledge or find an answer to a question, but I have never posted. But I've now got a question I haven't thought of before, and to tell the truth didn't look real hard for. I have a 5 gallon food grade clear plastic container with a spout that I bought years ago at Mexican party supply store. I have use it for a long time as a primary for simple wines and ciders.

As time has progressed this has just become my table/ cooking /vinegar wine fermenter. I never really empty it or anything. Every couple of weeks when it's getting pretty clear I use the spout to decant a few gallons into secondaries and then top it off with whatever juices I feel like, adding sugar as needed, over the past 6 months or so I've been mostly topping it up with 1 gallon grocery store grape juice and 2 gallons of apple juice.

This is my daily table wine, cooking wine and I make vinegar with it when I want. I have quit ever checking gravity or anything on this I just go by taste. I guess I basically treat it like a house plant. I still make other wines that are more complex and finer, mostly from wild fruit as over time I have really got into foraging.

I does get wiped out every once in awhile tho, last time was in December when I moved, and the summer before that I dumped it and restarted after I had a poor tasting batch after my air conditioning had been out for a week.

So my question is how many other people do this, I just recently met someone else who does pretty much the same thing, and she says her grandfather always had a set up like this, but using an old milk thingy( those metal ones with the lid and handles.). I had always thought this was just something weird I did, but she thinks its fairly common. So do any of you have something like that going?


Supporting Members
Supporting Member
Jan 29, 2014
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Food Industry - - Retired
First of all welcome to WMT

* you are in essence operating a simplified “plug flow reactor” for a few months or years. In a traditional winery wild yeast will build up in the environment and reinnoculate the next harvest. This works on a system which we assume to be constant as this year’s picked grape will be look like last year’s harvest.
* wine is a preservative system. The current standards are designed to create a beverage which can be stored a year or several years. Well,,,,, you are ignoring the food rules so you should not expect long shelf life. OK It works if your goal is consumption in two months.
The basics are an alcohol level above 10%, a pH below 3.5 (this excludes pathogens), a low oxygen environment (reduces ethyl alcohol oxidation as well as excludes most families of microbes as acetobacter which makes vinegar), no residual sugar (excludes most families of microbes)
* apple juice can be a good fermentation substrate if commercial, ex Martinelli’s in glass has a gravity of 1.075 (good enough) and pH of 3.80 (fair), ,,, yesterday I pressed a natural apple at 1.054 (good enough for beer and hard cider, not wine), typical fresh cider has a pH in the low 3’s but I have seen November pressing above 4 (bad for storage)
God made grape for wine so it ought to be OK, ,,,,
BUT food manufacturers change things, ,,, so feedstock uniformity is a risk.
* your risk is that you are dealing with unknowns. As long as my cousins producing your starting material are consistent it works. BUT💣 ,,,, If I write process specifications I start with a ingredient specification from the juice vendor, which you don’t have.
* your products should be thought of as cider (low alcohol) and vinegar (which is very stable)
* for the most part if a winery mixes vinegar and wine fermentation all product is exposed to Acetobacter and we will expect vinegar flavors in the wine (VA volatile acidity)
* fermentation’s are a pre history food preservation system, the good news is this excludes pathogens so you won’t kill yourself, BUT! an industry person could never do what you do, you don’t follow consistent rules.
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Senior Member
Feb 11, 2019
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Sounds like a version of continuous tepache. - pleasant stuff when I’m in the right mood(and good probiotics too, if you’re into that). But I’m not sure I like it enough to keep it going all the time. I’d end up baking bread with it. :)