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Funny things you've done while learning...

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M38A1

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Sitting now at about five weeks since I dove head first into this new adventure of wine making, I've learned a lot of things with 99% coming from this board and your experience. That said, there are just 'some' things you can't teach a newbie - they have to learn on their own.

So what are some things, tidbits of wisdom that are funny where you've learned along your journey?

I'll start -

I'm ready to make my first Daves Dragon Blood and it calls for a 7gal PF bucket. I'm thinking "...man, that's a lot of wine but if I'm going to do this I'm going to do this". So I look at my buckets and I can choose from a couple two gallon versions and a couple five gallon versions. Drat! I call my local homebrew/winemaking store about 30mi away and ask if they have that big 6.9gal version in stock. "Yep - several". Cool! I drive the 40min or so and it's waiting for me. I'm all excited about this new purchase. Then I look at it and comment "I think I have a couple of those already, can you check my purchases"? So they pull up my record and sure enough I have two of them. I'm looking closer and the marks go up the side to the 5 gallon mark. Then I read the fine print that says 6 gallons to the bottom of the lip. So I measure the distance with my thumb and pointer finger in the gallon increments and sure enough, there's the 5 mark, 6 is at the bottom of the lip and I get to almost 7 at the rim. Doh!

The next one was I barely know enough to be dangerous now. I think I have a pretty good handle on the yeast consuming sugar to convert to alcohol part in the process. I read the thread about the guy wanting to turn water to alcohol with just adding sugar and yeast (and I also had wondered about that too.....). I accepted a challenge from one of the gals at the brew store about a 'throw-down-Koolaid-wine-challenge". Heck yeah - I'm ready, I understand what's going on. So I run to the store and get four packets of Cherry Kool-Aid, mix that with 1 gallon Welches white grape juice, bring my SG up to like 1.000 with a cup of sugar and toss some yeast. Four days later I had the most foul red liquid I've ever tasted. What the heck? It's Kool-Aid where all you do is add sugar, it had white grape juice for volume/sugar and yeast. I told her my approach and she looked at me and asked "walk yourself through the process" so I did not recognizing that Kool-Aid requires sugar to make it sweet and drinkable. Doh! The yeast had consumed all the sugars - IT NEEDS SUGAR! That batch tonight will get some k-meta, k-sorbate then tomorrow back sweetened to get the sweetness back to 'normal' and I'll toss in some medium toasted oak to give it a bit of depth/vanilla tones, let it age and see where the experiment takes me.

So - what are some funny moments you've experienced you'd like to share?
 

NorCal

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My first venture was with Welches, a $4 hydrometer and a $2 airlock. I thought if 1 cup of sugar is good, then 3 cups is better. I was proud of the fact that I actually manufactured alcohol but the resulting wine tasted like the worst, cheap mix drink you could order. It went down the drain, but I learned a lot and was the start of my wine making hobby.
 

CK55

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My first venture was with Welches, a $4 hydrometer and a $2 airlock. I thought if 1 cup of sugar is good, then 3 cups is better. I was proud of the fact that I actually manufactured alcohol but the resulting wine tasted like the worst, cheap mix drink you could order. It went down the drain, but I learned a lot and was the start of my wine making hobby.
lol

I got into making beer before wine, and my first beer won a award not even joking. I never really screwed up anything.
 

jgmann67

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When transferring wine from primary to secondary, DO NOT use 1 gal jugs with screw caps to hold the extras until you can figure out how you’re going to do MLF. Bad, baaaad things will happen when you unscrew the cap.
 

CK55

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When transferring wine from primary to secondary, DO NOT use 1 gal jugs with screw caps to hold the extras until you can figure out how you’re going to do MLF. Bad, baaaad things will happen when you unscrew the cap.
I just picture a horrible wine geyser in my mind.
 

CK55

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Also picture finding that out while wearing your favorite suit...
Oh god, thats horrible luck. That has got to suck.

Well ill keep that in mind not that i would do that, but yeah... Note to self lol.
 

tjgaul

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Holy mackerel . . . that was a geyser! What a horrible waste of wine. I sure hope it was an exceptionally lousy batch.
 

M38A1

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So help a newbie out with the geyser..... What happened there and what is this MLF you are dealing with?

I' guessing there was still some consumable sugar present and the yeast was still active?
 

CK55

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So help a newbie out with the geyser..... What happened there and what is this MLF you are dealing with?

I' guessing there was still some consumable sugar present and the yeast was still active?
Mlf should malo lactic fermentation

And short answer it fermented In sealed jugs so the pressure released when he popped the caps and shot the wine out
 

sour_grapes

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Further to this point, CO2 has a funny property where the higher the pressure, the higher the solubility. So when the pressure is relieved, the CO2 becomes even less soluble, which causes a runaway situation.

This property caused a disaster at a lake in Africa (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Nyos_disaster). Deep in the lake, there was a CO2 vent that saturated the water at the bottom with CO2. Because the pressure is high at the bottom, the CO2 was dissolved and was stable. However, something disturbed this equilibrium, causing some of the CO2-laden water to mix upwards. Then the CO2 came out of solution, which caused a column of water to rise. This formed a "fountain," where the whole layer of CO2-laden water rose to the top and released its CO2. The CO2 then fell down into the nearby valleys, and suffocated ~1700 people.
 

Johnd

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My biggest was perpetrated on my first batch, a Chilean Cabernet kit from Mosti Mondiale. I was pretty skeptical to begin with about being able to make drinkable wine at home, but went with it anyway.

The instructions for this particular kit had the winemaker moving the wine from fermenter to carboy in the 1.02 - 1.03 range (an instruction which they've since changed) and adding a yeast nutrient to the must at the same time. The nutrient was granulated DAP, and was supposed to be added to a quantity of wine that was removed from the batch, stirred in until dissolved, and added back to the mix.

You can see it coming, right?? The enterprising young winemaker thought "What difference does it make if I add it to a removed sample versus just adding it to the carboy?" So I just dumped the little packet of CO2 nucleation sites right into the carboy full of wine fermenting strongly at 1.025. The initial blast of foam from the volcano was about 2 feet high and though it subsided a bit, it kept foaming over the mouth of the carboy. Ignorantly, I pressed my palm down over the mouth of the carboy to stop it, which ultimately resulted in pressurized wine foam shooting out horizontally for several feet in every direction.

It eventually calmed down and I was able to get it airlocked, but it was a pretty bad, sticky mess, and ultimately only cost me a couple bottles of store bought cab to get it topped up later, but a lesson well learned and never forgotten.
 

mainshipfred

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I guess I should consider myself lucky, nothing major so far. I did have an incident like JohnD by adding too much DAP too fast. It volcano'ed out but nowhere neqr two feet but I did lose a gallon of wine. In my first attempt at MLF I sulfited the wine before adding the bacteria and got nothing. Just last week while bottling a bottle burst while corking it. But my biggedst ongoing problem is with my AIO. I can't seem to keep my hand off the vaccuum release port. Steve tells me it's because I'm left handed.
 

Ajmassa

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Found some gimmicky can of compressed gas meant for extending opened bottles lifespans. Blend of argon, nitrogen and co2. Had the bright idea to purge headspace of topped up carboys for extra protection.
The trigger was either full blast or nothing tho. But if pulling with the finest most super sensitive perfect touch, I could get the gas to seep nice and gently.
Ended up purging out wine instead. Blasted me right in the face, to the ceiling, walls, just everywhere.
 

sour_grapes

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I found out the hard way that the glue on the bottom of boxes (i.e., cases) for wine bottles can degrade under "winery conditions." I have picked up boxes, only to have several bottles of my new wines tumble to the floor. And this has happened more than once -- slow learner :slp
 
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