Other FWK Primary Fermenter

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Resonant11

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Hello all, I'm preparing to start my first Finer Wine Kit. I've heard that fermentation is very active so a larger fermenter is recommended. Would a 6.5 gallon Big Mouth Bubbler with a blow-off tube work, or should I use a 7.9 gallon bucket with a loose fitting lid?

Thanks!
 

szap

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I use 7.5 gal. buckets with the lid loose. I currently have the cab that's about 1 week along. The fermentation has not been too crazy. When I do seal the lid, I will use a blow off tube just to be safe.
 

Bmd2k1

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I like the 30L Speidel fermentation vessels. They actually hold about 9gals. They are well constructed, have wide top opening and spigot at bottom - which I bottle my vinos directly from :)

I use them for all my 6gal fermentations and then bulk age in the 20L Speidels which hold 6gals. The same parts (lids, seals, spigots etc) work for both the 20L and 30L units.

Cheers and Best of Luck!

Brian
 

kilendra

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I'd also recommend going with the the 7.9gal bucket.

I have a FWK Forte Petite Sirah kit finishing up primary now in my 7gal SS bucket fermenter: in order to use a fermenter that small, I initially shorted the water to avoid headspace issues (filled to 5 gallons) then added the last gallon of water 4 days into the ferment. The double skin packs take up at least 1/2 gal of extra headspace which is a lot when you don't have headspace to spare!
 

vtoddw

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Hello all, I'm preparing to start my first Finer Wine Kit. I've heard that fermentation is very active so a larger fermenter is recommended. Would a 6.5 gallon Big Mouth Bubbler with a blow-off tube work, or should I use a 7.9 gallon bucket with a loose fitting lid?

Thanks!

Assuming your making a 6 gallon kit, a 7.9 gallon bucket in my experience will push all the way to the top if you have skins, so you cant leave the lid off, plus the CO2 will cause the wine to splatter out of the top of the airlock if you used one, creating a puddle in the top of your lid and a mess on the floor. Last season I ended up with wine that was too reductive because I used a 7.9 gal bucket with a lid and ran a hose through the bung as a blow off to avoid the splattering. With this setup the yeast won't get any oxygen during primary, which actually stresses out the yeast and so it produced an off odor of burnt rubber in the wine which I as i understand it is due to something called Mercaptans. What I learned from the experience is that wine yeast needs to breathe during primary and is protected from oxygen during this time by the CO2 produced by the yeast. So as a result I asked other home winemakers what they do to solve this and found they use a 10 gallon bucket with no lid. The danger here, however, is fruit flies which carry acetobacter bacteria on their bodies and can contaminate your wine if they fall in, so cover the top of the bucket with a fine mesh screen or a clean towel to keep them out but allow oxygen in. That said I wouldn't reccoemnd going with no lid once you get to secondary as the yeast will stop producing enough CO2 toward the end of secondary to protect the wine from oxidation.
 

sour_grapes

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I would sooner blame mercaptans and/or H2S on lack of nutrients rather than lack of oxygen.

From my reading of the primary and secondary literature, this is my understanding of H2S production and its relation to N deficiency. Proteins are made of amino acids, and two important amino acids contain sulfur. The yeast has to provide the sulfur to form these compounds to the proper organelle during protein synthesis. It does so in the form of H2S, which it extracts from more complex sulfur-containing compounds. One organelle passes the H2S off to the organelle responsible for protein synthesis.

However, nitrogen is a major component of amino acids (hence the root amine, from ammonia.) If there is a dearth of N, the organelle responsible for synthesizing the sulfur-containing amino acid cannot do its job; this results in a surfeit of H2S, which the yeast then excretes.

As John points out, we are extraordinarily sensitive to H2S and thiols (larger SH-containing molecules). That is why they add a tiny (ppm) amount of methane thiol to your natural gas supply, so that you can smell when you have a gas leak. This is good for gas-leak detection, but the unfortunate result for winemaking is that we cannot tolerate very much H2S excretion by our pet yeasts.

Hope this helps!
 

wineview

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I would go with the 7.9 gallon loose lid. Particularly if you have grape skins to add. I just finished a Merlot with no skins and was glad I had plenty of space to foam to build. (If we were brewing beer I would call it a krausen)
yep krausen it is........
 

vtoddw

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I would sooner blame mercaptans and/or H2S on lack of nutrients rather than lack of oxygen.

You certainly could be right, I'm not an expert, still learning from mistakes. For a little more background, the must started at 1.094 SG, I gave it Yeast Nutrient at 1.062 SG and the secondary ended with a final of 0.996 SG. My rule of thumb has been to add Yeast Nutrient when SG reaches 66% of the total expected sugar consumed by the yeast in order to avoid feeding any potential wild yeast that the initial dose of K-Meta (50 ppms free SO2) may not have killed. I've also heard of a lot of people just adding the Yeast Nutrient the same day they pitch the yeast, so I guess there's a case for that as well.

It's possible this was not due to going too reductive, but maybe it is, but either way if you're in the market for a primary fermenter I'd still suggest something larger than 7.9 gallons, especially if you start working with fresh grapes, room to grow is always good. I'm giving you advice which I wish I had sooner, as I've already bought 4 x 7.9 gallon buckets for primary and so when I want to fill 6 gallon carboys with wine from fresh grapes, I actually have to use two buckets because the fresh skins take up so much space in the 7.9 it's not enough to just have one.

The good news is, that after bulk-aging on oak chips for 9 months the burnt rubber smell is completely gone, so I didn't have to pour it out after all.
 

szap

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Here is a photo of a Forte cabernet sauvignon kit in the first week of fermentation. The kit has two pretty large bags of grape skins that are added. It's in a 7.9 bucket with no issues. I keep the lid loose until fermentation slows so I can push down the skins. I then snap it down tight and use a blowoff tube. I'm not sure the exact number but wouldn't be surprised that I've made 100 kits and have used the 7.9 bucket for all of them without problems.
 

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vtoddw

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Here is a photo of a Forte cabernet sauvignon kit in the first week of fermentation. The kit has two pretty large bags of grape skins that are added. It's in a 7.9 bucket with no issues. I keep the lid loose until fermentation slows so I can push down the skins. I then snap it down tight and use a blowoff tube. I'm not sure the exact number but wouldn't be surprised that I've made 100 kits and have used the 7.9 bucket for all of them without problems.

Yeah sorry I should have been more specific to the original posters question, as I'm thinking in terms of fresh grapes but they were asking about kits. Here's 120lbs of fresh cabernet sauvignon and 120 lbs of cabernet franc grapes which yielded a little over 6 gallons each after press, but I still filled two whole 7.9 gallon buckets plus I had to blend the extra grapes (50 % of each type) in the big mouth bubbler. I ended up with two blends, of 25% / 75% in opposite combinations, which I had intended to keep pure and only blend after bulk aging, but I had to make some quick decisions in a pinch.

You can also see the big mouth bubbler in the background, which I don't like much as it is very flimsy and warps when you lift it (for testing sugars and punching the cap) while full of grapes, potentially pushing the cap out of the top and making a mess during primary. also if you look at the last picture, you'll notice the blow-off tube that collects in a gallon carboy is filling up form very active yeast, which was IMO a waste of at least a bottle of wine. So my lesson learned is simply that 7.9 gallons is not enough for making wine with fresh grapes when you're targeting 6 gallon carboys for bulk aging.

But, as you said, if it's only kits them you're probably fine. Personally, I'm done with kits, they all have a weird sweet and sour funk to them, at least all the kits I've tried (Master Vintner Sommelier Select and Master Vintner Winemakers Reserve). Anyway that's my two cents...for what it's worth.
 

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Resonant11

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Yeah sorry I should have been more specific to the original posters question, as I'm thinking in terms of fresh grapes but they were asking about kits. Here's 120lbs of fresh cabernet sauvignon and 120 lbs of cabernet franc grapes which yielded a little over 6 gallons each after press, but I still filled two whole 7.9 gallon buckets plus I had to blend the extra grapes (50 % of each type) in the big mouth bubbler. I ended up with two blends, of 25% / 75% in opposite combinations, which I had intended to keep pure and only blend after bulk aging, but I had to make some quick decisions in a pinch.

You can also see the big mouth bubbler in the background, which I don't like much as it is very flimsy and warps when you lift it (for testing sugars and punching the cap) while full of grapes, potentially pushing the cap out of the top and making a mess during primary. also if you look at the last picture, you'll notice the blow-off tube that collects in a gallon carboy is filling up form very active yeast, which was IMO a waste of at least a bottle of wine. So my lesson learned is simply that 7.9 gallons is not enough for making wine with fresh grapes when you're targeting 6 gallon carboys for bulk aging.

But, as you said, if it's only kits them you're probably fine. Personally, I'm done with kits, they all have a weird sweet and sour funk to them, at least all the kits I've tried (Master Vintner Sommelier Select and Master Vintner Winemakers Reserve). Anyway that's my two cents...for what it's worth.
This discussion has been very useful. My eventual goal is to make wine with grapes, but I'm trying to cut my teeth on wine kits first. I'll look into larger fermenters so I don't need to continuously upgrade my equipment as I progress.
 
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Yeah sorry I should have been more specific to the original posters question, as I'm thinking in terms of fresh grapes but they were asking about kits. Here's 120lbs of fresh cabernet sauvignon and 120 lbs of cabernet franc grapes which yielded a little over 6 gallons each after press, but I still filled two whole 7.9 gallon buckets plus I had to blend the extra grapes (50 % of each type) in the big mouth bubbler. I ended up with two blends, of 25% / 75% in opposite combinations, which I had intended to keep pure and only blend after bulk aging, but I had to make some quick decisions in a pinch.

You can also see the big mouth bubbler in the background, which I don't like much as it is very flimsy and warps when you lift it (for testing sugars and punching the cap) while full of grapes, potentially pushing the cap out of the top and making a mess during primary. also if you look at the last picture, you'll notice the blow-off tube that collects in a gallon carboy is filling up form very active yeast, which was IMO a waste of at least a bottle of wine. So my lesson learned is simply that 7.9 gallons is not enough for making wine with fresh grapes when you're targeting 6 gallon carboys for bulk aging.

But, as you said, if it's only kits them you're probably fine. Personally, I'm done with kits, they all have a weird sweet and sour funk to them, at least all the kits I've tried (Master Vintner Sommelier Select and Master Vintner Winemakers Reserve). Anyway that's my two cents...for what it's worth.

@vtoddw I guarantee you that if you were to try a FWK, you would absolutely change your mind. I was about to stop using kits as well and only use frozen must, then FWK came along and totally changed my mind.
 

vtoddw

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@vtoddw I guarantee you that if you were to try a FWK, you would absolutely change your mind. I was about to stop using kits as well and only use frozen must, then FWK came along and totally changed my mind.

That's great news, honestly never heard of those before, so I just looked up FWK and found this text in the page 2021 Finer Wine Kits – Barbera in Detail – Bryan's Wine & Beer Making Site:

"FWK are not pasteurized, so they are not shelf stable! They must be kept chilled or frozen prior to use, or it is entirely possible a spontaneous fermentation can occur within the juice/concentrate bag.

Other commercial wine ingredient kits contain pasteurized juice/concentrate, and can remain on the shelf for years. Unfortunately, kits can have an off-flavor commonly called “kit taste”, and there is belief that the pasteurization process is responsible for this."


The "kit taste" is exactly what I has scared me away from kits, it's crazy to me that anyone who has an appreciation for good wine would continue to make these, as it's so pronounced that you just can't ignore it, it truly ruins the wine drinking experience IMO. I've often theorized that the wine kit funk was due to some sort of additive, given that you can buy them any time of year and they arrive warm...now I know why! Seriously thanks for this, I like having kits as an option so I can try different grape varietals that don't grow locally.
 
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That's great news, honestly never heard of those before, so I just looked up FWK and found this text in the page 2021 Finer Wine Kits – Barbera in Detail – Bryan's Wine & Beer Making Site:

"FWK are not pasteurized, so they are not shelf stable! They must be kept chilled or frozen prior to use, or it is entirely possible a spontaneous fermentation can occur within the juice/concentrate bag.

Other commercial wine ingredient kits contain pasteurized juice/concentrate, and can remain on the shelf for years. Unfortunately, kits can have an off-flavor commonly called “kit taste”, and there is belief that the pasteurization process is responsible for this."


The "kit taste" is exactly what I has scared me away from kits, it's crazy to me that anyone who has an appreciation for good wine would continue to make these, as it's so pronounced that you just can't ignore it, it truly ruins the wine drinking experience IMO. I've often theorized that the wine kit funk was due to some sort of additive, given that you can buy them any time of year and they arrive warm...now I know why! Seriously thanks for this, I like having kits as an option so I can try different grape varietals that don't grow locally.

For me, I agree completely!
White wine kits = no kit taste
Red wine kits (other than FWK) = kit taste

Now, some on this forum say they have never tasted "kit taste", I however do on most kits that are not FWK. I will share this with you as a validation on how much I find the FWK red kits to be superior. I have 1300 bottles in my cellar, probably 1/4 of them are red kit wines that are not FWK. I am giving those bottles away to friends and family as gifts wherever I can and drinking them as fast as I can to make way for the 12 FWK's (360 bottles) that I have bulk aging at present. In the future only frozen must or FWK reds will be made and cellared for me. Now, whites on the other hand, they are different and other brands are fine, no kit taste.
 
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The "kit taste" is exactly what I has scared me away from kits, it's crazy to me that anyone who has an appreciation for good wine would continue to make these, as it's so pronounced that you just can't ignore it, it truly ruins the wine drinking experience IMO.
IME it's not all red wine kits that exhibit KWT, although when one does, there's no getting away from it. And there's no predicting it, so results are a coin toss.

OTOH, my experience so far with FWK mirror's @She’sgonnakillme -- the Barbera (that's my notes you referenced) is delicious, as I made it as an early drinker. I have a triple batch Super Tuscan in barrel (6 months old) that is tasting amazingly good, and a Syrah/Petite Sirah/Merlot blend (also in barrel) that also tastes good at this point. Both batches are Forte kits and will certainly get better with age. I'm now bulk aging a Tavola Pinot Noir, and at a month old it's also surprisingly good. I can't say I won't make a WE or RJS red ... but given my preference is fresh grapes and FWK turn out so well, it's far less likely.
 

vtoddw

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For me, I agree completely!
White wine kits = no kit taste
Red wine kits (other than FWK) = kit taste

Now, some on this forum say they have never tasted "kit taste", I however do on most kits that are not FWK. I will share this with you as a validation on how much I find the FWK red kits to be superior. I have 1300 bottles in my cellar, probably 1/4 of them are red kit wines that are not FWK. I am giving those bottles away to friends and family as gifts wherever I can and drinking them as fast as I can to make way for the 12 FWK's (360 bottles) that I have bulk aging at present. In the future only frozen must or FWK reds will be made and cellared for me. Now, whites on the other hand, they are different and other brands are fine, no kit taste.

I hear ya, I've got a Cab Franc kit sitting in bulk aging on extra oak for 8 months now because it also has the kit taste so I'm experimenting with the idea of oaking the taste out, however, I just tasted it a few weeks back and my experiment sadly hasn't succeeded. So pretty soon here I'll have 30 bottles I'm not all that excited about drinking, maybe I'll break those out for the encore bottle with friends, hopefully after the first couple glasses of something good they won't notice the difference when I pour em this.
 

vtoddw

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IME it's not all red wine kits that exhibit KWT, although when one does, there's no getting away from it. And there's no predicting it, so results are a coin toss.

OTOH, my experience so far with FWK mirror's @She’sgonnakillme -- the Barbera (that's my notes you referenced) is delicious, as I made it as an early drinker. I have a triple batch Super Tuscan in barrel (6 months old) that is tasting amazingly good, and a Syrah/Petite Sirah/Merlot blend (also in barrel) that also tastes good at this point. Both batches are Forte kits and will certainly get better with age. I'm now bulk aging a Tavola Pinot Noir, and at a month old it's also surprisingly good. I can't say I won't make a WE or RJS red ... but given my preference is fresh grapes and FWK turn out so well, it's far less likely.

No, way!? Small world! Well thanks for putting it out there, very informative blog of the entire process and great to have someone with experience confirm the claim these kits are marketing.
 

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