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alida.field

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I’m brand new to wine making (I don’t even drink much) but the trees in our side yard have been fruiting, and I enjoy diy, particularly around food. Last year I made fig wine with a kit and it was delicious, if I do say so myself. We had some peaches that I tried to make into wine and oranges reading a couple books from the library. I just started the fruit in primary fermentation vessels and seem to have not understood something basic in the descriptions of how to do this. I have been looking at it a couple times daily to see if the fermentation is coming along and I seem to have attracted ants. 😞 Am I supposed to firmly close the buckets in order to keep out ants 🐜 🐜 🐜 ? I thought the idea was to check on it regularly at the beginning and make sure the fruit is submerged and fermentation begins. Thoughts? My impulse is to scoop out the ants and continue, but I’m not sure what to do about -more- ants. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Oh and I’m inclined to be rather rough and ready in my approach to these kinds of projects. E.g. I will probably never learn to use a hydrometer, because people have bee making fermented drinks since there have been people, long before hydrometers. ;-)
Thanks!
Alida
 

vinny

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I’m brand new to wine making (I don’t even drink much) but the trees in our side yard have been fruiting, and I enjoy diy, particularly around food. Last year I made fig wine with a kit and it was delicious, if I do say so myself. We had some peaches that I tried to make into wine and oranges reading a couple books from the library. I just started the fruit in primary fermentation vessels and seem to have not understood something basic in the descriptions of how to do this. I have been looking at it a couple times daily to see if the fermentation is coming along and I seem to have attracted ants. 😞 Am I supposed to firmly close the buckets in order to keep out ants 🐜 🐜 🐜 ? I thought the idea was to check on it regularly at the beginning and make sure the fruit is submerged and fermentation begins. Thoughts? My impulse is to scoop out the ants and continue, but I’m not sure what to do about -more- ants. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Oh and I’m inclined to be rather rough and ready in my approach to these kinds of projects. E.g. I will probably never learn to use a hydrometer, because people have bee making fermented drinks since there have been people, long before hydrometers. ;-)
Thanks!
Alida
Good morning!

I would scoop out the ants myself. As for keeping them out, I would wipe down the floor and fermenter in the hopes that there was some spillage attracting them.

You are on the right track. You want the lid loose. The yeast need oxygen in the first stage and it is good to stir up the must once a day to introduce more o2 and release co2.

A towel is often used in place of the lid. It may help keep the ants out as well.
 

alida.field

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I would scoop out the ants, too. To deter future ants, I would put the bucket in a pan of water. I would also recommend that you rethink your aversion to using a hydrometer: They are very helpful in determining important characteristics of your wine.
Yes, I suspect I will have to come around to using a hydrometer, but it can wait until I’ve done this successfully a few more times. And my project for today is to create moats to deter ants, as you suggested. Thanks.
 

vinny

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Yes, I suspect I will have to come around to using a hydrometer, but it can wait until I’ve done this successfully a few more times. And my project for today is to create moats to deter ants, as you suggested. Thanks.
I agree with @sour_grapes 100%. You should get a hydrometer. They are cheap, you will likely want 2. They are fragile, and break easily when you only have one. You will have a lot more control over your wine. Issues will be easier to troubleshoot, and results more predictable. It will only give you a better experience and a better wine.

On the other hand, it is your wine, and there is no wrong way to go about this. If you are happy with it....

You don't NEED a thermometer or measuring cups to cook, but I still use them.
 

BernardSmith

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Welcome. It's very true that hydrometers are a very recent invention but folk who made wine have always found ways to monitor the progress of the fermentation. For example, in the middle ages in Europe, they might float an egg. The more sugar in solution the higher the egg would float. Now, what size egg was used I cannot say, and their hens eggs may have been a great deal smaller... That said, the point of using a tool to measure the gravity is more important as a means of monitoring the progress of the fermentation. You want to rack - (transfer) - the wine from the primary very shortly after active fermentation has ended , if not a few days before because while fermentation is active, head room is never a problem. The yeast fill that space with carbon dioxide gas. But after the yeast quit making alcohol, they quit burping out CO2 and that space fills with air. At that point air (oxygen) can damage your wien: it can discolor it, it can spoil its flavors; it can, in the presence of aceto-bacter transform your wine into vinegar. So you want to transfer the wine from the loosely covered bucket into a vessel you can fill to the top and can seal with a bung and an airlock. And I agree in the historical past folk may not have had airlocks and bungs BUT they might use plates that the gasses would force up to release the gas (under pressure) and in the past wine was often not so great and all kinds of materials were added to disguise the problems - including lead (a practice often used in ancient Rome)... so simply because wine making is thousands of years old does not always mean that what we might consider "good practice" from a scientific point of view was always evident. Medicine is about as old as mankind... that does not mean that trepanning and blood letting is good medicine.
 

alida.field

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I agree with @sour_grapes 100%. You should get a hydrometer. They are cheap, you will likely want 2. They are fragile, and break easily when you only have one. You will have a lot more control over your wine. Issues will be easier to troubleshoot, and results more predictable. It will only give you a better experience and a better wine.

On the other hand, it is your wine, and there is no wrong way to go about this. If you are happy with it....

You don't NEED a thermometer or measuring cups to cook, but I still use
Welcome to WMT!

Where are you fermenting that you've having ant problems?
Thanks!

I’m in N. CA, and the wine (one bucket peach 🍑, one bucket orange and finger lime) is on a table on the deck. Not enough counter space in the house.
 

alida.field

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Welcome. It's very true that hydrometers are a very recent invention but folk who made wine have always found ways to monitor the progress of the fermentation. For example, in the middle ages in Europe, they might float an egg. The more sugar in solution the higher the egg would float. Now, what size egg was used I cannot say, and their hens eggs may have been a great deal smaller... That said, the point of using a tool to measure the gravity is more important as a means of monitoring the progress of the fermentation. You want to rack - (transfer) - the wine from the primary very shortly after active fermentation has ended , if not a few days before because while fermentation is active, head room is never a problem. The yeast fill that space with carbon dioxide gas. But after the yeast quit making alcohol, they quit burping out CO2 and that space fills with air. At that point air (oxygen) can damage your wien: it can discolor it, it can spoil its flavors; it can, in the presence of aceto-bacter transform your wine into vinegar. So you want to transfer the wine from the loosely covered bucket into a vessel you can fill to the top and can seal with a bung and an airlock. And I agree in the historical past folk may not have had airlocks and bungs BUT they might use plates that the gasses would force up to release the gas (under pressure) and in the past wine was often not so great and all kinds of materials were added to disguise the problems - including lead (a practice often used in ancient Rome)... so simply because wine making is thousands of years old does not always mean that what we might consider "good practice" from a scientific point of view was always evident. Medicine is about as old as mankind... that does not mean that trepanning and blood letting is good medicine.
Ok. Thanks for the lesson. I will adjust in my next iteration and figure out the hydrometer.
 

Rice_Guy

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Welcome to Wine Making Talk

If you are fermenting grapes or grape juice which you can expect to be close to 1.090 I can see living without a hydrometer.
A fruit wine, especially with mixtures of fruit, which requires adding sugar kinda pushes you into measuring to get a safe alcohol level. That noted a beer/ cider product can be produced at 5% alcohol without risk of making you sick. A wine at 11% alcohol is very stable at room temperature. For shelf life we add metabisulphite which protects flavor/ prevents bacterial infection (ex one Campden tablet per gallon). Now to complicate all this pH is involved in the safe guidelines, more acidic is always more stable.

Fruit wines can be made using recipes like my great grandfather would use in 1910. Have fun with the new hobby.
 

TechAdmin

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Hi Alida, welcome to the forum. Enjoy!
How are the ants?🐜🐜🐜
 

alida.field

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I am a vegetarian, but my guess would be that ants' legs would tickle your tonsils on the way down, and tickled tonsils is not a mouthfeel that most wine makers are looking to provide..
I’m very interested in the wines/drinks that people made for themselves in earlier times. The variety strikes me as wonderful, and at some point I hope to be able to say to people that I make methegolyn (sp.?), because who gets to say that?!! ;-)
 

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