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Skunk

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Well me and the wife decided to join up to the forum in hopes of learning the ropes of wine making.

We hopefully like to get some help/advice on our 1st wine kit we have started and where to go seeing ad we have hit a problem.

We purchased a decent lot of used wine making equipment for very cheap and went out this afternoon and purchased our first wine kit. We opted for the cheaper box kit for our 1st attempt at making wine.

The kit we purchased was a Wine Expert Island Mist peach apricot.

I've followed the directions to a tee, for this 23 Liter (6 us gallon) batch and I went to check my Hydrometer Specific Gravity which should be between 1.048-1.052 with a temp of 22-24°C.

But upon checking the Specific Gravity my readings appear to be off. I have two Thermometers and both give the same reading. The temps of my tub are between the 22°c & 24°c. The instructions say not to proceed to adding the yeast until it's in the specified SG range.
20180518_194106.jpeg

Now as said b4 we followed the directions to the tee and we are unsure of where to go from here. Any help would be greatly appreciated with our 1st attempt at making wine.
 

GreenEnvy22

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Hi from Niagara.

1.048-1.052 seems like it would be low, but I've never made that kit. Your reading looks like about 1.070 which seems right for a low alcohol kit, should be around 10% alcohol when done.

Just to be sure, give your hydrometer a spin to knock off any air bubbles that may be attached, it can throw off the reading. And make sure it's not touching the side.
 

Skunk

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Ya

Hi from Niagara.

1.048-1.052 seems like it would be low, but I've never made that kit. Your reading looks like about 1.070 which seems right for a low alcohol kit, should be around 10% alcohol when done.

Just to be sure, give your hydrometer a spin to knock off any air bubbles that may be attached, it can throw off the reading. And make sure it's not touching the side.
Thanks for the quick replay, it's nice to see other Canadians around the forums. I was hoping to get some experience with a kit and hopefully come fall we can venture off and use some ofnthe fruits (Raspberrys, Crab apples, Strawberries & Saskatoon Berrys we have growing around our acarage and try to move away from the kits.

i have given the meter a spin while placing it in the test tube and it's free floating.

1526696282739.jpeg

The instructions do specify the 1.048-1.052 range. Will proceeding to add the yeast hamper the fermentation of this wine? The wife was saying it might be low on sugars.
 

Skunk

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We measured our and marked our primary fermentation tank prior to beginning and made sure to double check all measurements twice so I know for sure we are at 23L exactly.

Is there a way to lower the SG unfortunitly it's the long weekend and we are from a small town so there are no local wine shops that sell chemicals and next day they would be open would be Tuesday next week as it's a long weekend.
Ah, looked it up and that kit is 7%, so that reading is higher than expected.
 

GreenEnvy22

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Only way you can reduce the SG would be to add more water.
Personally I'd just leave it how it is, you'll get a 9-10% wine instead of a 7%, but otherwise will be the same.

I'm envious of your acerage. We live in a city but we've got a 25'x25' veggie garden, a bunch of grape vines, and a few fruit trees. We have our yard packed as full as we can to make our own food and wine. We're hoping to get some land at some point but with a 3rd kid coming it's not likely anytime soon.
 

Skunk

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Only way you can reduce the SG would be to add more water.
Personally I'd just leave it how it is, you'll get a 9-10% wine instead of a 7%, but otherwise will be the same.

I'm envious of your acerage. We live in a city but we've got a 25'x25' veggie garden, a bunch of grape vines, and a few fruit trees. We have our yard packed as full as we can to make our own food and wine. We're hoping to get some land at some point but with a 3rd kid coming it's not likely anytime soon.
Well we are on our 4th child and last this time lol. The two youngest are 2months and 1 year 3 months. And the older two older ones are 12 & 13. Both sets are 15months apart.

We have plans to eventually move out west to the osoyoos area and hopefully be able to have our retirement house in a few years. We enjoy boating out in their warm waters and plentiful lakes. But that is when the two older kids are finished there high school out here in Alberta. So we still have a few years to go. So figured might ad well pick up another hobby to pass the years by.

We live on a very rough growing zone here in Alberta being a little further west than Calgary but those crops we do have are plentiful. Other edibles we use a 12 x 6 foot green house to get them started early.

Really looking forward to learning from the members of the forum here the ropes of wine making. We got a super deal on a home brew setup from an older couple that are getting out of the hobby with the promise of a few bottle of wine from our 1st bathes. So I'm hoping I produce something worthy of consuming

Thanks for the quick help. I'll proceed adding the yeast once the family is asleep...
 

sour_grapes

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I agree that you will be just fine the way it is. (Many people here add sugar to increase the alcohol content of these kits.)

One other thought is that you can get a bad SG reading if you didn't stir everything well after adding the water.
 

Skunk

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I agree that you will be just fine the way it is. (Many people here add sugar to increase the alcohol content of these kits.)

One other thought is that you can get a bad SG reading if you didn't stir everything well after adding the water.
Yes I have read people add about 2 lbs of sugar mixture to their primary fermentation tank to Increase the alcohol content. Read this after the fact and really wish I hàd done some more reading b4 I began this kit. Got a little to excited being my first introduction to brewing.

On your comment about stiring properly. The first steps called for adding 2 liters of room temp water to the packet #1 Bentonite. Well my fermentation tank seems like an very large tank. The 2 liters of water barley covered the bottom of the primary fermentation bucket.

I had to use my mixing spoon to stir this packet in during the 1st step , I did my best to mix it in Well and made sure it was all dissolved on solution. after I added the juice and brought the must up to 23L I proceeded to mix using my drill attachment.

I pitched the yeast last night and there is noticable activity this morning. So looks like I'm up and running.

20180519_083612.jpeg
 

mainshipfred

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I just bottled 3 of those kits but not yours. They are meant to be low alcohol sweet wines, similar to wine coolers. Since you already started and it's your first attempt I recommend you follow the instructions except maybe the F-pack at the end. It makes it really sweet. Perhaps when you get to that point you can just add a little at a time taste it and make it to your liking. Also, if you wanted to bump up the alcohol it's not too late to add a little sugar. One other thing, if you decide to do these kits again, a lot of people make it as a 5 gallon batch plus I always add fruit.
 

Skunk

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I just bottled 3 of those kits but not yours. They are meant to be low alcohol sweet wines, similar to wine coolers. Since you already started and it's your first attempt I recommend you follow the instructions except maybe the F-pack at the end. It makes it really sweet. Perhaps when you get to that point you can just add a little at a time taste it and make it to your liking. Also, if you wanted to bump up the alcohol it's not too late to add a little sugar. One other thing, if you decide to do these kits again, a lot of people make it as a 5 gallon batch plus I always add fruit.
I too have read that these kits can be a little sweet once the f pack is added. I have also read that some people add 1/4 of the f pack + 2lbs of sugar upfront in the primary fermentation step. Then come step 3 they add enough of the f pack to taste.

I figure ill just follow the instructions and come step 3 ill add only enough to bring it to taste. This is my 1st attempt and I have alot to learn.


What are your thoughts on these kits? There's are relatively cheap wine kits compared to some of the ones sold where I live; and currently they are on sale so we were thinking of picking up another 2 while they are.
 

mainshipfred

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What are your thoughts on these kits? There's are relatively cheap wine kits compared to some of the ones sold where I live; and currently they are on sale so we were thinking of picking up another 2 while they are.[/QUOTE]

I'm not really a sweet wine drinker and really made these for my wife and other friends that like a sweeter wine. The 3 I made are Coconut Yuzu Pinot Grigio, Cranberry Malbec and Pomegranate Zinfandel. I made 5 gallon batches added 2 lbs of coconut shavings to the first, 2 lbs of frozen cranberries to the second and 1 lb of frozen pomegranate arils to the third along with 2 lbs of sugar to each. The Coconut Yazu is different. A Yuzu is a Japanese orange so it's a little citrucy, not bad, just different. My favorite is the Cranberry Malbec followed closely by the Pom Zin. I added about half the F-pack pre fermentation but never added the rest.

Good luck with yours!
 

Skunk

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I have a question for you seasoned brewers......
20180522_111053.jpeg

Everything seems to be going rather well. The primary fermentation tank is bubbling away, and smells something delishish when I have popped the top open to observe.

The instructions say in 5-7 days pull a sample and check my SG..... if it's 1.010 or below to proceed to racking it to the secondary carboy.

Now am I waiting for this primary fermentation tank to finish bubbling (activity) b4 pulling my sample to check the SG or should I pull a sample while it's still actively fermenting and check the SG.

Also my instructions directed me... not to stir the yeast once I pitched it.... I haven't stired it at all and it's on day 4. I have done some reading and some say to stir a couple times a day and some say not to stir the primary fermentation tank.

What's my best course of action for these two questions.
 

Ajmassa

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They just don’t want you to stir while your waiting for the yeast to start working- the “lag phase”. Once your off and running like you are you can stir it up multiple times a day.
You can/should also be checking the SG daily to monitor progress. In ferments like this one with no solids floating around in there I just put my hydrometer directly into the wine. I try and clear the surface of fizz with my spoon and drop in to get a reading. You can also pull a sample in the tube to test. Testing or stirring while actively fermenting will not cause any harm. And actually introducing some oxygen during the ferment (stirring) is beneficial. Good luck

Oh and also don’t get hung up on any of the instructions timeline (5-7 days etc...). Your timeline will be your SG reading. Those timelines are more of guideline and will not be the same for everyone anyway. (Many variables at play)
 

Skunk

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They just don’t want you to stir while your waiting for the yeast to start working- the “lag phase”. Once your off and running like you are you can stir it up multiple times a day.
You can/should also be checking the SG daily to monitor progress. In ferments like this one with no solids floating around in there I just put my hydrometer directly into the wine. I try and clear the surface of fizz with my spoon and drop in to get a reading. You can also pull a sample in the tube to test. Testing or stirring while actively fermenting will not cause any harm. And actually introducing some oxygen during the ferment (stirring) is beneficial. Good luck

Oh and also don’t get hung up on any of the instructions timeline (5-7 days etc...). Your timeline will be your SG reading. Those timelines are more of guideline and will not be the same for everyone anyway. (Many variables at play)
Sweet thanks for the advice and thanks to everyone else who has offered help and advice to me.... there is so much to learn with this new hobbie, the more I read the more I need to read more lol.

20180522_134558.jpeg

This 1st batch went alot quicker than I had expected. Sanitized up my equipment after reading your post..... took a sample and my reading is 1.020 so I should be able to rack up into my secondary fermenter with in a day or two. And get the other kit I picked up into the primary later this week. Might have to start up a thread somewhere in the not section to document my progress.

Being my virgin intro to wine making, and the wife was a little apprehensive saying it won't be as good quality as store bought wines... couple that with my lofty Assurances that I'll produce some quality drinks at a fraction of the price. I have alot riding on this into brew

I'm cautious and don't wanna make any mistakes along the way. I figure if I can do a decent job making my 1st batch of wine for the wife, she will give me more leaway with future. A Happy wife = Happy Life
 

Ajmassa

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Good thing you posted a pic to go along. You’re ready to rack tonight my friend. You’re reading 1.002ish. Not 1.020. You say instructions call to rack when under 1.010. You are there. When it’s all finished you’ll be somewhere in the middle of the red section on the hydrometer.
And with so much riding in this batch I wouldn’t bottle when they say to either. Get it nice and clear and hold off on the backsweeteing. Maybe let it age a little, and do a bunch of bench trials with the fpack. Find your sweet spot- check it’s SG- recreate on whole batch minus a few SG ticks. (A couple months of age with bring more fruitiness out so go light on sweetening to account for it). Don’t let her pressure you to bottle and serve too soon! (Hard not to be anxious on 1st one) The few extra months of waiting and nagging will be worth it when you blow everyone away with a summer drink that everyone loves.
30 bottles won’t last long and then you’ll have to wait months for the next. So have the next kit on deck while 1st one matures and start the rotation. Tell her after you pitch yeast so there’s no debate. It’s cost effective, you enjoy it, and you will only get better at it. Easy decision
 

Skunk

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Good thing you posted a pic to go along. You’re ready to rack tonight my friend. You’re reading 1.002ish. Not 1.020. You say instructions call to rack when under 1.010. You are there. When it’s all finished you’ll be somewhere in the middle of the red section on the hydrometer.
And with so much riding in this batch I wouldn’t bottle when they say to either. Get it nice and clear and hold off on the backsweeteing. Maybe let it age a little, and do a bunch of bench trials with the fpack. Find your sweet spot- check it’s SG- recreate on whole batch minus a few SG ticks. (A couple months of age with bring more fruitiness out so go light on sweetening to account for it). Don’t let her pressure you to bottle and serve too soon! (Hard not to be anxious on 1st one) The few extra months of waiting and nagging will be worth it when you blow everyone away with a summer drink that everyone loves.
30 bottles won’t last long and then you’ll have to wait months for the next. So have the next kit on deck while 1st one matures and start the rotation. Tell her after you pitch yeast so there’s no debate. It’s cost effective, you enjoy it, and you will only get better at it. Easy decision

Again Ajmassa5983 thanks for the help and picking up on my armature mistake on reading the hydrometer.

I'm super stoked. Down in the man cave as I type this racking up my 1st carboy! It's a good feeling. Once I have it racked up, I'll hookup my heating belt to the carboy and keep it at steady 25°C for the next 10 days..

** But I'm assuming I can check daily my SG and when it reached 0.996 or lower I'm ready to move onto the 'Stabilizing & Clearing phase'.

***During the Second Fermentation phase is there any need to mix my Wine? The instructions don't call for any mixing or degassing at this stage.


The wife already has another 2 kits purchased they were on sale this month so she got half price on the 3rd kit so for $150 we got 3 6 gallon kits.....

one of which I'll start this evening once I have all my equipment cleaned & sanitized, and the other I'll begin Thursday once I pick up another used Wine making kit with a extra primary fermentation tank and 2 6gallon glass carboys and extra utensils. Then I should have more than enough equipment to have a nice steady cycle going. Hopefully I'll.be able to branch off and make some CrabApple Cider hére shortly and eventually begin home brewing some suds.

I'll spend the next few days reading all I can on clearing, backsweeting, aging and bottling.

Think it's time I find somewhere on this forum to start up a brewing log to keep track of adventures..

Again thanks to everyone for all the help and guidance you have given me it's greatly appreacted.
 

GreenEnvy22

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For a brew log, a simple way is just use a Google sheet. I have one where I record everything I do to my wines. Simple and free.
Don't need to mix during secondary fermentation. Once you notice a solid (1/2" - 1") layer of crud (lees) on the bottom of the carboy, rack it into another one, leaving the crud behind.
 

Skunk

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For a brew log, a simple way is just use a Google sheet. I have one where I record everything I do to my wines. Simple and free.
Don't need to mix during secondary fermentation. Once you notice a solid (1/2" - 1") layer of crud (lees) on the bottom of the carboy, rack it into another one, leaving the crud behind.
For a brew log, a simple way is just use a Google sheet. I have one where I record everything I do to my wines. Simple and free.
Don't need to mix during secondary fermentation. Once you notice a solid (1/2" - 1") layer of crud (lees) on the bottom of the carboy, rack it into another one, leaving the crud behind.
Boy there sure is alot to learn. Been doing alot of reading and this wine making can get quite in-depth.

I'm guessing these wine kit instructions are to get the average home brewer drinking his product as soon as possible. Because these kits say about 37 +/- days till bottling and only racking once.

It's been just under 24 hours since i did my first rack from the primary into my carboy (Second Fermentation) and I already see a good 1/2inch + of crud (lees) around the bottom of my carboy. I'm running a heat belt keeping it at a steady 25°C so I'm guessing this helps particles settle out of solution quicker. I had noticed slowing in fermentation by eye...... the 1st 12 hours the air lock was bubbling like crazy, this evening I noticed it had basicly stopped.... so I took a sample, and checked the SG and reads SG990

Clearly in the instructions it says after day 10 check your SG and it should read SF996- or less

Hope I haven't done something wrong with this batch as it dropped so quickly......

20180523_231057.jpeg
20180523_231050.jpeg

***I have also noticed all the wonderful smells from the primary fermentation tank all cease to exist. I'm assuming this is what the F-Pack is for and to add some of the flavors and aromas back into the wine?

Would I be safe to re-rack and get rid of the crud even tho it's only been 24 hours since I racked into the secondary tan?
 

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