Help Needed: Wine from Fresh Grapes

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Winemanic

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Hi everybody!

This is my first post in here apart from the introduction. I am going to ask different questions as separate replies so you can reply to specific questions. I have previously never made wine from fresh grapes, though I did make one from fresh strawberries that turned out pretty good except that I added too much sugar at a latter stage and ended up with too sweet a wine.

Here is my intended recipe:

1. 5kg (11 lb) red grapes

2. Bottled water to complete 7 liters (1.85 gal) of must

3. Dead bakers yeast as nutrient (11g packet, hydrated and then boiled)

4. Citric acid - 1 tsp

5. Cane sugar - 1/2 kg (1.1 lb - should I use more?)

6. Packet of active dry yeast (baker's, as standby, in case spontaneous fermentation does not kick in)

I plan to do the primary fermentation in an open bucket (covered with a clean cloth) for 7 days, then rack the fermented juice (leaving behind the fruit pulp, skins and seeds) into a 6 liter plastic carboy and adding an air lock. Rack it again to another similar carboy once fermentation has apparently stopped. Cold crash it once clear and use gelatin fining if needed. Bottle once completely clear and age for 3-6 months.

For the yeast, I will take a little of unwashed grapes, crushed in a little water in a separate container around a week before I prepare the must, let it ferment on its own naturally, and once fermentation has been established, add a little sugar and nutrients and let it ferment to a healthy state then add to the must. In case this fails or ends up looking or smelling foul, I'll have to use bakers yeast.

Kindly help by pointing out flaws in this recipe. Is the sugar enough? I am hoping for at least 11-12% ABV. What OG should I be looking for, so as to adjust the sugar content accordingly?

:ft
 

Winemanic

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Hydrometer question

I have a simple hydrometer used in chemistry and physics labs at schools. I want to start a wine from fresh red grapes. Now the question is, with all the grapes in the bucket, skins and seeds and all, how do I take the initial gravity of the must before pitching in yeast? Wouldn't all the pulp in there make the must too dense? What OG should I be starting with?
 

Johnd

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I have a simple hydrometer used in chemistry and physics labs at schools. I want to start a wine from fresh red grapes. Now the question is, with all the grapes in the bucket, skins and seeds and all, how do I take the initial gravity of the must before pitching in yeast? Wouldn't all the pulp in there make the must too dense? What OG should I be starting with?
Push a strainer down into the must and scoop out some clean juice with a cup, pour it into a tall thin vessel and drop in the hydrometer. Sanitize everything of course.
Tartaric acid is what we use for grape wine, you should know your pH before adding it for no reason.
Since you're watering your must a bit, don't bump the ABV too high, if the wine is a little thin, the alcohol will be prominent. I'd shoot for1.090-1.100.
Wine yeast is better, but I know you have difficulty getting it.
 

Johny99

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Wow, I love ambition under difficult circumstances. First, crush the grapes, and measure the sg with your hydrometer. If it is low, add sugar, if high water. To measure simply skim off just the juice or pour it through a paper towel or coffee filter. A clean cotton rag will work too. The only reason to add water and sugar is it increase volume, but it will be at the expense of flavors. I'd only add sugar or water to get to the sg you want. For 11-12 abs, shoot for 22-24 sg.

You can try to just let it go with whatever yeast came with the grapes. You didn't mention meta, so no need to do a separate yeast culture. In that case, I'd add you dead yeast at about 1/2 to 2/3 decrease in sg.

For yeast, if you can get a commercial wine or beer you may be able to get it to grow. If not, as mentioned before, pm one of us an address and we can get something to you.

Big question, can you get meta? If so do, if not, than putting in the cold at 4-6 months or when bad stuff starts to happen is a must.

Keep us posted!
 

Winemanic

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Wow, I love ambition under difficult circumstances. First, crush the grapes, and measure the sg with your hydrometer. If it is low, add sugar, if high water. To measure simply skim off just the juice or pour it through a paper towel or coffee filter. A clean cotton rag will work too. The only reason to add water and sugar is it increase volume, but it will be at the expense of flavors. I'd only add sugar or water to get to the sg you want. For 11-12 abs, shoot for 22-24 sg.

You can try to just let it go with whatever yeast came with the grapes. You didn't mention meta, so no need to do a separate yeast culture. In that case, I'd add you dead yeast at about 1/2 to 2/3 decrease in sg.

For yeast, if you can get a commercial wine or beer you may be able to get it to grow. If not, as mentioned before, pm one of us an address and we can get something to you.

Big question, can you get meta? If so do, if not, than putting in the cold at 4-6 months or when bad stuff starts to happen is a must.

Keep us posted!
Thanks Johnny! I will get EC-1118 and Montrachet in December. Till then I'll persevere with whatever resources I have available. It is so kind of you and another member to offer to help, but let me think about it. I am a bit afraid of going that route.

The idea of fermenting with natural yeast on the grapes is in itself exciting :D

The reason I want to make a starter separately is I will wash the bulk of the grapes and only use a small selected portion to culture yeast.

I thought of adding water and sugar because of the expense involved in going with only grapes. Anyhow, can you give me a rough idea how much juice is expected from say a batch of 10 lb red grapes? Let me see if I can afford it. I wouldn't want to go with a batch smaller than 6 liters.

I can get commercial beer very easily. How do I cultivate yeast from it? I can get hold of imported wine also but that would be expensive. BTW, wont the (ale) yeast in the beer be less alcohol tolerant for a wine with around 11-12% abv?

I do not have meta available. I have so far made 7-8 batches, and they are so far infection free.

Cheers :b
 

Winemanic

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Push a strainer down into the must and scoop out some clean juice with a cup, pour it into a tall thin vessel and drop in the hydrometer. Sanitize everything of course.
Tartaric acid is what we use for grape wine, you should know your pH before adding it for no reason.
Since you're watering your must a bit, don't bump the ABV too high, if the wine is a little thin, the alcohol will be prominent. I'd shoot for1.090-1.100.
Wine yeast is better, but I know you have difficulty getting it.
Thanks John. I think I can get tartaric acid. I'll get that. Okay if I restrict starting gravity to 1.100 max, how much ABV can I reasonably expect?
 

Winemanic

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Another question is, will repeated freezing and thawing of grapes help in juice extraction, as is done with other fruits? I understand some fruits tend to dry up a little because of freezing.

I did this with strawberries...
 

DoctorCAD

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How do you know that the "red" grapes will have a yeast that will make a good wine naturally on them?

What area are you from and what kind of grapes?
 

Winemanic

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How do you know that the "red" grapes will have a yeast that will make a good wine naturally on them?

What area are you from and what kind of grapes?
I do not know if it would turn out as good as you might be used to, but the only other option I have is to go with bread yeast.

Again, I do not think I will have wine grapes. Here they only grow table grapes, as far as I know; however, I am going to go with one of those blackish small grapes that are a bit tart, have seeds and thicker skins than most others, (and they do look like wine grapes, but there is no way of knowing if they actually are.)
 

NorCal

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Winemanic, I think it will take some trial and error to figure out a balanced wine, with what you have to work with.

I would add sugar only to get to the target abv level. Add acid only enough to get your starting pH in line. With the grapes you are using, I'd be reticent to use any water, as you will be fighting a thin wine to start with.

A typical wine is 83% water, 14% alcohol and 3% everything else. It is now balancing the acidity, flavored, sweetness, tannin against your alcohol. As others have said, there doesn't tend to be a lot of flavor in table grapes, so aim low on the abv.

Good luck and keep us posted.
 

Johny99

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Thanks Johnny! I will get EC-1118 and Montrachet in December. Till then I'll persevere with whatever resources I have available. It is so kind of you and another member to offer to help, but let me think about it. I am a bit afraid of going that route.

The idea of fermenting with natural yeast on the grapes is in itself exciting :D

The reason I want to make a starter separately is I will wash the bulk of the grapes and only use a small selected portion to culture yeast.

I thought of adding water and sugar because of the expense involved in going with only grapes. Anyhow, can you give me a rough idea how much juice is expected from say a batch of 10 lb red grapes? Let me see if I can afford it. I wouldn't want to go with a batch smaller than 6 liters.

I can get commercial beer very easily. How do I cultivate yeast from it? I can get hold of imported wine also but that would be expensive. BTW, wont the (ale) yeast in the beer be less alcohol tolerant for a wine with around 11-12%
Cheers :b
I'd be careful of washing, it adds water and dilutes flavors. However, if you are suspicious of what is on them, wash. If you'd eat them without worry, I'd not wash. In my world, we are making for quality, not because we can't get wine. Thus the recommend not to add water. Hard to say, but from 10 lbs I'd guess about 5 l as I get ~50l from 100-125 lbs. depends so much on the grape. I like the idea of using the small dark, tart grapes. It will be much easier to add sugar to get the bridge you want than acid or flavors.

If wine or beer has live yeast, you can simply add some sugar, warm it to 20c or so and let it grow. Be careful of bad bugs. An airlock helps. Hard to say how alcohol tolerant a beer or ale yeast will be, but I'd say a better bet than bread yeast!
 

Winemanic

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Okay, I got it... I won't be adding any water, and sugar only enough to get to a maximum of 1.100. I had already aimed for 5kg (11 lb) grapes so it won't take too much to add 3-4 lb more.

I'll get a can of beer and experiment.

No, I wouldn't dare eat those grapes without washing. In fact I have been soaking them with vinegar in water before eating, but of course I wouldn't do that for wine making. I don't mind eating a berry or two to check the flavor at the fruit stall though. If you say washing would add water, keeping them in the fridge for a day in a colander would dry them up again.
 

mennyg19

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Wouldnt washing the grapes get rid of the wild yeast you are trying to cultivate here?
Good luck!!
 

Winemanic

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Wouldnt washing the grapes get rid of the wild yeast you are trying to cultivate here?
Good luck!!
I said I'll first ferment a handful or two of unwashed grapes, then add the fermenting ones to washed grapes.
 

Winemanic

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I have a question: Would I be better off with commercially available, packaged grape juice? Is grape juice normally made from wine grapes?
 

mennyg19

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I have a question: Would I be better off with commercially available, packaged grape juice? Is grape juice normally made from wine grapes?

I would venture to say yes. But thy usually write on the bottle what type of grape juice it is. Concord is a popular grape juice...
 

Winemanic

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Down here we only get a few imported brands. In March, I found one Thailand brand 'Malee' on sale. All I could make out was it was preservative free and had no added sugar. I bought that and made red wine with it. It had a strong flavor, so I am guessing it might have been juice of wine grapes (and it makes sense because wine grapes have more juice than table ones.) The wine did not turn out very pleasant in taste, but then I made a lot of mistakes too. I added too much sugar among other things.

Today I bought about half a pound of grapes similar looking to your Concord grapes but a little smaller. They had the white powdery thing that's supposed to be yeast. I have crushed them and put in a glass jar, and covered it with some tissue paper in such a way that flies cannot find their way in. let's see what type of fermentation I get. Of course, I did not wash them. If I get a healthy fermentation, I'll try some of it on a liter of juice to see what kind of result I get, while preserving the rest in the fridge.

:b
 

Johny99

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Keep experimenting and keep us posted on your progress. As for freezing, it damages the cells by bursting as the water expands so I guess in theory it will increase your yield. I'd try what grapes you can find and see what makes what you like.

Grape juice would be a "safer route" but much less interesting. In my opinion, wine grapes are those traditionally used for wine. So, if you can get them, cool as things like acid and sugar should be workable. If not, go with what you find. Generally wine grapes have more sugar than table grapes and other fruits - maybe that is why the are "wine grapes". Just random thoughts tonight:ib
 

DoctorCAD

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Juice grapes are not the same as wine grapes, in fact, lots of wine grapes taste pretty bad as grapes.

If all you are trying to do is make alcoholic grape juice that tastes pretty good, you will be fine, but if you are expecting "wine" you will be disappointed with your results.
 

Winemanic

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I am excited! The grapes have begun fermenting and smell good. How do I now make sure their colony increases or rather multiplies? What should i do?

Sorry, not a very good photo...

:b

grapesferm.jpg
 
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