Jumped in with both feet and now flailing

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Sep 9, 2009
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Get ready to laugh and cry :( ...and then hopefully recover and offer me some advice. Feel free to toss rotten tomatoes because I totally deserve it.

Thursday 9/3 - 1 gallon fruit wine kit delivered WOOT! Now I can make wine.
Friday 9/4 - Notice squirrels stealing my precious grapes!
Saturday 9/5 - Invite family over for grape harvest. Harvest, sort, wash, squish grapes into plastic 2 gallon primary fermentation device. Realize that refractometer that I use on my saltwater fishtank is not the right scale (doesn't go high enough, only goes to 1.07) and begin cussing because I cant find the acid test kit that I swore I ordered. Decide to let grapes sit in bucket overnight and go pick hydrometer and acid test kit the next day.
Sunday 9/6 - Find out that the wine making store moved...are still in the process of setting up, but they manage to find me a hydrometer and no acid test kits to be found. I try to act like its no big deal and slink home with my hydrometer. Realize when I get home that I have no way of removing juice from plastic bucket and slowly siphon some out with a measuring cup (sterilized!) Test what I think is a pretty good sample and the hydrometer says 1.06. Go to add some sugar and realize...as I knock over the beaker of my precious liquid and stain my stove purple...that I HAVE NO SUGAR. Go to store, get sugar and a flavor injector (aka syringe) for easier extraction. Come back, mix in 4 cups of sugar...which I'm guessing from somewhere I read should bring it up to around 1.10 and it goes ok...it went to 1.11. Figured that was cool...added a packet of yeast that I had dissolved in some warm water. Now my kitchen smells like yeast.
Monday 9/7 - Wake up to the smell of yeast and the sight of my bucket having exploded on the kitchen counter. Fermenting CHECK. Ok it didn't explode...just enough juice all over to turn it purple to match the stove. Apparently it was less a suggestion more a requirement to leave at least 1/5 of the container free for expansion...lol :c Clean that mess up...pull out some of the solid stuff at the top, squeeze it best as I can and discard. Stir completely, replace lid and then a couple hours later it was starting to come out the top again so I took some more out. There was a little more later that day when I got home so I took a little more out and I think now I have it under control. Didn't test, but stirred several times.
Tuesday 9/8 - I just cleaned and sterilized everything, took a sample and the hydrometer is telling me that it is at 1.00 :d

So ok I have three main questions.

1. how big a deal is the whole acid thing and have I potentially ruined the whole deal by not testing and adjusting it before I added yeast? Can I still adjust it?

2. Can the fermentation go by that fast?? Which reading was more likely incorrect? The one from two days ago at 1.11 or the one just now that I took after stirring and it says 1.00.

3. forgot the 3rd...but what suggestions do you have for me besides "next time be prepared you idiot"??

oh, btw, I really like sweet sweet smooth wines (usually bubbly...but I'm not going there for a long time making it myself lol)...not a big fan of most anything else...but I just want this first batch to at least be drinkable. lol I figure there is time to practice on getting something I like in future batches if I dont make this one perfect.

Thanks in advance :)
you have a great sense of humour!

We've all had the wine foam through the airlock, it happens to everyone at some stage.

Yes it can ferment out really fast, although I have never had anything ferment as fast as you have mentioned. A faster ferment can give you odd flavours in the finished wine.. And yes acid testing is important in a balanced wine.

my third comment is just my opinion.

...learning to produce a great wine takes time and many wines you produce may make you feel like you are never going to get that 'special wine' you are hoping for.

you have to have determination and vision to create an exceptional wine, just like any other aspect of life you expect to excel in.

Sounds like an average day for some of us. You just have to do what you have to do. Did you taste the wine? Was it pretty dry tasting? If so the second gravity reading was right and the first probably wrong. If still sweet the first was right and second was probably wrong. A wine can ferment that fast but it isn't the norm. You may have had an extra day or so of fermentation though from the natural yeast on the grapes though if you didn't sulfite the grapes when you mashed them. How warm is the area you fermented the wine? THe warmer the temps, the faster it will work.
Thanks for the encouraging words Allie & Smurfe! That helps me out a lot...I just want to see if I can keep from ruining this first batch. Like I said, I'll settle for drinkable LOL

We mashed them in my kitchen, didn't add anything to them as we were mashing except after we got them all juiced as much as I wanted I added a crushed campden tablet as suggested. I think my house has been at about an average of 75 lately...warmest I saw it was yesterday at about 78 and lowest I've seen was like 72 I think.

I didn't taste it...but I will do so tonight...and I will do a hydrometer testing before mixing it up so I can be sure not to have as many bubbles as I think may have been in there last night. Bubbles would have made the whole sample less dense which would give me a lower reading than reality right?

What do I do about the acidity? Can/Should I still adjust it?

I'll post with what the SG reading is when I get home tonight :) I am all ready to start jumping on my next batch as soon as I get this one moved to a carboy...this is fun. I can see why people who do it are totally obsessed :)
Ok, I tasted it and tested it. The hydrometer said it was sticking true at 1.00 and then I remembered that I have that refractometer! Refractometer I trust more and IT says 1.045 THAT I am more willing to believe than that it dropped from 1.11 to 1.00 in just a couple days. Agree?

Oh, and amazingly...doesn't taste too bad! lol
Nope !!

A hydrometer is in this case more accurate as a refractometer.

Refractometer readings are obscured by the alcohol that is in the wine, so they are not accurate at all.

It is not unlikely that the wine has fermented to dry.
I had made a apple wine a few months ago (there is a thread
somewhere here on this forum).
It fermented dry from 1084 to 996 in just 4 days.

So trust the hydrometer.

sure, just when I think I have something figured out! *sigh* Oh well, ok...I suppose now that I think about it that makes sense...the "line" was pretty fuzzy when I was trying to figure it out on the refractometer. I've only ever seen solid lines with it as I usually use it with my saltwater fishtank. I guess I will put it into the secondary tonight then :)