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JRM850

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Hi All,

My Dad has been making wine and growing grapes for probably 20 years now and until this point I have just been his occasional assistant. He is having some age related memory problems now and I have assumed the hobby, his equipment and for the time being, his grapes. I've been reading everything on the subject I can get my hands on and have come to the conclusion that in Wine making, the more you know the deeper the confusion. (Could be the wine, not sure) Anyway, I'm here to learn. Nice to meet you all. :)

Jeff
 

meadmaker1

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Welcome
Sound to me like you are right on track.
Depending on what you helped with and to what detail, you might just need the science behind the process or a start to finnish what are the necessary steps.
Starting with fresh grapes i hope you helped a lot.
This time of year youll need to have equipment clean and ready to go.
Grapes are ready or very near. You need to test brix and ph of your grapes. When they are ready, you need to be ready also. Someone else will need to help you determine that.
Post your grape type and amount and the experianced folks here will post suggestions for you.
Read them all choose what works for you.
 

JRM850

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Thank you both. Do I ask my questions in this thread or start a new one? Right now I have 3 gallons of red and 3 gallons of white that were started with frozen grapes from last year. I started the red in june and just did a third rack today It's still a bit cloudy. PH is 3.6 according to a test strip. I do have a meter but have not calibrated it yet.Tartaric acid test read about .8 but I just learned that the sodium hydroxide is unstable and that may not be accurate becasue it is 2 years old. The white just started fermenting last Monday. I did juice only on the white because I wasn't sure about the hulls. Freezer burn maybe? I used the 1118 yeast for both. We are picking fresh grapes now as they ripen and I hope to have my hands on some raw local honey shortly.
 

dralarms

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Welcome, this is the best place to learn about wine making
 

meadmaker1

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@Jeffrey R Mitchell
Asking here is fine.
Some surf certain forum topics others search them all, and i forget to look were i am and read bits and pieces of every thing. But a good answer could be missed if you dont post it per topic. But i wouldn't worry about it too much. Post a question about grapes in classified and it will get answered. Lol dont but im just saying.
 

JRM850

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One question I've always had, based upon the assuption that a high abv makes a wine more stabil...

Would raising the brix of the initial must so that the potential alcohol level is higher than the yeast alcohol tolerance have the same effect as fermenting dry and then back sweetening?
 

cmason1957

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One question I've always had, based upon the assuption that a high abv makes a wine more stabil...

Would raising the brix of the initial must so that the potential alcohol level is higher than the yeast alcohol tolerance have the same effect as fermenting dry and then back sweetening?
The problem with that idea is that the yeast alcohol tolerance isn't an absolute. As in packet A of some yeast might end up going to 18%, while packet B might stop at 16%, which is what the packet says is the max. It is safer to let your wine go dry, add kmeta and k sorbate, then backsweeten to the level you want.

And high alcohol doesn't make your wine more stable, just makes it high alcohol.
 

Johnd

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One question I've always had, based upon the assuption that a high abv makes a wine more stabil...

Would raising the brix of the initial must so that the potential alcohol level is higher than the yeast alcohol tolerance have the same effect as fermenting dry and then back sweetening?
I know it sounds perfectly reasonable, but I don’t believe so, and for several reasons.

  • If you want ABV at 14%, and buy one that has a tolerance of 14%, there’s no guarantee that it won’t stop at 13 or go to15
  • It’s very difficult to stop a fermentation where you want if it doesn’t stop where you want
  • Because the stopping point is unknown, residual sugar can’t be determined ahead of time
  • It’s much more effective to ferment dry and clear your wine, let the taste profile develop before you sweeten, and do it in small increments
 

JRM850

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The problem with that idea is that the yeast alcohol tolerance isn't an absolute. As in packet A of some yeast might end up going to 18%, while packet B might stop at 16%, which is what the packet says is the max. It is safer to let your wine go dry, add kmeta and k sorbate, then backsweeten to the level you want.

And high alcohol doesn't make your wine more stable, just makes it high alcohol.
I know it sounds perfectly reasonable, but I don’t believe so, and for several reasons.

  • If you want ABV at 14%, and buy one that has a tolerance of 14%, there’s no guarantee that it won’t stop at 13 or go to15
  • It’s very difficult to stop a fermentation where you want if it doesn’t stop where you want
  • Because the stopping point is unknown, residual sugar can’t be determined ahead of time
  • It’s much more effective to ferment dry and clear your wine, let the taste profile develop before you sweeten, and do it in small increments
That makes perfect sense. Too much of a guess at residual sugar... Thank you both. Not sure where I got the idea that higher alcohol made it stable. Maybe from reading about Port or something.

The next question I have is about when to add the kmeta and k sorbate. My red is still pretty cloudy after several months and a couple of racks. So far I have tried a mild treatment with bentonite and then two weeks later the recommended treatment with sparkolloid. I just racked it off after a week with the sparkolloid. Is it ok to stabilize now? Any tips on how to speed up the fining? I used raw organic sugar for this wine, which may or may not be the reason for the cloudiness.
 

cmason1957

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I add KMeta after fermentation completes, for me, that is the same hydrometer reading for three or so days in row (actually for me, I then wait an extra week, but many don't) then add usually 1/4 tsp of kmeta for 5 or 6 gallons. Rack after 2 - 3 weeks, rack after 3 months (add KMeta), rack after 3 Months (add Kmeta), rack after 3 months (add Kmeta). Then I start to think about adding clearing agents, if they are required. I am a big fan and have had the best luck with Dual-Fine (Keisol and Chitosan). After the wine is clear, then I start to think about if backsweetening is required and add Kmeta and Potassium Sorbate. Following this time frame, I have never had a bottle bomb, referment in the bottle, crud falling out after bottling. Back when I first started, I would do almost all those rackings, but with a month between them. It can be done, but waiting is almost always better.
 
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JRM850

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I add KMeta after fermentation completes, for me, that is the same hydrometer reading for three or so days in row (actually for me, I then wait an extra week, but many don't) then add usually 1/4 tsp of kmeta. Rack after 2 - 3 weeks, rack after 3 months (add KMeta), rack after 3 Months (add Kmeta), rack after 3 months (add Kmeta). Then I start to think about adding clearing agents, if they are required. I am a big fan and have had the best luck with Dual-Fine (Keisol and Chitosan). After the wine is clear, then I start to think about if backsweetening is required and add Kmeta and Potassium Sorbate. Following this time frame, I have never had a bottle bomb, referment in the bottle, crud falling out after bottling. Back when I first started, I would do almost all those rackings, but with a month between them. It can be done, but waiting is almost always better.
So I should add 1/4tsp per gallon of the Kmeta now right?
 

JRM850

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Lol. My bad; I made a poor assumption on the per gallon part. So, I'm going to add roughly .136tsp K-Meta to my 3 gallons, and learn to be more patient on the fining, right?
 

meadmaker1

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After a couple batches and you have wine to share with friends and family, waiting for wine to clear gets much easyer.
I asked the same question about yeast threshold and back sweetening myself. As i have discovered, i have no way of knowing what level of back sweetening i might want in a finished product, so even if yeast threshol was constant i wouldnt know what brix to start with to finish with the sweetness that brings the flavor and ballance i want.
Be careful with high alcohol, it can throw the balance of an otherwise good wine into the rocket fuel category.
 

JRM850

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After a couple batches and you have wine to share with friends and family, waiting for wine to clear gets much easyer.
I asked the same question about yeast threshold and back sweetening myself. As i have discovered, i have no way of knowing what level of back sweetening i might want in a finished product, so even if yeast threshol was constant i wouldnt know what brix to start with to finish with the sweetness that brings the flavor and ballance i want.
Be careful with high alcohol, it can throw the balance of an otherwise good wine into the rocket fuel category.
I'm going to start something new this weekend, maybe a honey mead, so I don't have to deal with the slowing down of time this wine making causes. :)

I'm afraid my first batch might fall into that rocket fuel category. Right now it is a bit astringent with little mouthfeel. I'm hoping the backsweetening can salvage it.
 

meadmaker1

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This might be a candidate for diluting/sweetening with grape juice concentrate. I think i would push it to the back for a few months and see what time does for it.
For mead you need to follow a solid yeast neuteant program.
Personally i recommend a fruit based mead. Apple is a simple mead with readily available supplies. Follow almost any mead recipe using apple juice in place of water. Add honey per sg not recipe, i shoot for around a 14% abv and back sweeten to around 12%abv.
Honey is neutreant deficient, adding 1 over ripe, frozen and thawed banana per gallon helps fill this gap and helps with mouth feel, leaving no banana taste in the end. As an added note " i would rather suck the snot from a babies nose than eat a banana".
 

JRM850

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This might be a candidate for diluting/sweetening with grape juice concentrate. I think i would push it to the back for a few months and see what time does for it.
For mead you need to follow a solid yeast neuteant program.
Personally i recommend a fruit based mead. Apple is a simple mead with readily available supplies. Follow almost any mead recipe using apple juice in place of water. Add honey per sg not recipe, i shoot for around a 14% abv and back sweeten to around 12%abv.
Honey is neutreant deficient, adding 1 over ripe, frozen and thawed banana per gallon helps fill this gap and helps with mouth feel, leaving no banana taste in the end. As an added note " i would rather suck the snot from a babies nose than eat a banana".
somehow I missed your reply until just now.

I ended up back sweetening that first wine and bottling it just last week. Its not half bad. It is crystal clear but I think I stripped a little too much color due to a post fermentation pectic enzyme treatment and bentonite and sparkoloid. The color is still beautiful but it is copper colored.


I started a straight meade a few days ago. I poured some leftover muscadine rose in it with some of the settled lees as yeast food. It was kicking along until about sg 1.020. Started about 1.092. I added more energizer, nutrients, and about half a pack of kv-1116. It appears to have picked up the pace again. Started a second batch today but altered the recipe a little by adding less water. Sg was 1.140. It hasn't started yet.

Update: Second batch of meade has not started bubbling yet as of the following morning. The only differences between the new meade and the one that is fermenting now is the OG and the acid levels. The old one started at 1.092 the new one is 1.140. Same batch of honey for both. I added about a teaspoon of acid blend to the new one to drop the ph to around 4.0. TA is just over .5. Should I add another batch of yeast?
 
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