Kits and additives

Discussion in 'Beginners Wine Making Forum' started by wineview, Oct 8, 2018.

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  1. Oct 8, 2018 #1

    wineview

    wineview

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    I’ve noticed in most kits they include potassium metabisulphite, potassium sorbate, kieselsol and chitosan. Some even include yeast nutrients to be added when SG drops to 1.050-1.040. Are all these chemicals necessary?

    When I purchased a fresh pail of juice at a local shop, I questioned the owner if I needed to purchase the above ingredients and he said probably not. His only recommendation was to add metabisulphite at 6-8 weeks in secondary.

    So I’m a bit confused with the conflicting advice. I did notice when reading the directions included with the kits, they really hold your hand to an extreme. Almost to the point of second guessing yourself.

    Anyone care to chime in?
     
  2. Oct 8, 2018 #2

    Ajmassa5983

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    I agree 100% with both the shop guy and your observations. If learning from kits it really feels like those instructions are THE way to make wine.
    I started with juice buckets. Never even knew those additives existed, that I could manually degas, or that I could airlock a primary until buying my first kit.
    Juice buckets can be as simple or as involved as you want em.
    Can literally just add yeast to the bucket (even that isn’t essential), after fermentation rack to glass, racking every few months before bottling.
     
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  3. Oct 8, 2018 #3

    mainshipfred

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    You may want to keep in mind kit manufacturers want you to believe you can drink the wine in 4-8 weeks. Therefore the requirements for kieselsol and chitosan are necessary for clearing. The key words in the shop keeper's response are "probably not". There are mixed opinions on the forum concerning additives except for potassium metabisulphite. Some folks are more cautious and some feel the process can take care of itself. Now kits are another story. If your reading kit instructions to make juice bucket wine it might not be the best advice.
     
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  4. Oct 8, 2018 #4

    salcoco

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    you can skip the sorbate unless you plan on adding sugar post fermentation. you can skip the clearing agents if you let the wine clear on it own. do not skip the k-meta as it is a preservative and oxygen scavenger all to protect he wine.
     
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  5. Oct 8, 2018 #5

    wineview

    wineview

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    "If your reading kit instructions to make juice bucket wine it might not be the best advice."


    No not using kit instructions for the bucket of juice. I happen to be doing both at the same time thus my confusion.
     
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  6. Oct 8, 2018 #6

    wineview

    wineview

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    "do not skip the k-meta as it is a preservative and oxygen scavenger all to protect he wine."

    Here is another good point. A wine maker friend said the most important thing to do is kill the yeast with KMeta. None of the kits or the shop owner mentioned that at all.
    On a scale of 1-10, how important is KMeta and is it added when you want the fermentation to stop.

     
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  7. Oct 8, 2018 #7

    cmason1957

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    K-meta added at the beginning of fruit/grapes at least stuns the wild yeasts, don't know that it kills them all. Wine Kits, are treated (probably pasteurized) to actually kill the wild yeast. K-Meta will not stop an active strong fermentation.
     
  8. Oct 8, 2018 #8

    mainshipfred

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    Cmason's is correct with his prefermentation and kit comments. The pre treatment of grapes and probably juice buckets is controversial though, especially with grapes. I personally don't have a problem with wild yeast starting prior to pitching the cultured depending on the quality of the grapes. Sometimes K-meta is added pre fermentation to kill microbials other then yeast but you have to be careful if your doing and MLF.
     
  9. Oct 8, 2018 #9

    wineview

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    "but you have to be careful if your doing and MLF."

    Sorry, MLF?
     
  10. Oct 8, 2018 #10

    mainshipfred

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    Malolactic Fermentation. Converts the Malic Acid to Lactic Acid for a smoother wine. Mostly done with reds but some whites and not with kits.
     
  11. Oct 8, 2018 #11

    Venatorscribe

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  12. Oct 19, 2018 #12

    porkchopmessiah

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    I had done a strawberry wine as my first attempt with fruit it had growing in my yard, now I have 4 different buckets going..i forget which thread it was, but the buckets I got were already had sulfites added and and yeast. Depending on what your making you may already have a favorite to use...all of the guys who posted above have helped a lot. What I can tell you about the buckets is, after the came from the freezer room at the store and I got them home they were already beginning to ferment, so I hit them k meta and added my own yeast the next morning. Two buckets already had bentonite in them as well..
    I did MLF on them with help also from the AJmassa5983, mainshipfred and cmason1957....that seems to be progressing well. just keep up on your sanitation and cleaning and you should be ok...I also suspect they may balance the sugar before they pack the pails...I thought it was odd that all 4 had the exact same SG..maybe im paranoid.
    Last week ive been kicking around the adding of tannins, did some sampling and the taste while good seems to be missing something....im going with the lack of tannins due to there being no skins in the bucket..so that's the only thing off program im doing so far..going to add a 1/2 gram per gallon at next racking and then if im not happy at the following racking add some more..
     
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  13. Oct 19, 2018 #13

    Scooter68

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    Personally I think Kits are a great way to start. They do have a few weaknesses though.

    First of all they spell out timelines that in many cases are only slightly related to reality.
    Secondly you are kind of committed to making the wine their way until you've made enough wine to know where you can make changes.

    Learn the terminology and standard processes AND TAKE NOTES OF EVERYTHING YOU DO. Include measurement, times, temperatures etc.

    On the issue of wine kit timelines - Best advice you'll get on here is Ignore their timing once your fermentation has started. Get and use a Hydrometer - it's an essential tool for wine making unless you were raised around a winery. (Buy Two hydrometers - many folks don't and many folks regret that later the only cost about $10.00 a piece)
    There is an excellent thread on using hydrometers at the top of this forum: https://www.winemakingtalk.com/threads/how-to-use-a-hydrometer-for-newbies.16574/

    Next Get a good book or do a lot of on-line reading about wine making steps. With online reading - Watch out for those who over-complicate the process or those who over-simplify it. With respect to MLF - you also need to do some reading specifically about what it is, why and when to do it. I've never done it deliberately but then I only make fruit based wines - not grape wines.

    You can plunge right in buy a juice bucket and learn as you go but sometimes you can find yourself in a bind with no easy way out. I went this route but with my own homegrown blueberries. I started with a basic Country Wine Starter kit and added to it as I went. I started with a 1 gallon batch there wasn't a lot to be lost if it went wrong. It was over 3 years and about 25+ batches ago.

    ABOVE ALL - Come on here and ask questions like you have already. Listen and ask some more.

    AND.... Welcome to the forum and many happy batches of wine.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2018
  14. Oct 20, 2018 #14

    winemaker81

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    Strictly speaking, you need grapes to make wine (this ignores fruit wines, for simplicity).

    Each item in a wine kit has a purpose:

    Kits are pasteurized, so there's no natural yeast. When making wine from fresh fruit, add commercial yeast so you're not at the whim of whatever yeast is growing on the grape skins. Commercial yeasts also typically have a "killer factor" that helps them beat out wild yeasts and bacteria. Some folks go natural on yeast ... but that's a risk I am not interested in taking.

    Potassium metabisulphite helps stunt wild yeasts and bacteria, and in lesser quantities doesn't harm commercial yeast. It is also an antioxidant and preservative, lengthening the shelf life of your wine. In my experience, commercial wines made without sulfites have a shorter life span.

    Fining agents including kieselsol, chitosan, and bentonite help clear the wine faster. Time will clear the wine, but the fining agents produce a quicker result and may produce a better result. Commercial wineries use fining agents -- in Bordeaux it was common to use egg white to fine the reds. Now days there's a lot of filtering and some wineries are using centrifuges.

    Sorbate is essential if you are sweetening the wine, unless you are using a sterile filter (removes all yeast) or adding sufficient alcohol to raise the level above what the yeast can survive. Kits include sorbate on all wines (dry wines don't need it) to avoid problems with customers who don't follow the instructions and let the wine ferment to dryness. If the wine is dry (SG below 0.996) you can skip it.

    If no one mentioned it, sorbate will prevent a renewed fermentation in a wine that is not actively fermenting. It does not stop fermentation, nor does sulfite.


    I recommend starting with a kit so you can focus on the mechanics of wine making without having to figure things out. After you do a few kits, it all will make better sense.

    When making a kit -- follow the instructions. Do not get inventive until you know what you're doing. Follow the steps in order, keeping in mind that all time frames are a minimum, and your hydrometer tells you when things need to happen. The only thing that may be shorter is the initial fermentation -- I've had wines ferment to 0.990 in 3-4 days (although that is the exception, not the rule). Letting the wine age an extra week or two at most steps hurts nothing.

    When making wine from scratch? Think about what you're doing, and do what you're comfortable with. As was recommended, keep good notes and record SG EVERY TIME you touch it.
     
  15. Oct 21, 2018 #15

    jvernice

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    The people that make these kits know what they are doing and are giving you the best approach to a fail-proof wine making experience. Let's loot at all of the ingredients and their function both now in history.
    1) Potassium metabisulfite: This ingredient kills bacteria and mold and should be used when preparing equipment before wine-making. Historically, old time vintners burned sulfur sticks in their barrels to sanitize the. It serves the same purpose; to kill unwanted micro-organism. When sulfur combines with moisture in the barrel it forms sulfites (essenstially the same as metabisulfite). This is essential to making a quality wine as competing organisms can dramatically change the end results of your wine. Sometimes, it can even turn to vinegar.

    2) Potassium sorbate: This is a preservative that is used after fermentation. Old time vintners did not use a preservative. They also didn't store their wines for long periods of time. You don't need to add sorbates to your wine, but it will store for longer periods if you add it.

    3 & 4) Kieselol and chitosan: These are called "fining agents". These help clarify wine by combining with undissolved solids and "dropping" them to the bottom of the barrel. These ingredients make the wine clear (not to be confused with "colorless"). Old time vintners sometimes used egg whites to achieve clarity. Some just allow the sediment to naturally drop. This can take a very long time. These undissolved solids can affect the taste of your wine. To get a really polished wine (super clear), filtering the wine is also done. These are not essential ingredients, but are natural products and do result in a better tasting wine.
     
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  16. Oct 22, 2018 #16

    ASR

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    Kits do serve several puposes. For someone beginning, or thinking, about wine making, the kit has everything you need and tells you when you need it. Adding the fining agents allows the wine to be ready for bottling in a reasonable time with reasonable results. Most people getting started will accept a six week process. If the instructions were instead to ferment a week, then rack for three months, then rack another three months, then bottle and wait 3 months after bottling, most people will not begin at all. If something was to go wrong, they would also likely be upset at all the time they lost just in wating. As a side note, most kits do say to wait three months after bottling. In my opinion they should instead say to drink one bottle at bottling time, then drink one at 3 months and then another at 6 months just to give new makers a sense of how time helps the process. Then they might be more inclined to do the more extended approach of natural degassing and settling.

    I do agree with all the comments about reading up on what the ingredients are contributing to the overall process and to keep detailed notes - even when using kits.
     

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