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Lessons Learned from the Newbie

Wine Making Talk

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vvolf34

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I thought we could make a little data base of some of the pitfalls we have experienced, to help out the new guy to avoid these simple mistakes.

Buckets that come with holes and nozzle, make sure you have a good seal before adding your juice.

Slowly stir in your bentonite, don’t just dump in the whole package. It makes a huge clump that doesn’t like to dissolve. W/E kit.

Stir your must as you slowly add tannin, it too likes to clump together. (JD Carlson)

Have a nice firm grip and control over your concentrate bag.

Make sure your frozen fruit has defrosted completely.

If you use K-meta do not stand directly over your secondary as you rack your wine. The fumes... :a

Watch a video on how to degass a wine so you dont have to spend 30 minutes degassing when you were about to bottle. I recommend the finevinewines video series, it's free to watch.

If you get hooked, go ahead and buy your chemical stock pile. k-meta, sorbate, nutrient, energizer, yeast acid blend etc...

Go for broke and buy a lot of different sized carboys, keep em full!!
 
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BobF

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make enough to fill a side bottle so you don't have to top up with water
 

deboard

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BobF: I'll second that one, the worst that can happen is you have more wine than you planned for, and that's never bad.
 

cpfan

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Slowly stir in your bentonite, don’t just dump in the whole package. It makes a huge clump that doesn’t like to dissolve. W/E kit.

Make sure your frozen fruit has defrosted completely.
Bentonite - I like to sprinkle about a third over the entire surface and then stir well. Then another third. Stir. Finally the remainder, and stir. Or get a Vineco kit, their bentonite is different and seems to dissolve more readily.

Frozen fruit - was helping a buddy to make crab apple wine from frozen apples. I suggested on Tuesday that he get the fruit out of the freezer for Saturday wine making. He got it out on Friday. Still pretty much frozen Sunday. So yeah that one sure rings true.

Steve
 

BobF

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Bentonite - I like to sprinkle about a third over the entire surface and then stir well. Then another third. Stir. Finally the remainder, and stir. Or get a Vineco kit, their bentonite is different and seems to dissolve more readily.

Frozen fruit - was helping a buddy to make crab apple wine from frozen apples. I suggested on Tuesday that he get the fruit out of the freezer for Saturday wine making. He got it out on Friday. Still pretty much frozen Sunday. So yeah that one sure rings true.

Steve
I don't use it often, but I have a bentonite mixture made up more or less as Berry suggests. It keeps forever in a mason jar.

It's mixed such that I use 1 tbsp per gal.
 

Leanne

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Take notes during the whole process.
Use a hydrometer.
Keep your beloved pets away from it all. I lost a huge amount of wine to my dog knocking it all over.
 

sweetcheeks

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- Document, document, document! The first year we followed recipes we found on line. Ended up with some good wine but who knows where to find the recipes again.
- Keep it clean - sterilize your equipment as directed on the label!
- Demijohns and caboys are frequent finds in the old shops.
- Learn how to measure SG and pH. Measure before, during and at the end and document the numbers.
 

robie

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When you rack, if you think you will have more wine than the carboy can hold, ALWAYS, ALWAYS siphon some into the extra bottle FIRST, then fill the carboy. This way the extra bottle won't be filled with just the sediment (crud) from off the bottom.

Same rule applies if you have a 6 gallon carboy and you want to rack to a 5 gallon and use the remainder to fill some test bottles of wine. Always fill the test bottles of wine first... for the same reason.

When siphoning from one container to another, always set the receiving container (carboy or bottles) inside a secondary containment container. That way if you run over, the mess is contained. If filling wine bottles, use a clean, sanitized secondary containment container, so you can keep what spills.

Best rule: Never stop making wine!
 

Larryh86GT

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Don't try to fill your hydometer tube when it is upside down.

Don't stare in amazement at the funny stuff in the wine (from the sugar syrup) while the bottle is rapidly filling.

I'm sure I can add more as I go here. :slp
 
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Julie

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Don't wash your hydrometer in the dishwasher. :(
 

Wade E

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Make sure you take your hydrometer out of your tube before trying o shake out the solution!!!!!!!!!! Make sure your spigot is turned off before attempting to fill your primary bucket.
 

Runningwolf

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Don't think you can just stick your auto-siphon in a full carboy without it flowing over.:slp
 

Julie

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And don't wash your hydrometer, place it in the sink and wash wine bottles and put them in with the hydrometer. Man, I am on my thrid hydrometer in 6 months! :slp I need to learn my lessons.
 
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- Learn how to measure SG and pH. Measure before, during and at the end and document the numbers.
note that with a electronic tester, acid cannot be measured during fermentation (not sure about the strips or titration method).

Julie> lol, i think we have 3 hydrometers around for that very reason. a back up for the back up!!

sanitize everything EVERY time you use it!!!
 

countrygirl

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some of these were hilarious, some are like, "i'm sooo glad i read that", lol, lol
speaking of pets, i noticed my dogs come and watch at the utility room door EVERY time i'm doing something with the wine...i wonder why, lol
 

sweetcheeks

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funny stuff

LOL that is really funny. I can see myself doing something like that being preoccupied after a long day and trying to get things all cleaned up.
 

SpoiledRotten

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When you rack, if you think you will have more wine than the carboy can hold, ALWAYS, ALWAYS siphon some into the extra bottle FIRST, then fill the carboy. This way the extra bottle won't be filled with just the sediment (crud) from off the bottom.

Same rule applies if you have a 6 gallon carboy and you want to rack to a 5 gallon and use the remainder to fill some test bottles of wine. Always fill the test bottles of wine first... for the same reason.

That is great advice! I didn't need that advice until this last batch. I filled up the carboy from the primary, had a little left over. I siphoned it into a 1.5L bottle. I looked at it this morning and found that half of the bottle is sediment. I'll more than likely toss that small bottle and do it "right" next time. Learning as we go!
 
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Ernest T Bass

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Buy a carrier handle for each glass carboy, it'll pay for itself.

Don't wear expensive shoes and socks when bottling for the first time.

Semper Fi
 

rhoffart

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Don't rack 28 degree wine (from cold stabilization) into a barrel and top it off right away. Your barrel will be oozing wine for the next 3 days as it warms and expands.
 
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robie

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That is great advice! I didn't need that advice until this last batch. I filled up the carboy from the primary, had a little left over. I siphoned it into a 1.5L bottle. I looked at it this morning and found that half of the bottle is sediment. I'll more than likely toss that small bottle and do it "right" next time. Learning as we go!
Randy,
Just let that bottle set until it settles. Once settled, smell it and make sure it smells right, then siphon off the clear wine and put it into a smaller container; discard the rest. I do this with all the left over sediment every time I rack my wine. You can save a lot of wine this way. I salvage at least a full 750 ml every time.
 

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