Making wine without chemicals.

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vinny

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I am posting this one in the beginners section because... Well, I am one, and I have seen quite a few posts from new members asking if wine can be made without adding chemicals.

My experience... Absolutely, but it depends what you are trying to accomplish.

I made a bunch of quick drinkers and all had chemicals in them to promote fast fermentation. K-meta (Potassium Metabisulphite), yeast energizer (a mix of diammonium phosphate, yeast hulls, magnesium sulphate, and vitamin B complex), and yeast nutrient (DAP - diammonium phosphate). It was my assumption that they would be used up in fermentation, but I got a real heady/dirty buzz off the batches I made. All were treated with sorbate (potassium sorbate- Used to neutralize live yeast and stop a second ferment from starting with the addition of sugars intended to sweeten a wine) to allow back sweetening which I assumed was where the heady effects were coming from.

I have since made kit wines, and country wines, carrot, dandelion, and others without adding anything other than K-meta. This can also be omitted, but it offers protection to wine and I feel there is no value in trying to go without. All of my chemical free wines have fermented out without issue and although the chemical additives may make for a more reliable ferment, not adding them did not hinder the process at all.

Because I thought the chemicals added before fermentation would be used up by the yeast, I was going after sorbate as the cause of my dirty buzz. Yesterday I filtered a Dragon's Blood with a Buon Vino wine filter. First using number 2 filters and then number 3 sterile filters of .5 micron to remove yeast suspended in the wine. I mixed up 1 cup of sugar in 1 cup of water and added half to the wine after filtering last night. There were no signs of fermentation starting this morning and I added the second half today. There are still no signs of any reactivation of fermentation.

So in conclusion, all of the step at which we add chemicals can be omitted other than properly cleaning and sanitizing your equipment.

Yeast nutrient and DAP can promote a healthier and faster fermentation, but it will happen without them. Adding them can be beneficial to avoid off flavours when yeast is under nourished.

There is absolutely zero need for K-meta, it does not affect fermentation at all. What it will do is stabilize your wine. It will neutralize any oxygen introduced during racking, tasting, and bottling, and it will also prolong the life of your wine once it is bottled. This is why I feel it is worthwhile. It is also in all commercial wine. If you don't react to commercial wine negatively, there is no reason not to use it.

Lastly a good filter will filter out all live yeast and allow back sweetening without the addition of potassium sorbate to kill yeast.

I currently have very similar wines made with and without chemicals in primary and secondary. I also have not bottled the Dragon's Blood, yet. I will update this once I have sampled these wines. I will be able to pin point if it is DAP, Energizer, or sorbate that was giving me an unpleasant feeling from the wine and you can use it to decide which chemicals you feel are worth adding. I will also be able to comment on positive and negative flavours in the wines with and without chemicals.

I will be eliminating the bulk of the chemicals in my wines moving forward. I have already started eliminating kit packets. I have left my wines long enough to clear without additives, in my last batch I did not add kieselsol or chitosan. Adding K-meta on it's own instead of the included package eliminates the sorbate included in the kit and gives the wine maker control of what is and is not going into their wine.
 

Raptor99

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It depends on what you mean by "chemical." Sugar is a chemical. If you use nutrients derived from natural sources, such as Fermaid O, is that a "chemical?"

I'm sure that many others will comment on this, but here are a few of my thoughts:
* I use Kmeta both to treat the fruit pulp before fermentation as well as for protection during aging and at bottling. If you don't add Kmeta at all, you should probably plan on drinking your wine within about 6 months.
* I am moving away from DAP or "Yeast Nutrient" toward Fermaid O and Fermaid K. Using organic nutrients is healthier for the yeast
* If yeast do not have sufficient nutrients, the fermentation can stall and/or the yeast will produce off flavors. Grapes generally have the enough nutrients for fermentation. Most other fruit does not.
* If the wine is fermented dry, you don't need to add K Sorbate unless you plan to backsweeten. So it is better to use powdered Kmeta rather than a "wine stabilizer" from a kit.
* I bulk age my wines to let them clear, so I don't use any fining agents.
 
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Comments, you cannot make wine without sulphite in it, it is a by-product of the fermentation process, in addition sulphur has been used as a sanitation adjunct for many hundreds of years, it is generally considered safe, in normal quantities.
Addition of yeast nutrient, for kits is a waste of time and can lead to left over nutrients that spoilage organisms would love to eat. But for most country wines some nutrition for the yeast is almost always a good idea, struggling yeast and the resultant H2S isn't a fun thing and leads to the addition of much worse chemicals to remove it.
Filtering, I haven't ever used the Boun Vino so i say this with some lack of absolute knowledge, but I have been led to believe that the number 3 pads are not absolute sterile, in that there may be some holes in the filters that are large than .45 micron which is generally considered to be the smallest size of a yeast molecule. It only takes one yeast molecule and some time for fermentation to fire back up at a later date.
 

FlamingoEmporium

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If your ferment is totally over and you don’t backsweeten, sorbate should not be necessary. My first 2 wines did not have sorbate when bottled. They were clear and stable.

long term drinkability is yet to be determined….
 

Rice_Guy

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Yes historical wine was done without chemical addition. Yes some historical wines were made with additives as egg white, bentonite clay, sulfur wicks, , , , but one could call each chemically active with the current chem knowledge.
Craig pointed out yeast can produce free SO2 and selecting a strain for high SO2 would be advantageous for better shelf life, , , and selecting a must at pH 3.0 or 2.8 would also help, , , but one could say I am using understanding to mimic bottled chemicals. Always being skilled in the art helps, understanding is the historical tool.

by the way my BonVino pads are sometimes marketed as sterile, to accurately remove all bacteria they need a very sharp cut off of 0.45micron, industry wise this usually would be a polysulphone plastic created with specific size bubbles. BonVino pads don’t have the sharp cut off but are a random size cellulose fiber mat with an average near half a micron.
 

vinny

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Yes historical wine was done without chemical addition. Yes some historical wines were made with additives as egg white, bentonite clay, sulfur wicks, , , , but one could call each chemically active with the current chem knowledge.
Craig pointed out yeast can produce free SO2 and selecting a strain for high SO2 would be advantageous for better shelf life, , , and selecting a must at pH 3.0 or 2.8 would also help, , , but one could say I am using understanding to mimic bottled chemicals. Always being skilled in the art helps, understanding is the historical tool.

by the way my BonVino pads are sometimes marketed as sterile, to accurately remove all bacteria they need a very sharp cut off of 0.45micron, industry wise this usually would be a polysulphone plastic created with specific size bubbles. BonVino pads don’t have the sharp cut off but are a random size cellulose fiber mat with an average near half a micron.
For now, there is not a single sign of reactivation. I do not plan to bottle for a bit and also why I added the sugar solution in 2 stages to see if it would take off quick, or if there is little to no yeast and it will take longer.

We shall see if it fires back up. I am not interested in any bottle bombs, so I will give it its due time.
 

vinny

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Comments, you cannot make wine without sulphite in it, it is a by-product of the fermentation process, in addition sulphur has been used as a sanitation adjunct for many hundreds of years, it is generally considered safe, in normal quantities.
Addition of yeast nutrient, for kits is a waste of time and can lead to left over nutrients that spoilage organisms would love to eat. But for most country wines some nutrition for the yeast is almost always a good idea, struggling yeast and the resultant H2S isn't a fun thing and leads to the addition of much worse chemicals to remove it.
Filtering, I haven't ever used the Boun Vino so i say this with some lack of absolute knowledge, but I have been led to believe that the number 3 pads are not absolute sterile, in that there may be some holes in the filters that are large than .45 micron which is generally considered to be the smallest size of a yeast molecule. It only takes one yeast molecule and some time for fermentation to fire back up at a later date.
I know the Buon Vino filters are not necessarily absolute which is mostly why I wanted to see if I could sterile filter. Literally to see if it was possible with a standard home filter and pads, and I admit I am surprised it didn't take off last night.

So clearly if I didn't get all the yeast, I got a most of it.

Now, I know yeast multiple fast, but if I do see fermentation start back up would I need a full dose of sorbate? Is it added in larger quantities for younger wines with more yeast in suspension, or is there a required percentage dissolved in solution needed to be effective on yeast?
 
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BigDaveK

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You go, man!
Does "question authority" apply here?
Recently got a used copy of C.J.J. Berry's book from '87. (4 bucks, shipping included.) No chemicals except some recipes need nutrient and some pectic enzyme. Sweet wine? Keep adding sugar in steps until fermentation doesn't restart.

I have a couple older ones in the postal pipeline. (Used, free shipping, cheap.) Fascinating reading.

One of these days I'll do a new recipe and old recipe of something for comparison.
 

vinny

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It is possible to make a completely natural, no chemical additive wine, and have it taste terrible and/or make a person sick.

Eating the calcium propanoate in a slice of bread is MUCH healthier than eating the subsequent mold that will grow.
It is also possible to make perfectly good wine without all the additives. They may have their benefits, but that does not make them necessary.

Bread is a bad example. I make homemade bread all the time. The shelf life is shorter. It will grow mold within 4-5 days. However, it tastes better, and it is also healthier. Two benefits that are not outweighted by the fact that you can leave a loaf on the counter for 3 weeks and not have it grow mold. The freezer was invented to prolong food storage. That's what I use if I want a loaf of bread to stay fresh longer.

My knowledge of fermenting comes from kombucha, sauerkraut, and things we do not speak of, none of which use chemicals to promote fermentation. When making a wash for a neutral it is much easier to make a wash that does not have off flavours in it than it is to try to remove those flavours with the process.

The way to avoid off flavours is to make sure the yeast is not stressed. It needs nutrients and you can not push the ABV too high. Nutrients will effect the flavours of the end product as well, but they include things like, tomato paste, wheat, cereal, vitamin b, epsom salt. All of these are added to give the yeast food while it ferments the sugars. A wine must has all the nutrients yeast needs without additional chemicals.

Others have commented that they are using Fermaid O and K. I have not looked into them, but there are other options. Many new comers have asked in the short time I have been here if it is possible. The answer is 100% yes and likely the reason some choose to make their own wine, same as I make my own bread.

You can make it healthier. You can make it fit your lifestyle. You do not need to add things like DAP.

I do not intend to come off as hostile, I am just trying to back up what I have shared.

The entire point of fermentation is for food preservation. Yes wine changes and becomes better, but it would not last out the week without fermentation to change its structure allowing it to age without spoiling. When wine spoils it turns to vinegar. This will not make you sick.

It is very dismissive to state that adding chemicals to bread is healthier than eating mold when changing your practices can completely remove mold from the equation and create a better product.

I am just demonstrating that for those who this is a concern, you can use other methods.
 
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balatonwine

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It is possible to make a completely natural, no chemical additive wine, and have it taste terrible and/or make a person sick.
It is also possible to make a completely natural, no chemical additive wine, and have it taste wonderful and make the person drinking it amazed and delighted.

I think @Rice_Guy said it well: "Always being skilled in the art helps, understanding is the historical tool."

That is, one can indeed make a great chem free wine, but that is only part of the point. If one learns and experiments over a few centuries, one may learn from knowledge passed down how to make chem free wine and do it well. But the American hobby wine maker will not live that long, so chemicals are a way to get to good wine without all that centuries of background knowledge. But beware calling it the only way to make good wine..... ;)

I have made fully chem free wine in the cellar**. My Pino Gris for example. A well known early to bottle wine. It was wonderful. But.... Alas.... self life. It started to fade by late summer and by the end of the year it was a pale example of its first glory. Cause: Oxidation. If I had all the expensive tools to seal off every step in the wine making process from oxygen, and some wine makers do and make great chem free wine, it would have lasted longer. But I do not. So I do add KMeta to my wine. To give my wine a fighting chance at some shelf life. But I add nothing else. I admit to being a minimalist. But it works for me (well.... it works for me now, after almost a quarter century of many many failures trying to be a minimalist.... but I think I got it figured out now....well maybe.... 80% at least. Well... maybe 50%.... Okay, maybe I know 30%.... Maybe. *** :confused:

**(cough.... cough... due to some jerks importing American vines in the 19th century I have to spray my grapes in the vineyards with chemicals, so fully chemical free wine for me sadly is false.... so let us pretend we are only discussing wine in the wine cellar, not the vineyard).

*** Beware: I have a burning and wicked sardonic sense of humor most do not understand.:cool:
 

balatonwine

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I make homemade bread all the time. The shelf life is shorter. It will grow mold within 4-5 days.

Really? So short? My bread lasts quite a bit longer. But I have a bread box (never put bread in the fridge or out in the open, two sure ways to get it moldy). And I mostly make sourdough (maybe the vinegar protects it).
 

Rice_Guy

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Bread is a bad example. I make homemade bread all the time. The shelf life is shorter. It will grow mold within 4-5 days. However, it tastes better, and it is also healthier. Two benefits that are not outweighted by the fact that you can leave a loaf on the counter for 3 weeks and not have it grow mold.
The entire point of fermentation is for food preservation. Yes wine changes and becomes better, but it would not last out the week without fermentation to change its structure allowing it to age without spoiling. When wine spoils it turns to vinegar. This will not make you sick..
* the main issue that I’ve seen with bread mold is contamination from the environment, you should be able to have home bread mold free as long as commercial. Note that in summer commercial bread will mold faster too. You could add K sorbate to your bread. ,,,, Taste? lots of bread products are made with softening agents (distilled monoglycerides, modified starches) which can let them stay soft for months. Mom’s trick was to load Christmas stollen up with butter (a fat).
Fermentation is part of the story, the juice needs to have a low pH which resists a lot of microbes, high sugar (water activity) resists a lot, excluding oxygen keeps most families out and enzymes and tannins and pigments etc. ,,,, wine is a multi variable preservation system
* wine is like a wallet. Oxidation > changing the redox potential is spending some of the stored energy reserves. Once gone, the high energy reduced molecules are gone. A lot of adding meta is fighting sloppy technique, but then only university grade labs have glove boxes where one can fill the atmosphere with nitrogen or CO2 . In the old days phenolics from red skins could provide a lot of the functionality. ,,,,
Flavor wise I like apple tannins more than grape tannins and this year I put in several red juice apples to give natural phenolics.
* I like @balatonwine comment on centuries of learning but it is thousands of years, some goes to selecting varieties, some is learning how to bake clay and then glass jars etc etc.
I have read articles which asked if the Neanderthals had alcohol, my guess is yes.
 

vinny

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Really? So short? My bread lasts quite a bit longer. But I have a bread box (never put bread in the fridge or out in the open, two sure ways to get it moldy). And I mostly make sourdough (maybe the vinegar protects it).
Sorry, you are correct. Sourdough is definitely better, but my bread will go stale pretty fast and I always try to eat it within 3 days or freeze it. so 4-5 days stuck in my head as my death date. Mold will take longer
Note that in summer commercial bread will mold faster too.
Some commercial breads will not ever mold, but can we actually consider that bread, then?
Fermentation is part of the story, the juice needs to have a low pH which resists a lot of microbes, high sugar (water activity) resists a lot,
This, for me, is where the interest comes in. As I stated above I have no legitimate argument not to use K-meta. Can we not assume that some of the other options are either laziness based or simply idiot proofing recipes allowing anyone success from a book of recipes, rather than leaving it to just those who have developed an understanding and honed in the craft?
It is also possible to make a completely natural, no chemical additive wine, and have it taste wonderful and make the person drinking it amazed and delighted.
Thank you for posting that. I can buy wine easily enough, but I want to make something better than I can buy. I want to know what is in it and understand what it takes to make it good. Some things are worth relying on, some are short cuts or cheats. Some offer no benefit IMHO. That's all I am trying to figure out.
 
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vinny

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If one learns and experiments over a few centuries, one may learn from knowledge passed down how to make chem free wine and do it well. But the American hobby wine maker will not live that long, so chemicals are a way to get to good wine without all that centuries of background knowledge
But the American hobby wine maker will not live that long....

How long do you guys live in Hungary?

Is it something in your water, or the American diet?
 

vinny

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It depends on what you mean by "chemical." Sugar is a chemical. If you use nutrients derived from natural sources, such as Fermaid O, is that a "chemical?"

Sugar is a chemical...

100%, so is salt. Not all are bad for us. Quantity also matters. Some, the benefits outweigh the negatives.

I intend to look into Fermaid. This is the first I have heard of it.

The same can be asked about Kieselsol and Chitosan. Even Sparkoloid. I haven't seen anything that demonstrates they are in any way toxic. They come from natural sources. BUT, they claim that canola oil is healthy. I disagree. The process required to extract oil from a toxic plant makes it hard for the body to process. Olive oil IS good for you, unless you cook with it. Then it undergoes structural changes and it loses it's health benefits.

And as you say, is there any point of using them if you are giving your wines enough time to clear on their own?

Some people straight out don't care. Some do.

That's what I was implying when I started this with 'it depends on what you are trying to accomplish'.

Some people want it to be easy and foolproof. Use chemicals.

Some people want to learn how to make it without unnecessary additives and hone in the craft to make the best wine and develop understanding and skills. Do your research/experiment.

Some people would rather drink their wine within months rather than add a single chemical. Expect diminishing qualities.

Me? I want to know what is necessary, what is a compensation for lacking skill, laziness, bad habits, and which one gave me a shitty buzz.😄
 
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Rice_Guy

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Sugar is a chemical...so is salt.
if you go this far then you are also saying that the grape or raspberry juice, urine, oak, milk, egg white is a mixture of chemicals.
the general definition of organic is “Is the molecule naturally found in the environment? either in a mixture or fairly clean as sea salt” A lot of skilled in the art is understanding what variation a cool year or a wet year or a buggy year or a five day vs two week steep or fresh oak vs old oak etc mean for taste or measurable molecule.

Fermaid O translates into dead yeast, ,,, organic nitrogen, ,,, there are also other suppliers
Fermaid K translates to dead yeast with added DAP
 
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