Making wine without chemicals.

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vinny

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Fermaid O translates into dead yeast, ,,, organic nitrogen, ,,, there are also other suppliers
Fermaid K translates to dead yeast with added DAP
Thank you. I would have been happy to do the legwork myself, but I have the quick and simple answer untill further study is required. 🙂

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.
To a degree, but for the point of discussion it is a valid point. We are in the beginners section. It keeps expectations in check. It offers the perspective that a chemical is not always a bad thing.

Same as noting that you can not make a sulphite free wine as it is created naturally in the fermentation process. So again, it comes down to what is the goal?
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.
This is certainly an understanding I am looking to develop, and it will take a LOT of time and experience for the home wine maker. It is a big part of what I am trying to accomplish here. If I don't remove variables and strip the process down to its most basic requirements, how am I going to pinpoint the differences of light to moderate oaking? And again, the finer nuances of new oak vs old oak, seasonal differences, etc.

As I am using kit wines and random ingredients at the moment, I am just trying to get an understanding of the basics and of the results of different techniques. I am not going to have the information required to determine the differences of a hot, wet season vs dry, prime grapes vs those affected by the climate or region. I even saw an article relating to the affects of heavy fires on an areas wine crops. So there is clearly much to learn to identify.

BUT, this is how my mind works. How am I to pinpoint any single variable if I simply throw the same ingredients into every batch without consideration.

I might grow to the point where I can reliably make a drinkable product without fail, but will I ever be able to deviate from that doctrine to make what I want? To tweak things to my personal preferences? To avoid that unidentifiable unpleasantness?

Or, the cause of my dirty buzz..? Just to take us right back around to the beginning! 😄
 
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vinny

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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.
By the way.. ------------------------------------------------------------------------☝️

What kind of wine are you making?
 
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Does "question authority" apply here?
Nope. I don't see any authority on this forum. I do see a questioning of what is considered by some to be "conventional wisdom". Which may -- or may not -- be conventional OR wisdom. ;)

My knowledge of fermenting comes from kombucha, sauerkraut, and things we do not speak of, none of which use chemicals to promote fermentation.
You're mixing apples and cows (not oranges) when you start bringing other types of fermentation into the mix. On this forum we see beer makers assuming their techniques apply to wine. If I participated on beer forums, I'd see the same situation, only reversed. Each practice has it's own procedures and nuances, and they do not crossover well.

You can make it healthier.
Vinny, I'm not beating on you, but in the USA that word is rendered meaningless by mis-use and over-use. Same with "organic", another term that is so badly used as to be totally untrustworthy. We need a term that means "doesn't contain things in quantities harmful to humans, and may be beneficial". This hasn't caught on 'cuz it's too much of a mouthful!

You want to eliminate most additives. Ok, why? Do you have reason to believe they are harmful? If not, what is the problem?

Note that I'm not trying to change your mind. I'm trying to make you examine your own beliefs more critically. If you do that, it doesn't matter if you change your mind or not -- I have succeeded.

The entire point of fermentation is for food preservation.
Man ... you and I make wine for TOTALLY different purposes. 🤣

Ok, NOW I'm razzing you. I recall in American history class that frontier folks made whiskey as it was the easiest and most profitable way to ship their excess grain east. Whiskey was more compact and didn't rot. I also recall reading about the history of chili -- dried meats and dried beans were popular for folks in the SW USA, as both had long shelf lives. Meats dried with chilies had a longer shelf life ... and guess what? Cooking all this together made an easy meal.

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.
IMO this is the real meat of this discussion. I've noticed a fair number of folks who approach winemaking from that POV have no clue what they are talking about. They have a pre-conceived notion but no experience or understanding of the winemaking process.

Kits? Kits are designed for newbies to produce a good result quickly with 100% confidence in the result. I'm 100% behind that, 'cuz no one wants to make cruddy wine.

Kits include bentonite, which is clay. No known side effects.

Nutrients? The first time you have H2S in one of your wines, you will become a die-hard fan of nutrients. Please take this one on faith.

Kieselsol & chitosan? Again, no known side effects. However, not all wines clear on their own. Time is not an answer 100% of the time.

Sorbate? Again, no known side effects. I don't add sorbate to dry wines as it is unnecessary. Kits includes it for all wines as the target audience is newbies, who may not ferment to completion, so sorbate prevents mini-volcanos.

There are choices other than sorbate for backsweetening. Use the one that works for you. I use sorbate on the few wines I backsweeten because it works, and the other choices do not work for me.
 

Raptor99

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I try to take a moderate approach. I add chemicals that help ensure a successful ferment, but try to avoid those I can. So far I have avoided adding fining agents. But that could change.

Some of the chemicals I add are those that already occur naturally to some extent in wine: sugar, acid blend (or separately: malic, tartaric, citric), glycerin, tannin. (Most yeast produces some glycerin, which contributes to the "body" of wine.) So I am adding extra because most fruit does not match the profile of grapes, which do not need most of these. I use mostly organic nutrients (i.e. derived from nature) when I can. I add Kmeta because I think it is necessary, especially for fruit wine. I add pectic enzyme to help with clearing the pectin.

On this forum there are those who use lots of "chemicals" without question as well as those whose goal is to add none at all. We can each make our own decision about what we prefer.

BUT, this is how my mind works. How am I to pinpoint any single variable if I simply throw the same ingredients into every batch without consideration.
I think that it is important to understand everything that you add so that you know how it works and why you might want to add it. Then you can make an informed decision. I totally agree with you that I do not want to mindlessly add something just because somebody thinks that it is a good idea. I like to understand how things work.
 

Rice_Guy

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@vinny is right to question this. Even @BigDaveK has his limits (not many, but he does, none the less!).
Sorry guys, , , , I was not saying make wine from urine or oak or egg white.

urine is a readily available source of urea and in the pre-synthetic chemistry days high quality leather as supple ladies gloves were treated with urea from _____ which is a natural source of that chemical.
Several mentions of nutrients, the bird version of urea is uric acid, and the white chalky deposits we wash off our fruit actually is a form of yeast nutrient.
 

Raptor99

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Yeast Nutrient from LD Carlson contains urea. It is clearly marked on the package. I don't know whether it is from natural sources or synthesized. So...
 

vinny

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You're mixing apples and cows (not oranges) when you start bringing other types of fermentation into the mix.
I have to disagree. You can say the same for Ford, Dodge and Chevy. They all have different software and components. They need different tools and techniques, but when it comes down to the reason the engine won't run it is only ever one of three things. Fuel, spark, or air. One of possibly three hundred components might be the reason one of the 3 is not present, but back in the day engines used to work fine with an igniter or coil to produce spark and a carburetor to regulate air and fuel mixture. Now there's a whole bunch more involved, but is all the 'improvement' required to produce the basics that make an engine run?

I have never thought about the simplest breakdown of fermentation, but you need yeast, nutrients, and fermentable sugars or starches to convert. What else is a must have? moisture/liquid? Temperature plays a big part, but an engine will pile up when temps get too high, same as a fermentation will stop when yeast dies at high temps. Also, off flavours are produced due to heat, lacking nutrients, or over activity, but these are variables, not a requirement.

Now to be clear. I am not comparing the nuances of wine making to that of beer or the process of fermenting food. Different techniques produce different results and developing technique is crucial to the craft. But when I said this is how my mind works, I understand best by stripping something down to its simplest, basic form. Anything added beyond that can be viewed as cause and effect. In the end, a fermentation has basic requirements for it to be completed and in all disciplines, no matter the intended product, the basics must be met.

Attempting to preserve foods like cabbage or grapes/juice with natural yeasts, convertible starches/sugars, and the nutrients required within the food is how sauerkraut and wines were discovered. Which is where my razzable comment stemmed from. At it's root fermentation was discovered to preserve food and it was done so with raw materials and nothing more. The ethanol is just a pleasant side effect that we have been indulging since its discovery.

So why am I so determined to eliminate it all?

Mainly curiosity.


2 long reasons.

Some technologies have made vehicles run better and more efficient. Others are completely without benefit to the basic functionality, or a reaction to lacking skills or laziness... Self parking cars as one example? I'll be the last person on earth parking my own vehicle, because that's who I am. If I can do without, I will.

Same with wine, I want to learn how to make it. To understand what is required. How each additive effects the end results. Which are positive, which are negative. I need to remove the crutches to do this.

Does every recipe need DAP if one in 50 ferments develops H2S? Or, does it make more sense to learn the natural balance required to avoid it? Or, even the skills to identify the warning signs and increase nutrient only when required? Does it need to be DAP at all, is there something better?

Reason number 2... I have lingering heath issues from an infection that destroyed my system some years back. It was a long battle and I had to remove many common place items because they were damaging or stopping me from recovering. Now, I default to old school and natural by default.

And yes, I could eliminate wine and alcohol altogether and become a vegan, but I didn't fight through it all to live THAT life.:r 😆

In one of my posts I broke out kielelsol, chitosan, sparkoloid and I noted that they are all derived from natural sources and none are known to be toxic. It's worthy to note, but if you are giving a wine time, is there any reason to use them before you have determined it won't clear on its own? Because it's easier?

I am not specifically avoiding any of these, but as you said
Kits? Kits are designed for newbies to produce a good result quickly with 100% confidence in the result

I want to move past kits, or at least the process of making them as instructed just because that's the way it's made. I need a better understanding to do that. This is just me figuring things out my way.

There is 100% no need for sorbate in a dry kit, but it is included for simplicity. I read it can produce off flavors. That is the main reason why I add K-meta and have stopped using the k-meta/sorbate pack. I just want to add what makes sense and eliminate that which will still have some effect, but is just added to make it easy, or for fool proofing. There is so much less to learn without error. Or happenstance, the unintentional sur lie (something I only know of because of, and would never have identified, without your post) aging I discovered after a sloppy vacuum transfer? I am also only eliminating the sorbate and finings in kits, and finings only until they are proven necessary. I am aggressively playing with my cheap recipes just to see what I can get away with, or what creates interesting results.

Also, I can understand your distaste for such words as 'organic', in standard production it is a farce. I get my bison, pork, chicken, and eggs from local small farmers. They are non certified, but are not raised on anything 'unatural' or sprayed,they are real 'organic'. What we call food. ;) Our garden supplies us root vegetables all year and I have an indoor garden for herbs and fresh greens all year. My bread is made with heirloom grains from a natural local small scale producer. None of it is 100%, but I choose to make the effort to eliminate junk. Healthier means something to me, and as I have access to true organic foods I avoid many additives people accept as normal in their day to day life. It is just not uncharacteristic for me to try to remove that which I easily can from other sources.

I hope that wasn't too much to get through, but you asked.😏

I have considered my reasoning, and I thank you for challenging it, but now that you're in my head... Watch your step!
 
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vinny

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I think that it is important to understand everything that you add so that you know how it works and why you might want to add it. Then you can make an informed decision. I totally agree with you that I do not want to mindlessly add something just because somebody thinks that it is a good idea. I like to understand how things work.
I made my first wine from raspberries from the freezer and a recipe I found on the internet. I thought I would have a mediocre wine to have in a few weeks and the raspberries would be gone and that would be that. I quickly realized it was way more involved than I had expected. I was on this forum asking questions before the second wine was made and decided what to make based on recommendations here. I bought the pink recipe book from my LHBS and bought all the ingredients in the recipes. I followed a few other recipes I found here, and then moved on to kits which I tried to militantly follow the instructions.

Well along the way I realized I was learning how to copy and not developing a deeper understanding or skill set. Then I realized there was a good chance it wasn't sorbate (as I had just assumed) that made me feel funny, so I decided to dig in and figure it all out.

I also like to know how things work. Maybe most people wouldn't do it all and try to figure it out this week, but I had an opening in my schedule.
 

BigDaveK

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My first wine was raspberry as well. I had made enough of the world's best raspberry jam and fortunately the Universe suggested wine for what was left. Wow, 8 months seems like a long time ago. Do I really have gallons #32, #33, and #34 in primary now?!
I religiously followed recipes thinking one wrong move would ruin everything. But very soon things started to fall into place and I started wondering what's this for and why do that?
Some people need recipes and chemicals and blinking lights. That's fine.
Some don't.
@vinny thank you for this thread! I had a number of vague ideas bouncing around in my head that are definitely less vague...but of course now I have NEW vague ideas! Your post and all the responses is why I love WMT!
 

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You're mixing apples and cows (not oranges) when you start bringing other types of fermentation into the mix.


I have to disagree.

I have never thought about the simplest breakdown of fermentation, but you need yeast, nutrients, and fermentable sugars or starches to convert.

Attempting to preserve foods like cabbage or grapes/juice with natural yeasts, convertible starches/sugars, and the nutrients required within the food is how sauerkraut and wines were discovered. Which is where my razzable comment stemmed from. At it's root fermentation was discovered to preserve food and it was done so with raw materials and nothing more. The ethanol is just a pleasant side effect that we have been indulging since its discovery. [Emphasis added.]

This could be the source of the disconnect. Yeast are not the organisms that perform the fermentation in sauerkraut. Rather, it is bacteria -- which are from an entirely different kingdom than yeast. So I suspect this may be why Bryan suggested the "apples and cows" comparison. (Coincindentally (?), also from different kingdoms!)
 

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I have been following this thread, mainly because I sometimes get a headache from drinking my DB. It could be that I am drinking too much of it 😂. It’s the only wine that I have made so far that is ready to drink so I just keep making more of it while I wait for others. So my question is, can the sorbate cause headaches? Or Vinny, did you decide that is not the culprit? I barely backsweeten because I don’t like sweet wine. Would it be worth it to try not using sorbate in my batch that is getting close to being fermented to dry? I have been backsweetening with 1oz of simple syrup per gallon.
 

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I have to chime in here. The sickest I have ever been on wine was after bottling a strawberry wine that was lightly back sweetened. No sulfite, no clearing agents, no sorbate....just too much sampling. Many months later when I could stand the thoughts of trying it again, it was fantastic. My nephew in law was a commercial wine salesman and he said it was some of the best wine he ever had. Take this for whatever it is worth.
 

vinny

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I have been following this thread, mainly because I sometimes get a headache from drinking my DB. It could be that I am drinking too much of it 😂. It’s the only wine that I have made so far that is ready to drink so I just keep making more of it while I wait for others. So my question is, can the sorbate cause headaches? Or Vinny, did you decide that is not the culprit? I barely backsweeten because I don’t like sweet wine. Would it be worth it to try not using sorbate in my batch that is getting close to being fermented to dry? I have been backsweetening with 1oz of simple syrup per gallon.
I have not identified what it is yet. I didn't get the same reaction I got from DB and skeeter pee when I tried my Shiraz, which has sorbate in it. The reason I assumed it was sorbate was because it was added right before bottling so it would be in the highest concentration of anything added, and I figured yeast nutrient would be used up during fermentation.

I have made multiple batches of the same wines, carrot and dandelion. I made one carrot using DB as a reference and included all additives. I made the second selecting different additives and the third with none. Same with the Dandelion, one as written, one no additives at all. This will help me pinpoint what the cause is, but I am not there yet. 3 are still in primary.

I will post the results when I have them, though.
 

vinny

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This could be the source of the disconnect. Yeast are not the organisms that perform the fermentation in sauerkraut. Rather, it is bacteria -- which are from an entirely different kingdom than yeast. So I suspect this may be why Bryan suggested the "apples and cows" comparison. (Coincindentally (?), also from different kingdoms!)
👍 I am always happy to admit when I am mistaken... or at least lacking consideration in a written statement.

However it is definitely natural yeasts on grapes that allow the fermentation to take place and I am moreso comparing natural ferments, as I know many are making here, (I wish I could remember the name, but in the last couple weeks someone was posting about a wine they make by pressing grapes and letting them do their thing, nothing more) and the recipes involving additives for quick drinkers. Which leads to those in kits added for simplicity and convenience and not necessity.

I haven't used any sauerkraut methods to tweak my wines yet 😄, but I do compare the process of making a must and a sugar wash. Certain ingredients will contain everything that is necessary to make a healthy must without additional nutrients. Grapes, carrots, etc., where a wash contains none of that. You add things like tomato paste, carrot juice, bran, all bran cereal, and epsom salt to provide the nutrients the yeast require.. lemon to adjust acidity and environment, but you don't add DAP or any other chemical. The bulk of the recipes I have seen call for natural ingredients to supply nutrients so as to not encourage off flavours created by overactive or stressed yeast. The result is the same if you try to push ABV too high. Washes that ferment too fast can also produce unwanted alcohols that need to be removed through process, instead of making a neutral wash that needs little processing to create a quality end product.


This is also a lot of where my thought process comes from. If one craft avoids the additives due to the work involved in removing the negative results, why is another so readily embracing them?

Not apples and cows when you break down the fermenting process.
 
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This could be the source of the disconnect. Yeast are not the organisms that perform the fermentation in sauerkraut. Rather, it is bacteria -- which are from an entirely different kingdom than yeast. So I suspect this may be why Bryan suggested the "apples and cows" comparison. (Coincindentally (?), also from different kingdoms!)
I've used the term "apples and cows" for many years to illustrate a big difference. I knew sauerkraut fermentation is totally different from wine or beer, but couldn't remember how. Thanks for pointing out how big the difference is.

So why am I so determined to eliminate it all?

Mainly curiosity.
I can't speak for anyone else, but it's a fine reason to me.

Does every recipe need DAP if one in 50 ferments develops H2S?
Risk tolerance. What is your risk tolerance?

MANY moons ago I helped several people fix H2S. At that time it stunk, but didn't seem that bad. OTOH, it took 6 months to fix 15 gallons of my wine with H2S, and at bottling time I thought I had 75 bottle of cooking wine. It no longer stunk and didn't have mercaptans, but was "meh". A year later it has recovered and I'm pleased with it. If you go through something like this, your opinion is likely to change.

I want to move past kits, or at least the process of making them as instructed just because that's the way it's made. I need a better understanding to do that. This is just me figuring things out my way.
Again, an excellent reason. I recommend doing more research than practical experimentation, as research doesn't produce wine you're unhappy with, but you gotta do it the way that works for you.

Thomas Edison said, "I have not failed. I have found 10,000 ways that do not work." Edison was NOT a winemaker! ;)

I have considered my reasoning, and I thank you for challenging it, but now that you're in my head... Watch your step!
Cool! 🤣

So my question is, can the sorbate cause headaches?
There is some evidence that it's linked, but I haven't seen anything from mainstream sources, and I'm skeptical of what I've read. It's more likely tannin and histamines, although you may unusually sensitive to sorbate.

@Rice_Guy reports good success with bulk aging for 9+ months so the yeast dies. Unfortunately, for DB, that's a long bulk age. You might try a fine filter, use a half-dose of sorbate, and bulk age another 2 weeks before bottling to see if fermentation restarts.

Not apples and cows when you break down the fermenting process.
If you look at the processes from a high enough altitude, they look alike. But there are so many key differences to make them apples and cows. Wine and beer are the most alike, but are quite different due to pH, ABV, and the amount of particulate solids. Dry wine have an SG below 1.000, while beer rarely is below 1.010.
 
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vinny

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Risk tolerance. What is your risk tolerance?
It's not high enough to risk a $150 kit. Maybe my expectations are too low, but my hopes for carrot wine are not huge. I expect it to be enjoyable, but not epic. If one batch is better than the other due to my experiments, I won't be too sad about it. If I am wrong I will show more respect on the next batch.

I'm pretty sure I just killed my Dragons Blood. I cleaned the filter thoroughly and repeatedly with no air in the lines, but when I started the DB I was getting bubbles. I thought it was co2 because it was coming out after the pump and I fiddled the hoses without any change. I thought it was from agitation. It continued when I changed to the shiraz, which I knew was degassed fully. I got aggressive with the lines and managed to stop it.

It is pretty unpleasant ATM and unless it is serious filter shock, I think I oxygenated the hell out of it. So, I likey wasted $20 in fruit and sugar and some time, but I got the shiraz bottled without incident, and I think it is really good. I would have run the DB first, even if I wasn't trying to sterile filter, because if I was going to make a mistake that's where I would have chosen to do it.

I have been looking for options to get juice pails or grapes. If I go this route I will have a very low risk tolerance level. I am hoping to get any ignorance, blunders and over confidence out of the way while the stakes are low.
 

balatonwine

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How long do you guys live in Hungary?

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

Bought first property in 2001. Lived here full time since 2007. Bought more property since then. My wife is Hungarian.

Regarding water: Well.... There are still many radioactive spas here in Hungary. Promoting "curative" properties of swimming in radioactive water.


I think some here may even swear the radium in the water cures everything from arthritis to liberalism..... Haha.... I am of course joking. Maybe..... ;)

American diet: Gave up on that 25 years ago. Am a vegetarian now. My wife is not, and she loves a good bit is pork, or a spicy fish soup (a local specialty).

Hope this helps.

Side note: Keep up with making the best wine you can. It is fun to try. Even if you could buy something cheaper at "Trader Joe's". :cool:
 
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