Making wine without chemicals.

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vinny

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So my question is, can the sorbate cause headaches?
I know a lot of people who complain about sugary drinks giving them headaches if they have too many. Wine coolers or other back sweetened drinks. Could very well be sugar getting blamed for the 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.
I am still not seeing any signs of any new activity, tomorrow is day 7.

I have a cup of sugar in 3 gallons. Is that plenty or should I add more?
 

Jonboy6692.ja

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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.
I would use sodium metabisulfite to sterilize equipment and your must. Yeast nutrient is important. I've never used this sorbate, not necessary.
 
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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.
That makes sense. In the past I made so many mistakes through being totally clueless -- your plan to testing is a good choice.

I'm pretty sure I just killed my Dragons Blood.
Air in the line is not an instant killer. Hit it with K-meta. And don't sweat the current taste -- wine gets shocked by many events and recovers. Give it time.

I have a cup of sugar in 3 gallons. Is that plenty or should I add more?
Any amount of sugar will spark a renewed fermentation, if it's going to happen. No need to add more unless it makes the wine taste better.
 

Newbie Mel

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I didn't see a mention of sulfites and headaches.
No matter what it is, someone somewhere is sensitive to it. (And there's a gov agency ready to help!!)
I hope you all figure out what causes the headaches.
Yes and a prescription medication that will cure the headache, but has a side affect of possible death 😩
 

winemanden

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I enjoy drug commercials. It amazes me that people would take them after the possible side effects are mentioned, either really fast or small print.
I've got a Granddaughter who looks carefully at the nutrition labels for the amount of salt when she buys groceries.. It almost makes me puke when I see the amount of salt she hammers on her food before she eats it.:s
 

vinny

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Just an update. Day 12 or 13, I'll have to look, but still no signs of reactivation. I plan to add more sugar to bring it up to 3/4 cup per gallon. I will take some gravity readings, have a taste, leave it for another couple weeks and update again.
 

Scooter68

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This same question repeats on here about every 6-12 months and the debate never ends. I think one thing that is forgotten is that the "ancients' who made wine without chemicals did use a variety of "tricks" or practices they learned from those who taught them. They may not have had biology or chemistry training but they knew or they learned quickly what did and did not work. I'm all for avoiding any and all unnecessary additives, but you need to balance your desire to go "Chemical Free" with the practical reality of what goes on in wine making and aging - know and understand the risks you face and accept any failures as the consequence of experimentation. For those not well versed in the history or wine making there are a couple of good movies that use little known things that occur in wine making to add some "color" to the movie. Those things were interesting as they demonstrated some of the elements that we don't often consider or don't see that often in our wine making. Bottle Shock is one of those movies and From the Vine is another. I'm not saying they are great movies but they show some of the aspects of wine making that we don't often hear discussed. They are also entertaining movies as well.
We may never resolve that original question but as long as people really take a good look before they leap, they should not be shocked about the outcomes good or bad.
 
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@Scooter68, well said. Consistently making good wine requires chemistry. Adding "juice of 2 lemons", "1 cup stong tea", or "1 egg white well beaten" is chemistry. It may not be HS chemistry or Chem 101, but it's the equivalent.

We should not be surprised that adding 1/4 tsp K-meta to 5 US gallons of wine produces the correct amount of SO2. This rule was probably developed over many years by means of repeated practical application and testing.
 

vinny

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This same question repeats on here about every 6-12 months and the debate never ends. I think one thing that is forgotten is that the "ancients' who made wine without chemicals did use a variety of "tricks" or practices they learned from those who taught them. They may not have had biology or chemistry training but they knew or they learned quickly what did and did not work. I'm all for avoiding any and all unnecessary additives, but you need to balance your desire to go "Chemical Free" with the practical reality of what goes on in wine making and aging - know and understand the risks you face and accept any failures as the consequence of experimentation. For those not well versed in the history or wine making there are a couple of good movies that use little known things that occur in wine making to add some "color" to the movie. Those things were interesting as they demonstrated some of the elements that we don't often consider or don't see that often in our wine making. Bottle Shock is one of those movies and From the Vine is another. I'm not saying they are great movies but they show some of the aspects of wine making that we don't often hear discussed. They are also entertaining movies as well.
We may never resolve that original question but as long as people really take a good look before they leap, they should not be shocked about the outcomes good or bad.
I would say it is likely more frequent than that. I have seen it asked a few times and I have only been here 6 months. I appreciate your input, and maybe my effort will be in vain because people would rather ask the question than search the forum, but what I was trying to convey in my original post is that it all comes down to goals and expectations.

It is 100% possible to make completely additive free wine, but you better expect it to go fast. It won't have the longevity of a wine with K-meta added. It also won't have the opportunity to become everything that it can be because it won't have the time to develop.

I also wanted to point out that not all are 'chemicals'. Kieselsol and chitosan, bentonite and others are either natural, or derived from natural sources. With that I was hoping to discuss other options, egg whites and lemons that can be used as a natural replacement, as Bryan mentioned. You may be using something else, but the effect and goal are the same. Some people may be interested in making wine traditionally, others just eliminating additives, but you can't do either without deep diving and either learning trusted methods, or understanding what the effects are and using other methods/additives to replace them. Or accepting a lessor product.

Some people are happy to follow a list of instructions. I like to know whether it is recommended or required, and why.

I couldn't drive standard until my driving instructor made me pull to the side of the road and asked if I understood how the clutch works. Once he explained how the clutch plates worked with a constantly spinning fly wheel, I could envision it in my mind and make the plates do what I wanted by manipulating the foot pedal. It may seem to some that I am trying to reinvent the wheel with my experiments, but the deeper the understanding you have of a process, the better the product you will be able to create.

IN THEORY! 😄

I will see if I can find the mentioned films!
 
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Did this “no chem additions” a couple times in recent years. To mimic my family’s “old style” winemaking for their Muscat/Alicante blend. no additions. No acid adjustments. No nutrients. No yeast.(I did however cheat w a touch of sugar)
Otherwise, Au naturale.

The first attempt I pushed press day a little longer than I should have. Hints of h2s filled the room. I actually thought it was my dog farting at first lol. But just the act of pressing and racking exposed enough o2 to easily blow it off.

& added kmeta in aging. Tho have also aged w/o any so2 w/o issue (before I knew better).
Think I may have isolated a carboy for mlf also.

End result was fantastic.
Been out the game for a little bit. Anxious to jump back in head first.👍

Detailed this “no chem” attempt here
Thread 'Operation Massa Family Red - Muscat-Alicante-Zinfandel'
Operation Massa Family Red - Muscat-Alicante-Zinfandel
 
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BigDaveK

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vinny

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Where have you been? 😄

That's a great write up. I am on page 3 and your last post shows your wine making area. I set myself up in the laundry room, new counter to span the washer and dryer, bigger sink, new faucet, etc. I was looking for advice on how to do it about a month ago. Even if there was anything that people thought was a must have, or convenient things you wouldn't think of adding.

That is a nice set up. Similar to what I plan to do in the shop once I move the business out and can have my space back.

My chem free wines are all ready for their first rack. No notable differences other than slower to ferment and clear than the batches with additives.

My dragon's blood is still not re fermenting. I think the Buon Vino was enough to sterile filter, but it had that Buon Vino soap taste. I don't think I will ever use that filter again. I might just get a housing for a poly spun filter and go that route for any future filtering. I'm not interested in using anything that has a risk of tainting a batch. Anyway that's more for keeping the thread up to date than response to your post.

Thanks for your reply. I can get grapes and juice buckets from my LHBS later in the season. I am going to follow through your thread and make up a batch of something. Likely not the Massa family red, but I want to make an old school batch just for the sake of doing it, as well. Likely 6 gallons. You weren't messing around!

:b
 
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I was ok with the risk bc I would make 2 large batches per season (large for me anyway). One more expensive and one with cheaper grapes to kinda have fun & experiment w different methods & whatnot. all for fun and the experience. Natural ferment, whole cluster, siagnee, dry ice cold soak etc. it’s fun to tinker.

also user @bootyjuice (idk why I can’t tag him. Here’s a post instead. He has a lot of posts/repliesm discussing his ‘old style’ winemaking style. He’s cool tho & Doesn’t shit on newer techniques or anything. kind of a “winemaking fundamentalist” Tho he’s out in Cali where natural ferments are much more common. Using established tried & true vineyards. so its not exactly the same “risk” as me buying Cali fruit on the east coast w often unknown sources. takes the unknowns out of the equation. A lil diff for home winemakers doing minimal batches per year. No sense in putting your baby at unecessary risk unless informed and fully aware u may fck it all up! Lol

That's a great write up. I am on page 3 and your last post shows your wine making area. I set myself up in the laundry room, new counter to span the washer and dryer, bigger sink, new faucet, etc. I was looking for advice on how to do it about a month ago. Even if there was anything that people thought was a must have, or convenient things you wouldn't think of adding.

That is a nice set up. Similar to what I plan to do in the shop once I move the business out and can have my space back.
that’s awesome. Tbh, for me at least, setting your spot up and wine room builds/set-ups/add-ons etc — that’s just as fun and rewarding as the winemaking.
maybe its an unhealthy obsession but we put a LOT of thought & tlc into this. idk- it’s ALL part of it for me. Always thinking about improving/upgrading all aspects. Often to a fault 🤷‍♂️

I’ll have to dig back and catch up on your winemaking area. I missed a lot of great content on WMT

sadly my wine area sleeps w the fishes. silver lining tho— in the near future I’ll be detailing a new wine room build/setup from scratch! and figuring out ways to get best use of the chosen area.
still have most my junk Lost a number of carboys. And all my wine. (got my damn sink tho! lol) but theres a lot still to happen before i can get to a point where I can focus on this.
Where have you been? 😄
i mean, I could tell ya.….but then I’d have to kill ya! ✌️
 
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This was very interesting. Thanks!
A batch of old school, au naturale wine is on my list. Curiosity and historical perspective.
I can’t lie- the allure of choosing not to worry about anything — just crush it up and watch it go- def was a factor. Was a nice change of pace from constant monitoring, checking levels, timing additions etc

But just like cryptocurrency- only risk what youre willing to lose!
 

Jusatele

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I was watching you tube video a week ago and a major producer of champagne was doing the egg thing at each barrel.
he either owns a huge flock of chickens or really does believe it helps
 
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