Quantcast

My first batch, my first mistakes

Wine Making Talk

Help Support Wine Making Talk:

nubeedubee

Username says it all!
Joined
Dec 4, 2009
Messages
14
Reaction score
1
Hello all yee fine ladies and gentlemen,

Just finished my first batch and ouch, did something very wrong. I could tell the minute I tasted it. Ever heard of MD 20/20? My batch was slightly worse than that. If it was 1600, and your water was contaminated with feces, and you could either drink my wine or die of thirst, then it might be good. Maybe.

So, let me tell you where I think I went wrong and would love to hear everyone's feedback. I bought my starter kit and my Moments Red Chianti Style juice from my local wine supplier. They were super nice and I was already feeling confident in my wine making abilities. I then followed all of the directions. Then came my first dumb mistake. I put the airlock on without putting any liquid in it. After reading Sheephead's post about his same mistake, it was only then that I realized what I had done wrong.

The strange thing, however, is that the wine seemed to ferment correctly, and after 3-4 weeks reached the right specific gravity and alcohol content. That is when I tasted it and realized that I did something wrong. I am a busy guy, so when I knew it was no good I just let it sit for a few weeks. I then came back and tested the SG again, and this time it said the alcohol content was less than 1%. So, to make a long story short, I have read that I need to fill the airlock with a liquid, maybe even vodka that I can enjoy at the end of the batch. :) And that alchohol evaporates relatively quickly

Are these assumptions right? Or am I missing something else? I realize that too much oxygen got into my batch, but can someone explain exactly, from a chemistry standpoint, why that was bad? Because everything seemed to be fermenting ok...just didnt taste good at all.

BTW, I haven't given up, just bought a Moments Red Cab/Merlot mix, and am about to start a second batch with my lessons learned.

Thanks!
NuBeeDuBee
 
Last edited:

upper

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 1, 2009
Messages
171
Reaction score
4
Nubedoobedobeedododo,your airlock was not the problem.Upper
 

Beta_Grumm

Member
Joined
Jul 29, 2009
Messages
44
Reaction score
0
Well the purpose of an airlock is to keep air out. The air in your home contains bacteria and wild yeast. When you get that in your wine it can get a "wild yeast infection" (sounds great eh?) and it will cause all sorts of nasty flavors. So the air lock, with something sterilizing like alcohol in it, keeps bad air out, and still lets the co2 created by your must to escape.

It'll ferment just fine, its just that all that wild air can cause a bad infection and ruin the taste.

And actually, it's not ideal to air lock it during the primary fermentation (beginning to ~SG: 1.03 or so depending). Air lock goes on secondary for sure as co2 build up is not as strong and therefore contaminated oxygen can get into your carboy.
 

arcticsid

Arctic Contributor
Joined
Oct 26, 2008
Messages
4,203
Reaction score
57
DuBee, I am not an expert by any means. So my opinions are not to be taken for the "gospel".

As UPPER said, it wasn't the airlock. Most fermentations should be completed in 7-10 days OR SO! Then you transfer it to a secondary under an airlock. Most of us amateur winemakers will agree to leave the primary ferment in an open container, bucket, carboy, etc., with a clean cloth, cheese cloth, or even a clean dish towel covering it. The yeast likes oxegen at this point.

Having said that, let me give you a hard time! LOL Airlocks need liguid so it can "burp" but can't burp back. Apparently you didn't read that part of the instructions. (still love ya) LOL But you asked!

3-4 weeks is a long time. probably should have been thinking about 1 week or so. And then transfer to a secondary.

I am glad you didn't give up! Kits are a bit different and alot of the group is way familiar with kits then I am, and it may be different, but I doubt it.

Basically, you get it fermenting, and just before it's done, transfer it to a carboy, leaving the lees behind and keep it under an airlock, one with water or vodka in it, checking periodically that it hasn't evaporated. How long to sit in the secondary? Don't know, never have, and probably will never make a kit. But once it is in the secondary under an airlock it sits there for a undetermined amount of time.

Just because it tastes "off" doesn't necessarily mean all is done for. Please say you didn't dump this batch. All may be not lost DuBee! I doubt you have 1% ABV. Is it still sweet? What was your starting SG? I assume you are using a hydrometer.

No chemist here! I hope some of the others will chime in and add more.

Troy
 

arcticsid

Arctic Contributor
Joined
Oct 26, 2008
Messages
4,203
Reaction score
57
There is always the quips in here about the way wine/beer smells during the ferment, most blame it on the wife, the husband, the dog, the cat, etc. if it smells good during the intial fermentation something isn't right they say if you ever make shine, it is way worse, kinda like pig shEET, so I heard! don't make shine, it's illegal.

How does this wine taste? is it sour. high alcohol taste?????
 

BobF

Banned
Joined
Aug 13, 2009
Messages
2,250
Reaction score
78
Hello all yee fine ladies and gentlemen,

<SNIP>
I then came back and tested the SG again, and this time it said the alcohol content was less than 1%.
A couple of things (or so) ...

1. As others have pointed out, an empty airlock during primary fermentation prolly isn't the prob.

2. Please explain how you arrived at the above conclusion ... that alcohol content is less than 1%. It sounds like you might be reading Potential Alcohol (PA). If you are, then the abv content of your wine is whatever the starting PA was minus the remaining 1% ...

3. Without seeing, smelling, tasting your wine, it's hard to say exactly what the problem is. I say carefully rack off of any sediments into a clean secondary, add k-meta, put liquid in your airlock and then give it time to see what drops out.

4. NEVER give up early. These things can go through some horrible smell and taste phases before they finish.

Good Luck!
 

arcticsid

Arctic Contributor
Joined
Oct 26, 2008
Messages
4,203
Reaction score
57
Bob, you said it! Ihope it'l be alright for him. As I said, I have come to welcome that nasty smell we all call progress! I make my own Kim Chee, so it would be hard for me to tell if I ever had a wine go bad!!LOL
 

cpfan

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2006
Messages
4,867
Reaction score
193
1. Moments isn't a particularly great brand, but the wine should still taste OK. Just light in flavour, body, etc.

2. 1% wine. I Strongly doubt it. Get your retailer to explain the hydrometer to you.

3. Air lock not required in primary. Usually about one week. Then after transfer to carboy, the air lock is required. If this is when you neglected to fill the air lock then the wine probably became oxidized. BTW, I fill my airlocks with water not vodka. Your choice.

4. What does oxidized wine taste like? BAD. But as bad as your description? I don't really know.

Good luck with your second batch.

Steve
 

Malkore

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2009
Messages
371
Reaction score
1
You're definitely reading the hydrometer wrong. Potential alcohol can only be read when taking the starting gravity (OG). You need both OG and Final Gravity (FG) readings to do the math to get your true alcohol percentage.

Also I suspect you're just tasting REALLY young wine.
 

TheTooth

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2008
Messages
479
Reaction score
3
Also I suspect you're just tasting REALLY young wine.
I think this is your issue. You say it's worse than maddog 20/20, which is just a bad wine. If you have a serious sour or vinegar odor/taste, then I'd think otherwise. Wine takes time to be good, give it 3 - 6 months (in carboy or in bottles) and try it again.

Your kit isn't a great one, so don't expect it to rival a $30 bottle of commercial wine, but it should be decent and drinkable.
 

nubeedubee

Username says it all!
Joined
Dec 4, 2009
Messages
14
Reaction score
1
Interesting feedback from everyone. Let me explain a little more on some of the comments:

@upper: Were you doing some "testing" of your product when you posted that? :dg

@arcticsid: When I said 3-4 weeks, that was the first time I tasted it. It did ferment the first time for 7-10 days, then I transferred it to a secondary, and after racking it the first time I tasted it. And, so you can't give me a hard time anymore, the directions did not say put liquid in the airlock. How was I supposed to know? Its been a long time since my high school chemistry class...:d

To everyone who asked about my measuring the % of alcohol, here goes. After racking the wine a few times and letting it sit to clear, I measured the SG and PA and they were right on target according to the directions. Another 3-4 more weeks then went by. That is when I measured the SG and PA again and noticed that the PA was 1%. I am about 99% sure I was reading that right. Which made sense to me because the SG went back to being the same it was when I started, and the PA was relatively the same as when I started as well. Which made me wonder if all of the alcohol evaporated or something. Not sure.

@Malkore: Good to know and thanks. This information is why I joined these forums. I think I need to get a good book on intro to winemaking. Any good suggestions?

Thanks everyone for the feedback. Try try again. Starting my new batch tonight. I will let everyone know how it goes.
 

BobF

Banned
Joined
Aug 13, 2009
Messages
2,250
Reaction score
78
nubeedubee

Your alcohol didn't go anywhere. When you did your initial measurement, it had a high PA b/c there was sugar that hadn't been converted to alcohol yet. As it ferments, and the sugar is converted, the PA goes down b/c the potential isn't there anymore.

The alcohol you currently have in your wine is real close to the original PA - current PA

I still wouldn't throw it out yet unless it is absolutely make-you-puke-rancid
 

Old Philosopher

Amateur
Joined
Oct 22, 2009
Messages
764
Reaction score
10
Have faith!

...2. 1% wine. I Strongly doubt it. Get your retailer to explain the hydrometer to you.

Steve
Interesting feedback from everyone. Let me explain a little more on some of the comments:

To everyone who asked about my measuring the % of alcohol, here goes. After racking the wine a few times and letting it sit to clear, I measured the SG and PA and they were right on target according to the directions. Another 3-4 more weeks then went by. That is when I measured the SG and PA again and noticed that the PA was 1%. I am about 99% sure I was reading that right. Which made sense to me because the SG went back to being the same it was when I started, and the PA was relatively the same as when I started as well. Which made me wonder if all of the alcohol evaporated or something. Not sure.
Roger on the hydrometer issue. When my cider was "done", the hydrometer was reading SG = .996, but if I looked at the PA scale on the hydrometer it was close to zero. I knew that was wrong. I started with SG 1.045, so my cider was around 6+% alcohol.
In the process, the sugars in the apples were converted to alcohol. That means when I tasted it, it was like tonic water! The apples were inferior, so there was little apple taste either.
I had to add concentrated apple juice to get the flavor back, and a simple syrup to get it sweet enough.
The original product was swill! The finished product was just tasted by SWMBO and she wants me to make another 10 gallons! :D
 

arcticsid

Arctic Contributor
Joined
Oct 26, 2008
Messages
4,203
Reaction score
57
Right on nubee, sure not trying to give you a hard time! We got your back. Tell us about the next batch you are whipping up!
 

Malkore

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 16, 2009
Messages
371
Reaction score
1
go ahead and post your OG and FG readings, and we'll tell you waht the alcohol % is at.

I have no winemaking books. I've only done 3 batches of wine, two were kits and one was WadeE's 'frozen juice concentrate' recipe that's posted on the forums.

But I've made mead and beer for 15 years, and mead is not too different than wine making.
 

cpfan

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2006
Messages
4,867
Reaction score
193
If you had posted your sg readings we could explain this a bit better, but here goes.

Before pitching yeast. sg 1.080 and PA 10.5% Note at this point there is NO alcohol in the must, and the POTENTIAL alcohol is 10.5%

Part way thru, the sg is 1.020 and PA is 2.5%. Now 8% of the POTENTIAL has been converted by the yeast to ACTUAL alcohol. So you have 8% alcohol and 2.5% potential remaining.

Towards the end of fermentation, the sg is 1.000 and PA is 0%. You now have 10.5% ACTUAL alcohol and no potential alcohol left.

When fermentation is finished, the sg is .995 and the PA is -0.5% (yes minus). So now you have 11% alcohol and absolutely no fermentable sugar left.

Hope this helps somewhat.

Steve
 

Old Philosopher

Amateur
Joined
Oct 22, 2009
Messages
764
Reaction score
10
That cleared the whole "PA" thing up for ME. Thanks, Steve!
Sometimes things are so obvious, I walk right by them. :p
 

Tom

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2006
Messages
11,356
Reaction score
95
If you had posted your sg readings we could explain this a bit better, but here goes.

Before pitching yeast. sg 1.080 and PA 10.5% Note at this point there is NO alcohol in the must, and the POTENTIAL alcohol is 10.5%

Part way thru, the sg is 1.020 and PA is 2.5%. Now 8% of the POTENTIAL has been converted by the yeast to ACTUAL alcohol. So you have 8% alcohol and 2.5% potential remaining.

Towards the end of fermentation, the sg is 1.000 and PA is 0%. You now have 10.5% ACTUAL alcohol and no potential alcohol left.

When fermentation is finished, the sg is .995 and the PA is -0.5% (yes minus). So now you have 11% alcohol and absolutely no fermentable sugar left.

Hope this helps somewhat.

Steve
Steve I think this explanation is simple enough to follow even for our new members.
Thanks,
 

Latest posts

Top