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New to wine making! Acid blend, top-up, etc. questions

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yaeyama

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Hello:

I am preparing to make my first batch of wine. I have decided on the raisin wine recipe, from the "Winemaking" book by Anderson & Anderson. I have pretty much everything I need to get started, but before I begin I would like to ask the following questions.

- I have a 25 litre (5 gallon) primary fermentor (plastic food grade tub with spigot and sealable lid). Instead of tying down a plastic sheet can I use the lid instead? If so, should I affix it securely, or just loosely cover it?

- I had trouble finding carboys in my area; I ended up buying two 6 gallon glass ones. However, I expect I will end up with a substantial air space during secondary fermentation. The recipes in my book allow for topping up with water, however this is for topping up a 5 gallon, not a 6. I am thinking of using glass marbles to compensate for this, however, how many do I need to displace a gallon? Also, is there a way of inserting them into the carboy without resulting in breakage or scratching the carboys?

- The recipe for the raisin wine calls for 16 teaspoons of Vinacid R. However, I was only able to purchase Acid Blend. It appears that I can substitute acid blend for Vinacid. However, looking at several wine making sites, it appears that most people are adding around 1 to 1.5 teaspoons per gallon. Why the huge discrepancy between 16 teaspoons of Vinacid vs. 5 to 7 for Acid Blend? Should I try to find Vinacid R and use it as stated by the book?

- 4 teaspoons of liquid tannin is required. I have powdered tannin. Problem?

- 1 pkt of "Wine yeast with a high alcohol tolerance" is required. I have two packets each of Cotes des Blancs, as well as Montrachet. Which would be more suitable? By the way, the book says that Montrachet is liable to develop hydrogen sulphide in the must, and to avoid the problem they recommend the champagne strain. (Should I discard the Montrachet? I wish I had read that part before purchasing it. :p )

Thank you in advance for your advice. Can't wait to get started!
 

smurfe

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Hello:

I am preparing to make my first batch of wine. I have decided on the raisin wine recipe, from the "Winemaking" book by Anderson & Anderson. I have pretty much everything I need to get started, but before I begin I would like to ask the following questions.

- I have a 25 litre (5 gallon) primary fermentor (plastic food grade tub with spigot and sealable lid). Instead of tying down a plastic sheet can I use the lid instead? If so, should I affix it securely, or just loosely cover it?

This fermenter is too small for the carboys you have. You need a 7.9 gallon fermenter for those 6 gallon carboys. I would use a 5 gallon fermenter for a 3 gallon batch.

You can use the lid on it if you decide to use it. Just loosely cover or if it is drilled for an airlock you can snap it on with an airlock in place. I normally set mine on loosely until fermentation is rolling and then snap it on.


- I had trouble finding carboys in my area; I ended up buying two 6 gallon glass ones. However, I expect I will end up with a substantial air space during secondary fermentation. The recipes in my book allow for topping up with water, however this is for topping up a 5 gallon, not a 6. I am thinking of using glass marbles to compensate for this, however, how many do I need to displace a gallon? Also, is there a way of inserting them into the carboy without resulting in breakage or scratching the carboys?

I think what you are going to spend on marbles you could of ordered the right size carboy off the Internet and still saved money. You are not going to get 5 gallons of wine fermented in that 5 gallon bucket. It is going to take a whole lot of marbles. I would take that carboy and add about 3 and a half gallons of water to it and then stat adding marbles to see how many you will need. You shouldn't have any issue in breaking them or scratching the carboy. Add the liquid and then sanitize the marbles and then drop them in.

- The recipe for the raisin wine calls for 16 teaspoons of Vinacid R. However, I was only able to purchase Acid Blend. It appears that I can substitute acid blend for Vinacid. However, looking at several wine making sites, it appears that most people are adding around 1 to 1.5 teaspoons per gallon. Why the huge discrepancy between 16 teaspoons of Vinacid vs. 5 to 7 for Acid Blend? Should I try to find Vinacid R and use it as stated by the book?

You should be fine here. Just follow the directions on the packaging

- 4 teaspoons of liquid tannin is required. I have powdered tannin. Problem?

Shouldn't be an issue there either

- 1 pkt of "Wine yeast with a high alcohol tolerance" is required. I have two packets each of Cotes des Blancs, as well as Montrachet. Which would be more suitable? By the way, the book says that Montrachet is liable to develop hydrogen sulphide in the must, and to avoid the problem they recommend the champagne strain. (Should I discard the Montrachet? I wish I had read that part before purchasing it. :p )

This depends on the type of finished wine. Red or white? Sweet or dry? Beginning Brix (sugar level) of the juice? Neither listed are high alcohol tolerance yeasts. If I were making a white or light colored wine that were slightly sweet or sweet I would use the Cotes des Blancs yeast. It doesn't inject the yeasty odor that Montrachet will in some light, fruity wines. If I were making a dark/red dry wine I would go with the Montrachet.

I have never made a straight raisin wine though so I am not really sure which would suit it better. Don't throw any of the yeasts away if you don't use them now. Just keep them in the refrigerator. Go to Google and type in wine yeast strains and you will find tons of info.


Thank you in advance for your advice. Can't wait to get started!
I hope this answered a few of your questions. Keep them coming. We will work you through the first batch.
 
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ciprian

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Hello,

My name is Ciprian, from Romania, and I have a problem regardind the wine fermentation (actually, my girlfriend's parents have a problem:) )

This year, Romania has a lot of problems with some extreme heat waves and my girlfriend's parents are very concerned about the temperature at which the wine fermentation will take place. They don't know if they will be able to bring the fermentation recipient into a cooler place, so the temperatures higher than 32 degrees Celsius will be a big problem. What should they do in order not to cook their wine? Are there any methods to reduce the damage of excessive heat to fermentation or the spoiling of their wine is inevitable?

For your general information, the heat is so high that we will pick-up the grapes in the middle of august.

Thank you in advance for your advice.
 

yaeyama

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Compensating for a huge...carboy. ;-)

I hope this answered a few of your questions. Keep them coming. We will work you through the first batch.
First, thanks for the helpful tips, Smurfe!

There is not a lot I can do with the carboys now except use them. I have just ordered a 20 litre (5 gallon) bucket for a second primary. If I have to leave a 1/5 air space that means I can do a primary run of 36 litres (9.5 gallons) so I should be okay.

One thing I would like to confirm. First, the wine recipes in the book are designed for 5 gallons and states it is specifically over-compensated so that batches can be topped up with water. That is, primary fermentation of 5 gallons and topping up with water as need in a 5 gallon carboy.

You mention I need 7.9 gallon primary fermenter for the 6 gallon carboy? I assume you are also using the 1/5 airspace rule and therefore I should adjust the recipe to make 6 gallons? If I do a 6 gallon run, I can just split my must down the middle and do 3 per bucket, right?

To properly adjust the recipe, I should be able to take the total quantity of each ingredient and multiply it by 1.2, right? For example, 8 teaspoons of powder A for 5 gallons x 1.2 = 9.6 teaspoons; 5.5 kilograms of raisins x 1.2 = 6.6 kilograms. Any problem with doing a straight conversion like this?

Regarding the yeast, I decided to order Lavlin Champagne yeast which is supposed to tolerate a higher alcohol level.

Thanks again!
 

smurfe

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The thought behind the larger fermenter is not as much the airspace rule but rather just room to work. Many wines will foam quite a bit with rather explosive fermentations. I have had more than one six gallon batch foam over in my 7.9 gallon fermenter.

Another reason is if you are making wines from fresh fruit you raise the level when you add your mesh bag of fruit. I have a 10 gallon fermenter I routinely use for fresh fruit batches of 5-6 gallons. I would never make a batch larger than 3 gallons with a 5 gallon fermenter.

Airspace is irrelevant during primary fermentation. I have done one gallon batches in a 7.9 fermenter before. Your wine emits a large amount of CO2 which blankets the wine during primary fermentation. When the fermentation decreases and CO2 emissions lower you then rack to glass which has a lower head space. When fermentation is done you top up to further minimize the head space and protect from oxidation.

One other thing to remember is in regards to topping up with water many recipes are taking into account the loss during racking and replacing this loss with water. Now with fruit wines you can adjust for starting volume issues by brining your juice to the desired level and then adjusting. It isn't as simple as just adding a little more of this or a bit less of that. Bring your liquid to level and then adjust you SG, pH, TA, and sulfite levels. Don't just add extra because you are adding more water. Test first, then adjust.

You will probably need to add more sugar and more acid blend if it is even needed at all. You might need more pectic enzyme. If you are using Campden tablets for sulfite's, you would add one more per gallon. Don't add extra yeast. Hopefully you have the proper testing tools to make this an easy task for you.
 

Luc

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If I may barge in :p

Be carefull with raisins.

For conservation they sulphite the raisins.
So they will have a lot of sulphite and that can slow down the start
of fermentation.

So first wash the raisins thoroughly in water to rinse all sulphites off.

Next soak them at least for a night in water, and then chop them up.
This is the best way to chop them

If you chop them when they are dry: i wish you luck :D

I hope these directions were not in the book otherwise I am giving trivial
information.

Luc
 

smurfe

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Luc, I was hoping you would chime in here. You are far more experianced at these type wine than I. Great tips :)
 

yaeyama

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If I may barge in :p

Be carefull with raisins.

For conservation they sulphite the raisins.
...
Luc
Thanks for the tips (which were NOT mentioned in detail in the book). Would even organic raisins be sulphited? By the way, I am thinking of using suntanas, because I want my wine to be as golden amber as possible. I assume that using regular raisins would result in a somewhat darker, browner colour? Blech. :D
 

Luc

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Yep, the dark raisins will give your wine some color.
They are great for giving body to a mediocre red wine,
but do not use them in a white wine for they will darken the wine.

I think most raisins are sulphited for conservation purposes
but read the packaging thoroughly before buying them.
But good rinsing and washing will take care of most of the sulphite.

Now someting I am hesitating to mention but I will do it anyhow..........

Raisins and sultana's etc are surely oxydised.
They are because they have been exposed to oxygen all the time.
So the wine you make with it will have an oxydised taste......

If you are into sherry-like wines you are in for a treat.
But if you do not like sherry's be carefull with raisins.

Luc

PS
Always glad to help Smurfe
 
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yaeyama

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Raisins and sultana's etc are surely oxydised.
They are because they have been exposed to oxygen all the time.
So the wine you make with it will have an oxydised taste......
Oh...actually I am an absolute beginner and looking through the book and considering the incredibly high prices for fresh fruits I thought raisins would be an easy and fairly inexpensive way to get started.

What does an "oxydised taste" actually taste like? (I am not familiar with sherry.) Are friends going to say, "this wine has gotten stodgy...you aged it wrong" when they taste it? :eek:

My finger is really hovering over the "6 kg. sultanas" purchase button on an online shopping site, and I am really anxious to get started. But...this kind of scares me.

(But being that I am the impulsive shopper type, by the time you reply it may already be too late. ;) )
 

yaeyama

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What does an "oxydised taste" actually taste like? (I am not familiar with sherry.) Are friends going to say, "this wine has gotten stodgy...you aged it wrong" when they taste it? :eek:
Just talked to my wife, and she apparently loves Sherry. So, I guess I can't go too wrong here. ;)

By the way, what does one use as a mesh bag? There are fine plastic bags, fabric bags, etc. but I don't want something coming apart on me, or imparting a weird taste into the must.
 

Sacalait

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Mesh bags are sold in wine supply stores and are nylon...really tough. They come in fine mesh and not so fine, I personally prefer the fine.
 

smurfe

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Just talked to my wife, and she apparently loves Sherry. So, I guess I can't go too wrong here. ;)

By the way, what does one use as a mesh bag? There are fine plastic bags, fabric bags, etc. but I don't want something coming apart on me, or imparting a weird taste into the must.
I use knee high pantie hose. Just soak them in a sanitizing solution first and then dump in the fruit, ferment, and then throw away when done.
 

Luc

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Yup, pantyhose.

Although it kind of looks weird when a guy of my age
steps in the shop asking for panties........:D
When questioning faces look at me I just state
that I use them for my weekend hobby (and no word lied !!!!)

I buy the normal panties sold in packages of 2 pieces.
I cut of the legs and then have 4 pulp/mash bags for just 1 euro (that
is 1 dollar).

I just stopped pressing 8 kilo's of plums (the last batch that
was fermenting on pulp, see my web-log for details)
I just needed 1 pantyhose leg. These things are fantastic
(in more ways than I want to mention here :D ).

Luc
 

yaeyama

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Thanks for the tips. From covering women's legs to replacing broken fan belts to helping with wine fermentation! Is there -anything- pantyhose can't do? ;-)

By the way, how easy is it to crush Campden tablets? Do I need to get a mortar and pestle? Or do they crush easily between the fingers? Or just use a spoon and a plate?
 

Luc

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Crushing in a bowl or between two spoons will do the trick.

Luc
 

yaeyama

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I was looking around for food grade mesh today but didn't find any. I was also looking at pantyhose, but I didn't buy any yet...is there absolutely no worries regarding dye leakage into the must?

Also, what are you using for a plastic sheet to cover the primary? The only thing I could really find are garbage bags, but many might be coated with chemicals to keep the smell down. I have a feeling if I just leave the plastic lid on my bucket loosely, something might end up in the must that I don't want. I am planning a temperature controlled environment for the first few months and will keep doors and windows closed, so perhaps this isn't really a big issue.
 

cpfan

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If your primary has a lid, use that.

Steve
 

Luc

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What Steve says

And if you want more oxygen in the must the first few days
put a cheesecloth on and fasten it with a rubber band.

Luc
 

Sacalait

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Thanks for the tips. From covering women's legs to replacing broken fan belts to helping with wine fermentation! Is there -anything- pantyhose can't do? ;-)

By the way, how easy is it to crush Campden tablets? Do I need to get a mortar and pestle? Or do they crush easily between the fingers? Or just use a spoon and a plate?
You can get a pill crusher from a pharmsay or a dollar store and they work fairly well but using two spoons is just as reliable.

Just drape a clean towel over the primary. This will allow fermentation gas to escape while keeping bugs out.
 

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