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bdcl1977

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I am about as green as you can get, this will be my first attempt at wine making. This is what I purchased to start with: CALIFORNIA CONNOISSEUR NECESSITIES BOX CONTAINS: Pkg. of Wine Yeast, Pkg. of Bentonite, Pkg. of Potassium Metabisulphite , Pkg. of Potassium Sorbate, Pkg. of Fining Agents And dried oak, berries or herbs, 2 - 9 Gal. Tuff-Tanks with Air-Locks, Triple Scale Hydrometer, Hydrometer Jar With Base, Vinyl Racking Hose, 18 Inch Stirring Spoon, Wine Bottle Brush, 5 oz. CleanPro SDH Cleaner, 60 Heat-Shrink Capsules, 60 Mushroom Style Corks. Wine concentrates: PINOT CHARDONNAY and JOHANNISBERG RIESLING. (these are short term 28 day batches but I plan a longer duration)
After researching I felt the light wines would be the easiest to start with. What will be my first major mistake(s)? I have an extra room that I have set up and have been able to maintain a steady temp at +/- 1 degree (3 degree spread). There are no local suppliers here in southern Alabama. I have ordered 2 carboys, stoppers and airlocks to be here by the time I start. Feel free to be blunt, I would rather do it correctly. I plan to ask some dumb questions if I am unable to find the answers on the site. I will start in about 2 weeks.
 

rawlus

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not familiar with the specific kit - given that it came with 60 corks and 60 capsules i am guessing it is two 23L/6 gal kits. how many gal are the concentrate bags before adding water?

equipment-wise everything looks fine. sanitation is probably the most important thing, clean everything real well, then sanitize, follow instructions and be sure to document each step with your Specific Gravity reading and must temp at the time you took it.

you won't need the carboys right away so you can start next week if you like.

my only watch-out would be the mushroom corks, which i am assuming are short T-cork tasting corks you just push in by hand. wine will not age well in these, you'd have to drink the 60 bottles in a few months time probably. i would consider finding a corker on ebay or craigslist and using full length non-tapered corks.
 

cpfan

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BDCL:

Welcome to a great hobby, and forum. I hope you ordered 6 US gallon carboys.

The Calif Conn kits are decent kits for beginners. The results may be a thin in body, depending on your tastes. [Rawlus..they are 7.5 litre kits from Vineco.]

The chardonnay should have a small bag (25g) of oak chips, and the riesling some elderflowers. [But, I haven't made either in over 2 years, so things may have changed.] Personally, I would probably add the oak to the chardonnay and leave the elderflowers out of the riesling, but that's my personal preferences.

I would expect these kits to ferment down to an sg of .992, even though the instructions probably say .995 (or lower).

Basically, read and follow the instructions. Perhaps you should read them now, and ask questions if anything doesn't make sense. BTW, the Vineco bentonite is different than that in most kit brands. You do not have to rehydrate it before adding.

Good luck, Steve
 

deboard

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This is coming from one newbie to another, I'm just a few months into the hobby myself. I did not start with kits, but I probably would have been better off! I can tell you what I did wrong with my first couple of batches. But first, the best thing is to listen to the guys on the forum, they can help you quite a bit.

My big mistakes early on were:

1. Sanitation. My first batch got some kind of infection, probably due to me not cleaning as well as I should. What I've learned from this forum is that even though it is possible to go overboard with sanitation, in the end that extra effort will not hurt your wine, and too little sanitation almost definitely will hurt your wine.

2. Not trusting my hydrometer. My first and second batch both did not start with the correct Specific Gravity (SG). I couldn't believe that X amount of sugar was not enough. So even though you are doing kits, and everything will be laid out for you in the recipe, I recommend using these batches to practice and get comfortable with making SG readings and keeping notes based on them.

3. Not trusting my acid test kit. My second batch, even though I learned (1) by then, did not turn out either because I did not have a good acid balance. So I also suggest you get an acid test kit and practice on these batches as well, even if they are already balanced. I was able to fix the acid balance afterwards, but I think it's probably better to get it right in the beginning.

The rest of the folks on here can teach you so much more, but these were the first big three I learned (the hard way). I made the mistakes before I got on here, and learned what I did wrong after! So you already are ahead of me!

Good luck!
 

bdcl1977

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rawlus, cpfan & deboard,

Yes, they are 6 gallon carboys. The mushroom corks came with the kit but I had planned to pick up a corker and use a traditional cork when I reorder. Sanitizing the equipment has been one of my main worries. As I have read on these posting it can turn a batch very easily. I will cut and paste these to my notebook for reference.
Thank you for the help and great advice.
 

Racer

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I plan to ask some dumb questions if I am unable to find the answers on the site.
Welcome bdcl !
The reason I like this site is because no one slams a new member for asking a simple question. So as far as I'm concerned the only stupid/dumb question is the one that doesn't get asked (as long as it's wine related). Don't be afraid to ask just because your new here. I've been making wine for over 8 years now and still get good info from some folks answering a new members questions.
 

bdcl1977

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not familiar with the specific kit - given that it came with 60 corks and 60 capsules i am guessing it is two 23L/6 gal kits. how many gal are the concentrate bags before adding water?

equipment-wise everything looks fine. sanitation is probably the most important thing, clean everything real well, then sanitize, follow instructions and be sure to document each step with your Specific Gravity reading and must temp at the time you took it.

you won't need the carboys right away so you can start next week if you like.

my only watch-out would be the mushroom corks, which i am assuming are short T-cork tasting corks you just push in by hand. wine will not age well in these, you'd have to drink the 60 bottles in a few months time probably. i would consider finding a corker on ebay or craigslist and using full length non-tapered corks.
Rawlus,
I have tossed the mushroom corks and have ordered straight corks. I am watching corkers on ebay. Is the double lever better than the Gilda Compression corker? Will I have to use sealing wax with the heat shrink capsules?
 

Courtney

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Make sure to set aside enough time. Not that it takes long just make sure you don't rush the process. That has been my mistake. :/


I too am new and have had a lot of questions answered on here :D Good luck and welcome!
 

Wade E

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The Portuguese dbl lever is the best hand corker in my opinion but Id spend the little extra and get a floor corker if I were you, its not that much more for the Port. Floor corker.
 

rawlus

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Rawlus,
I have tossed the mushroom corks and have ordered straight corks. I am watching corkers on ebay. Is the double lever better than the Gilda Compression corker? Will I have to use sealing wax with the heat shrink capsules?
as wade said, iwould skip direct to a floor corker, the portugese floor corker is not very expensive, probably turn out to be one of your best investments.

you do not need sealing wax with capsules.. cork the bottle, let them sit for a day or so upside down to fully hydrate and seal, then boil up a pot of water, fashion a coathanger or other implement to hold the capsule onto the bottle neck as you invert it into the boiling water for about 1 second. it will instantly shrink to fit.
 

AlFulchino

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i might have missed it...but did you get enough bottles
 

xanxer82

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rawlus, cpfan & deboard,

Yes, they are 6 gallon carboys. The mushroom corks came with the kit but I had planned to pick up a corker and use a traditional cork when I reorder. Sanitizing the equipment has been one of my main worries. As I have read on these posting it can turn a batch very easily. I will cut and paste these to my notebook for reference.
Thank you for the help and great advice.
Get yourself a 5lb bag of KMeta. You use it to sanitize and stabilize.
 

cpfan

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boil up a pot of water, fashion a coathanger or other implement to hold the capsule onto the bottle neck as you invert it into the boiling water for about 1 second. it will instantly shrink to fit.
We use a wooden slotted spoon that happens to be kept real cose to the stove.

Steve
 

bdcl1977

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rawlus
I have a heat gun, would it be to mujch for the capsules? I will work on the coat hanger the kit came with rubber bands. I will be delayed a few days on my start. I had maintained my room temp between 72 - 75 degress. I put in my supply of water to bring it up to temp and it did not come up any higher than 68. after peforming several test I need my equipment at least 24 inches above the floor. I am building stands now. All the [pointers everyone has given have been great Thanks to all.
 

Wade E

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Lots of people use heat guns and they work great, Just start a little way and adjust in as needed.
 

bdcl1977

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Lots of people use heat guns and they work great, Just start a little way and adjust in as needed.
Wade
my first try will be a kit, will i have to be concerned with the ph level to start with? What is the differance between acid test and ph test?
 

Wade E

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With a wine kit everything is already adjusted! I suggest reading up on the acid/Ph question, its not really something that can be answered easily. Knowing what to do and knowing how they work are 2 totally different things. I know where they should be and how to get there if they are not. Basically a ph of 3.1-3.7 is where you want to be, any lower and yeast wont survive, any higher and bacteria can thrive in there. As far as acids go, you usually want a range of between .5 - .8 depending on what kind of wine you are making. if too low it will taste flat, if too high it will be very tart!
 

bdcl1977

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BDCL:

Welcome to a great hobby, and forum. I hope you ordered 6 US gallon carboys.

The Calif Conn kits are decent kits for beginners. The results may be a thin in body, depending on your tastes. [Rawlus..they are 7.5 litre kits from Vineco.]

The chardonnay should have a small bag (25g) of oak chips, and the riesling some elderflowers. [But, I haven't made either in over 2 years, so things may have changed.] Personally, I would probably add the oak to the chardonnay and leave the elderflowers out of the riesling, but that's my personal preferences.

I would expect these kits to ferment down to an sg of .992, even though the instructions probably say .995 (or lower).

Basically, read and follow the instructions. Perhaps you should read them now, and ask questions if anything doesn't make sense. BTW, the Vineco bentonite is different than that in most kit brands. You do not have to rehydrate it before adding.

Good luck, Steve
cpfan

I will start my first batch Sunday, you are right it does say .995 I will carry it on down to .992. I plan to age it longer in the carboy before I bottle. Would and additional 45 to 60 days be too long?
 

cpfan

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cpfan

I will start my first batch Sunday, you are right it does say .995 I will carry it on down to .992. I plan to age it longer in the carboy before I bottle. Would and additional 45 to 60 days be too long?
No problem with that extra aging. Will help the wine to clear for one thing.

I usually make higher end kits and they end up in carboy longer than that. Just check them regularly to make sure that the liquid in the air lock hasn't disappeared.

Steve
 
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