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jpftribe

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I have a 6 gal batch cooking that I made from a kit and just followed the instructions.

The local brew store gets grape juice from Italy and I ordered a bucket of Nebbiolo and Pinot Grigio that should be in this week.

Two questions:
Do I need to add anything into the juice other than yeast for primary fermentation? The kit I did had bentonite added in the first step, but I've read not to do that from scratch with juice.

I may throw some oak chips into the red. Any advantage to doing that in the primary vs secondary or aging phases?

I've been brewing beers for years, quite successfully, but this is my first foray into wine. Thanks in advance for any advice.
 

Johnd

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I have a 6 gal batch cooking that I made from a kit and just followed the instructions.

The local brew store gets grape juice from Italy and I ordered a bucket of Nebbiolo and Pinot Grigio that should be in this week.

Two questions:
Do I need to add anything into the juice other than yeast for primary fermentation? The kit I did had bentonite added in the first step, but I've read not to do that from scratch with juice.

I may throw some oak chips into the red. Any advantage to doing that in the primary vs secondary or aging phases?

I've been brewing beers for years, quite successfully, but this is my first foray into wine. Thanks in advance for any advice.
You'll need to check with the supplier, as some juice comes pre-adjusted, some doesn't. Assuming it doesn't, you'll need to have the ability to check and adjust Brix, pH and TA. There are lots of posts on this forum discussing those tests and procedures.

I don't use any fining agents in my wines from grapes / juice, instead allowing time to do the job, but that's a personal preference.

Chips / sawdust in the primary will provide some sacrificial tannins to help maintain the color of your wine without imparting much oak flavor. Fermenting tannins will also do the same job. Oak added later in the process will impart the oak flavoring you may desire in your final wine, and there are many different products capable of doing that for you. Normally, I add my flavoring oak to the carboy after it has been sitting for a few months and I've racked it off of the fine lees at least once, but you can certainly do I earlier if you like.
 

jpftribe

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Thanks for the reply, much appreciated. Somehow I knew there would be at least 1 $100+ equipment purchase involved. :)
 

Johnd

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Thanks for the reply, much appreciated. Somehow I knew there would be at least 1 $100+ equipment purchase involved. :)
I'm not saying that you can't do it without those things, but they do a lot to protect your investment in your grapes / juice.

You can literally take those two buckets and pitch yeast in them, and assuming they are reasonably in the decent ranges, they'll go just fine, especially if you'll give them some nutrients. When fermentation is over, move them to carboys and just let them sit with some sulfite in them, oak, whatever you want, sulfite and rack every three months for a year, bottle and enjoy.

If at some point, should you have problems with your ferment and want help here, you will be asked a lot of questions you won't be able to answer, the testing tools are what you use to eliminate problems before they happen, diagnose them if they do, and fine tune the taste and longevity of your wine when it is done, but it's not a hard, fast requirement.
 

jpftribe

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I'm not saying that you can't do it without those things, but they do a lot to protect your investment in your grapes / juice.

You can literally take those two buckets and pitch yeast in them, and assuming they are reasonably in the decent ranges, they'll go just fine, especially if you'll give them some nutrients. When fermentation is over, move them to carboys and just let them sit with some sulfite in them, oak, whatever you want, sulfite and rack every three months for a year, bottle and enjoy.

If at some point, should you have problems with your ferment and want help here, you will be asked a lot of questions you won't be able to answer, the testing tools are what you use to eliminate problems before they happen, diagnose them if they do, and fine tune the taste and longevity of your wine when it is done, but it's not a hard, fast requirement.
I get it, thanks. At $10 a gallon, I want to get some decent wine out of this, and hence I asked before hand. I'll also talk to the local supplier. They've been in the business for decades and I'm sure will be helpful.

I've brewed a lot of (pretty awesome) beer and if you screw up that you are out $20 bucks in grain and know it in a few weeks. I don't want to get 6 months down the road and find out then that the best I can do is barely drinkable.
 

Johnd

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I get it, thanks. At $10 a gallon, I want to get some decent wine out of this, and hence I asked before hand. I'll also talk to the local supplier. They've been in the business for decades and I'm sure will be helpful.

I've brewed a lot of (pretty awesome) beer and if you screw up that you are out $20 bucks in grain and know it in a few weeks. I don't want to get 6 months down the road and find out then that the best I can do is barely drinkable.
Since it sounds like your juices are coming from a reputable place, and you've got some pretty good stuff in the Neb and PG, I can understand your wanting it to be drinkable, and bet that it will be.

You can get away easy with the sugar measurements, hydrometers are pretty cheap, and so is sugar. pH strips may work on the white wine, but they'll be harder to read on the red, just because of the color of the juice. Maybe the LHBS can help you out if they have a pH meter, just to check and see where you are. If you get the brix and pH right, you should be able to make a nice wine without messing with the TA.

Good luck, just shout if you need some help, lots of great folks on here willing to lend a hand.
 

heatherd

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I have a 6 gal batch cooking that I made from a kit and just followed the instructions.

The local brew store gets grape juice from Italy and I ordered a bucket of Nebbiolo and Pinot Grigio that should be in this week.

Two questions:
Do I need to add anything into the juice other than yeast for primary fermentation? The kit I did had bentonite added in the first step, but I've read not to do that from scratch with juice.

I may throw some oak chips into the red. Any advantage to doing that in the primary vs secondary or aging phases?

I've been brewing beers for years, quite successfully, but this is my first foray into wine. Thanks in advance for any advice.
I typically do not add bentonite to the juice buckets I buy.

I usually use oak powder in primary and oak chips or spirals during bulk-aging.

These fairly simple instructions are a good way to start: https://harfordvineyard.com/winemaking-instructions-for-juice/

A more detailed manual is here: https://morewinemaking.com/content/manuals

If you're deciding on which yeast to use, there is a guide here: http://morewinemaking.com/public/pdf/wyeastpair.pdf
You can find several options and feel free to ask the forum about their experience with them to know which ones are easier to use. The other option is EC-1118, which is a general-purpose yeast.

One difference from beer is that you don't use bleach on bottles. I use OneStep cleaner and StarSan sanitizer.

Many red wines go through malolactic fermentation. Have you considered that for your Nebbiolo? If you decide to do that, you can purchase malolactic bacteria to add to the juice. I use VP41 with good luck.
 

jpftribe

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I typically do not add bentonite to the juice buckets I buy.

I usually use oak powder in primary and oak chips or spirals during bulk-aging.

These fairly simple instructions are a good way to start: https://harfordvineyard.com/winemaking-instructions-for-juice/

A more detailed manual is here: https://morewinemaking.com/content/manuals

If you're deciding on which yeast to use, there is a guide here: http://morewinemaking.com/public/pdf/wyeastpair.pdf
You can find several options and feel free to ask the forum about their experience with them to know which ones are easier to use. The other option is EC-1118, which is a general-purpose yeast.

One difference from beer is that you don't use bleach on bottles. I use OneStep cleaner and StarSan sanitizer.

Many red wines go through malolactic fermentation. Have you considered that for your Nebbiolo? If you decide to do that, you can purchase malolactic bacteria to add to the juice. I use VP41 with good luck.
Thanks for this, extremely helpful. May I ask when and how long do you MLF? Is this just something you do as a matter of course, or is there a measure for malic acid? From what Ive read, TA doesn't tell you which acids you have, just the totals, correct?

The yeast guide was great, thanks again.
 

Johnd

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May I ask when and how long do you MLF? Is this just something you do as a matter of course, or is there a measure for malic acid? From what Ive read, TA doesn't tell you which acids you have, just the totals, correct?
Most whites don't get put through MLF (not all, most), lots of Chards get MLF'd, probably wouldn't want to do the PG, but you could do the Neb.

When to add MLB is a point of conjecture and preference, my preference is a couple of days after pressing the grapes and moving the wine to a carboy, rack off of the gross lees and add MLB and nutrients. For a bucket, you won't really have any gross lees, so inoculation could be done at the time you rack to glass to complete AF, around SG 1.000 or so.

As far as how long, well, til it's complete. Paper chromatography will indicate the presence of three acids in your wine, Tartaric, Malic, and Lactic. As the Malic is converted to Lactic, the Malic spot on your chromatography will disappear, indicating the completion of MLF. You can also taste the difference as the sharper malic is converted to the smoother lactic acid. There are also test strips which will tell you the quantity of malic acid in your wine, very easy to use, but a bit pricey.

On your last point, you are correct, TA doesn't give you a breakdown of the acids in your wine, just the totals of the acids.
 

Throwdown

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I typically do not add bentonite to the juice buckets I buy.

I usually use oak powder in primary and oak chips or spirals during bulk-aging.

These fairly simple instructions are a good way to start: https://harfordvineyard.com/winemaking-instructions-for-juice/

A more detailed manual is here: https://morewinemaking.com/content/manuals

If you're deciding on which yeast to use, there is a guide here: http://morewinemaking.com/public/pdf/wyeastpair.pdf
You can find several options and feel free to ask the forum about their experience with them to know which ones are easier to use. The other option is EC-1118, which is a general-purpose yeast.

One difference from beer is that you don't use bleach on bottles. I use OneStep cleaner and StarSan sanitizer.

Many red wines go through malolactic fermentation. Have you considered that for your Nebbiolo? If you decide to do that, you can purchase malolactic bacteria to add to the juice. I use VP41 with good luck.
Great links, thanks for posting. I'm planning to pick up a few buckets this weekend (if not next) from Italy/Central Valley from local home brew store... awesome guides. I have some reading to do.
 

jpftribe

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OK. Thanks a ton. I picked up the juice today. been stored at 30f so needs some time to come up to room temp. Based on the wonderful guide above, I bought some BM45 to ferment the red and the local store sold me some D47 for the white. Got some yeast nutrient as well. They sold me some RS212 for the red, but I'll use that for something else.

Local store owner told me the juice is already adjusted and stabilized for TA and OG and gave me the numbers. Just leave it and pitch, which is just fine by me. Also bought some MLB for the red.

On a side note. I just finished step 3 on my Montepulciano kit, adding the sorbate, k meta and chitosan. We tasted it over a week ago at 1.004 and it was not pleasant. The sample I have now is really, really tasty especially after oxidizing for the last 40 minutes. If I haven't managed to infect it, this will be surprisingly good for a homemade wine.

Agree with the above, links are fantastic. Straightforward and at the level of detail I needed.
Cheers.
 

Johnd

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Local store owner told me the juice is already adjusted and stabilized for TA and OG and gave me the numbers. Just leave it and pitch, which is just fine by me. Also bought some MLB for the red.
There you go, that's what you wanted to hear, you're ready to rumble!!!!!
 

jpftribe

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Well, live and learn. Had a big party this weekend and couldn't pitch the yeast until today. The red had already fermented with wild yeast down to 1.036 from 1.070's. I pitched the BM45 anyway after rehydrating it for 30 minutes. Wine smells good, lots of little bubbles floating to the surface and it tastes fine, just not as sweet as it should be. Knew it right away when I could smell the CO2 off gassing as soon as I walked to the cellar.

White wine was fine and pitched that yeast as well. Added yeast nutrient to both as well. Should be interesting.
 

Johnd

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So you got a little fermentation done with the wild yeast, probably no big deal. If it smells nice, it should be just fine, and your cultured yeast will kick in for you and ferment it down nice and dry, not a bad deal. Good luck and keep us posted.
 

jpftribe

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OK. This red is ready for MLF. It's below 1.000. Do I need headspace in a glass carboy for this, or should I make sure it's topped up.

Thanks in advance.
 

jpftribe

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Alright, thanks.

Montepulciano kit is racked to a carboy for final clearing of 8 days. Then it gets racked to a 5 gal container for bulk storage and bottle the rest :ib.

Nebbiolo is racked and in MLF.

Pinot Grigio still needs some time. 1.020. :ft

Thanks everyone, much appreciated!
 

jpftribe

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Lots of goodies have arrived the last few days.

2 oz of med toast french oak chips went into the Nebbiolo this morning.

A pail of cab and a pail of merlot were pitched with RC212 and BM 4x4 respectively. Both were already fermenting. The cab was down to 1.064 and when I stirred in the yeast, it foamed all over the place. I think tomorrow I'll rack the pinot grigio to secondary. Got things to do and playoff game to watch today. :h
 

jpftribe

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So the Pinot Grigio is at .990 and has been in a primary for 12 days. I'm ready to rack it over to a glass carboy. Now is the time to treat with Sorbates and KMeta, correct? It's not going thru MLF.
 

jpftribe

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I clarified the Pinot Grigio with kieselsol and chitosan 2 days ago. I'm going to rack it, add isinglass, rack it back over to a 5 gallon carboy this weekend and whatever is left over gets bottled for Thanksgiving. The rest goes to sleep for a while.
 

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