Noob trying for 1st time – have some questions

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MrBean

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I am not sure if this is going to be my hobby (probably not). But still I want to make a 1 gallon batch and see how it goes. As far as possible, I want to be using everything at home, so no hydrometer and stuff. After reading here & different sites, here are my (extremely) detailed steps and lots of questions. Feel free to improve/ critique -

Requirements:
Plane jane dry wine with some flavor, no plan to back-sweeten.

Equipment:
I am planning to use 1 gallon pail, but might buy glass carboy as well.
Small plastic bottle (air lock)
Small bowl (yeast mix)
Siphon pipe
Funnel
Shaking spoon

Ingredients:
Distilled water
Rubbing alcohol
MM concentrate
Campden tablets
EC-1118

Process:
  1. Sanitize all equipment with rubbing alcohol. Let it dry completely.
  2. 4 cans of Minute Maid concentrate - 4 X 295ml ~ 0.31gallon
  3. Prepare yeast nutrient: Boil water and add 2.5g EC-1118 in boiling water and cool water to 40C. Add to must. Basically, I am trying to feed some dead yeast as food to the yeast.
  4. Prepare must: Add ? amount of sugar + remaining distilled water + yeast nutrient. Corn sugar breaks down easily, but regular sugar also okay. Question: Since Minute Maid concentrate will have some fruit sugar, I don’t know how much should I use? I am thinking 0.5kg at first and then keep adding later as I taste.
  5. Acclimatize yeast: Heat water to 40C. Add EC-1118 yeast to the mixture and mix gently. Keep for 20 mins. Add some must to yeast and wait for 10mins. Must and yeast water temperature difference must be less than 10C. Add yeast water to must.
  6. (Optional) add 1 pinch of epsom salt, 1t citric acid to adjust pH. I am not sure about this step, read it somewhere. Should I skip this?
  7. After 1 day, there should be foam on top. Shake in between. Keep the temperature around 25C.
  8. Ferment for 2-4 weeks until all the fermentation stops. Wine needs to be clear with all sediments settled at the bottom.
  9. (Optional) Taste the wine and add 100g sugar if required. Wait for 3 days and repeat.
  10. After fermentation, siphon out the wine.
    1. Fill the siphon with water. Block one end, and put other end in carboy.
    2. Release blocked end in glass of water until all water is released.
    3. Switch to another container when wine starts flowing.
  11. Add 1/2 tablet (pinch) campden tablet. This will avoid wine turning into vinegar.
  12. Shake well to de-gas and remove CO2. Do until the bubbles slow down.
  13. Siphon into bottles.
  14. Let it age
Doable? Should I spend on something that will make it worthwhile?
 

cmason1957

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Might this work, maybe. It is enough off what most of us do and what is considered best practices to be skeptical, but it might. I don't think you need to use rubbing alcohol at all in the process. Cleaning, then sanitizing with properly mixed up campden tablet solution is quite effective. It has been a long time, since I used campden tablets, but I seem to remember something like 12-15 per gallon for sanitizing water and I always add a 1 TBSp of Acid (usually citric) so probably a TBSP of lemon juice will have the desired effect.

I have no idea if killing yeast as you plan to with the boiling water will make something approaching yeast nutrient or not.

How much sugar to add, well that's where you could use a hydrometer OR something to measure how much sugar and hence how much alcohol you might be going to produce.

You step 6 seems unusual, how will you know if you need to add epsom salt or citric acid to adjust the pH?

The rest of them seem to be about what needs to be done. Perhaps you should look at the recipe for skeeter pee and scale it to a gallon and make that, if you are unsure of if this hobby is something you want to pursue. It is a fail-safe recipe that many folks have tried and made.
 

MrBean

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Thanks !!

I didnt know campden tablets can be used a sanitizer. I will use those then. Regarding yeast as nmutrient, I read somewhere that yeast also feed on dead yeast + 5g packet is more than enough for 1 gallon. So I thought of this idea of using some as nutrient...lol

Adjust the pH wasnt meant from measuring, again something I read online. Thanks for taking the time and responding with tips. I will incorporate and also look at the Skeeter Pee recipe & thread...
 

winemaker81

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Overall, this seems do-able. A few comments on various steps:

For aging, you want a 4 liter jug. This means you want an initial volume of at least 5 liters, as you lose volume to sediment.

A 1 gallon / 4 liter bucket isn't big enough. You want at least 6 liters, preferably 8 liters, to allow room for a vigorous fermentation without it boiling over.

1. Don't use rubbing alcohol. 2 Campden tablets in 1 liter water should make a sanitizing solution, use that instead. Rinse with the solution and shake off excess. DO NOT rinse with water.

4. Without a hydrometer, you're guessing on the sugar. 2 pounds of sugar in 1 gallon water produces a SG of 1.090, which is about 11.5% ABV. My best guess is to use 1.5 to 1.75 kg sugar. I'm American and am doing a conversion in my head, so this is a hopefully educated guess.

Also, corn sugar is not necessary -- plain 'ole table sugar works. Add the sugar in step #3, and cool to 30-38 C before adding yeast.

5. 40 C should be acceptable, but I'd stick to 38 C. Yeast should be able to handle 43 C, but 38 C it definitely can handle.

6. I'm with Craig (@cmason1957) on this one. Lemonade is already acidic, so I have no idea if you want it more acidic. Seems odd.

7. Fermentation may take 72 hours to kick in. Don't be fussed if it doesn't kick off in the first 24 hours.

Any temperature between 22 and 25 C is good.

8. Fermentation should take 5 to 10 days. Leaving the wine in an open bucket for 4 weeks invites disaster.

9. Adding more sugar will kick off a renewed fermentation, until the wine exceeds the yeast's tolerance for alcohol, which for EC-1118 is about 18% ABV.

If you want to backsweeten -- which with a lemon wine is highly likely -- you need to add potassium sorbate and Campden.

11. Add 1 Campden tablet, not a half tablet. Sulfite neutralizes a large number of problems, including oxidation.

12. After racking, stir the wine vigorously for a couple of minutes, changing direction every 30 seconds. This causes the wine to emit CO2, and it will continue to do so for possibly several weeks.

Rack the wine into a 4 liter jug with 2.5 to 5.0 cm space between the wine and the stopper. DO NOT seal the jug, as the wine will continue to emit CO2 for a while.

13. NO! Leave the jug alone for 3 months. It will continue to drop sediment -- if you bottle now, you'll get sediment in the bottle.

After bottling, leave the wine for at least 3 months.


Should I spend on something that will make it worthwhile?
Buy a hydrometer. People made wine for thousands of years without the benefit of a hydrometer, but proper use of one removes guessing and uncertainty.

Personally, you should choose something other than a lemon-based wine. The acidity of lemons can produce problems. IMO, look at the Dragon's Blood thread, as it's more likely to produce a pleasing result.
 

MrBean

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4. Without a hydrometer, you're guessing on the sugar. 2 pounds of sugar in 1 gallon water produces a SG of 1.090, which is about 11.5% ABV. My best guess is to use 1.5 to 1.75 kg sugar. I'm American and am doing a conversion in my head, so this is a hopefully educated guess.
2 pounds is less than 1 kg, but understood. I plan to stick to around 10-ish% ABV.

8. Fermentation should take 5 to 10 days. Leaving the wine in an open bucket for 4 weeks invites disaster.
Just from curiosity sake question. Assuming that I dont have a hydrometer, and I have the whole thing airlocked and if I dont see bubbles for a few days, why is leaving it for few weeks an issue?

9. Adding more sugar will kick off a renewed fermentation, until the wine exceeds the yeast's tolerance for alcohol, which for EC-1118 is about 18% ABV.
The idea was to taste it and if it tastes anything close to okay, I'd stop adding sugar. The assumption would then be that the ABV is anywhere close to theoritical 10% or whatever, doesnt really matter. I'm less concerned about the SG, FG & ABV and more about getting something decent-ish.

12. After racking, stir the wine vigorously for a couple of minutes, changing direction every 30 seconds. This causes the wine to emit CO2, and it will continue to do so for possibly several weeks.

13. NO! Leave the jug alone for 3 months. It will continue to drop sediment -- if you bottle now, you'll get sediment in the bottle.

After bottling, leave the wine for at least 3 months.
Good tips, thanks.

Also, I am going to drop the lemon altogether because I am putting in Minute Maid concentrates.
 

G259

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I'd say to get a 1 1/2 - 2 gallon bucket for primary fermentation, you need extra space for oxygen at this point. You can leave the lid loosely on top for now, because the CO2 will protect the wine, and it still will have an O2 source. If you don't have a hydrometer, you can't know when primary is over, but putting it under airlock a little sooner than later, I think would be my choice. Wine is pretty forgiving, there are only a few no-no's, like adding sorbate prefermentation. I think that if you put it under airlock after 7-8 days, you should be OK. This is exactly how I started, 3-4 years ago. I just bottled a 3 gallon kit of Chardonnay, and today pitched the yeast on 6 gallons of Red Zinfandel (you WILL get hooked!)
 
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winemaker81

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Just from curiosity sake question. Assuming that I dont have a hydrometer, and I have the whole thing airlocked and if I dont see bubbles for a few days, why is leaving it for few weeks an issue?
If the wine is under airlock, it should be fine for several weeks. My comment referred to being in an open bucket. Exposure to air once fermentation is done is the problem.

The idea was to taste it and if it tastes anything close to okay, I'd stop adding sugar. The assumption would then be that the ABV is anywhere close to theoritical 10% or whatever, doesnt really matter. I'm less concerned about the SG, FG & ABV and more about getting something decent-ish.
When you said you'd taste the wine and add more sugar if appropriate, it sounds like you are backsweetening, even though you stated you were not going to.

If you add sugar to a wine, the fermentation will most likely restart, unless the current ABV exceeds the yeast's tolerance for alcohol. Given that, your comment about adding more sugar is confusing.

Text is one of the worst ways to communicate ... ;)
 

MrBean

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When you said you'd taste the wine and add more sugar if appropriate, it sounds like you are backsweetening, even though you stated you were not going to.
Thanks for clarification and sorry, I didnt mean to be confusing.

Starting this tomo (got delayed earlier).

I saw on Minute Maid concentrate, it says 32g sugar/fructose per 63 ml and its a 295ml can. So 4 cans = 4 X 295 X 32 / 63 = 600g (1.3 lb) sugar already in the cans.

So I think I should only add around 300g (0.7 lb) white sugar on top instead of 2lb?
 

winemaker81

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So I think I should only add around 300g (0.7 lb) white sugar on top instead of 2lb?
That sounds reasonable.

4. Without a hydrometer, you're guessing on the sugar. 2 pounds of sugar in 1 gallon water produces a SG of 1.090, which is about 11.5% ABV. My best guess is to use 1.5 to 1.75 kg sugar. I'm American and am doing a conversion in my head, so this is a hopefully educated guess.
Yup, KG should be LBS. I was switching back-n-forth between Imperial and metric, and messed up.

When I was in middle school (long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away) our science teacher told the class we'd be migrating to metric. At times I wish we did, as it makes things easier.
 

Rice_Guy

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As @winemaker81 said sounds reasonable. ,,, wine is forgiving.

A calculation done with 12 oz frozen Apple concentrate
a 50% solution of apple concentrate has a gravity of 1.112 which translates to 295 grams sugar per liter ->
if this can is 355ml (12oz) this would contribute
295gm x 2 x355ml/1000ml = 209 grams of sugar per can.
SugarGraphMust.JPG
note:
the Wally-world lemonade I have in the fridge has stevia in it which is non fermentable
frozen concentrate is a product formulated for cost of goods, and water is cheap
grams (pounds) sugar in solution is basically linear against gravity
there is some difference based on type of sugar other solids which I ignored
 

MrBean

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When I was in middle school (long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away) our science teacher told the class we'd be migrating to metric. At times I wish we did, as it makes things easier.
They were not wrong. I remember reading about US having passed a bill of some sorts, but it did not get implemented eventually because of the cost.

On googling, I can find this on Wiki.
 

MrBean

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Update: So I setup everything as close to my above instructions as possible, put in half the yeast.

Hour 42: There was no activity, nothing. Panic, then trying to figure what could've gone wrong, then calm. Then I re-hydrated rest of the yeast. This time I kept the yeast in the bowl for almost an hour.
Hour 48: I had covered the whole thing with cloth. Finalyyy, I could definitely see small bublets (baby bubbles) popping out. There were like 1/2 every second or so.
Hour 52: Swirled with a spoon.
Hour 66: There was slight froth at the top, but very little. I swirled with a spoon. The bubbles popping out had stopped.
So I covered this with an airlock. (Just FYI, my airlock works).
Hour 68: There is no bubbling.

Fermentation had definitely started. Question: Should I keep it covered with cloth or cover with airlock?
 

winemaker81

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Should I keep it covered with cloth or cover with airlock?
Cloth. During the early stages of fermentation, the yeast benefits from air as it uses O2 for replication. You want the yeast to multiply fast so the fermentation takes off faster.

Keep in mind that not all fermentations are vigorous -- I've had quite a few where there was little evidence other than a very thin layer of foam on top.

What is the temperature of the room? If it's below 70 F (21 C) put it someplace a bit warmer.
 

MrBean

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Until day 10, I had covered the wine with a cloth most of the time. There was foam almost every day, but very little I would say. The taste was good, but very very sweet.

I can see now why one would need a hydrometer. Without it, you're pretty much blind.

Day 10: I put it on airlock.
Day 10 to 15: There was no bubbling whatsoever. Nada, zilch, nothing.
Day 15 (today): I opened it briefly for 2 reasons - I just wanted to see whats going on. The top was clear, no foam nothing. And second reason for opening, I thought if I want to continue keeping the airlock for a month or more, I should just top it up with water. I hadnt filled it initially for the foam, so now I topped with distilled water. Maybe not filling it was also the reason for no bubbles.

I also tasted it. The sweetness is down, and I can taste alcohol. It tasted very very good. I could literally pour it and enjoy it as a drink. But I put the airlock back on. I plan to wait a month more.

So far, I would call this as on-track for success irrespective of the hiccups. My primary goal was to make something that I liked irrespective of what the ABV, FG, etc was.
 

winemaker81

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I can see now why one would need a hydrometer. Without it, you're pretty much blind.
Bingo!!!

Late in fermentation, the activity level can be very low so that you do not perceive activity. Also, unless the seal between the container, stopper, and airlock is tight, you can lose air through the cracks.

The wine tasting sweet is a good indication that fermentation is not done. But this is not guaranteed. If the OG was higher than you guessed, more than the yeast can eat, fermentation can be done. Each yeast strain has an alcohol tolerance -- once it hits that tolerance it essentially poisons it's own environment.

Once a wine is started, topping with water is a last resort. If you need to top, use a compatible wine, otherwise you're diluting the wine and changing the balance of the constituents.

If you have active fermentation, a large headspace in the container is not a problem. Fermentation produces CO2, which pushes air out and provides a cushion.
 

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