primary fermenter question

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Dec 20, 2008
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Hello, I just purchased a wine making kit. I have a question. With the primary fermenter, the directions say to after adding the ingredients, snap on the lid and attach the air lock. The kit that I received the lid has no space for an air lock. What can I do to get around this. I put all the ingredients in today and just put the lid on. Will this be okay? or do i need the airlock?
I am no expert on kits, but I do know this:

When you added all ingredients you must also have added yeast.
Yeast will produce CO2 gasses that need a way to escape.

If there is no airlock in the lid the gasses can not escape, and you sure are in for some trouble.

Take the lid off, put a cheesecloth on (or a towel) and fasten
it with a rubber band.
That is the way it is normally done with all wines.


is it ok to use plastic wrap with an elastic?

My buddy always used to use a new green garbage bag and a large elastic band. So Ithink plastic wrap would be OK. Any decent cover is good. The idea is to let gasses escape and keep foreign matter out.

Stupid to be doing anything on Christmas day but
I bought my girlfriend a laptop and installed a
wireless network in our home. So I am checking if
it works.......

To get back to the question.

I think if you use plastic and a tight rubber band
the gasses may have trouble escaping and the plastic could
form a balloon or somethink like that.
Therefore I always use a cheesecloth, however a tight woven
towel (clean of course) works equally fine.


Hello Wade,
Thank you for all your help. You have been great. If we did not live so far apart, I would owe you some of my wine when and if it turns out

Just another quick question. I put all the ingredients in the fermenter on Saturday. So it has been a half a week. I left the lid loose for a few days and now have drilled and installed an air lock.

I notice that the wine is bubbling at the top a bit and i can see the air bubles releasing from the air lock.

my question is that the bubles from the air lock are slow and the wine really is not rising in the primary fermenter. I know some have said it is supposed to rise up. however it is bubling a bit at the top. is this normal, or is my wine just fermenting slow.

another question. when i make a new batch. when i put the ingredients in, can i just close the lid tight and install the airlock right off the bat, now that i have drilled the lid? or should i still be leaving the top on loose for the first few days.

also what does o2 do to the wine? just curious.

i had to make the batch in a cold garage, so i have it in a heated vat of water about 76 degrees. the primary fermenter is in this vat. to keep it warm. what you think of that idea?
As far as fermenting right from the get go with the lid on I do it all the time but you should open and stir a little every day as in the beginning the yeast needs lots of 02 to multiply to have a healthy fermentation. I keep the lid on like this because I have a cat that sneaks into this room sometimes as I gaps where some walls do not meet as this is actually my furnace room and sealing it off to well would cut off to much air and not let my furnace run efficiently so my cat will get in there and could sit on my fermenter if he wanted to.

As far as your wine rising to a higher level, some batches, especially kits with grape skins will have a very vigorous fermentation that will come close to actually bubbling out of your airlock while others will barely show any rise at all. Temperatures will also have a say in this matter with cooler temps giving you a slower less active fermentation and warmer temps will give you a more active fermentation which isnt always good especially for whie wines or country wines where the flavors are very delicate and the esters can be burned out by too vigorous a frementation. 02 is very good in the beginning like I said to help your yeast populate but once its done it is not wanted except in miniscule amounts that basically we cannot duplicte without using a barrel. When aging wine in a barrel very small amounts of 02 leach through the wood and micro oxygenates the wine and while doing this small amounts of water in the wine are evaporated concentrating the wine a little bit and this is the reason when using a barrel you have o keep tabs on this evapororation process and top up your wine accordingly, this evaporation is called the "Angels Share". Other then that to much 02 will oxidise your wine which will make your wine spoil faster, this is why we add k-meta(campden tablets) to prevent oxidation. Your vat idea is a good 1 and has been used by many for this purpose or for the opposite reason in hotter environments to cool a batch like in Arizona. Hope that helps and feel free to ask more if not.
perfect thanks.

i never stirred my yeast. the directions said to sprinkle it on the top and leave it undisturbed for two weeks. will it still ferment?
It will, Ive done that many of times with no problems at all, it is a good idea IMO to give it a stir once i starts fermenting if you have the lid snapped on just to get some 02 in there during the first few days once it has started fermenting. If you have the lid off then there really is no need for it unless you have fruit of some sort in there, in that case you should be punching the cap down(getting all the fruit under the wine) so that your wine will extract all the flavor and color and help break down cellular walls of those fruit better.
i never stirred my yeast. the directions said to sprinkle it on the top and leave it undisturbed for two weeks. will it still ferment?
One of the joys of talking to wine makers is the number of different opinions that you will find. Many people think that the wine should be stirred in the primary. Kit manufacturers do not recommend it for most kits.

Personally I only stir kits in primary before pitching the yeast, and then if something is floating in the wine like an oak tea bag or grape skins.

the wine has been in there a week and a day now. gotta leave it two weeks as per the directions. but i am told 02 is bad for the wine at this point. so if i remove the lid to dunk the oak, i am going to let 02 in.

will the oak do the job floating.
the little bit of 02 from doing what is needed is no big deal at all, just do what you can to make the time that it is in vessels constructive. In example, check sg, push down the oak, and anything else that is due to be done at this time and once its in carboy and done fermenting keep it topped up whether it be with commercial wine, sanitized marbles to displace lost volume, or rack to a smaller vessel and maybe a 3 liter jug so that all wine has very little head space.
I know you're a newcomer to this, but I think you are over thinking it.

You could contact the Spagnols info line (phone number on instructions) and ask.

I have heard of mold forming on a floating oak tea bag but the instructions appear to suggest leaving it alone.

BTW, what is your current specific gravity?

I've never used an oak bag, but I've noticed that with loose oak chips it takes awhile for the wood to become saturated and fall to the bottom. I imagine it's the same with the bag. Also, just a thought, but maybe the high levels of CO2 in the wine at this point increase the buoyancy of floating objects???
I've never used an oak bag, but I've noticed that with loose oak chips it takes awhile for the wood to become saturated and fall to the bottom. I imagine it's the same with the bag. Also, just a thought, but maybe the high levels of CO2 in the wine at this point increase the buoyancy of floating objects???

good suggestion. I have made the Grand Cru and Cru Select kits that come with oak tea bags since 2001. The bags always seem to float till the end. They look a little like a ballon. I try to remember to dunk them every couple of days.


-i tried to dunk the bag. it floats right back to the top... so hmmmm..

-also when i smelt the wine, it does not smell like wine. it smells very strong in the primary fermenter. it have been in there a week and a day now. so six more days and the instructions say to move it to the carboy. will the smell improve? or could there be a problem???? is that strong smell normal at this stage.

/i know i probably am overthinking. this is my first batch and i want to do it right.
As a wine goes thru primary fermentation it will give off alot of different smells.Some good, some not good.Since this is your first kit I can understand all the questions and doubts. Just keep following the directions that came with the kit.All the off odors and murky looks will go away in due time.Until then pull a cork on a commercial wine and enjoy a good glass or two.
You say that it smells "strong?" As in high alcohol?? If that's what you smell, that's very normal... some ethanol evaporates out and condenses on the lid of the primary. If you taste some of the liquid that has condensed on the bottom side of the lid you'll soon find out that it is indeed very "strong!" In terms of other aromas, unless you smell a rotten egg or sewer smell, you're probably fine at this stage. In fact, it's pretty hard to screw up a kit as long as you're following the instructions pretty closely... and by the sounds of it, you're babying it pretty well!!!