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kirr45

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Hey guys

Just made my first ever homebrew wine. Very very basic. I bought the following:

-Ocean Spray cranberry juice (but it was a mix of cranberry, apple, grape, etc..) it was also the 50 calorie version with sucralose.
-Table Sugar
-Bread Yeast

I did a simple mix of the ingredients and about a cup of sugar in straight into the plastic bottle the cranberry juice came in. shook it up and burned a hole into the cap and stuck my airlock into the cap. It wasn't a clean hole so during its fermenting I could smell the alcohol even though the cap was closed. So there wasn't a perfect seal on it.

It was fermenting normally for a week then kinda just stopped. Do you think its safe to drink? I started reading about all these cases of botulism. How can you tell if its safe or not? Also, I know for spirits you can burn it to tell between ethanol and methanol, but what about for lower alcohol beverages?

To be honest I tried about half a glass last night. Tasted real good but not sure if I should worry.
 

mikewatkins727

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Not to worry.

For us hobbyists, and not so hobbyists, we see some problems. Hang around, read and learn. We have all been there. Most of all, enjoy!

Congratulations on your first batch.
 

richmke

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It wasn't a clean hole so during its fermenting I could smell the alcohol even though the cap was closed. So there wasn't a perfect seal on it.
You don't need a seal. Many people ferment juice with a towel covering the pail.

It was fermenting normally for a week then kinda just stopped.
Funny how that happens when they yeast have consumed all the sugar and converted it to alcohol. It takes about a week.
 

Ron0126

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You'll be fine. That's how I started too. It will taste pretty good and if you're like the rest of us, will get you in deeper and deeper and deeper ...

There is no turning back. But why would you want too?

Have fun, enjoy that first batch, read, learn, ask lots of questions after searching the forums for answers, find a local home brew store (LHBS), search Craigslist for equipment before you purchase, develop a wine log, read Tweaking Cheap Kits, When Good Wines Gone Bad, and all the threads on the Beginner's Forum.

You're going to have a great time!
 

BernardSmith

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Hi Kirr45 and welcome. I'm not a chemist but I really think that you cannot produce methanol by fermenting anything edible. And any edible fruit that you ferment using bread or wine yeast - they are simply different strains of the same fungus - cultivated for different purposes (think a Clydesdale vs a race horse) is not going to harm you - unless of course you get plastered and get behind a wheel or juggle chain saws. Botulism? Why would botulism be more prevalent in commercially produced cranberry if you added yeast than if you simply cracked open a bottle and chugged it down?
What I would suggest though, is that you invest in a very inexpensive tool - an hydrometer. You use this to measure the density of the liquid you are fermenting. This measure of density is called the specific gravity and as the fruit juice becomes more alcoholic , comprising of more alcohol and less sugar as the yeast ferment the available sugars (so there is a limit to how much alcohol there can be in your wine) so the density drops until it becomes closer to the density of water (a specific gravity of 1.000) and then drops even lower (because alcohol is less dense than water) to something like 0.996 or even 0.994. If your hydrometer gives you such a reading you know that there is no more sugar in the liquid for the yeast to ferment. You also know that your wine will be very dry.
Good luck. This is a great hobby.
 

sour_grapes

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Also, note that sucralose is an artificial sweetener, which the yeast will ignore. Therefore, your finished wine will be sweet (which may be a fine attribute in this concoction!).
 
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kirr45

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I appreciate all the replies and feedback. Yeah it tasted pretty good. I was just hesitant because when I smelled it, I noticed it was a little sour smelling. I don't know if that's a yeast and cranberry smell or something else.
 

kirr45

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Oh yeah I forgot to mention. I'm extremely limited on supplies so I can only really use off the shelf stuff from supermarkets. Even the hydrometer will be a little difficult. Any way to stop fermentation? Is slightly cloudy cranberry wine normal? If I just siphon the wine into another bottle leaving behind the old yeast, is that enough? Any other procedure I have to do?
 

sour_grapes

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Any way to stop fermentation?
Not really.

Is slightly cloudy cranberry wine normal?
Nothing to do with cranberry: At this age, all wine will be cloudy.

If I just siphon the wine into another bottle leaving behind the old yeast, is that enough? Any other procedure I have to do?
Ideally, you would move it to another container (with as little air space as possible), add the correct amount of potassium metabisulfite, and let it age for a while.
 

Ron0126

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Actually you can. Which is why you discard the first 10% and last 10% when you distill.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5028366/
There is, however, a distinction between fermenting and distilling. Methanol vapor is produced between 148 (boiling point of methanol) and 174 degrees (boiling point of ethanol). Even though wine can contain as much as 329 mg/L (making **distilled wine** (brandy) potentially more dangerous than moonshine), the difference is that the methanol concentration in 5 gallons of wine is evenly distributed among the 5 gallons. For someone to consume a potentially dangerous amount they would need to drink more than 28 bottles! Not exactly doable.

During the distillation process methanol is concentrated at the start of the run because it has a lower boiling point than ethanol and water. My grandfather used to discard 1/3 of a pint jar for every 5 gallon run at the beginning and the end of each run. I still have a few of his recipes around here somewhere.

But don't worry, there is zero chance of producing anywhere near a lethal (or even blinding) dosage of methanol from fermenting your juice into wine.
 

kirr45

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So theoretically I'm ingesting methanol? Doesn't that have some sort of effect long term?


Is there any alternative to campden tablets? Let's just say I won't be able to buy them where I am.
 

Scooter68

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I'd get away from anything containing artificial sweeteners just on the off chance of some chemical change that could turn a decent wine into something with a unpleasant after taste. (Think about the original diet sodas if you ever had one of those.)
As to yeast - the wine yeasts are probably less likely to give you any strange flavors as well but you said you are limited at to access to supplies.
Depending on how inventive you are you might look into making your own crude hydrometer. I'm sure that somewhere on the web there are instructions on making something very very basic. Using a glass cigar tube some weight and a couple of known solutions (Water and a Sugar syrup with a known quantity of sugar)
That smell you had is the 'essence of fermentation' and it's kinda addicting. I'm about to start a new batch this weekend and looking forward to company next weekend saying "Wow I smell it!"
 

kirr45

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What about preservatives? Any reason I should stay away from them or is it just because it can interfere with fermentation?
 

Scooter68

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What about preservatives? Any reason I should stay away from them or is it just because it can interfere with fermentation?
Primarily because of their potential to affect fermentation. BUT, other than naturally occurring things like citric acid and ascorbic acid, I refrain from using any thing in my wine must than contains preservatives. The short the list of things you put into your wine, the fewer variables you face in terms of interactions/reactions.
 

BernardSmith

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Actually you can. Which is why you discard the first 10% and last 10% when you distill.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5028366/
But it is unclear the source of the methanol that poisoned the people. Was this something added to the wine or something that was produced as a result of the distillation? I know that the mythos states that you discard the heads and tails of any distillate but I am not entirely convinced that there is methanol in any quantity in the first and last runnings. What is the evidence - the data - that in fact supports this assumption?
 

richmke

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But it is unclear the source of the methanol that poisoned the people. ... What is the evidence - the data - that in fact supports this assumption?
My original response was in response to: "I'm not a chemist but I really think that you cannot produce methanol by fermenting anything edible." It shows that methanol is a natural fermentation product. That was the purpose of the link. I do NOT think that methanol production in wine is anywhere close to being harmful.

The article I linked is from the NIH, which I presume is a reliable source. It cites numerous articles about methanol production in the presence of pectins, which wine has a lot of.
 

stickman

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Fermented beverages of any type contain many contaminants produced by the yeast and bacteria, including methanol. Many of these contaminants are only present in part per billion or part per million concentrations, which is why normally they are not a problem. The same contaminants would be hazardous to consume in their pure form. A good example is vinegar or acetic acid; almost all wine under normal conditions contains between 200 to 400ppm of acetic acid, and there is no problem with this concentration, but I wouldn't try drinking pure (glacial) acetic acid, you wouldn't even be able to get your nose close to the glass.
 

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