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Rice_Guy

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I've had wines in bulk for as much as 6 months pop solid bungs.
if there is a temperature shift I am not surprised, ,,, a side note I looked at six commercial wines yesterday and four of them were showing bubbles in the gravity cylinder
. . Keep up with your k-meta additions as you rack, and go buy a bicycle tire inflator and a box of food safe co2 cartridges. $25 all in. Anytime you need to open the carboy, purge the headspace real good before closing it back up.
tell me more, I am using a 12V vacuum/pressure pump now, ? you vacuum off the top of the carboy ?076ECEF4-F61C-4DC2-B4EE-9C0B930400DF.jpeg
 

dmw_chef

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Just say no to marbles. Seriously. There's a chance they will chip - leading to the potential for glass shards in your wine - or possibly crack your carboy and cost you all your wine. They increase racking losses. How confident are you that they're actually made from food safe glass?

Just purge your headspace. It's such a simple solution.

I've had 2/3 full carboy sit just fine for 9 months with zero oxidation by purging the headspace.
 

winemaker81

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@Gerry Congleton, you may have noticed conflicting opinions. This is normal, as most situations in wine making have more than one reasonable solution. Yes, this makes it difficult for beginners to figure things out. Keep reading and muddle through, asking questions as you think of them.

In general, I use the simplest solutions.

In my experience, head space is a problem. The question is "how much is too much?", and I don't believe anyone can provide a fact based answer to that question. The simple solution? Eliminate the head space so the question goes away.

How to eliminate head space? Marbles and insert gas work well. However marbles can chip if dropped in an empty carboy (yeah, people do this), and there may be concerns regarding lead (I don't know enough to know if this is valid or not). Inert gas can dissipate and it's not possible to know that it has. The simple solution? Top up with the same wine, a compatible wine, or a complementary wine.

For 23 liter kits, use a 19 liter (5 US gallon) carboy with the excess in smaller bottles. A 23 liter kit will never fill a 23 liter carboy, due to sediment losses. Kit instructions keep things as simple as possible, but on this point they're flat wrong.

I don't use solid bungs in carboys, only barrels. Barrels evaporate water/alcohol through the wood, so as long as fermentation is done and the wine is (mostly) degassed, with time a vacuum is built up, so the bung doesn't pop. Carboys with a solid bung have no way to vent without blowing the bung, so continue to use an airlock or use vented bungs (let gas out, not in). I switch to vented bungs once fermentation is done and the wine is degassed. If there is activity, I want to see it. Once activity is done, the vented bung eliminates the need to ensure the airlock has liquid in it.
 
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Gerry Congleton

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I added two bottles of red wine and I am still a little short. I put a bung in it with a double chamber water lock. It has been a few days and out of curiosity I check the water lock almost every morning.
I don't know how to interpret what's happening, but the levels in the water lock vary in both directions. What does this mean?
This is my second 5 gallon kit and I have the same problem with too much space after the previous and the final rack. The wine tastes watered down, not much body. Putting two bottles of store bought wine in to "almost" top it off seems a little self defeating because of the cost.
Could I add a bag of grapes to increase the volume. What kind of grapes would I need for cabernet sauvignon?
 

sour_grapes

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I added two bottles of red wine and I am still a little short. I put a bung in it with a double chamber water lock. It has been a few days and out of curiosity I check the water lock almost every morning.
I don't know how to interpret what's happening, but the levels in the water lock vary in both directions. What does this mean?
This is my second 5 gallon kit and I have the same problem with too much space after the previous and the final rack. The wine tastes watered down, not much body. Putting two bottles of store bought wine in to "almost" top it off seems a little self defeating because of the cost.
Could I add a bag of grapes to increase the volume. What kind of grapes would I need for cabernet sauvignon?
You realize, if you put some cheap wine in there, you will eventually drink that wine, right? I don't see how there is any extra cost...

As for the varying levels in the airlock, I believe this is just due to varying atmospheric pressures as different weather systems move through your area.
 

winemaker81

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@Gerry Congleton, I agree with @sour_grapes, the differences you see in water level in the airlock is due to local barometric pressure changes. You can safely ignore it.

I also agree regarding the topup wine. You make 5 gallons of wine and buy 2 bottles. You are going to drink those 2 bottles regardless if they are on their own, or if they are mixed into the 5 gallons. It's the same total amount of wine and the same cost, either way.

More food for thought -- you're not spending money on 2 bottles of wine. You are spending a few extra dollars to protect your investment in the wine you're making. Compare the cost of those 2 bottles to the cost of the kit, plus your time and effort.

I used to be very strict regarding topup wine -- purity was my mantra. Then I thought about it -- my favorite wines are typically Bordeaux and Meritage, all of which are blends. In hindsight my opinion was silly. [OTOH, if I was a Burgundy lover, then purity of grape might be important!]

So I add some of another wine to the carboy? It will change the flavor, at least a bit. But if I like the outcome, it doesn't matter.

Regarding adding grapes, do not add any grapes you buy at the local store. Those are table grapes and they will provide a lower level of taste and body. If you're going to add anything, get a red grape concentrate. Which kind? Totally up to you -- any red grape will work, although the final taste will vary.

You're using a 6 gallon carboy -- buy a 5 gallon. As I said above, the topup problem goes away.
 

VinesnBines

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Definitely go down in size from a 6 gallon carboy. You need a 5, 3, and some 1 gallon. Store wine is a cheap investment and like winemaker81, sometimes I blend in a different variety to top up. For a cab sauv think about adding some merlot or cab franc. Your weak and watered down taste is probably from topping up with water or the kit is on the weak side. If you haven't topped with water, then think about a different kit or a reduction on the water you add. I take cheap 23L kits and tweak them by adding sugar and reducing the water. I have to keep an eye on SG but if I don't get above 1.120, I've been successful.
I'm on the side of keeping topped up.
 

Gerry Congleton

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Thanks for for all that was said. And, even though I added those two bottles to the bigboy, I will now have to replace them, but I'll drink those also. Still an okay deal! The learning curve for me on winemaking is pretty steep. Kind like playing golf, way too many variables!!
Thanks again for your help!
PS - Is there written information about additives, or chemicals added to wine?
 

Gerry Congleton

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This is Friday, 01/22. I just attempted to measure the SG and it always feels like an attempt as it's impossible keep the hydrometer the center of the container with the wine. It looked like it was between 0.998 and 0.996 SG. I then tasted the wine and it was like colored water with just a small amount of flavor. Very weak!! I'm thinking, "Oh Shit"! What do I do now? Temperature has been between 69 - 70 degrees. It looks very clear, not cloudy.
 

VinesnBines

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Your wine won’t have much flavor at the end of primary. It will be tart and not flavorful. Give it time.

When taking SG, it is best to have a cylinder to float the hydrometer. They call it a hydrometer jar on the mail order sites. If you sanitize the jar you can pour the wine back into the carboy.
 

Gerry Congleton

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Your wine won’t have much flavor at the end of primary. It will be tart and not flavorful. Give it time.

When taking SG, it is best to have a cylinder to float the hydrometer. They call it a hydrometer jar on the mail order sites. If you sanitize the jar you can pour the wine back into the carboy.
Being a newbie one can get pretty excited about nothing. Ignorance is not bliss. My first batch was pretty much the same. I waited about 7 months to open a bottle. It was acceptable, but not really good. I did use a plastic cylinder to measure the SG. It’s a problem with the hydrometer sticking to the sides. Were the numbers I came up with acceptable?
Thanks for your help with this.
 

VinesnBines

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Your numbers look fine. Hydrometers can be hard to read. You appear to be dry so the difference isn’t important.
As far as your first attempt, it is hard to make any suggestions without more information. I’d say just leave it longer. It may improve or you may lean some tricks to make it better before serving.
 

winemaker81

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I use a FermTech wine thief -- it's large enough to float a hydrometer, and it greatly reduces air contact. I hang it gently between two fingers so it hangs straight down. When (not if) the hydrometer sticks so the side, I gently flick it with a finger to dislodge it, and may give the thief a sharp twist.

Disclaimer: Yes, I mention this frequently. However, I do not own stock in FermTech -- this tool makes reading SG much quicker and easier, it's top of my list for optional equipment. ;)
 

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