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Some beginner questions

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weltercat

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I have been reading the following web site (http://www.geocities.com/lumeisenman/appen_a.html) that Luc referenced in a thread and it has been a very good resource but it has also raised a few questions for me that are quite possibly dumb questions. I suppose that’s the beauty of a semi-anonymous BB that I can ask dumb questions on.

I am brewing dandelion wine. I let it ferment with all the flowers, orange and lemon pulp for three weeks. I re-racked it into a carboy and it has been sitting for another two weeks and there is about ½ inch of sediment or lees on the bottom and the wine has cleared up considerably in the last few days. It is a nice yellow color and fairly clear.

1. Why would I re-rack the wine before bottling? I have read that people re-rack several times before bottling but wouldn’t that just expose the wine unnecessarily to the air? Would it be better to carefully bottle it after the second fermenting stage and not stir the sediment? Are there any clever racking techniques that would minimize oxygen exposure? Does it really matter?

2. Will the wine age better in the carboy or the bottle?

3. I am reading that a lot of people use kits. Should I practice my wine making skills using kits first? It seems like a waste for me since I have access to so many fruit trees such as plums, pears, cherries and apples. I also have access to wild currents, black berries, huckleberries and choke cherries. I am also a bee keeper so I have lots of honey and I plan to make mead this fall.

4. Do I have to use stabilizers or fining agents? Can I just give the wine plenty of time in the carboy under an airlock?

5. How do I know if I should de-gas? Again, if I give the wine enough time aging under the airlock in the carboy will gas still be a problem.

I want the wine to be good but I also understand that wine making is an iterative process and this is only my first try.
 
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Luc

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1. Why would I re-rack the wine before bottling?
2. Will the wine age better in the carboy or the bottle?
3. I am reading that a lot of people use kits. Should I practice my wine making skills using kits first?
4. Do I have to use stabilizers or fining agents? Can I just give the wine plenty of time in the carboy under an airlock?
5. How do I know if I should de-gas?

I want the wine to be good but I also understand that wine making is an iterative process and this is only my first try.
Ok here we go,

1. You should re-rack if less appear at the bottom of the carboy.
Thjat way no off-odors and off-tastes can occur by rotting dead yeast or other
organics, If no lees appear no racking is needed.

2. A carboy is bigger so temperature fluctuations have less impact on a
big volume as on a small volume.
But if something goes wrong with the batch, the whole batch will turn bad.
So there is something to say for both methods.
Some say that aging in a bottle goes quicker as in a carboy.
Personally I transfer the wines to the bottles and leave them aging in there.
My wines never grow older as 3 or 4 years :p

3. I never made kits.
But when starting be prepared that things can go wrong.
If you make a kit you follow the rules of the kit maker. That way you are pretty safe.
If you are adventurous make wine from scratch and you are on your own (except for this forum off-course). Be prepared to have some failures or mediocre wines in the beginning or stick with kits. But also be aware that you can blame nobody but yourself even when making outstanding wines.

4. Fining is not always needed. Mostly time will fine the wine.
But sometimes the wine will not clear depending on several variables like what ingredients are used. Look at Lum's book for the appropriate fining agents.

5. Take a small sample of the wine and put it in a small bottle.
Put your thumb on it and shake vigorously.
When releasing the thumb you hear gas you need to degas.
Multiple rackings and time will also degas. :D

Luc
 
A

artieandgumbo

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I think a kit is a good first try to get you used to what chemicals to use and a very supervised - assuming you follow the directions exactly - first experience. After that you're a little more used to the process to try it from scratch. This is just my opinion.
 

weltercat

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I am starting to think I'll like the wine making hobby. Procrastination is usually a good thing.
 

cpfan

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Weltercat:

These are good questions. Unfortunately some have multiple answers. Luc gave you some very good answers.

1) IMHO, many people worry too much about there wine becoming oxidized. Yeast & sugar generate alcohol, CO2 and SO2. SO2 is an anti-oxidant and will help protect your wine from teh oxygen. Many books/people recommend small potassium metabisuphite (aka K-meta) additions to ensure that the SO2 levels remain good.

2) A source I respect says there is no diff between carboy & bottle aging. To truly get the benefits of bulk aging you need commercial size storage vessels.

3) Kits or fruit? Some people make kits to prepare for fruit wines. Some make small batches of fruit wines to prepare for kits. Some make one only, some make t'other, some make both. I basically only make kits.

4a) Stabilizers is a mis-understood word in wine making. For example, I regularly use it incorrectly. In the kit world stabilizing is the addition of K-meta & potassium sorbate as provided with the kit. K-meta is an anti-oxidant. Sorbate is birth control for yeast, ie it stops it from reproducing. Neither 'kill the yeast' as many think. If you aren't going to sweeten the wine, and it has fermented dry, and some other conditions, you don't need the sorbate. Many also leave out the K-meta, which shortens your shelf life. In the fruit wine worls, many ignore both.

4b) Clearing agents are to quicken the settling of sediment. How soon do you wish to bottle/drink the wine. If you have enough patience, fining agents are unnecessary.

5) De-gassing. This is a BIG topic in wine making circles. Involving drill mounted stirrers (can oxidize your wine), long plastic paddles, simple vacuum pumps, complicated vacuum pumps (brake bleeders).

Good luck with your efforts, Steve
 

fatbloke

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If you're gonna have a crack at making mead weltercat, then
this book has some good information.

I don't use it as much as I should, because being in the UK means that I can't obtain a lot of the chemicals/ingredients etc etc that the author suggests. Whereas you being in the Seattle area, should be able (I'd have thought) to get most, if not all of the stuff he suggests.

Oh and don't wait until Fall/Autumn to make your mead. If you've got the hardware, then go for it. It's only gonna take a month or two, to get it to the stage where you've got to age it, and it can take a long time for that (year +), because it can taste a little like "Listerine" (according to both the book and judging what my current efforts have tasted like) when it's finished fermenting.

regards

John the fatbloke
 
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