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Starting my first Dragon Blood, questions will go here...

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Zintrigue

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I'm just finishing up my first kit merlot, and now it's time for Dragon Blood. I'm doing one gallon, and I'm sure I'll have a ton of questions along the way. So I thought I'd condense all of my "duhs" here in one thread.

First one: the instructions say to add the fruit, sugar, water, lemon juice, tannin, yeast nutrient, yeast energizer, and pectic enzyme to the primary fermenter. Check.

But.... why do we add the actual yeast a day later? Why add all that yeast nutrient and energizer without the actual yeast? <---- (the actual question in my long-winded post)

As stated before, I'm the one dolt who wants to know the exact reason for everything I'm being told to do. I like to think it gives me a better grip on the process. (but let's be honest, I'm probably just irritating)

Thanks for holding my hand. :r

-Zintrigue
 

BernardSmith

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There may be other reasons but I can think of two very good ones.
1. Alcohol denatures pectic enzyme. So, if you want to add any enzymes to help break down the pectins you want to make sure that you have given the enzymes enough time to work before you set the yeast to work on the sugars.
2. You don't list the application of K-meta (AKA Campden tablets). This is often added to kill any volunteer wild yeast or bacteria that might compete with the yeast you will pitch. The K-meta produces sulfur dioxide (SO2) and that gas needs (they say) about 24 hours to dissipate into the air in the room (you don't then want to bang home a bung and airlock immediately after applying K-meta). While my understanding is that a colony of lab-cultured yeast is likely to be able to resist the effects of the SO2 that gas will certainly maim and damage a significant number of the cells. Bottom line: you wait a day after mixing K-meta before pitching your yeast.
 

Zintrigue

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That was quite helpful. I had no idea about any of that, and now I can apply that knowledge to future batches.

Thank you very much.

-Zintrigue
 

Rodnboro

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FYI, It's about the same cost to do 3 gallons of Dragon Blood as one gallon.
 

AkTom

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And then you'll wish you'd done a 5 gallon batch. I've read double the fruit and hold on the tannin. I think is how it goes. Good stuff.
 

drainsurgeon

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You'll learn as you go as I'm sure you already realize. My first batch of DB (6 gal) I followed Dave's recipe to the T. I turned out surprisingly good but bottling early like that produced the first wine I've made that ended up with sediment months later. The second batch was much better. I doubled the fruit, added oak and raisins while aging for 3 months before bottling. That batch is about 7 months old now and every bottle I open, it just keeps getting better.

I see a Skeeter Pee in your future....::
 

Zintrigue

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You'll learn as you go as I'm sure you already realize. My first batch of DB (6 gal) I followed Dave's recipe to the T. I turned out surprisingly good but bottling early like that produced the first wine I've made that ended up with sediment months later. The second batch was much better. I doubled the fruit, added oak and raisins while aging for 3 months before bottling. That batch is about 7 months old now and every bottle I open, it just keeps getting better.

I see a Skeeter Pee in your future....::
Wow, doubled the fruit. Can't have too much of a good thing, right?

I just added the yeast and it's a circus in there. I'm more excited about the process than the finished product, to be honest. I'm in no hurry to finish, but I can't wait to play with the wine. I like your raisin idea, makes me want to try different things, too.

I planned on another red after this trying some of the "cheap kit" methods, but my interest is piqued at the skeeter pee...
 

Zintrigue

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Okay, another question here.

I'm on day two after adding the yeast (pitching the yeast?), and my specific gravity has gone down from 1.09 to 1.03. Temp is 76º, and the instructions on the yeast packet said to use for 1-6 gallons.

This seems like a quick drop to me, at that rate I'll be below 1.00 by tomorrow. Is this quick drop in SG in any way indicative that I've spoiled the wine already? I know I probably added too much sugar (starting SG...), so I hope this hasn't doomed me from the get go.

Fun note: every time I walk by and peek through the towel into my fermentation glass, the clumps of yeast are having a party in there. Up they go, down they go, big swampy bubbles popping out of the cap; it's like a yeast frat party in there. This is fun!

-Zintrigue
 

Ajmassa

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What recipe did you use? I've noticed a gajillion different variations. With and without lemon juice at diff amounts. Just curious.
Btw the primary is my fav part too. Never did in glass tho and yet to see the yeast at work up and down the must.
 

wineforfun

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Okay, another question here.

I'm on day two after adding the yeast (pitching the yeast?), and my specific gravity has gone down from 1.09 to 1.03. Temp is 76º, and the instructions on the yeast packet said to use for 1-6 gallons.

This seems like a quick drop to me, at that rate I'll be below 1.00 by tomorrow. Is this quick drop in SG in any way indicative that I've spoiled the wine already? I know I probably added too much sugar (starting SG...), so I hope this hasn't doomed me from the get go.

Fun note: every time I walk by and peek through the towel into my fermentation glass, the clumps of yeast are having a party in there. Up they go, down they go, big swampy bubbles popping out of the cap; it's like a yeast frat party in there. This is fun!

-Zintrigue
You are fine. I use the whole packet of yeast whether making a one gallon or six gallon batch.
SG 1.090 is fine also. When making DB I always start mine anywhere from 1.090 - 1.100.
I have had some DB ferments finish in 4-5 days and others take 9-10 days.

Sounds like everything is going fine.
 

Scooter68

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Like Wineforfu stated - some ferments go scary fast others you wonder if they will ever finish. My first were lightning fast and I too wondered if something was wrong.
 

Zintrigue

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What recipe did you use? I've noticed a gajillion different variations. With and without lemon juice at diff amounts. Just curious.
Btw the primary is my fav part too. Never did in glass tho and yet to see the yeast at work up and down the must.
Danger Dave's from here on the site.
 

Zintrigue

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You are fine. I use the whole packet of yeast whether making a one gallon or six gallon batch.
SG 1.090 is fine also. When making DB I always start mine anywhere from 1.090 - 1.100.
I have had some DB ferments finish in 4-5 days and others take 9-10 days.

Sounds like everything is going fine.
Like Wineforfu stated - some ferments go scary fast others you wonder if they will ever finish. My first were lightning fast and I too wondered if something was wrong.
:db Great news, I can relax a bit. This is exciting. Thank you both!

-Zintrigue
 

Zintrigue

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Another question for you guys regarding Sparkolloid.

So I cut the amount into 1/6th, got out my little kitchen scale and everything. I got so caught up in measuring correctly that I forgot to boil the sparkolloid for 5 minutes. Instead I just brought the water to boiling and stirred in the powder before adding to the wine.

Now there's a brown dust settling on the bottom of my wine, not at all like the clumps from the chitosan I used for my kit wine. Is this normal for Sparkolloid or should I boil for five minutes properly and add again?

(Did you think it was possible for someone to ask so many questions?)

-Zintrigue
 

mwulf67

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Okay, another question here.

I'm on day two after adding the yeast (pitching the yeast?), and my specific gravity has gone down from 1.09 to 1.03. Temp is 76º, and the instructions on the yeast packet said to use for 1-6 gallons.

This seems like a quick drop to me, at that rate I'll be below 1.00 by tomorrow. Is this quick drop in SG in any way indicative that I've spoiled the wine already? I know I probably added too much sugar (starting SG...), so I hope this hasn't doomed me from the get go.

Fun note: every time I walk by and peek through the towel into my fermentation glass, the clumps of yeast are having a party in there. Up they go, down they go, big swampy bubbles popping out of the cap; it's like a yeast frat party in there. This is fun!

-Zintrigue
No, you’re are likely just fine….at 76º you should expect a somewhat quicker (but perfectly normal) fermentation …. just keep squeezing and stirring daily until you go under 1.000…
 

Bodenski

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Reading this I'm thinking I need to start another batch of DB. My first one was my second wine, and I've only got one beer-bottle left of it. I think I'm going to do maybe 1.5 times the fruit, and to let it sit longer to clear.

I've got several other wines going right now, and it seems that several of them could use some clearing. I have the sparkaloid as well, and I don't think I boiled it the full 5 minutes either the first time I used it. Luckily the wine "cleared," but I can see some stuff settled out at the bottom of my last bottle of DB. The most important ingredient in every recipe is "time." I used to use it sparingly, but now I'm adding it in in more liberal doses ;)
 

Zintrigue

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Reading this I'm thinking I need to start another batch of DB. My first one was my second wine, and I've only got one beer-bottle left of it. I think I'm going to do maybe 1.5 times the fruit, and to let it sit longer to clear.

I've got several other wines going right now, and it seems that several of them could use some clearing. I have the sparkaloid as well, and I don't think I boiled it the full 5 minutes either the first time I used it. Luckily the wine "cleared," but I can see some stuff settled out at the bottom of my last bottle of DB. The most important ingredient in every recipe is "time." I used to use it sparingly, but now I'm adding it in in more liberal doses ;)
Time is one ingredient I have plenty of. No problem here with letting things sit longer.

Off topic question for you if you don't mind.... Without a clearing agent, roughly how long does it take a wine to clear, and how can you tell? Do you just pour it and if it looks right then it is? Is there a certain time frame where all wine clears? Is there a paper towel test or something? This Dragon Blood is the second thing I've ever made; the kit told me when to do what the first time.

Thanks for the info (and sorry I ask so many questions)

-Zintrigue
 

jburtner

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I guess its done dropping sediment when you rack it off and after three months or more there is no further sediment. I had some clear and sparkly ones end up with floaters in the bottle. Still good!

Cheers,
Jb
 

Bodenski

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Off topic question for you if you don't mind.... Without a clearing agent, roughly how long does it take a wine to clear, and how can you tell? Do you just pour it and if it looks right then it is? Is there a certain time frame where all wine clears? Is there a paper towel test or something? This Dragon Blood is the second thing I've ever made; the kit told me when to do what the first time.
There are several variables involved. The most important one I've seen is "how well did you degas the wine?" A poorly degassed wine doesn't clear much at all! And it's easier degassing a wine at 74 degrees than one at 65 degrees.

As to tell how well it's cleared, I store my 1-gallon jugs that are bulk-aging in the basement. I keep the lights off and shine my iPhone flashlight from the back of each one to see what it looks like. The clearer that light looks to me the clearer the wine (probably) is. It doesn't work with a deep red wine, but with the country wines that has been my best indicator. I have't made anything in a bigger carboy except cider from apple juice, and that didn't need to clear as much. I still think a flashlight shining through a bigger carboy will work, but would probably take a stronger one than the one on your phone!
 
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