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nerdjuice32

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Hi all. Glad my mom pointed me here. Most brewing resources I have found on the internet focusses on beer.

I finally have the equipment and means to start my first batch of wine. I desperately do not want to use a kit - I feel I can't be proud of whatever I create if I feel like I'm just tracing using a stencil.

My mother actually just got a kit of her own and started her first batch as well, so I can at least glean a bit of practical knowledge that way. I've also watched many videos and read several guides, but I am still a little hazy in a few areas.

I'm probably wanting to be more ambitious that I should be for my first batch, but I'm fine with that. My thought was to get a few gallons of some kind of white grape juice and perhaps add some fresh blueberries, strawberries, maybe blackberries, etc with the end goal being maybe an interesting moscato. However, I've just learned from this forum that apparently blueberries contain benzoate, a yeast inhibitor. Does this effectively prevent blueberries from being used in home brewing?

Also, I've been told to try and get an organic grape juice, but are there any other tips? I have a 6 gallon carboy to satiate.

Can I just add random fruit like that? I know nearly any fruit will ferment, but is there anything I need to look out for?

I also just read on another post someone accidentally added much more yeast that was required and fermentation stopped, though people suggested it was probably simply finished fermenting. Why, then, don't brewers normally add a lot of yeast so that it ferments quickly?

And how do I deduce if I should be adding sugar to my batch and how much to add if I'm not using a kit? The sugar will be eaten by the yeast, creating higher alcohol %, right? Do you control the sweetness of the final product by adding sugar after fermentation is done when you don't have an F-Pack from a kit?
 

nerdjuice32

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One more: If my yeast dies for whatever reason before fermentation is done (the tight temperature restrictions makes me nervous), can I just add more yeast to start it again?
 

NorCal

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Good advice by nerd. Dragons Blood is in the same lane as what you are looking to do, without panting by numbers with a kit.
 

BernardSmith

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Hi nerdjuice32 - and welcome.
You ask an interesting question - why don't wine makers (we don't "brew" wines - beer makers brew - they need to heat their grains for the enzymes to break the carbohydrates down into sugars that the yeast can ferment. Wine makers ferment fruits and honey and they contain simpler sugars , sugars that yeast can eat without any help from the wine maker. Our task is to help shape the way the yeast produce alcohol and other by-products in ways we prefer . This is also why when you type in "brew" or "brewing" beer making comes up.) But back to the question: why don't wine makers pitch (add) large quantities of yeast rather than a few grams... I am no expert but I think that it is pretty much the same reason why a farmer might not cram too many cows into a small byre or might not try to plant her corn much closer together to get a larger crop. If you have a limited amount of food for the yeast and you dump too many yeast cells then you will stress the yeast as they cannot get enough food to survive and when you stress the yeast they produce all kinds of chemicals that result in flavors that you will find unpleasant and less than desirable.. In other words, you can over-pitch yeast just as you can under-pitch (too few yeast cells to effectively ferment the must (juice) in a reasonable time to prevent the must from being spoiled by other organisms.
Regarding your question about dying yeast. A temperature high enough to kill the yeast will kill the yeast - in other words, adding more yeast to too hot a liquid will kill a second or a tenth batch... but as I said at the beginning we don't brew anything... so you are not dumping yeast into warm liquid, never mind hot or boiling liquid. Room temperature is where we play (around 60 - 65 F or thereabouts) and the cooler the better. But different strains of yeast prefer different ranges of temperature. The preferred temperatures are marked on the packages.
Last point. Most fruit will have about 1.25 lbs of sugar in every gallon of pressed juice. A pound of sugar will give you a specific gravity reading of 1.040 and 1.040 when fully fermented will give you what is called an alcohol by volume (ABV) wine of 5.25 % (approx). If you measure the specific gravity of the juice with an hydrometer you should find something close to 1.040. (wine grapes are a major exception as they have been cultivated to produce far , far more sugar). So, if you add 1 lb of sugar for every gallon of juice then you will raise the gravity (density) by another 40 points (1.040 is forty points). Most wines you will want to make will be around 1.090 before you pitch the yeast. - so you will want to add about 1 lb of sugar to every gallon (assuming that the original reading of your hydrometer was 1.050 (1.25 lbs)
Good luck - and have fun.
 

nerdjuice32

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Thank you guys for the answers. I figured something had to be wrong when googling 'wine brewing' yielded so few results. :p Thanks for that tip.

I think all my questions were answered except blueberries, but I see that blueberries is an ingredient in Dragon's Blood, so.. I suppose it actually is answered. lol. Dragon's Blood does look right up my alley. I'll probably change it up a little, but I'll definitely try using that as my guide. Thanks for the recommendation!

If I remember, I'll give an update as to how it turns out and what the exact recipe I use is. Cheers.
 

Stressbaby

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Nerdjuice,
My experience has been that lots of blueberries can result in tough fermentation conditions and those wines are more likely to get stuck. You have to be up in the 6#/gal range, and even then, careful attention to fermentation conditions will usually ward off trouble. In the amounts used in Dragon Blood, you will have no problem at all.
 

hounddawg

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welcome to WMT.
you can look up EC KRAUS great recipes and info, a very good link or web site to get good concentrates you might check out is ,, homewinery.com ,, i have never made a kit nor a grape wine, i'm into country wines from fruits and berries an in my opinion homewinery.com has the best full bodied concentrates, that i have found. and WMT is the best fourm for learning i have found as well, most of these people understand at a level that floors me. thewine process, chemical uses and so on an so fourth, if you listen to the you'll not go wrong . as yet i have not done askeeter pee nor dragon blood but i plan on changing that on both parts this year. i am fixing to bottle some blackberry, elderberry, pear/apple blend and a blackberry mead, soon as they are bottles i already have my fixings for a sour cherry, a peach, and a skeeter pee, and next month i'll get the rest of my fixings to start a dragonsblood and a plum.
best of luck to you
Dawg


QUOTE=nerdjuice32;634164]Hi all. Glad my mom pointed me here. Most brewing resources I have found on the internet focusses on beer.

I finally have the equipment and means to start my first batch of wine. I desperately do not want to use a kit - I feel I can't be proud of whatever I create if I feel like I'm just tracing using a stencil.

My mother actually just got a kit of her own and started her first batch as well, so I can at least glean a bit of practical knowledge that way. I've also watched many videos and read several guides, but I am still a little hazy in a few areas.

I'm probably wanting to be more ambitious that I should be for my first batch, but I'm fine with that. My thought was to get a few gallons of some kind of white grape juice and perhaps add some fresh blueberries, strawberries, maybe blackberries, etc with the end goal being maybe an interesting moscato. However, I've just learned from this forum that apparently blueberries contain benzoate, a yeast inhibitor. Does this effectively prevent blueberries from being used in home brewing?

Also, I've been told to try and get an organic grape juice, but are there any other tips? I have a 6 gallon carboy to satiate.

Can I just add random fruit like that? I know nearly any fruit will ferment, but is there anything I need to look out for?

I also just read on another post someone accidentally added much more yeast that was required and fermentation stopped, though people suggested it was probably simply finished fermenting. Why, then, don't brewers normally add a lot of yeast so that it ferments quickly?

And how do I deduce if I should be adding sugar to my batch and how much to add if I'm not using a kit? The sugar will be eaten by the yeast, creating higher alcohol %, right? Do you control the sweetness of the final product by adding sugar after fermentation is done when you don't have an F-Pack from a kit?[/QUOTE]
 

nerdjuice32

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Nice. Thanks for the info guys. I'll definitely try and take care if I use blueberries.

I'll try and check out those sites as well! My brother in law said plum wine was his favorite - I've never even had plum before. Kinda want to research that avenue as well. Sounds interesting.
 

Scooter68

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You can take the route of buying a good wine base concentrate like Vintners Harvest. their large cans (96oz) will make 3 gallons of a solid bodied wine. Blackberry would be a good one to start with. Blackberries have plenty of flavor but not too much acid plus the wine bases are more balanced.

If you like white wines you could go with a Peach Wine Base from the same source. The money invested is a bit higher than you will spend when those fruits are in season but the start point is safe and YOU still control the rest of the process.

I agree, kit wines are like a paint-by-number paint kit. Safe but then sometimes a little risk makes it more fun.

By the way hate to sound ugly but stay away from "Vintner's Best" unless you like a blended wine. Their wine bases use primarily Apple, Pear, and Grape with the "Named" fruit in a lower quantity. E.G. Their Blueberry wine base Ingredient List : High Fructose Corn Syrup; Apple, Pear, Blueberry & Grape Juice Concentrates; Water; Citric Acid; Natural Flavors.
 
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