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Runsharon

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I am (obviously) new to all of this - if my questions have been asked a hundred times before, I apologize.

1) Does a gallon batch ferment faster than large batches?
2) Is it unusual to see no bubbling in the airlock after the first racking?

I decided to start small and easy by using juice and only making a one gallon batch for my attempts at making wine. It seems to be done fermenting in the bucket after a few days and the specific gravity (usually in the neighborhood of 1.07) goes to .999 when the airlock stops bubbling.

3) Should I leave it in the primary fermenting bucket longer even though the hydrometer reading says its done?

To quote Tom Petty, "The wait is the hardest part"

Thanks in advance for tips and help.
 

sour_grapes

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Welcome to WMT!

I'll hazard an answer:

1) Not really, except for the fact that you are probably giving a larger percentage dose of yeast to a gallon rather than 5 or 6. That is, if you use one packet of yeast for 1 gallon, you are starting with 6 times as much yeast per unit volume than someone who used the same packet for 6 gallons.

However, because of the eventual exponential growth of the yeast, it doesn't make a big difference.

2) I am having a hard time figuring what steps you have taken. Most of us conduct the fermentation starting in an open bucket (no airlock). Once the SG is below, say, 1.005 or 1.010, we rack (for the first time) to a glass carboy, and put it under airlock. At this point, you generally see some bubbling in the airlock still, because there is still a little fermentation and the juice is still loaded with CO2.

3) No, as in my #2 answer, if your SG is below 1.000, I would transfer it to glass and put it under airlock. Oxygen is now the enemy.

BTW, what are you making?
 

BernardSmith

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Hi Runsharon and welcome. Sour_Grapes says it all but let me unpack what he said just a little. During active fermentation the yeast want and need some oxygen and they will grab what they can and they grab the O2 so quickly that there is no problem with the air oxidizing the fruit (which can cause unwanted color transformations and unwanted flavors). This is why seasoned wine makers tend to ferment in buckets often loosely covered with a cloth to keep out dirt and pets and flies.
When the gravity of the wine drops to about 1.010 - 1.005 these seasoned wine makers transfer (rack) their wines from the bucket into a carboy that they fill to the neck so that the surface area that is in contact with the air is small. They then seal the carboy with a bung and airlock to prevent any air entering but still allow CO2 to escape. Note that these wine makers rack their wines while active fermentation is continuing because this allows for the neck to be filled with CO2 and not O2 BUT when they rack they rack the wine off much of the yeast that will have tended to drop out of suspension and become part of the lees on the bottom. BUT if you began with a carboy and an airlock AND the wine is very close to the neck then there is in fact less urgency (most of the time) to rack your wine simply because active fermentation has ended: you could simply top up the carboy. After a couple of months you WILL want to rack your wine because that sediment is full of dead yeast and the live yeast will cannibalize the cells for minerals and nutrients for needed for their reproduction but that cannibalization at that stage can lead to off flavors with some yeasts. That said, sur lie (allowing wine to age on lees) is a well recognized technique but a) the lees referred to with sur lie are not gross lees but fine lees dropped after second or subsequent rackings and b) some yeasts are contra-indicated for sur lie.
 

Runsharon

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Thank you both for the advice. Yes I used an entire pack of yeast so I can cut that back the next time.

I made a yeast starter, and as it was sitting, I dissolved sugar in my bucket with a little warm water. Added acid blend, nutrient, and peptic enzyme and stirred. Then I added mango, white grape and peach juice (100% juice). Took a reading, it was over 1.07 (I have trouble seeing the lines on the hydrometer so I can't be more specific than that. (Heck I can't read a ruler, "It's 3inches and two little lines past the half mark" - don't ask me to measure and cut anything). I then added my yeast starter and covered with the lid and airlock (note to self, lose the lid and airlock and use cloth) . Set bucket in dark closet, stirred every day. After about 5 days ,(3 with no bubbles) I moved it to a gallon glass jug with airlock, liquid is sitting about the bottom of the neck. Covered it with a pillowcase and here it sits. Very little sediment on the bottom and it clears up a little as time passes. Should I put a cap on it or leave the airlock in place?
 

sour_grapes

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Sounds like you did everything just fine!

I would use an airlock. It is more than likely still loaded with CO2, and will need to degas over time.

How long are you planning to wait before drinking? If you are going to age this for any appreciable time, you may want to acquire potassium metabisulfite (AKA "k-meta"). This can be gotten in powder form in in the form of "Campden tablets." This protects from oxidation and microbial spoilage.
 

BernardSmith

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I may be a contrarian here but in my book adding acid blend or indeed any acidity before the fermentation has ceased is a lot like adding salt to a dish before tasting. If you prefer a more salty taste to a dish - sure, go ahead and add more salt but you need to taste the dish before you add any salt. It's the same with acidity and wine. The issue is not the pH (pH will be more or less dependent on the acids involved - lactic, malic, citric) but adding more acid as if the acid was salt is going to change the TA (the volume of acid, not the pH which measures the strength of the acids) but without tasting (or measuring) you have no good idea of the TA. And indeed, the optimal TA for this batch is really dependent on the sweetness, the overall flavor, the level of tannins among other things. In short, it is -I would argue - best to add acidity after you have tasted the wine and you are just about ready to bottle it.
 

Runsharon

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I have Campden tablets, and if memory serves me, I did dissolve one and add it when I racked it.

@BernardSmith I followed a recipe, which told me to add it but next time, I'll do it as you suggested.

Thanks to to both of you.
 
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BernardSmith

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Many recipes that are self published are precisely that. We expect (at least those who accept the scientific method do) that anything published is subject to rigorous testing and peer review prior to publication but these days anyone with a computer and a few minutes of time can publish anything as if what they write is anything other than untested blather. That said, anyone who goes through a publisher to write a cook book may spend a year or more just testing recipes.
 

Scooter68

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The basics of what you did are fine. Some refinements, time savers, work savers etc can almost always be found. Couple of fine points for future reference/ consideration in addition to the excellent comments already given.
1) When selecting a fruit juice for wine making beware. 100% fruit juice does not mean that the juice name on the label is the only juice in the container. That translates to some flavors seeming to change becoming more or less prominent in the final wine you end up with. Many 100% Juice containers have a lot of apple and grape juice added as they are less expensive than say Mango, Blueberry, Blackberry or many other fruits. Not a deal breaker but it can affect the depth of flavor in the end. My personal prejudice is that I only use juices that are 100% of the name on the label. THEN I can modify it if I chose.
2) Plan on needing to add a little sweetness to most fruit wines to bring back the flavor. Many fruits need just a touch of sweetness to be really enjoyed.
3) Back to your first question about batch size - 1 gallon batches are a great place to start - that's where I started as I was just not sure how committed I would be to this hobby. (By the way WELCOME to WMT and Wine Making as a hobby) Smaller batches can allow to you experiment with fruits and flavor without a big risk/investment BUT the other side of that is that with 1 gallon, you are only going to end up with 5 standard bottles of wine, making keeping a bottle out for long term aging hard to do if you end up enjoying it a lot. I've gone to the middle ground of 3 gallon batches making the lifting of the carboys easier on my back and the investment still within my self imposed skinflint budget limits.
4) Safe thing to do when starting out - for a 1 gallon batch, start with at least 1 1/4 gallon or more in that bucket. Sediment and lees will rob you of volume and you really don't want to water down that wine to top it off while it's aging.
Finally, the hardest part of this hobby is..... the waiting - Patience. Most new wine makers find this to be the hardest part unless they have a friend around who has been wine making OR they jump in and keep making batch after batch until they are so busy with the new batches that the aging of batches isn't so hard.
So good luck to you and welcome to the hobby.

By the way this is the perfect time to get into the hobby if you want to make what are called "Country Fruit Wines" which are wines made from other than grapes. Many roadside stands offer deals on bruised or overripe fruit which are not pretty but in reality contain more sugar than fruit just getting ripe. Just ask those places for a deal and sometimes you get to save a bit. Just cut off any moldy parts and you are good to go. Peach by the way makes an excellent fruit wine and it's only hang up is that it can be slow to clear. Generally it takes about 8-10 pounds of processed fruit (no seeds/stones) for a gallon of wine.
 

G259

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"I have Campden tablets, and if memory serves me, I did dissolve one and add it when I racked it. "

Memory being memory won't always 'serve' you. Always keep notes, always! This is the best single piece of advice that I have ever gotten.
 
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Runsharon

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Thanks again for the advice and tips. I agree, the wait is difficult, and yep a journal is needed! Also, going a bit bigger sounds like a good plan, like it was said, I didn't want to invest more until I see how involved I get. Excellent point on the combination of juices in "store bought" juice.

I learn better by doing than by reading so it's been very helpful to get help while I'm in progress. Sometimes all the reading by itself doesn't stick with me. The ongoing help is very appreciated!
 

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