Timing of skins removal

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Sourgrape

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Kit: Cellar Craft Showcase Amarone 6 week kit with grape skins
Actual OG: 1.093
Target OG: 1.080 – 1.100
Target gravity at end of primary: 1.000 or lower
Current fermentation temperature: 69 F (48 hours after pitching)

Hi everyone. After two years of brewing beer, I started my first ever wine kit. The instructions say to leave the lid loose, and stir every day during primary fermentation, which lasts 10-12 days, which I am doing. I’ve weighted the grape skins down by placing a small sanitized drinking glass in the mesh bag, which keeps them sitting at the bottom.

My question is this:

Should I stop stirring and remove the grape skins two days before transferring to the secondary?

My concern is, removing the skins bag just before transfer – like the instructions indicate - will disturb much of the lees and debris, which will not have time to settle back down to the bottom. The instructions assume that the skins will be floating on top. Mine are weighted at the bottom, which guarantees disturbing the sediment during removal.

So, unless I’m advised otherwise, my plan thus far is this:

1) Check gravity on Day 10. If it has dropped to or below my target of 1.000, then…

2) Remove the grape skin bag, squeeze out the excess juice, and give the must one last good stir.

3) Leave it sit for an additional 48 hours, completely undisturbed.

4) Transfer to secondary on Day 12, being careful to leave as much debris behind as possible.



If I’m doing something wrong here, please save me from myself!

Thanks in advance for any replies.
 

salcoco

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looks like a good plan. I would suggest racking again in three days which are not in the instruction. but this will allow any other debris that is transferred from the primary to settle. these other "gross" lees can caused odor problems latter. once racked follow the instructions.
 

Boatboy24

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If you can get 10 days on the skins without being dry, that'd be a good plan. Otherwise, I'd want to be on the skins as long as possible. I've never removed skins more than a few minutes prior to that first racking.
 

AZMDTed

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There's nothing wrong with getting some of the sediment transferred into the carboy at secondary, in fact it's unavoidable. Some of those things may still be good yeasties who are just napping after gorging so much, so don't worry about it. When you transfer from secondary is when you want to be more careful.

If this were a wine from grapes then it would be different, but we don't have stems and leaves and such in kit wines that can leave the wrong kind of tannins if left for too long.
 

Sourgrape

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looks like a good plan. I would suggest racking again in three days which are not in the instruction. but this will allow any other debris that is transferred from the primary to settle. these other "gross" lees can caused odor problems latter. once racked follow the instructions.
Thanks for the reply. Coming over from the beer making side, I have an aversion to racking more often than necessary. But I realize that I'll need to check most of my assumptions at the door, since wine making is a totally different craft.
 

Sourgrape

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I agree that maximum time on the skins is desirable. I wonder if just doing a longer primary then would be worth it. Say 14 days, with skin removal after 12 instead of ten? Coming over from the beer making side of things, I am not at all averse to a longer primary if that is a good idea. But I don't know if maybe there are reasons why the transfer should be done by day 12.
 

Sourgrape

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So if I understand correctly, the main purpose of that first transfer is not to get it off the lees, but simply to get it into a carboy with less head space to limit oxidation?
 

AZMDTed

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It's primarily to get your wine away from oxygen, not so much headspace. Once the yeast slow down their CO2 production there is less of a dense CO2 cap sitting over your fermenting wine. That's why kits go to secondary before they're done cooking, so that what headspace there is can be filled up with CO2 instead of oxygen. That's also why you put the airlock on in secondary.

As far as lees you don't want to keep moving all the dead yeast from stage to stage, but it's not the main purpose of going from primary to secondary and shouldn't be a huge concern.
 

DoctorCAD

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Tim Vandergrift, who practically invented kit wines, is currently doing an experiment where he is making a kit with grape pack exactly as the instructions state and right next to it he is leaving the skins in for 6 weeks.

Too bad we won't know the outcome for a year! The perils of winemaking.
 

Voltron

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Tim has posted an update video on his experiment today..very interesting i thought
 

Norton

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Any idea as to his process of leaving it on the skins that long? I'm curious as to,whether he left it in the initial bucket somehow or if he had skins in a carboy.
 

Boatboy24

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Interesting analysis. Now, how to do extended maceration on a kit with skins.
 

Norton

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I am guessing from the way that the carboy is stored in the video that he did not punch down the skins for either one during the process.
 
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Boatboy24

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Really interesting stuff @Brian55 . Wondering if he was punching down/stirring those skins during the whole 9 weeks or if he got to a point where he just let them sit.

This is in the style of the Intrinsic Cabernet, which (IIRC) is on the skins for 9 months.
 

Johnd

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I'm sure if someone knew how to get in touch with Tim he'd be happy to share the intimate details of the process. Thinking out loud, transferring the must and skins to a big mouth type fermenter, under airlock, with sulfite added after completion of AF, would be my best guess, stirring along the way maybe a couple of times per week. They were amarone style kits, so a bit higher in alcohol content, making it a less hospitable environment for nasties. The video was a pretty good watch.
 

AZMDTed

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He fleetingly mentioned the addition of raisins in addition to the skins, I wonder how significant that was versus just the grape skin pack. Joe's Wines tips for Amarone has you add raisins too, but not for that long. I'm also wondering how he fermented all of that in a Big Mouth Bubbler. Maybe he shortchanged the water addition to get the raisins and skin pack to into a 6.5 g BMB for primary without the foam overflowing. Am I missing something?

I will keep following his experiment, but I do wonder if maybe just keeping the raisins in contact for 9 weeks is enough to pull this off, and that's doable with a regular carboy. I noticed that for my Amarone my raisins had plumped up after primary but didn't burst and probably had a lot more to give if I had let them rupture or split which they may have done if I had let it sit another month or two.

Interesting, always good to see new experimentation.

Edited comments after watching it again
 
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Brian55

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I'm sure if someone knew how to get in touch with Tim he'd be happy to share the intimate details of the process. Thinking out loud, transferring the must and skins to a big mouth type fermenter, under airlock, with sulfite added after completion of AF, would be my best guess, stirring along the way maybe a couple of times per week. They were amarone style kits, so a bit higher in alcohol content, making it a less hospitable environment for nasties. The video was a pretty good watch.
tim@timvandergrift.com
 
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