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Apr 8, 2016
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I am making a 3 gallon batch of Concord grape.

I picked 18lbs of grapes - and started everything in a primary - starting SG 1.090

I though my recipe called for removing the grapes after 24 hours - but wanted to let it sit longer.

I took the grape skins out last night (day 4) and shortly after realized the recipe in fact called for the skins to be removed day 5 or 6.

In reality I didn't plan on taking them out - but once I started pulling the bag...I was planning on having them suspend and drain....I noticed a contamination risk and decided to pull them out.

They also said that the grapes and skins should should be removed at an SG of 1.030

So I think I took the skins out too early -
And I'm wondering how we are supposed to take SG when the hydrometer hits the bottom of the primary when you are only making 3 gallons?

I understand you can use a tube etc etc - but what about worries of oxygenation and contamination?

And once you take SG you just pour the wine back in?? Again - contamination and oxygenation, right?

And I do sterilize using one step cleaner - but I hate the fact that one day my friends family and loved ones will be drinking that stuff - you can see the color change the moment it touch the wine.

Thank you for any info you can offer.
Where did you get the recipe? What do you mean you noticed a contamination risk when you were pulling the skins out? Taking the skins out on day 4 is fine, did you squeeze the juice from the skins? You need to buy a hydrometer testing jar and as long as you sanitize everything, the wine can go back in

I use "Winemakers Recipe Handbook" - it was suggested to me and was said to be very old, tried and true.

It copyright is from 1976, it has a purple cover with some old school looking drawings of different fruits on it.

I like it.

Thank you for the info.

Honesty when I was adding the yeast I removed a stem from the side wall with my hand and forgot to sanitize the area - and only remembered when I had everything opened up, so I jumped ship on my first plan and just pulled the grapes out.

I did squeeze the bag pretty well.

I'm kind of a "freak" worrying about contamination because the guy I first got info from said that it's the most important thing there is to making wine.

So I try to be super careful.
That is a good book, that is the one I started out with. Just remember the alcohol itself will give you a cover of protection. Removing a stem is fine you did not do any harm to your wine. Good luck
You worry too much...this is supposed to be an enjoyable hobby.

Clean and spray with k meta. It will be fine.

No worries about oxidation until the wine stops fermenting, or at least slows way down. The naturally produced CO2 will keep oxygen at bay.
If you examine the recipe in that book for concord, you'll see there are 2 or 3 different recipes. I think one of them is better than the others because it doesn't add water, and yields a more complex wine. You probably know not to add water to grapes.

Always ferment on the skins the whole way for red wines. It's the skin contact that gives color and more flavor.

To take an SG on low volumes of wine, use a baster to withdraw wine and put in a graduated cylinder tall enough to float the hydrometer. You can find this at any wine supplier.

Anything the wine touches, give it a rinse with meta first. Then you don't risk contamination. But in reality, because of acid and alcohol content, it's more difficult to get contaminates that could damage the wine at the point you're at. Cleanliness IS important in winemaking--but wine is also forgiving of slight lapses.
Thank you everyone.

I did not know the "never add water" rule.

The recipe in that book did call for water.
Recipes always want you to add water--not a good idea for most wines. Try making it next time with no water. You'll be amazed how good the wine is.
Thank you everyone.

I did not know the "never add water" rule.

The recipe in that book did call for water.

There is no such 'rule' that is just the opinion of some fruit wine makers. Some fruits are simply great even with water added - Elderberry for example. Wild Blackberries and Black Raspberries are other examples of fruit where adding water is not a problem. Wild berries tend to be smaller than their store-bought cousins and their flavor is stronger - because they have less water in the berry itself. The problem with adding water is over doing it. 5-7 lbs /gallon for Wild Blackberries or Black Raspberries works great. Using more, fine but don't be let folks tell you you messed up by adding any water. Bottom line is knowing the strength of the fruit you are using. Some fruit need to be made as an almost a zero water added wine. BUT before committing you need to taste that fruit. Some seasons yield large flavorful fruit and some seasons will produce fruit that tastes watered down because the rains came at the wrong time. And in the end it comes down to what you like and want.
In Turock's defense, he said "not to add water to grapes." :h

Yup - Grapes are definitely a fruit that doesn't need water. In fact if anyone has read about how Icewine is made that is an interesting process designed to remove water from the wine grapes. Someday I'll blow the budget and buy some good icewine. Love to be able to buy it in Germany but... that's another dream trip.
If you sanitize your hydrometer and tube, you can test the sample in the tube (take a small taste from the tube) and pour it back in. Don't worry about oxidizing that small amount in the tube and don't worry about contaminating if you sanitized your equipment.