What to do with my 15 gal fermenter?

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ambassador517

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Okay, so this is my first time trying my hand at wine. My grandfather had been doing it for years but since he has passed nobody in the family cares anymore. Today I went out to the muscadine vines and picked a little over 30 pounds. All the recipes I have seen for five gallon batches call for 30 lbs which is great. Only problem is that the fermentation vessel my grandfather used is a big 15 gallon one. My question is will all the extra air be an issue? If so how can I up the volume using different grapes? If I do that does my ratio of additives (sugar, yeast, peptic acid, ect..) change porportionately? I may just have to buy another fermenter but I was trying to use what I have on hand.
 

surlees

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There is no problem with the fermentation vessel being oversize and air during fermentation is good because yeast need oygen during fermentation. It's after fermentaion when all the CO2 produced by fermenting grapes has been degassed that exposure to air becomes a problem. Air causes wine to oxidize and promotes microbial growth leading to off flavors and aromas. You'll need an air-tight vessel to rack your wine into to avoid that. Most people use 5 or 6 gallon glass carboys to age wine in.

There's a lot of "stuff" you need to really do it right, but the basics are 1 pack of wine yeast peer 5-6 gallons is sufficient. Pectic enyme is good to use because it helps breakdown grape cell walls to release more juice and color/aroma compounds. Adding sugar increases alcohol level to a point, but don't add any until you know the sugar level (brix).

If you want to give it a try without a lot of expense you can go with the above but the fermenter you have is one of the least expensive items you'll require.
 
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