3 x 3 in 3 Kit Wine Making by William Forsch

3 x 3 in 3 Kit Wine Making by William Forsch

Winemaker’s Academy is built on members helping each other make a better bottle of wine.  One of our members provided a very helpful presentation for the beginning kit wine maker.  As the title states you only need a 3′ x 3′ space and 3 hours of time to start your wine making experience. Bill has been a kit wine maker for 9 years and has completed over 150 kits including all styles – red, white, and dessert.  He has also conducted full kit wine making classes for four years including almost 100 students.  After retirement five years ago, he began making wine from grapes.  Bill is an avid golfer, tennis player, chef/cook, and supporter of the Orange County Wine Society – Winemaker’s group and a member of their “leadership team”.  Bill’s Home Wine label is:  Lolita’s Claw Wines, named after the nasty calico cat that resides with him that tends to claw everything and everyone! Forsch Wine Kits Presentation-Updated...

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When and How Often Should I Degas My Wine?

When and How Often Should I Degas My Wine?

This is a seemingly straight forward question I get asked quite often. The answer, however, depends a lot on your wine making methods and what tools you use to degas. I recommend degassing a wine only once. It’s a lot of work, especially if you use the agitation method (with a drill attachment), and there’s really no reason to degas in the middle of fermentation as you’ll only wind up with more suspended carbon dioxide anyway. Degassing through agitation can introduce oxygen into your wine so it’s best to keep that to a minimum. There are times, however, when degassing a wine is difficult and you may have to come back for a second try. This can happen, for instance, if you’re degassing a wine that is cooler than 70 degrees F. This can take FOREVER (I know from extensive experience). If you find that your wine is not degassing very well and that you’re going to have to come back for an additional attempt make sure you rack off the sediment. Many wine kits have you add clarifiers and then degas as a way of both degassing the wine as well as mixing in the clarifier. Mixing the sediment back up after using a clarifier to settle it out can result in a wine that is difficult to clear. In my own experience, I did this and ended up having to add a second dose of clarifier which can potentially start stripping character from the wine. Stirring up that first clarifier put everything back into suspension and the clarifier did not work a second time, thus the additional dose. Vacuum Degassing Another way to degas a wine is to draw a vacuum in your wine container. The drop in pressure will literally suck the carbon dioxide out of your wine. As this method does not rely on agitation it does not introduce oxygen to your wine, nor does it disturb sediment that has collected on the bottom of the carboy. So you could degas as many times as you like as often as you like. That being said, it still is a bit of work to set up the compressor and run the lines. Personally, I would not want to do all that more than once. When to Degas a Wine In summary I recommend degassing: only one time after fermentation is over at temperatures above 70F, ideally 75F (24C) before adding a clarifier or after you’ve racked off of settled sediment Going by these rules reduces the risk of unnecessary oxygen exposure, needing to degas many times, and undoing the work of clarifiers. Commercial Wineries Don’t Degas Most commercial wineries do not degas their wines at all. They simply bulk age the wine long enough that the carbon dioxide escapes on its own. In so doing they avoid the cost of degassing equipment and having to invest the effort to get it done. You can do this too, even if you make wine from a kit. However, you’ll need lots of patience. Also, as a side note, it is sometimes beneficial to degas mead during fermentation as...

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Fermenting Wine in Open Containers

Fermenting Wine in Open Containers

There’s a lot of discussion around open fermentations. Beginners especially wonder why some recipes call for open fermentations and kit instructions call for an airlock to be placed on the fermenter as soon as you’ve pitched the yeast. The truth is, you can do it either way. When you’re first getting into winemaking I do not recommend fermenting your wine in an open container. There’s a bit more risk involved if you don’t have a good feel for when to put the lid on your wine. The Benefits of Open Fermentation Fermenting out in the open can be beneficial during the early stages of fermentation for a couple reasons. First, you get some oxygen exposure which helps the yeast build a strong population. Second, there’s nothing keeping the heat generated by fermentation from escaping. Lids can help trap heat and, depending on your ambient temperature outside the fermenter, your wine could get too hot with a lid in place. Most commercial wineries will ferment red wines in open containers to allow heat to escape and to have better access to the cap. When you ferment on the skins they will float to the top and for the cap. This cap protects the wine from outside elements but it must also be punched back down into the wine from time to time to help extract more flavor and aroma compounds from the skins. The Risks of Open Wine Fermentation As you might imagine you’re at a higher risk of picking up too much oxygen or spoilage micro-organisms when your wine is not protected by a lid and airlock. Open fermentations work because the carbon dioxide produced by the yeast during alcoholic fermentation acts as a blanket over the wine. As long as the air around the fermenter is still and there’s enough carbon dioxide being produced you can happily ferment without a lid. However, at some point carbon dioxide production will fall to a point where there’s no longer enough to protect your wine. With some experience you’ll be able to identify when this time is approaching and get your wine covered up before it’s too vulnerable. This is why I never recommend to first time winemakers that they ferment in an open container. Here’s a great introductory article from EC Kruas entitled Wine Fermentation 101 Something else to consider is air movement around the fermenter. Even an aggressive fermentation, with lots of carbon dioxide being produce, can be susceptible to oxygen and spoilage micro-organism exposure if you have an air vent or ceiling fan constantly blowing the carbon dioxide blanket off your wine. Then there’s also curious cats and dogs but we won’t get into that. Advice for Beginning Winemakers If you’re preparing for your first fermentation stick to using a sealed primary fermenter with an airlock. You’ll want to be sure you have a few inches of headroom in case the yeast foams up. As your wine ferments pay attention to the rate of carbon dioxide production by keeping an eye on your airlock. At first it will bubble quite slowly when the yeast is acclimating to their new environment. Then...

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Making Wine from Kits, Juice Pails, and Grapes

Making Wine from Kits, Juice Pails, and Grapes

http://traffic.libsyn.com/winemakersacademy/wma036.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSMaking Wine from Kits, Juice Pails, and Grapes Winemaker’s Academy member Craig joins us on this episode of the podcast to share his experience making wine from wine kits and then moving on to juice pails and grapes. He shares a lot of great insights and lessons learned. As you can imagine it is a bit different working with juice pails and fresh grapes as much more of the chemistry is left up to you, the winemaker. Craig explains what these differences are, what we need to be thinking about as well as testing for. Have a notebook ready! Resources & Products Mentioned The Winemaker’s Log (Check it out!!) Missouri Valley Wine Society Lallzyme EX MoreWine Guides Featured Community Discussions Sulfite Free Winemaking Photograph by:...

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Racking Wine For Clarity

Racking Wine For Clarity

Clearing a wine in preparation for bottling can be tricky. There are many different clarifiers on the market and each have their own strengths and weaknesses. An alternative to using clarifiers is to rack your wine strategically over time to help clear the wine. But how are you supposed to know when to rack your wine? Recently I discovered a recommended racking schedule while reading From Vines to Wines by Jeff Cox and expanded upon it to give you a complete schedule from start to finish. This schedule assumes that you are not using a fining agent to clarify your wine. 1st Racking: 5-7 days after pitching the yeast if making a fruit wine, otherwise once the specific gravity is between 1.030 and 1.010 2nd Racking: 1 to 2 months after alcoholic fermentation is over 3rd Racking: 2 to 3 months after second racking 4th Racking: 3 months after third racking Your wine can then sit in the carboy, barrel, or tank as long as you want after that fourth racking to let you wine mature. The longer it sits in a bulk container the more uniform your wine will be from one bottle to the next after it has been bottled. The timing of your first racking can change depending upon whether you’re fermenting on the fruit or working with just the juice. Wines should not sit on the fruit any longer than 5-7 days. Any more than that and you risk picking up decaying fruit flavors. That being said, if you’re making a red wine you may opt to do an extended maceration in which case you’ll have to time your racking based on the flavor profile of the wine. If you’re making wine from just the juice (without the skins or solid fruit) then the specific gravity will dictate when you rack. The idea is to get off of the sediment and reduce the air space above the wine once fermentation has slowed to the point where the carbon dioxide produced is no longer enough to protect your wine from oxidation. How long it takes your wine to reach the specific gravity range mentioned earlier depends on many factors not limited to amount of sugar, yeast strain, fermentation temperature, and the abundance of yeast nutrients. After this first racking you’ll notice that you settle into a two to three month racking rhythm. This is done to prevent picking up off flavors from decaying yeast, which it turns out takes two to three months before decay sets in. Presumably after the fourth racking, if you’ve followed the schedule, there will be little to no yeast settling out and so you’re free to let the wine sit as long as you...

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Basic Wine Chemistry – WMA027

Basic Wine Chemistry – WMA027

http://traffic.libsyn.com/winemakersacademy/wma027.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | DownloadSubscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSBasic Wine Chemistry In this episode of the Winemaker’s Academy Podcast I go through the recommended values for various chemistry related aspects of wine such as: pH Titratable Acidity Alcohol Residual Sugar Sulfites For each of these I share the recommended values you can shoot for when making wine to help produce a more balanced wine. As you’ll hear in the show I don’t recommend making wine by the numbers and you certainly shouldn’t see these ranges as hard and fast rules. There may certainly be great wines with chemistry outside of these ranges but it is helpful to know where most balanced wines fall on the various scales. Aside from starting with great fruit and keeping your wine safe from spoilage getting the chemistry right is just as important to making a better bottle of wine. Questions Answered How can I lower my final specific gravity? When is wine technically start aging? Is it okay to use a sanitizer comprised of hydrogen peroxide and acetic acid? Resources & Products Mentioned Winemaker’s Answer Book by Alison Crowe Wine Alcohol Content Calculator Winemaker Magazine Measuring Residual Sugar Calculating Correct Sulfite Levels Kurt’s Temperature Control System Star San 3 Ways You Can Support the Podcast (as mentioned in the show) Become a Patreon Supporter Submit a wine making recipe Leave a review in iTunes or Stitcher Photograph by: CaptMikey9...

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