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Mrs Fiddlesticks

beginers wine article?

after all my questions about wine yesterday ( thanx guys) I had a good look at the Arkwrights site to gauge the things I need to get next visit. It occured to me that I have no idea what half of this stuff on there does, like campden tablets or yeast nutrients, pectase etc. I can't be the only one mystifed by such things ( is a hydrometer necessary). I'm following recipes and adding things as it says, but have no idea why. Could we have an article explaining all these things. I guess some of them will make all the difference between successful wine making and not.
jema

Re: beginers wine article?

Fiddlesticks Julie wrote:
after all my questions about wine yesterday ( thanx guys) I had a good look at the Arkwrights site to gauge the things I need to get next visit. It occured to me that I have no idea what half of this stuff on there does, like campden tablets or yeast nutrients, pectase etc. I can't be the only one mystifed by such things ( is a hydrometer necessary). I'm following recipes and adding things as it says, but have no idea why. Could we have an article explaining all these things. I guess some of them will make all the difference between successful wine making and not.



Does this help?

http://www.downsizer.net/Projects/Processing_Food/Home_wine_making/
Mrs Fiddlesticks

it does, thank you, but what about the other things like pectase, yeast nutrients. They seem to sell a host of things in the home brew shops. how do you know what is necessary for a particular brew? How do you chose the right yeast? So many questions...
gil

Probably repeating what is elsewhere on the site, but in specific response

Basics (mostly from homebrew shops):

Sodium metabisulphite : basic all-purpose cleaner / steriliser for your buckets, demijohns and bottles. If you're going to put fermenting wine or beer in them, rinse them out thoroughly after the sulphite with plain water. You also add some to a bucket of steeping (unboiled) fruit pulp to sterilise it and kill off any bacteria. Leave for 24-48 hours for the sulphite to clear away before adding the yeast, or it will be killed.

Pectinase / pectic enzyme : this helps clear hazes in wine caused by pectin in the fruit. Add a teaspoonful to the fermenting bucket along with the yeast starter. Then when putting into demijohns, add some more (up to a teaspoonful) to each DJ.

Yeast nutrient : yeast works better if the conditions are right. It likes to work on grape juice when turning sugar into alcohol (Cab can explain why). When making non-grape-based wines, you have choices (i.e. you don't necessarily have to use YN)
a) add a teaspoonful of yeast nutrient to each demijohn
b) use 1 litre of red or white grape juice from the supermarket as part of the liquid that goes into each DJ
c) add a few ounces of chopped sultanas to the fruit etc at the steeping and pulp fermenting stage.

EDIT :

Hydrometers for the non-scientific novice.
I find one useful. Forget vinometers - as said elsewhere, they're inaccurate. Hydrometer = cheap and useful way of working out roughly by rule of thumb (or more accurately by maths calculation) how your brew is doing, as expressed in terms of its 'specific gravity' [SG] (i.e. how much less or more 'whatever' it is than water). The SG of water is 1000. The SG of a sugar solution in water will be more than 1000. The SG of pure alcohol is less than that of water. You're making beer or wine, which is a mix of these plus flavour etc.

Beer from kits.
Use of hydrometer is easy : initial reading when everything has gone into the bucket should be 1030 to 1040 depending on the kit / kind of beer. When the fermentation has stopped (froth has subsided and sunk to the bottom, and the SG is below 1008 or whatever the black line is on the hydrometer where it says 'bottle beer', it is done.

Wine is a bit more varied if not from kit.
If you start with some water and fruit to steep the SG should still be about 1000 or a bit more, depending on how juicy the fruit and how thick/dense its juice. You then add the amount of sugar in the recipe in the way it tells you to. Before you get it into demijohns under airlock, measure the SG with the hydrometer. It could read anything between 1070 and 1120. A rough reading to aim for after 5 days fermentation on the pulp would be 1090 - 1100. You want your wine to ferment out, to a final reading of 1005 or below, preferably below 1000 (avoids burst bottles due to re-ferment in hot weather). You can always sweeten a dry wine before drinking, but not vice versa.

Roughly speaking, if I start a wine at 1090-1100, I expect it to ferment out to 995-1000, and to be about 13% strength and dry.

You don't need to take that many readings as a novice hydrometer user : do another when fermentation slows right down, when you think it might be time to rack the wine. This also means you find out if the fermentation has stuck (SG will be more than 1005, and will most likely be between 1020 and 1030. Wine will taste sweet, smell yeasty, and may have a fizz to it, if stuck). Then read the article about Restarting a Stuck Ferment. Assuming the SG is 1005 or below, i.e. things have gone OK, so when fermentation is eventually complete, you can rack the wine (still under an airlock).

Rough rule of thumb
To increase the SG of your mix if you need to:
Adding 4oz sugar to a gallon of water should raise its SG by 10. Dissolve the sugar in 1/4 pint of water before adding, and don't worry about the maths of now having 1 gallon and 5 fl oz.

Just post specific queries here, and someone will likely know an answer. And I'm sure others will have additions / comments to make about this post.
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