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Major Ingredient: Wine Concentrate - Alexander's Grenche Rose
Expected Quantity: 2 1/2 Gallons
Actual Quantity: 5 bottles (part A, part B is still clearing).

PRIMARY FERMENTATION
DateTemp. (Out/In)Bubbles per minSpecific GravityNotes
6-Oct-2005---#DayZero
7-Oct-200575F / 75F381.082#DayOne
8-Oct-200573F / 74F461.074#DayTwo
9-Oct-200574F / 74F401.034#DayThree
10-Oct-200573F / 72F481.004#DayFour
SECONDARY FERMENTATION
DateTemp. (Out/In)Specific Gravity
Bottle A / B
Titratable Acid
Bottle A / B
Notes
10-Oct-200574F / 74F1.004 / 1.004-#DayFour
11-Oct-200572F / 71F0.992 / 1.012-#DayFive
15-Oct-200573F / 73F0.992 / 0.991-#DayNine
FIRST RACKING
20-Oct-200571F-0.45% / 0.45%#DayFourteen
22-Oct-200572F-0.45% / 0.45%#DaySixteen
31-Oct-200572F0.990 / 0.990-#DayTwentyFive
SECOND RACKING
6-Nov-200573F--#DayThirtyOne
18-Nov-200572F-0.55% / 0.55%#DayFortyThree
19-Nov-200571F-0.62% / 0.55%#DayFortyFour
19-Nov-200571F-0.65% / 0.55%
20-Nov-200572F-0.65% / 0.61%#DayFortyFive
26-Nov-2005BOTTLED PART A

  Winemaking Home
Instructions
Equipment ($140)

 

 

Beginning (6-Oct-2005)  

I followed the directions on the back of the concentrate can. The instructions called for two cans to make five gallons, but I only had the one can, so I adjusted where I could and ended up with slightly less than 3 gallons of must. I covered the fermentor with the lid and stuck the air lock in (adding the bit of water to the lock).

I later learned that people recommend covering it with a cloth and leave the lid off for the first day or two. I don't think my extra step will cause any problems, though, because there was plenty of space left in the container and I removed the lid for stirring each day for the next few days. This probably let in plenty of oxygen for the yeast, as the next few days showed.

I also didn't know to take a specific gravity reading at this time. This number would have been needed at the end of the process to determine the final alcohol content of the wine.

Day One (7-Oct-2005)  

Lot's of fermentation. That little bubbler is going strong. I'm a bit confused by all the conflicting instructions I've received. The lady at the store told me to put it in a secondary container almost immediately after fermentation has started. The instructions with the kit say nothing about a secondary container. Opinions on the net vary. The kit instructions are also a little vague on when to stop stirring daily.

Took readings, stirred must, and placed lid and airlock back on.

Day Two (8-Oct-2005)  

Took readings, stirred must, replaced lid and lock.

Day Three (9-Oct-2005)  

Took readings, stirred must, replaced lid and lock.

Day Four (10-Oct-2005)  

One set of instructions (a half-sheet of paper given to me by the place where I bought my starter kit) said to siphon into a secondary when s.g. drops below 1.030. Another source states to move to a secondary container when s.g. drops below 1.010. The instructions that came with the concentrate say nothing about a secondary fermentation step. Since the s.g. is 1.004, it's two votes to one: Transfer to secondary fermentation containers.

I used an auto-siphon to transfer the liquid to two 1-gallon containers that I labelled "Bottle A" and "Bottle B", making sure I topped them up and put them both under airlocks. The auto-siphon was rather handy and easy to use, unfortunately it won't fit into the 1-gallon jugs, so I'll have to use a manual racking cane when the time comes.

I ended up with a little under a half-gallon of liquid left, so I transferred that into a half-gallon milk jug, topped it off with distilled water, and put an airlock on it. I will use this extra amount to top off the other two bottles as needed. I feel that using a slightly watered down wine to top off my "real" wine containers would be better than straight water.

Day Five (11-Oct-2005)  

The airlock bubbling has slowed somewhat, but that makes sense because the surface area under each airlock is a lot smaller than it was in the primary fermentation bucket. If I were to take all three into account, the bubbling rate is about the same as it was yesterday. I can see a constant stream of small bubbles rising to the top of the jugs.

I think the hydrometer reading for bottle B today was in error, I forgot to tap off the bubbles that formed on the hydrometer. The reading for bottle A is accurate, because I did it second and remembered about the bubbles clinging to the sides of the instruments.

Days Six thru Eight

Fermentation slowed to a crawl and then a stand still. The bubbles streaming to the surface of the liquid reduced in number every day until there was only the occasional one. I hesitate to do anything because it's only been a few days since I started the whole thing. According to all information sources, it should take two to four weeks to get to this point. Either I'm really good (hardly), got lucky (possibly), or made one or more glaring errors (most likely).

Day Nine (15-Oct-2005)  

Fermentation has completely stopped. The hydrometer reading of 0.992 shows that it is not a stuck fermentation. A thick (3/8 inch) sediment layer has formed on the bottom of all bottles. All sources say leaving the liquid on the sediment for too long will cause problems. Time to rack.

Siphoning from one bottle to another using a racking cane has proven to be difficult. I tried all sorts of hieghts, positionings, chants, etc. There has got to be a better way.

I managed to rack bottle A, add a crushed campden tablet, and top off with some wine from the extra half-gallon I had set aside earlier, using a wine thief. This took a lot of trips with the wine theif. Racking bottle B was just as difficult to get the siphon started. I then got the bright idea of using the siphon to top it off from the extra half-gallon container. This was a disaster because once I got the siphon started, the half-gallon (plastic) bottle tipped over, making a big mess and leaving me with half of a half-gallon of top-off juice. I gave up and just poured it into bottle B to top it off. The remaining portion went into another 1/2 gallon glass jar and was topped off with water. That bottle is very cloudy looking. I added a campden tablet to bottle B and half a tablet to the set aside top-off bottle (I think I'll call it bottle C from now on). I then cleaned up my mess.

The liquid tastes like very rough wine with a gigantic bite. I'm hoping it will mellow out with age ... a lot.

I have to find out how siphoning should work, my attempts were terrible. I'm surprised I got any wine into the destination containers at all. Also, the racking cane left more liquid behind than I expected. I estimate I could rack only once more, maybe twice, and still have two gallons of wine at the end.

Day Ten (16-Oct-2005)  

After typing in the instructions given to me (see below), I realized I made a mistake in the measurement of the Acid Blend. I somehow read that line to mean 2 tsp. and since I was making a half-batch, I only used 1 tsp. But now that I read it again, it should have been 6 tsp. for a full batch or 3 tsp. for a half-batch. plus or minus some small amount to get the acid mix "just right". But since I had no instructions on adjusting the acid content to a "just right" amount, I didn't know what all that meant. I'm not sure what I should do now that I'm so far into the process. I'm going to have to research what I should and shouldn't do to measure and adjust the acid level of my wine.

At first it looked like the wine was starting to clear near the top of the bottles yesterday, maybe because the top of the bottles are thinner and there was less liquid to look through. However, today, those areas are cloudy again. Is this just thermal mixing of the bottle contents or do I have some chemical or biological process still going on? I've observed no airlock activity or bubbles in the liquid, so I'm pretty sure fermentation is over.

Day Fourteen (20-Oct-2005)  

I bought an acid testing kit and measured the Total Acid level of both bottles A and B to be 0.45%. The kit instructions say that a red wine should be 0.65%, white wines 0.75%, but this is a rose, so I'm guessing it needs to be in between. Other sources have the acid range of red & white wines overlap a bit, so I think I'd be safe shooting for 0.70%.

The acid test isn't very easy to perform, but I'll get better at it with practice. Part of the trouble is the kit came with a small plastic cup that is almost impossible to swirl well enough to mix the solution thoroughly. I think my next purchase will be a large test tube or small measuring flask so I can safely swirl the solution around.

There are still a few tiny bubbles heading to the surface of both bottles A and B and sitting next to the neck and liquid interface. This may be some left over fermentation, carbon dioxide gassing, or left over sulfur dioxide gasses. The wine seems a bit clearer than a couple of days ago, but not near clear enough for bottling.

Everyone I've asked says that adding acid to the wine at this point will be OK, so I'm adding 1 tsp. of acid blend to each bottle. This should raise the acid level to approx. 0.60%. I'll measure the acid again tomorrow and determine what to do next.

I started by adding 1/2 tsp. of acid blend to one bottle. It foamed so much I was concerned about losing some of the wine. It subsided, fortunately, and I decided to add the rest of the acid blend 1/4 tsp. at a time waiting for the smaller amount of foam to go away before adding the next portion. This foaming action probably stirred things up in the wine again, eliminating whatever clearing had taken place. This just means that it will take more time before I can bottle. But this is winemaking, and I've got plenty of time.

Day Fifteen (21-Oct-2005)  

My quick search for a local place to purchase a large test tube or small erlenmeyer flask failed. This is a college town, so you would think there would be a local place to buy lab equipment. However, I only needed a clear glass bottle small enough to show the solution with a good neck to allow for swirling without sloshing the liquid out. So, I went to the local liquor store and bought a sample size (50ml) bottle of Absolut Vodka. I peeled off the label, discarded the contents (went well with Coca Cola), and thoroughly cleaned the inside. Perfect.

Measuring the total acid again gave the same reading as yesterday, 0.45%. So either I am doing the test wrong or the acid I added yesterday hasn't mixed. I have a feeling it's the former, but I'll test again tomorrow in case it's the latter. I'm not worried about having added too much acid because the original recipe called for 3 tsp., I added only one at the beginning, and then two more yesterday. So, if I'm reading the acid test kit wrong, I'm still in the right spot according to the recipe. I want to make sure I'm using the test kit correctly, though, before I think of adding any more.

Day Sixteen (22-Oct-2005)  

I measured the acid levels again, this time I used pH test paper to verify what I was seeing with the acid kit. Supposedly, you stop titration at a pH of 8.2. I did the test twice and saw the solution color change at the same point as the pH paper indicated 8.2. So, I am almost positive the acid level is 0.45% in my wine.

I'm going to try increasing the acid in only one of the bottles (A for Acid). That way, if I make a serious error, I only need to reduce the acid in one bottle. I'll also have a taste comparison between bottle A and B.

Right now it tastes like a dry wine with a bit of a bite. Not near as much of a bite as the last time I tasted it. It also looks clear and all bubbles are gone. A thick sediment has settled on the bottom. It may be time to rack again.

I added 1 tsp. of acid blend to bottle A.

Day Twenty (26-Oct-2005)  

Received an answer to my acid question to Jack Keller (WineMakingQuestion). I got a lot more advice than I anticipated, but all of it is good.

Day Twenty-Five (31-Oct-2005)  

Since I'm taking S.G. readings of my other batches, I might as well test this one, too. I've ordered a different acid testing kit because I'm still not confident in my acid measurements.

Bottle A tastes more like wine, less of a bite than earlier, still has an odd taste of ... unfinished, like there is an open space where there should be a taste of something. Bottle B tastes almost the same, but with less of that missing quality and a little more bubbly. Maybe what I'm tasting is some left over yeast flavor and the low acid level. It also may be the higher alcohol content than I am used to with wine. Using the first and latest S.G. readings and adding for the fact that I didn't take a reading until a day after fermenation started, calculates out at near 13%.

Both wines are perfectly clear. Once I get my acid testing under control, I intend to rack them both. I'll then stabilize and fine half of the batch and let the rest do it all on it's own over time.

Day Thirty-One (6-Nov-2005)  

I racked both bottles again and seriously messed up the siphoning again. I ended up losing over a quarter-gallon of wine, disturbing the sediment, and probably oxygenating the wine. I started with two bottles of almost perfectly clear wine and ended up with 1 3/4 bottles of murkiness and a complete mess on the floor. Forget worrying about the acid levels. I'm going to ruin this wine through sheer incompetence. I've practiced and practiced siphoning and I just can't seem to get it to work.

I topped off the incomplete bottle with the extra I had set aside earlier (bottle C) and topped bottle C off with more distilled water. I then put all three bottles under airlocks. I have no idea what I'm going to do when it's time to bottle this batch, since I can't seem to siphon worth a damn.

Day Forty-Three (18-Nov-2005)  

Using the tile technique outlined in the following article (http://www.vawa.net/winemaking-articles/acid1.html), I measured the acid level of this batch to be at approx. 0.55%. I also measured the acidity of two commercial wines, one was 0.65%, the other was 0.50%, so I'm feeling better about my measurements. I'm going to add 3/8 tsp. of acid blend to one of the gallon jugs and stir. This should raise the acidity of this gallon by 0.10% (I calculated this wrong, if 1 tsp. raises acidity by 0.15% per gallon, then 3/8 tsp. will increase it by 0.06%, not 0.10%). I'll then take another measurement tomorrow.

Day Forty-Four (19-Nov-2005)  

Measured acidity of bottle A to be 0.62% (I was expecting 0.65% or higher, but then I recaculated the expected effect of 3/8 tsp of acid blend and found I had miscalculated earlier, 0.55% + 0.06% = 0.61%, which is dead accurate with these instruments). I added another 3/8 tsp. of acid blend to this bottle and stirred. I'll measure the acidity again in a few hours. If I somehow overshoot the acidity of bottle A, I can blend it with bottle B to lower the overall acid content. If I get it just right, then I know how much to add to bottle B.

Later: Measured titratable acidity of bottle-A to be 0.65%, and bottle-B to be 0.55%. I'm going to leave bottle-A alone because I was expecting 0.68%. I'll test it again tomorrow and see if there is a difference. In the mean time, I've added 1 full tsp. of acid blend to bottle-B. This should bring bottle-B up to 0.70%. If so, then blending the two bottles together again will produce an average between the two.

At the very least, this has been a learning experience about measuring and adding acids in wine.

Day Forty-Five (20-Nov-2005)  

Measured the acid of both bottles again: bottle-A is still 0.65% and bottle-B is now 0.61%. This is bothering me a bit: 3/8 tsp. of acid blend raised bottle-A by 0.06% the first time and only by 0.03% the second time, and now a full teaspoon only raises bottle-B by 0.06% when it should have been 0.15%. Once again, this causes me to think I'm doing something wrong. Both bottles are at an acceptable acid level now, so I'm going to quit while I'm ahead of the game. Maybe the missing acid will show up sometime in the next couple of weeks.

I've decided to add a fining agent (two-stage, Super-Kleer K.C. (tm)) to bottle-A, WineBatch03, and WineBatch05. This is because I want to bottle these batches next weekend. I'll leave bottle-B to the natural method of fining, just to say I've done it the old traditional way.

I added 3 ml Kieselsol to bottle-A and stirred gently. Eight hours later, I added 1/2 fl. oz. of Chitosan and stirred.

Day Fifty-One (26-Nov-2005)  

Bottle-A cleared within 2 days, but I let it sit a few more days before bottling. I was able to get 5 bottles of wine out of part A, but the last bottle looks a bit cloudy. I may open that one up in a couple of weeks and filter it. I left part B alone. I'll let that one clear out the old fashioned way.

 

   

 
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