Friday, November 14, 2014

Concord Grape Wine 2014

Once again I found myself at my inlaws house and their grapes were ripe.  They offered to help me pick if I wanted them for wine again so I figured, why not.  I wasn't expecting to do this again and it was later in the season that the previous year.  I feel like last year I picked the grapes a little early and this year a little late.  We also did not seem to have as much rain this season.  the grapes were smaller and sweeter.

Here are some tips I have come up with for picking.  Try to make sure you de stem the grapes and rinse them right away.  they will get moldy after a while if you let them sit and you won't be albe to use as many of them as you wanted.  Pick, rinse and mash the grapes all in the same day if you can (this is a lot of work).  I waited and did not end up being able ot use as may of the grapes as I hoped.  Also check them frequently if you can to make sure you pick them at the right time.

I picked mine and sorted thorough and ended up with almost 2 gallons of grapes (after mashing them).  Prior to this it was more.  I don't have a press, I mash them by hand in my primary fermenter.  This year to make up the extra I used frozen red grape juice concentrate (2 containers mixed) rather than sugar water.  I came out a little over 3 gallons which reduced to a little under 3 gallons when I racked off the grapes and sediment.  I also added 4 lb of sugar, stirred very well and ended up with a starting gravity of 1.100.

After mashing, I added 1 campden tablet (crushed) per gallon.  Then I took some of the must out, added some yeast nutrient, and took my yeast that had been soaking in warm water and pitched it  in.  I mixed this up a little over 24 hours and then at the 24 hour mark I pitched that start into the fermenter.  For 1 week I shook it up at least once a day to keep the yeast suspended and the grapes from forming a cap.  Than I racked it.  I've seen this before when I use champagne yeast, it is so carbonated that it has trouble with the siphon.  It works but it's really slow and I have to re-start it a few times.

You can see a little of what I mean there.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bad Yeast Nutrient

When it comes to brewing beer I have never had a need for yeast nutrient.  I used some last time I made wine with grapes and I may have used some for dandelion wine also.  More recently I used it with my Watermelon Strawberry experiment.  During primary fermentation I noticed a strong ammonia type smell.  I am used to strong smells during primary fermentation and I am used to my wife not liking them sometimes, but this was definitely not a good smell.

This led me to check my yeast nutrient, and I discovered it had gotten moist and clumpy and it smelled just like the bad smells I picked up from the fermentation.  I just racked that off it's yeast and the smell has gotten calmer but it is still there.  I think the wine is great (if you hold your nose while you sip) so I don't think it's a bad recipe and I expect to try it again.  Has anyone else had a similar experience?

I added some extra sugars (dextrose) when I racked it.  I am hoping the yeast will get back to work and maybe eliminate whatever that odor is and maybe I can salvage this wine.  Moving forward I have purchased a new yeast nutrient with a screw cap that I can tighten.  It is a mead yeast nutrient that has no urea and I keep the screw cap bottle in a zip lock bag that also contains some silica gel to absorb moisture.  I am told as long as it is dry the nutrient really will not expire.