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Thread: wine and mead making question

  1. #1
    Junior Member Sh-Ki's Avatar
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    Default wine and mead making question

    I have been away from this site for a long time. I homeschool 2 boys and really have wanted to use the great info here to build our schooling around next year maybe, so came to do some reading. Since I was here, I thought, "why not ask these guys about the wine and mead?" So, I will!

    I have wanted to try to make wine and mead for a long time, and finally concocted a few musts and have them fermenting as we speak. I searched online and found about a zillion different recipes. None of them are the same, and none of them give a clear thought as to when to rack the must off the lees for the first time. Does anyone know?

    I have a Dandelion must going in a one gallon jug that I began on 4-12-12.( 1 gallon water, 6 cups sugar,3 quarts dandelion flowers, 1c. orange juice, lemon and lime juice, 1 pack bread yeast.) Yeah, I know , not supposed to use anything but wine yeast. It is still bubbling away, only slowly now. Heavy sediment is at the bottom already.

    I also have a honey mead going. I have the raisins sitting right in the gallon jug with the must and started that on 4-15-12. ( 1 gallon water, 1 1/2 - 2 pints of local honey, 25 raisins, 1 pinch nutmeg, a few cloves, and bread yeast. ) It is also still bubbling. It's quite active yet.

    Then, my most recent attempt is a Ginger beer.( 1 gallon water 3 ginger heads sliced thinly, 6 cups sugar, 25 raisins, big dash of peppercorns, pinch of cayenne, a few cardamom pods and cloves.) I used Lalvin EC-118 wine yeast for this. I cannot wait to see how it turns out. It smells fantastic, already. It is bubbling fiercely and was started on 4-27-12.

    I am unsure from everything I have read when to siphon it into another fresh jar? Does it have to "fall clear" first? Or, will it do that over a few months? When can I actually drink the stuff? Can I keep the lees and use it to make more wine, yeast, or bread? Does anyone have any wisdom for me?

    Here's my set up:

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    Last edited by Sh-Ki; 05-01-2012 at 10:26 AM.
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  2. #2
    One step at a time intothenew's Avatar
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    There are as many answers to your questions as there are palates. Don't pay a lot of attention to anyone telling you how to drink wine, or make it, including me. It's your taste that you are trying to satisfy.

    Rack off of the primary should be on the order of 5-10 days. Longer than that and you can get a yeasty flavor, but it can add body. That depends somewhat on the yeast used (e.g. high alcohol tolerance), and if you have used something like pectic enzyme. Specific gravity is the only way I know of to definitively tell when to rack.
    "They call us civilized because we are easy to sneak up on."- Lone Waite

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    Junior Member Sh-Ki's Avatar
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    When you say, "rack off the primary," do you mean 5-10 days after I started my must? If that's the case then two of my gallons are way over due. Should I do them now? Even if they are still bubbling?
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    One step at a time intothenew's Avatar
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    Yes, I think you should. The foaming looks to be down. The fact that it is still working is a good thing. That will insure that you get a CO2 layer in the secondary, you still need to leave it vented.
    "They call us civilized because we are easy to sneak up on."- Lone Waite

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    Junior Member Sh-Ki's Avatar
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    Alright. Thanks!
    Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs. ~ Mark Twain

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    Senior Member grrlscout's Avatar
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    Ooh that ginger beer sounds delicious! I might have to steal those ingredients and make a wild yeast version.

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    Junior Member Sh-Ki's Avatar
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    I don't know if it will taste good, but it sure smells delicious.

    By wild yeast version, do you mean just allowing it to sit until it ferments on it's own without adding a yeast?

    Well, I poured my dandelion wine and honey wine off the lees. I didn't siphon it because I don't have a tube yet. I see a very tiny bit came through the pour and is settling on the bottom, but not much. Now I am wondering if I should just get a tube and siphon it tomorrow after it has had time to settle, or if I should just leave it alone?

    There is no bubbling in either jar now, and it didn't taste like there was much sugar left in the either mix. Both tasted like crude, dry, white wines. ( I was going for dry, so am pleased so far. ) But, if I did want to sweeten them up, is there a way to do that?
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    One step at a time intothenew's Avatar
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    Judgement call on the siphon, but I would. Again, that is likely dead yeast left and will flavor. Pouring has the problem of transferring the sediment, but it also aerates what should be an anaerobic process. Siphon keeping the pour end down in the fluid, you want as little aeration as possible.

    As too adding sugar, I consider that a voodoo subject. If you know that all the yeast is dead, then you can add without a secondary fermentation starting. Campden will kill wild yeast, and I think it will kill wine yeasts in high enough concentration. But, I've only used it to kill the wilds in primary, and a smidgeon before bottling to try and insure no secondary fermentation.
    "They call us civilized because we are easy to sneak up on."- Lone Waite

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    Junior Member Sh-Ki's Avatar
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    Alright. I'll try to siphon it tomorrow. Hopefully pouring it the first time didn't wreck it. I guess time will tell. The honey wine is getting a bit of a film on top. Is that anything to worry about? I figure Im learning with these first two, and the Ginger one should go better.
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    One step at a time intothenew's Avatar
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    "Floats" and "Sinks" should be left behind when you siphon.
    "They call us civilized because we are easy to sneak up on."- Lone Waite

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    Senior Member grrlscout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sh-Ki View Post
    By wild yeast version, do you mean just allowing it to sit until it ferments on it's own without adding a yeast?
    Indeed. By this sort of method:
    http://innbrooklyn.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/2315/

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    Junior Member Sh-Ki's Avatar
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    Alright. Thanks for the help.

    That sounds interesting, grrlscout. I'll try that next time.
    Nothing helps scenery like ham and eggs. ~ Mark Twain

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    Senior Member Thaddius Bickerton's Avatar
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    I noticed that the tractor supply store had lots of nice tubing that you could use for siphoning and not that much money.

    Of course even a dollar is a lot at times, so not sure.

    My grandmother used to use balloons to ferment her wines, and she would decant by pouring but that was her way of doing it.

    I'd say both ways work. Just depends on how fancy you want to get and how your taste buds work in my way of looking at it.

    Then again , I call my home brew beer "Muddy River Water" for a reason. As for wine, I usually leave that to other family members.

    I am getting some honey in trade for a swarm I just found and am thinking of trying some honey mead if I get sufficient.

    ETA: As usual I forgot something I wanted to say: Homeschooling is wonderful and IMHO the best way to rear your kids. I started when my oldest was starting 8th grade. He came home one day and said he wasn't going back and that was that. He is a welder / owns his own metal working company now and makes a nice living so I guess I must have got it right. DD is in college now and so disappointed with how not challenging the early courses are. Wants to go into Bio Mechanical Engineering and also study English. Strange mix, but I think someday she will write some pretty good stories. That is her true passion, but not much coin writing unless you do it for business and advertising agencies. Anyway just wanted to say good on you for homeschooling. T.
    Thad.
    Last edited by Thaddius Bickerton; 05-02-2012 at 12:40 AM.
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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Ace Hardware carries all sizes of tubing if there is an Ace near you.

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    I have made Honey mead once and it was a tedious process! It sat in the formenter for a year before bottling. When the directions said to let it set in the bottle for a year, THEY MEANT A YEAR!!! I opened a bottle at six months and it was not drinkable, another opened at nine months and it showed promise but still i could not drink it. At a year, it was great and got better with age. I kept a bottle for four years and it tasted great when I opened it. One problem you may encounter is getting unprocessed honey. Look for a bee keeper and buy unprocessed directly from them.

  16. #16

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    Food grade tubing?

    This is a pretty good all around book on processes and has helpful charts. It's more into grape winemaking but is easily understandable.
    http://www.amazon.com/Home-Winemakin...8769899&sr=1-8
    I'm not near practiced enough yet to offer advice. Still making mistakes myself.

  17. #17

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    How do you gather wild yeast?
    I've been home brewing for years, but only buying the ingredients.
    I've often wondered how to use wild yeast, and how did people reliably ferment before being able to buy liquid yeast?
    Don't run, you'll only die tired!

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    Senior Member grrlscout's Avatar
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    My knowledge of the matter is pretty basic, but to my understanding, it's floating all around. You just have to tempt it to colonize with the right "bait."

    Once your "bug" is established, you keep feeding it, and use it over and over again.

    Take for instance, sourdough yeast. People who bake it regularly keep the starter feed and alive all the time. You take some from it for each batch. Feed it, and it keeps growing.

    On a related note, I finally got around to making that ginger beer.

    Here is the recipe I used:

    http://www.chelseagreen.com/content/recipe-ginger-beer/

    Notes: In my warm kitchen, it only took about 2 days for the ginger bug to get going.

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    In step 2, I used about 6" of ginger. I like it really spicy. Also during the boil, I added some allspice. I'm not sure how much flavor it added, whole. Next time I would crack them first. Cardamom would probably be a nice addition as well.

    It was super easy, super cheap, and I got two two liter bottles out of the deal:

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    Both are delicious! Good and spicy, with a nice fizz. I'm working my way through the second bottle now, and will probably start another batch when I finish with it.
    Last edited by grrlscout; 06-07-2012 at 01:56 PM.

  19. #19

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    Thank you very much!
    Excellent howto article!
    Don't run, you'll only die tired!

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