Leigh Erwin: A Beginner's Wine Making Journey: Part 3

Thanksgiving meal with wineHappy Belated Thanksgiving, everyone!  Leigh here, just checking in!
While eating the delicious meal I prepared for my guests, my only regret is that I didn’t decide to start making my own wine earlier than I did.  OK, I don’t regret anything, but I did think it would have been really nice to serve my own homemade wine with the meal!
One of my “problems”, if you can even call it that, is that I get so excited about things that I just want them to happen RIGHT NOW!  Making my own wine for the first time has definitely been a lesson in practicing the art of patience, that’s for sure!  Day 1 for my first batch of wine (that Pinot Grigio kit from California Connoisseur) was about 5 days ago, so there are only 2 more days to wait before I test the specific gravity to see if it’s less than the required 1.010.  I really hope it’s “on time”, as I somewhat stupidly planned the timing of everything so that I leave for my Christmas/New Year vacation almost immediately after the predicted bottling date.  Whoops 😉  Hope nothing is running slow 😉
Last time I expressed a little concern/confusion over the whole “do I use the air lock for primary fermentation or do I not”?  Well, after asking the team at Homebrewing.org, and reading up on a few of the blog posts there, I determine that no, I do not need to use the air lock during primary fermentation.   The yeast actually requires some oxygen during primary fermentation in order to do convert the sugars into alcohol, so in a completely anaerobic environment (i.e. no access to oxygen), the fermentation would go really slow, and possibly get stuck.
Since I have a tiny space, and one which I share with another human, 2 canines, and 1 kitty, I can’t just have the cover open the entire time.  So, as a “compromise” to the yeast, I crack the lid open when I am in the condo so I can keep an eye on any curious animals, and when I’m sleeping at night or gone off to work, I close the lid and use the airlock.  This way, my yeasts are still getting some oxygen a decent chunk of the day, and are protected from little paws and tongues of the beasts running around my house when I’m not home or not conscious.
So, how’s my fermentation doing?  Well, seems to be going well!  The yeasts started doing their thing over night after the first night, and I woke up the next day to the site of some foamy bubbles on the top of the must.

This video shows basically what my wine was doing 24 hours after I added the yeasts.  If you listen closely, it sounds like the fizz from a soda can after you open it, and you can see some tiny bubbles and activity on the surface.  It’s really difficult to hear the sound of the “fizz” in the video, as obviously the camera used to record it was pretty basic, but you can definitely see the bubbles coming up and you’ll just have to take my word for the sound.  5 days later, I still hear the fizz going strong, and it definitely smells like a wine in the middle of fermentation.
Crossing my fingers everything stays on schedule, though one never knows what can happen, I suppose.  I’ll for sure report back to you guys on Day 8, which will be here before we know it!

Leigh ErwinMy name is Leigh Erwin, and I am a brand-spankin’ new home winemaker! E. C. Kraus has asked me to share with you my journey from a first-time dabbler to an accomplished home winemaker. From time to time I’ll be checking in with this blog and reporting my experience with you: the good, bad — and the ugly.

0 thoughts on “Leigh Erwin: A Beginner's Wine Making Journey: Part 3

  1. Wine making is fun. I too have a cat, she loves to watch when I rack the wine 🙂 The hard part about wine making is being patient . Haste make waste..

  2. Leigh Erwin:
    Fri.27th Dec. Cover the first must with a thin cloth (dish towel) and put a rubber band around lid to hold on ,covered.. Did anyone mention wine flies,those little flies that come from nowhere. they will spoil your wine in a heart beat. Go to lid and air lock after must has finished. Don

  3. I would like to know how satisfied you are with the corks you got after 1 year, if you can keep any of this first batch that long.

  4. I like to ‘borrow" my wife’s digital oven thermometer to monitor the fermentation temperature. I leave the lid on the primary fermenter screwed on loosely enough to let the carbon dioxide out without letting fruit flies it, and put the thermometer probe in the airlock hole, sealed with a paper towel. I also stir the must vigorously daily during the primary to oxygenate well, and help get rid of any volatile off odors, if I smell any.

  5. regarding fruit flies and gnats, just take a small dish and place about 1/2 inch of apple cider vinegar and about 1/4 tsp of sugar and a few drops of liquid dish soap in dish..place near your wine and flies and gnats will be attracted to it and will drown. the soap breaks the surface tension and the flies will sink and drown. works great. hope this helps.

  6. Put a light towel first..I use string to hold it around the edge. Air lock is not
    used until the 5-7 days has gone by. Then put top and airlock, don’t forget to put water in the lock.
    Read the directions on the can or the Kraus catalog. hope it works I would use the bathroom corner if animals were a problem or closet.
    clothes would smell a little..

  7. we need complete set of wine making technology, process and equipment, tools, with the quotation

  8. I like dryer (less sweet) wines. How do I make a dry wine but achieve high alcohol content?

  9. A. M. Pulliam, both can be done. Use a hydrometer to adjust your potential alcohol to 14%. After that it’s a matter of have a healthy vigorous fermentation. Use Lalvin Wine Yeast: type EC-1118 for good alcohol tolerance, and head all the warning within the following web article: The Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure

  10. still cant get my wine right either to sweet or to sour like mine on the sweet side but not to sweet