Leigh Erwin: A Beginner's Wine Making Journey: Part 5

Homemade WineMan oh man, for someone who is used to nearly instant gratification, waiting 12 days for a wine to go through secondary fermentation is killer!  Actually, it’s not that bad, but man, am I really looking forward to the next step or what!
I have about 4 days left to go before I move on to stage 3, the degassing stage.  At this stage, I am supposed to take a reading of the specific gravity with a wine hydrometer and make sure that it is below 0.995.  Well, since the specific gravity after primary fermentation of my wine was hovering right at (or just slightly below) 0.995, I’m confident that it will certainly be below this value after 12 days!
If you saw my video the last time I updated you all on the progress of my wine, you would have seen my secondary fermentation in full force.  Well, 8 days later, the fermentation has slowed down to a turtle’s pace, if not slower!  There were some tiny bubbles at the top of the wine that at first I thought might be flowers of wine, but thankfully these were just bubbles of carbon dioxide and they have all since disappeared.  It’s also been really neat to see the wine yeast slowly but surely settle down to the bottom of the carboy, and the wine on the top slowly clearing up.  I can’t quite see all the way through it yet, however, it’s a lot clearer than it was at the beginning of secondary fermentation, so I’m hoping that after stage 4 (stabilization and clarification), the wine will be really nice and translucent.
As I’ve been waiting for my wine to go through secondary fermentation, I’ve been reading ahead in the instructions to prepare myself for the next few steps, and to be sure I have all the equipment I’ll need to do so.  If not, I’ll have to put in a quick order and get the items shipped to me ASAP!  In a few days from now, I’ll move on to step 3, the degassing stage.  Reading through the instructions, I noticed that I’m supposed to siphon my wine into another sterilized carboy.  Wait, what?  The wine kit only came with one carboy and one primary fermenter.  What am I supposed to do here?  Can I just siphon it into the primary fermenter?  Does it have to be a carboy?
Well, not wanting to leave things up to chance, I went ahead and sent a message to the lovely folks at Adventures in Homebrewing and got a quick and very helpful reply.  Basically, I could do two things: 1) I could purchase another carboy; or 2) I could siphon the wine temporarily into the primary fermenter, wash and sterilize the carboy that I had just used for secondary fermentation, and the siphon the wine again from the primary fermenter back to the carboy.  Not only will I finish the step as instructed (i.e. in a carboy), but I will have also added an extra gassing step that will help to further remove any carbon dioxide that may be floating about.  Nice!
Now, eventually I do plan on purchasing more carboys and expanding my hobby of home winemaking, however, due to my current living situation (i.e. living in a tiny 2 bedroom condo with two dogs, one cat, and one human), I really don’t have the space for another sizeable piece of equipment.  So, this time around, I will heed the second piece of advice from the folks at Adventures in Homebrewing and will do an extra siphoning step to get my original carboy cleaned and sterilized and ready for use again.  We are anticipating a big move next fall (into a “real” house!), so at that point is when I will begin expanding my home winemaking equipment and will start to invest in some more carboys and whatnot.
If any of you are following along with me and trying out home winemaking for the first time, I hope you’re batches are going just fine and dandy!  Please feel free to reach out and ask for help if you need it—you don’t want to risk ruining an entire batch of wine, throwing away time, money, and effort, just because you were too afraid to ask questions.  As I’m continuing to learn, the home winemaker crowd is very kind and extremely helpful, and so far as a newbie, I’m having a blast and have been made to feel like I am one of the group already!
Next time I talk to you I will have completed the degassing phase!  Wish me luck!

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 5

  1. It may be just the light in the picture but there seems to be a lot of surface area in the carboy. Also in the instructions i noticed it says not to top off. I have been very careful to top the carboy to the neck so there is very little exposure to air. Am I being to particular?.

  2. Leo, thanks for the great question. Leigh is making wine with a 28 day wine ingredient kit. That means that it will be bottled on the 28th day after the fermentation has started. The time is so short with these kits that topping-up is not a necessity. There is not time for oxidation or opportunity for spoilage. If you are making wine with fresh fruit or if you decided to bulk-age a 28 day wine ingredient kit before bottling, then there is a need for topping up.

  3. I’m in the second phase of fermentation and I have my wine in the 5 gallon airtight bucket in which I drilled a hole in the top and ran a tube from it and it’s resting in a bottle of water. I do see the bubbling in the water bottle, but I’m wondering how long will the second phase of bubbling last.

  4. Edith, it is possible that the fermentation has already completed and there is no more bubbling to be done. One way to confirm this is to take a reading with a hydrometer. It will tell you if there are anymore sugars to be fermented. Your are looking for a reading of less than .998 if the fermentation is done. If you do not have a hydrometer you can taste the wine. If it still taste sweet then it would appear that you have a stuck fermentation, in which case I would suggest that you review the following article:

    Top 10 Reasons For Fermentation Failure