Leigh Erwin: Making a Gewurztraminer

making a gewurztraminer wineHi everyone!
Time for a Day 8 check-in on my Gewurztraminer!
Backing up a little bit, I think everything is moving along OK with my new wine. I could tell the wine yeast were starting to do their thing 24 hours or so after adding them into my wine base/water/bentonite solution, though it never was “roaring” by any means.
I kept an eye on the temperature with a liquid crystal thermometer, and I did notice once it was pushing 80°F, so I unplugged the heating pad for a bit. Since it is a little cool down here in our finished basement where my new “winery” is located, I didn’t want to leave it unplugged forever, so I basically ended up unplugging and plugging in the heating pad periodically throughout the week, in an attempt to keep it between 68-77°F per the instructions.
One thing I thought of later was that I probably shouldn’t have left the lid on the primary fermenter with a fermentation lock like I do when I’m in secondary fermentation. I don’t think leaving the lid on is going to hurt it per se, but perhaps that’s why the yeast were never “going crazy” as I would have expected? Oh well, next time I’ll try to remember to leave the top off (but covered with a towel or something similar).
So, Day 8 is supposed to indicate the start of secondary fermentation, but only if the specific gravity is at the target <1.010 level. I was not sure if the fermentation was there yet, as I could still hear the pitter patter of little yeasty feet, but it’s been a while since I’ve actually made any wine, so I could be wrong.
shop fermentersAfter sterilizing all the appropriate equipment, I checked the temperature of my wine and it was at about 64.5°F. A little cool for primary fermentation of this Gewurztraminer, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been leaving the heating pad unplugged so much. Anyway, this lower temperature made me think that maybe the wine wouldn’t be quite ready to move on to secondary fermentation yet, as when the temperature is lower, fermentation tends to progress more slowly.
Anyway, I measured the specific gravity of the wine with a hydrometer and it read 1.016 on the specific gravity scale. So close to 1.010, but not close enough. Since it’s been a little on the cool side during primary fermentation, I’m confident that plugging in the heating pad and leaving the wine for another day or two should do the trick.
I’ll check again around the same time tomorrow and see if we’re ready to move forward with secondary fermentation.
leigh_erwin_bioMy 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.