September 14, 2009

Sassy Homemade Wine - The Wine Kit, Step One

A couple of weeks ago I posted about Kit Wine...well, this week the moment you've been waiting for... Today we're going to make the Spanish Tempranillo:
The beauty of Kit Wine is that it's easy, and most of them contain everything you need. Like the 'bladder' full of the premium crushed grape juice:
The yeast, oak chips, and all the miscellaneous additives needed to make the best quality wine:
First and foremost, you sanitize everything you're going to use - the bucket, ginormous spoon, measuring cup, wine thief, hydrometer, thermometer, etc. This time I used a chemical called 'Easy Clean':
After you've sanitized everything, you add 1/2 gallon hot water to your fermentation bucket:
It got a bit steamy!
Then you add the Bentonite - see the packet marked with the number 1? Easy!
Sprinkle the entire packet into the water, then stir:
Stir vigorously for 30 seconds to make sure it's completely dissipated into the water:
 
Why Bentonite?  It's used to remove excessive amounts of protein which can cause undesirable flocculent clouds or hazes upon exposure to warmer temperatures, as these proteins denature.

It also helps induce more rapid clarification of both red and white wines.  I use it when making fresh fruit wines, too... In layman's terms it gets rid of the 'bad stuff' and helps make the wine more 'clear'.

Now the fun part - you jury rig the 'bladder' in the box so the spout is sticking out and wedged into the punch out on the flaps (it makes it easier to pour the contents into the bucket, since it is heavy!):
Stir while pouring (this was tricky getting a picture balancing that with one hand...luckily I didn't drop my camera into the bucket!):
Add 1/2 gallon warm water into the bladder to make sure you get every last drop of the grape juice...I think I did pretty good getting it all:
Top off the bucket'o'juice with water until you reach the 6-gallon mark on your bucket and stir gently.  Then it's time to use the wine thief and pull some of the juice back out of the bucket to test with the hydrometer:
Levels look great for fermentation:
The hydrometer is used to measure 'specific gravity'.  What that means is that based on that specific gravity (SG), you can determine what the alcohol level will be in your finished wine.  This will, of course, change during the fermentation process, so you want to make sure you check it in case you need to add more sugar to increase the alcohol levels in your finished wine.  

The measured SG in this batch is 1.110 - which means potentially there will be 14.9% alcohol in the finished wine.  That will come down slightly during fermentation - we'll see what the final level is later

This kit came with oak chips - since it's a type of wine that traditionally is aged in oak barrels, this gives the home winemaker the opportunity to get the same flavors without having to age in a barrel.

Now it's time to add the oak chips:

First the packet of Toasted Oak:

Then the packet of French Oak:


Stir them in:
Stir some more...
And stir some more:
The oak chips will eventually get 'heavy' and sink to the bottom of the liquid.  They'll be left behind during one of the many racking modes (where you transfer from one carboy to another, leaving the sediment behind), but in the meantime will infuse the wonderful oaky taste that some fine wines are famous for...like the Spanish Tempranillo.

Now it's time to check the temperature to make sure it's not too 'cold' for the yeast:
I finally got to use my Wine Thermometer - even though it's not made specifically for this, it sure beats using a regular thermometer, plus it reads out the temperature much faster.
 
The temperature of the juice is vital - if it's too cold, the yeast won't start to do it's job fermenting your wine.  If it's too hot, there will be rapid fermentation that will fizzle out before you want it to.  The recommended temperature is 65-75 degrees Farenheit, but the yeast packet also confirms temps can be up to 105 degrees...so the temperature of my juice is just fine for the yeast.

Now it's time to sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the juice, but do not stir this time:

You can see that the yeast is already starting to react to the juice:

Time to cover it - for fresh fruit fermentation, I simply drape a towel or old T-Shirt over the top of the bucket - you need air to allow the fermentation process to start (and continue). But since I have this lid for the bucket, I used it since it will still get air, and since there's no fruit to require extra air, this will function well:

But did drape a kitchen towel over the top so nothing will sneak in and ruin it:

And now the waiting begins. This is what is known as 'primary fermentation'. In 5 days I'll check the levels again with the hydrometer - when it reaches a certain level, it's time to transfer into a carboy for the secondary fermentation. The primary fermentation usually takes 5-7 days depending on how warm the room is during this process.  I'll have those updates next week, of course!

I'll also be picking up another 8-gallon bucket - I thought I had two so I could start both wine kits, but I only had 5 and 6 gallon ones.  For these wine kits, you want to make sure you have 8-gallon fermentation buckets and 6 gallon carboys - or the wine won't turn out.  Everything that is sent in the kit is crucial to having the correct size bucket and carboy.  If I can't pick up an 8-gallon bucket locally, I'll wait until this bucket is available (in 5-7 days) and start the Blueberry Blush.

This week I'll also be testing the grapes on the grape vine with my refractometer to see if they're ready to be picked - last year we picked them on September 20th, so I'll be curious to see if they're ready yet. Since this summer has been cooler than last summer, they may need to stay on the vine an extra week or so, we'll see.

I posted about the wine filter debacle in my Friday Fragments post - if you haven't read it, you missed some hilarity. The nice thing about Kit Wine is they don't have near the amount of sediment fresh fruit does because the fruit comes without the rinds or stuff that will cause sediment. You'll get some, but when you rack it a few times, the wine becomes super clear. Just another reason a beginner will definitely want to try out Kit Wines before moving on to fresh fruit wines - so you don't give up before you've begun!

30 Random Sassy Comments:

amy said...

What's a wine thief? And are they still out on the loose?


following from mbc

blueviolet said...

I see you cover up the hole of the bucket with a towel (good idea) but do you still have a problem with gnats? That's a lot of fruity enticement going on there.

What a process. I admire you for going through all this. Raise your prices!!!

Mango Girl said...

I am so proud of you. I am still not ready to try this yet. I am going to stick to the liquor stores.

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

Hmm, way too much work for me! I'll stick to buying my wine already bottled and corked :)

But I can't wait to see how it turns out.

kyooty said...

oh that looks like it will turn out easily enough. How longg is that wait agian? :)

Mrsbear said...

Sounds like a labor of love. I'm not much of a wine drinker myself, by the end of the day I'm usually exhausted enough as it is, add alcohol to the mix and I'd be in a coma till morning.

sheila said...

OMGosh looks like so much work...but SO MUCH FUN!

GRAMEE said...

My husband has only ever made beer.
some good some bad, {in my opinion}.
After having followed your blog for a while now and "watching" you make wine.
I am going to encourage him to make a batch.

Kathy B! said...

That wine kit is very cool! I think I might be able to handle that, but then again... maybe not. Stupidity seems to follow me.

Sprite's Keeper said...

I think I'm a little drunk reading this!
There's a lot to do in the process!

mo.stoneskin said...

Tempranillo is my all-time favourite grape. Wait a second, you've been making gorgeous Spanish red and not offering me any? Right. I'm gonna cross you off my Christmas card list.

Ice Queen said...

That sounds delicious. I wish I had the patience for it. Maybe one day...until then I'm walking down the block to the liquor store. Ha

Tranquility said...

That's intense - I am totally impressed!... and thirsty. ;)

Amy said...

That sure is a lot of work for some wine. Can't wait to see how it turned out.

diane said...

I can't believe you were able to document all of that while you were in the process of making wine. I think my head would have exploded if I had tried that.

Firefly@www.firefly-shop.org said...

Cool :) love it!

Casey said...

Holy pictures! It probably took you longer to upload all those pictures than it did to make the wine! Looks pretty cool, wine making but I'm still anti-wine. ;)

Farmer*swife said...

This would be something fun to try sometime. It does look like it requires a lot of steps...but, I guess, as with anything -- it becomes a natural process.

Thanks for sharing; looking forward to reading how it comes out! 14.9%? Now, that's my kinda' wine! :-D

Toni said...

I think I would have given up once I'd looked inside the box and realised how much there was to do! lol. Good for you for sticking to it xx

Grand Pooba said...

Oh my goodness Stacy you have me on the edge of my seat! And for once I'm not being sarcastic. This is so cool! Does wine from wine kits actually taste good? I just think it is amazing that you make your own wine from your own grapes! I'd probably screw up the kit kind! I don't suppose you ship to Utah?

buffalodick said...

You are advanced.. a lot of your readers are impressed but lost, I think! I've done this stuff, and you are doing this beautifully correct, and sparing no expense!

Brian Miller said...

intriguing...you make it seem so easy...maybe something fun to try sometime.

Liz said...

Wow that must of been fun. Now lets drink!

otin said...

You know, if you just buy the wine, you could spend even more time blogging! LOL!

Hit 40 said...

My grandparents used to make wine and home made ice cream. Yummy ice cream!! I was never allowed to try the wine. So.. it must have been good!!

Hit 40 said...

I was concerned that I fell off the comments... then I remembered your contest!! This will do it :-)

Martha in PA said...

Looks like fun, but drinking it is much more fun! Wood chips in wine, who knew?

I bought a nice bottle of Spiced Apple wine from Chadds Ford Winery on Sunday, it is delish, holding of until October!

lvlc said...

I have a kit and haven't done it yet! Thanks for inspiring me to do it! :)

Grand Pooba said...

So how many bottles does this wine kit make? Are there kits out there that make small volumes? Do you bottle it yourself in bottles or one of those box wine thingies...lol I know, very technical terms here!

Megan said...

I find this all so fascinating, yet I could never see myself actually attempting it. LOL