Hi everyone! I just finished the first phase of my new batch of homemade wine made from a wine juice concentrate, and I’m very hopeful at the moment for its success! It smells and looks great, so here’s hoping fermentation will start right up and get cranking (though I do realize it could take a day or two to really get moving).
First thing is first—I sterilized the equipment I was going to use today: the primary fermenter, stirring spoon, hydrometer, the cylinder to hold the hydrometer, as well as measuring cups/spoons for the various wine making ingredients I added. I really liked using the sodium bisulfite, as it is a sterilization product that does not require rinsing! One of the things I was most concerned about during my first batch of homemade wine was the fact that my cleaning/sterilizing agent required rinsing, and I could never be 100% sure if I got it all or if I’d left a little bit to ultimately cause hard times or even ruin the wine.
After I sterilized everything, I opened up the can of wine juice concentrate and poured it into the primary fermenter (with the spigot in the CLOSED position!). Next, according to the wine making instructions on the side of the can of wine juice concentrate, I was to add 13 can’s worth of warm water. I had several gallons of room temperature bottled drinking water, but I wasn’t sure if that was warm enough, so I just popped the water in the microwave for a couple of minutes to increase the temperature a couple of degrees. Hopefully that was not a bad idea 😉
Once I added all the water, I proceeded to add 6.5 lbs of sugar, per the instructions. Now, I didn’t have a scale (add that to the list of things to buy), so I just googled ‘how many cups of granulated sugar in a pound’ and got my answer. Apparently, 2 cups of white granulated sugar equals 1 pound, so since the recipe called for 6.5 pounds, that meant I needed 13 cups of sugar. Easy! Done!
I stirred the sugar up for a bit to get it dissolved, then I added the next several ingredients. The can called for this pre-made nutrient mix, but also underneath described the individual components of that mix in case that mix was not available. I had the individual ingredients, but not the mix, so add them one at a time I did! I added 3 ounces of Acid Blend (which I weighted using a simple postage stamp scale), 5 level teaspoons of Yeast Nutrient, and 1 level teaspoon of Grape Tannin. Actually, it said “lvl. tsp” on the can, so hopefully my assumption that “lvl” means “level” was correct.
After I stirred all these ingredients together with my stirring spoon, I went ahead and measured the specific gravity of the must with my hydrometer, which read 1.072. Looking at the instructions on the can of wine juice concentrate, it said the specific gravity should be 1.075. Did I do something wrong? I scratched my head for a minute or two and then had an “ah ha!” moment. My must was somewhere in the upper 70s low 80s F., but the hydrometer I have is calibrated to 60°F! There must be a conversion factor to take differences in temperature into consideration! Low and behold, ask Google, and get the answer, so that I did and I discovered a few sites that adjusts specific gravity based on the temperature of the must and the temperature for which the hydrometer is calibrated.
Now, silly me does yet have a thermometer (yep, add that to the list of things to buy, too), so I just guessed that the temperature of my must was 80°F., since I had microwaved the water a little bit prior to adding it to the primary fermenter. Based on the online specific gravity converter, my must actually has a specific gravity of 1.074 instead of 1.072, which is much closer to the predicted 1.075 on the can. Of course, there is most likely a little error here due to the fact that I randomly guessed the temperature of the must, but it’s close enough for me to be happy and move forward.
After I take a little break to let the temperature of the must come back down to between 70 and 75, I’ll go ahead and add the wine yeast and ferment this bad boy for 5 days. Cross your fingers for me that this all goes well!
My 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.