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It begins this weekend

After about 5 years of brewing I have decided to take a crack at wine making. I recently bought two kits, wine experts vintners reserve pinot grigio and chateau des terrasses Chilean malbec. I have been doing some reading here on the forum and would like to ask a few(or a bunch) questions. Sorry if this is long winded.

  1. In terms of mixing and aeration, when doing the initial mixing of concentrate and water is it best to use a spoon to mix or would a mix stir work better. I use the mix stir to aerate my wort but have not seen any reference to aerating the wine prior to primary fermentation. Is it a bad thing to whip the crap out if it with the mix stir, my gut tells me that this would be the best way to combat striation and get a reliable SG reading.
  2. One kit says to sprinkle yeast on top and let go and the other says to sprinkle on, let sit for 20min then stir in. I am used to rehydrating. Does it matter?
  3. Neither of the kit gives a specific SG. The wine experts give a vague 1.080-1.097. Being a home brewer I am used to specific SG readings. What should I expect for these two wines? Again my gut tells me this is like extract brewing where as long as you use your specific volumes it is pretty much idiot proof and your SG will be what it is suppose to be, but I feel I need to ask.
  4. Most of what I have read says to follow the kit instructions. However, I have read (can’t remember the specific) that there is a specific SG reading you should get before you rack for the first time. The winexpert kit says 1.010 but the other kit says from 1.030-1.010. I have read about volcano like reactions if it is done at to high a SG. When should I transfer?
  5. I see conflicting information on what head space should be after degassing and leaving in carboy to settle. Some say 2-3 inches from airlock and some say don’t worry about it because it wont be in there long enough to matter. I plan to bottle relatively soon after degassing. Do I need to worry about head space? What time frame am I looking at before oxidation will effect the wine if I do not decrease head space?

that is it for now, thanks

Good luck and lots of fun expanding your hobby.

  1. Aeration is not commonly used in winemaking. I suspect that some of the components of grape juice can be very sensitive to oxidation pre-fermentation, but that is just a guess. Also, dry yeasts are commonly used, and they tend to have less need of aeration than liquid yeasts do.
  2. Doesn’t matter. Unless there is a reason otherwise, it is generally good advice to follow the instructions.
  3. It is like brewing extract and idiot proof. I suspect they don’t give a specific reading so customers who don’t mix the concentrate well won’t freak out. The only reason to mix the concentrate very well is to allow you to get a good OG reading, which is only needed to get an accurate ABV - if you want that. The yeast will mix everything up well during fermentation.
  4. Rack at 1.030-1.010. Anywhere in that range is fine. When you do, position the outlet of your syphon hose so that the wine fans out on the wall of your fermentor. This degasses the wine a bit, and actually helps the yeast finish strong.
  5. Depends on if you actively degass or just let it sit. With active degassing, you risk a volcano if you don’t have enough headspace when you stir vigorously. Passively letting the wine degas itself can take months however.

One piece of advice: let the wine sit in the carboy (with only 2-3 inches from the airlock after you’ve degassed it) for as long as you can make yourself wait. I don’t know if your kit is labeled as a 30 day kit, 90 day kit, or whatever, but the labels are always misleading. Even though you could drink it after just a few weeks, the wine will turn out much better if left for 6 months or more before bottling.

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