First wine.

Hi, I'm new to winemaking. I usually brew beer, but two weeks ago, I went out forraging in the autumn hedgerows and picked a load of sloes, damsons and apples. I was experimenting. Definitely not working from a recipe. Just going by instinct and hoping for the best. I brought these home and mashed them overnight in a slow cooker then pressed them to extract the juice. This juice was very dry tasting. Literally made your gums peel back off your teeth, so I decided to sweeten it a bit by adding a generous measure of honey (well they use it in mead so it must be okay) and half a kilo of sugar, and after that it tasted good enough to drink there and then. I added yeast and left it to ferment, and it's been plumping away happily to itself now for two weeks. In recent days it's started to slow down a bit - down to 1 bubble every 27 seconds today, but still fermenting.
So my questions are...
How long (on average) can I expect it to keep on fermenting? It's still very cloudy, will this start to clear once fermentation stops and the yeast drops out of the liquid? Once fermentation stops, should I transfer it to a clean demijohn while it clears, as I'm afraid the sediment might taint the flavour? Am I likely to need to add finings to make it go clear, or will it do this by itself? When/if I do transfer it to another demijohn, will it help to clear it if I pass it through a coffee filter? Once it's bottled, do I need to leave it in the bottles for a few weeks to condition before drinking it, like I do with beer?
Sorry for so many questions, but this seems like a really helpfull group and I'm still finding my feet with wine.
Cheers, Sam.
P.S. Have a second batch underway, only a week old, and made from elderberries and pears - again all locally picked.
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In article , "Sam" wrote:
Hard to say. It will continue to ferment until there's no sugar left, or the alcohol level rises high enough to kill the yeast. Which happens first depends on how much sugar was present at the start, how much you added, and how tolerant that particular strain of yeast is for high alcohol levels.
Don't wait for fermentation to stop. Do it now. Wine is generally fermented in two stages. Primary fermentation often produces violent foaming, and is best done in a vessel with a large headspace. Once the fermentation has quieted a bit -- and one bubble every 27 seconds is quiet -- it should be transferred to a smaller vessel, one with hardly any headspace. Oxygen is the enemy of good wine; keep the exposed surface area as small as possible. Add one Campden tablet per five gallons when you rack it to the secondary fermenter.
With apples, you are certain to need pectic enzyme. You may need finings as well; Sparkolloid works wonders.
Don't bother. Rack it now and add pectic enzyme; rack it again after three weeks, and again after three months. Most of the sediment will have dropped out on its own by then. Add the Sparkolloid then if you need it.
I would. Wine won't last forever, but it definitely improves with age.
You're welcome. I'm going to start making beer some time in the next few months; maybe you'll be able to answer some questions for me.
Hmmm... I have a batch of pear wine underway myself, started about a month ago. It's clearing faster than I'd expected, but there's a *lot* of sediment in the bottom of the carboy.
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Doug Miller

What Doug says. I'd rack it off into a demijohn now and let the fermentation work itself out. Did you put all the fruit in together when you pressed it because it sounds an interesting mix? You might want to think about getting a few how to do it books, anything by by C.J.J. Berry is a good start. They're simple easy to read etc.
You've reminded me I must rack off the gooseberry wine.
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Cheers, My old mum makes loads of wine, and she's sending me a few books. I kind of just jumped in at the deep end with this one, as I thought it would be fun to go with trial and error. It may not be so much fun when I come to taste it, LOL.
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Yeah, I'm noticing that. A massive amount of sediment, and it seems to consist of pretty large particles too.
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