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Wine making

LozLoz Posts: 69

Hi, I need advise as a first time wine maker.

I'm making Elderberry wine following a River Cottage recipe. I'm at the stage where its been in a bucket, loosely covered for three days. It then says to decant into bottles/demijon for the vigourous fermenting to take place. I bought a plastic demijon from my local market. My problem doesn't say to seive the berries out so, I;ve left them in, in doing so, the whole amount doesn't fit into the demi, so should I leave berries out or liquid and the lid doesn't fit and I'm not sure how the air lock works. Should I push it tight or leave it loosely on top or remove it all together. I've literally just decanted it, its full to the bim, bubbling and leaking from the lid!!! HELP!! image



  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 26,982

    it wants straining into a fermentation vessel with an airlock loz

    the fermentation vessel takes a rubber bung and the airlock pushes through it. The airlock needs some water in it so the fermentation gases bubble out through the water but the air can't get in

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 82,737

    I would have strained it though fine muslin before putting into the demi-john.  

    I don't know about plastic demi-johns - I used glass ones with plastic fermentation locks/bubble trap with a little of the camden tablet solution in it..  

    The best book I know for home made wines is Drink Your Own Garden by Judith Glover - very clear explanation of simple techniques which can be adapted to make any wine, together with good illustrations of equipment.  Available via Amazon 

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • BoaterBoater Posts: 241

    The airlock is to stop any bacteria from the air getting into the wine during fermentation because if the wrong ones get in there you will get something more like vinegar. Thus it needs to be about half full of water  - sterilising solution would be fine but shouldn't be necessary if the airlock was sterilised when you sterilised the demijohn. You need the U-bend to be full  of water so that excess gas escaping from the demijohn has to bubble through it due to pressure build up inside, whilst air from outside atthe lower pressure can't bubble back through - simple but effective, the same technology that keeps smells from wafting out of your toilet and sinks!

    I assumed there that you have a typical winemakers airlock like an sideways S tube. I actually hate wine so only brew beer and mostly use a different type of airlock (until the head forms which is usually enough to protect beer) with a tube up the centre and a lid with a 'curtain' concentric with the tube a outer wall - again they need to be about half full so the 'curtain' from the lid is covered, forcing escaping gas to bubble under it to get out.

    The key to success with any brewing is sterilisation and cleanliness, keep the bad bacteria out and natural forces do most of the rest!

    If I fail to make elderberry cordial again at the weekend (ended up with jam before) I might have to try wine next year, I guess it will be different than grape wine so maybe I'll like it...??

  • BoaterBoater Posts: 241

    Hmm, did I make it clear that the bung should be tight so the airlock is the only way for gas to get out and to stop any air getting in?

  • Boater, if you use high alcohol tolerance yeast like I used to, you'll very quickly find you no longer care what it tastes like!image

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Peat BPeat B Posts: 441

    Wine making should be one of the first things a gardener should learn ! It is obligatory ! Necessary !  Desireable !   Now, winemaking is simplicity itself. For blackberry, rasberry, or ANY wine  made from garden produce, it is all grist to the boozer producers heat and mill.   Roughly 3 + lbs of fruit crushed into a plassy bucket. pour boiled water over the mush, Leave it for 3 or so days,

    Add some yeast nutrient, a teaspoonful for every gallon, and then add the sugar, barely 3lbs. It is just short of the weight of the fruit, as a rule of thumb. This amount keeps the wine adjustable to taste. If it's too dry, add a bit of made up syrup, just boiled water and sugar, and add to taste.

    Then, after three or four days, STRAIN the stuff off into a basic fermenting bucket.Add the yeast,  just sprinkle on top.  After a ew days, and the liqquid has been bubbling away excitedly and has started to settle down, you can then , with the use of a funnel, pour it into a demijohn, up to the shoulder of the jar. 

    Now, you can either go into this seriously, OR just enjoy the process. You can either go to a winemakers shop and get an airlock, ( cheap as chips ), OR you can merely stuff some coton wool, or a muslin clootie over the jar mouth, to stop any wine flies, foreign bacteria getting into the wine to be. Patience ! is the watchword. Watch it. DO NOT TOUCH IT !  LEAVE IT ALONE !! and at the end of the fermentation time, which you will know, it will stat to clear. If it doesn't, pop into your local Wilko's and get some 'finings', which has an almost miraculous clearing property. In a matter of 24 to 36 hours, your wine will be crystal clear, and virtually ready for bottling.

    You get roughly, if you are VERY careful, over 5 bottles of wine, or barely 6 bottles  per gallon. Remember, you can make a decent wine out of nearly anything ! It is simply, soaking the fruit to get the flavours out of it, adding sugar, yeast nutrient, yeast and keeping it fly free by covering the top of the fermentation jar. Airlocks are for serious boozers !  All decent allotmenteers are serious boozers, bless 'em.



  • Try CJ.J.Berry's book of  Wine making  it has everyything you would want to know .  The first lot of demi jons etc I bought at a jumble sale otherwise a certain large store that replaced a 'cheap' store  usually stocks everything you need  from yeast to bungs Syphons and demijons  or go online  there are many suppliers who will post   though I guess glass demijons would be a bit heavy!  good luck--  its a fascinatinfg hobby even if you dont drink  a great deal    image

  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,637

    If you want to produce vinegar then follow the advice to not use an airlock. Cotton wool or muslin will not keep out bacteria and will definitely not keep out oxygen both of which will spoil the wine very quickly.

  • Peat BPeat B Posts: 441

    Demijohns keep appearing out of the blue. I have a collection of 'em, growing year by year, and now have about a dozen of them. Only one is coloured, brown, but for white wines, clear is OK. For red wines, just keep the jar in the dark somewhere. Like husbands or mushrooms, we like to be kept in the dark.

    Bottling the wine is a good and fun time. Syphoning off the glorious ruby liquid is a celebration in itself. If you get empty wine bottles with screw tops, DO make sure that the wine is stable and fermented out, or you will have minor (or major) explosions from lively stuff spraying out over your house and carpets ! Taste it before bottling. you can always adjust the stuff to your palate. BUT, if adding to the sweetness, make sure you let it settle for a while, as it just might start up again, and then you have to leave it for another few weeks before bottling it.

  • Peat BPeat B Posts: 441

    YO ! Steephill......... I've used airlocks for years, and never had vinegar, BUT to be on the safe side, I use boiled water in the lock with a camden crushed tabled in it. Nae probs, peeps

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