Saturday, September 29, 2012

Grapefest 2012 (real grape pyments) Part 2

Ok, so how far has this got ?

Well, I've been conscientious in making sure that I've been punching down the cap twice a day since pitching the yeast on Monday.

The only thing I didn't do, was to take a gravity reading after adding the honey (about 500g per box of grapes), which I now know that I should have done. I think I was just a bit over-awed by using fresh grapes, and made the mis-guided presumption that it wouldn't matter. I was also using some of the "old" honey that I bought from Insomniac over at HBT, which being crystalised, meant I couldn't really judge how well it was mixed in with the grapes, again presuming it didn't matter as heat generated from the ferment would have dissolved the crystals, but that still wouldn't have given me an accurate starting gravity.

That was a mistake, it does matter. If I do this again (probably will, they're a good bunch over at Winesathome, and while the social aspect of Grapefest is worth the trip alone, I might as well order grapes too) I'll prepare the honey to make sure it's not crystalised first and probably use a sanitised sieve to push the pulp down enough to get some liquid and blitz it with the honey in the liquidiser or food processor. Then I would get an accurate starting gravity.

But why ? I've used K1-V1116 yeast, which does have a published tolerance of 18% ABV, and given that the others posted starting gravities of about 1.090 and a 100 point gravity drop suggests a strength of 13.5 % ABV, I don't know how much the 500g per box addition would have increased the gravity too.

I've concluded that I'll just step feed a further 200g of honey when I punch the cap down this evening. Then let it finish.

My only other question, that I've asked over at Winesathome, is how long I should continue to punch the cap down for. My intention is, not to get to a set point and then rack and press the pulp, but to leave the pulp in until it sinks.

Normally, when, say, making a traditional, I would only aerate the must from the starting gravity, down to the 1/3rd sugar break, but traditionals don't tend to suffer from oxidisation like "proper" grape wines do, and while I'm not making a proper grape wine (unlike the others over at WaH who got grapes at Grapefest), but I'm still aware that the use of real grape/juice is likely to increase this, so if I don't need to keep punching the cap down, I won't, but I'm not going to stop, well I don't need to while the ferment is active as it's probable that it's producing enough CO2 to blanket the pulp/juice to keep it protected.

Ha! I might have been making meads for sometime now, but I still have a lot too learn.......

For info, when I managed to take a reading on thursday evening, the 27 litre buckets with the Merlot, the Tempranillo and the mix of both (3 boxes of grape pulp per bucket) all gave readings in the 1.060 region, while the 10 litre bucket with just a single box of Tempranillo measured 1.045 (I'm presuming that this is down to a larger yeast pitch ratio i.e. I just put 1 pack of the K1-V1116 into each bucket - it's a smaller bucket and lower amount of grape).

So it's just the amount of time I need to keep punching the cap down that I'm unsure about. If it does ferment all the way to dry, it doesn't matter, as I'll probably be back sweetening to my usual levels anyway (I prefer my meads at about 1.010 to 1.015).

I'll update as and when something changes etc.

I do suspect that once it's ready to press the pulp, it'll be a bit messy, because I've only got a small 2 litre spindle press to work with. As long as I remove most/all of the pulp, I'll be happy, but I'm gonna have to think about bottling some of my meads, as I've only got about 5 or 6 empty ones - actually, the 19litre/5US gallon glass one will probably be empty too. I've discovered that the bloody air lock has dried out, so I'm presuming that it's gonna be oxidised. Hell, I haven't really thought about this, I don't think that any of the batches will fit into it (maybe if I just make the blended on up with the 27 litre bucket of Merlot/Tempranillo mix i.e. it's 2 boxes of Merlot and 1 box of Tempranillo at the moment, so if I mixed in the small bucket that contains 1 box of Tempranillo, that'll make it a straight 50/50 mix and might produce enough liquid to fill it).

Watch this space !

{edit}Oh, and I nearly forgot, I can't remember what evening it was, but while punching down one of the 27 litre buckets (can't remember if it was the mixed one or the straight Tempranillo), I was convinced I could smell the beginnings of some sulphur/H2S and in a worried moment, added some nutrient - to be on the safe side, I just added 1 tbsp of GoFerm as it doesn't have much, if any, in the way of DAP in it (worried about adding too much, as I wouldn't want any off flavours) and some pure DAP, the DAP to give the yeast something more to work with and the GoFerm for micro nutrients. Or at least that's the idea, whether it's a bit "half-arsed" or not......{/edit}

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