Making a good wine, like any other task requires a good process. In the numerous functions of processing grapes or other materials into wines, the most fundamental is the primary fermentation. If we do not get the primary fermentation right, the rest of our process becomes insignificant.
Here is a look at how to effectively manage the process of primary fermentation.
*CLEAN EVERYTHING that comes in contact with your juice, must, or wine.
*Now we are ready to begin. Here is a good fermentation monitoring sheet:
*Make sure your yeast dosage is adequate. Using an amount proper for the volume of juice or must you are fermenting is vital to a clean, healthy process and keeps undesirable competitors from developing.
*Rehydrate your yeast properly. A healthy biomass is important to having a clean, uninterrupted fermentation. Use a good yeast rehydration nutrient like Go Ferm. This product will improve the vitality of the yeast and enable them to perform well under stressful conditions as the alcohol in the must increases.
*Use a good fermentation nutrient. These provide food for yeast and keeps them healthy. Timely measured additions are imperative as well. Additions should be made at 1/3 sugar depletion and again at half sugar depletion.
An example of this: 24 brix, 1/3 depletion would be at 16 brix, make the first addition. At 12 brix, or half the beginning sugar level make the second addition.
Know the condition of your fruit. Nature isn't always perfect and growing seasons are what defines the quality of every vintage. Assuming your grapes are in the proper condition is a bit cavalier.
25 brix is the maximum sugar level grape vines can produce. Fruit under 25 brix, while certainly useable, isn't fully mature. Then you would want to consider an aggressive yeast strain that ferments quickly for grapes in this condition.
Fruit over 25 brix is dehydrating and may be low in acid. Fully mature fruit with dark seeds will benefit from slower, extended fermentations. Tannins are supple and lend themselves to improving the overall structure and depth of wines.
*Temperature. Keep it cool man....cool. Temperatures from 70 to 78 degrees for reds and 62 to 68 for whites can have positive effects on your wines. Monitor your temperatures daily to ensure that you don't stress your yeast in environments that are too warm or too cold. Remember fermentation generates heat, having a few frozen water bottles to drop in your must is helpful if you do not have any means to control temperature. Have a few back up bottles ready and switch them out as needed.
*Stir or turn over your cap frequently. Keeping the yeast cells in the mix will help them from becoming buried under the lee's or the cap. Keep them suspended.
*And once again, don't forget to CLEAN EVERYTHING that comes into contact with your juice, must, or wine.
Being proactive, monitoring progress, and simply paying attention to your primary fermentation will get you off to a great start in crafting better wine.
Don't take chances. Take charge!