Argentia wine kit help

A general forum for making wine, cider, and mead at home.
lukie
Posts: 16
Joined: 2 years ago
Favourite Beer: Rochefort 10

Argentia wine kit help

Post by lukie » 2 years ago

So this is my first wine kit ever and i purchased from costco.I went with the Chardonnay. I selected the fasferment conical for all stage fermenting since i dont have much space for clutter and im planning adding another one if all goes well.

I followed the kit instructions to the letter and air lock activity began within 12 hours. First few days the airlock was very active , bouncing every second. But from day 7 it has slowed considerably maybe now once every minute or two and at times i dont even notice any activity. On day 9 i took a small two drop sample to measure in my refractometer and it shows a 7 brix which is still a bit higher than it should be. I think on day 10 i need to be around 2.3 brix if im doing the conversion right. Is the slow activity and high brix number normal for day 8? If not what can i do?
Last edited by lukie on |28 Apr 2016|, 23:40, edited 2 times in total.

lukie
Posts: 16
Joined: 2 years ago
Favourite Beer: Rochefort 10

Re: Argentia wine kit help

Post by lukie » 2 years ago

Oh and i should add i didnt take initial SG because my refractometer hadnt come in yet. I figured with a kit having all ingrediants premeasured it was okay to go ahead without that

lukie
Posts: 16
Joined: 2 years ago
Favourite Beer: Rochefort 10

Re: Argentia wine kit help

Post by lukie » 2 years ago

Another thing I will add about my Fastferment is that I had some initial difficulties with the thermowell. When doing the initial leak test, a bead of water kept trickling out every 30 seconds or so, regardless of the amount of teflon tape I put around the brass thermowell. I came to the conclusion that there might be some slight damage/misalignment to the plastic thread in fastferment body itself. I wasn't going to take any chances with that small leak since it can become bigger given the constant pressure and the continued screwing and unscrewing of the thermowell, so I just purchased a 1/2 inch nylon threaded plug from HD for 50 cents instead and once in there, put some silicone on the outside to prevent any leaks. It worked to seal the small leak completely. Hopefully since there is no leak, air is not getting out either. Considering Fastferment is mixing weak plastic threads in the unit's body with a brass threaded thermowell, I think this part of the unit is potentially it's riskiest place and biggest flaw and kind of unnecessary since I can take temps by other means.

User avatar
bellybuster
Posts: 652
Joined: 4 years ago
Favourite Beer: stout
Contact:

Re: Argentia wine kit help

Post by bellybuster » 2 years ago

congrats on your first batch.
Don't worry too much about the time the instructions say, sometimes it will just take longer. Follow your refractometer, it will tell you when its done. If you get the same reading over a 3 day period the wine has finished and will be safe to bottle. Sometimes a gentle swirl can get those last few points down.
7 prix is still on the high side, I imagine it will continue to drop. patience is a virtue when fermenting anything.

User avatar
bellybuster
Posts: 652
Joined: 4 years ago
Favourite Beer: stout
Contact:

Re: Argentia wine kit help

Post by bellybuster » 2 years ago

BTW the folks at fast ferment have great customer service, send them an email about your issues and see what they say.

User avatar
Warthaug
Posts: 802
Joined: 7 years ago
Favourite Beer: The wet kind
Location: SW Ontario
Contact:

Re: Argentia wine kit help

Post by Warthaug » 2 years ago

You cannot get an accurate fermenting wine measurement from a refractometer without having a pre-fermentation gravity. Once you have those two numbers you can then use a calcualtor to determine the actual gravity of your fermenting wine:
http://www.northernbrewer.com/learn/res ... alculator/

For example, many wines start at a gravity around 22 brix (S.G> of 1.092). Assuming your wine started around there, and your current brix reading of 2.3, your real current gravity is ~-1 brix (0.991 SG), meaning your wine has fermented to completion and should be ready for transfer to the secondary for additional aging, sulfate addition, etc.

If you use a hydrometer you will not need to use a calculator, and can read gravity at any time. But you need to pull a fairly large sample, which is wasteful.

Bryan
Visit my blog at suigenerisbrewing.com. Homebrewing, yeast wrangling, wild yeast and more!

lukie
Posts: 16
Joined: 2 years ago
Favourite Beer: Rochefort 10

Re: Argentia wine kit help

Post by lukie » 2 years ago

bellybuster wrote:BTW the folks at fast ferment have great customer service, send them an email about your issues and see what they say.

Thanks, I will give them a shout and see what they say. Apart from this tiny leak problem that I've fixed, I haven't ran into any other issues with this unit. Although it is a tad pricier (esp, with the optional stand), over than the tried and true bucket and carboy system, I do appreciate it's compactness and a more seamless transition to secondary fermentation.
Last edited by lukie on |29 Apr 2016|, 12:14, edited 1 time in total.

lukie
Posts: 16
Joined: 2 years ago
Favourite Beer: Rochefort 10

Re: Argentia wine kit help

Post by lukie » 2 years ago

Warthaug wrote:You cannot get an accurate fermenting wine measurement from a refractometer without having a pre-fermentation gravity. Once you have those two numbers you can then use a calcualtor to determine the actual gravity of your fermenting wine:
http://www.northernbrewer.com/learn/res ... alculator/

For example, many wines start at a gravity around 22 brix (S.G> of 1.092). Assuming your wine started around there, and your current brix reading of 2.3, your real current gravity is ~-1 brix (0.991 SG), meaning your wine has fermented to completion and should be ready for transfer to the secondary for additional aging, sulfate addition, etc.

If you use a hydrometer you will not need to use a calculator, and can read gravity at any time. But you need to pull a fairly large sample, which is wasteful.

Bryan
Yeah, I hear you about the OG. But like I mentioned, my refractometer didn't come in yet and I just couldn't wait to get started. I guess I didn't consider that the same standardized kit (where the only thing a user inputs, beside sanitation, is water) could produce a significantly different SG at the outset.

Another question - If I were to consume this wine in relatively short time (1 to 2 months) would it be okay for me to use screw top bottles instead of cork (don't have a corker yet). Furthermore - and this may be a silly question - could I later convert screw top bottles to corked ones or is the diameter different on those?

And finally, which kits would you guys recommend in terms of value and quality. Can't comment on Argentia's quality yet but it's really cheap, cheap, cheap (comes to about $1.25/bottle @ Costco). :cheers:

User avatar
Warthaug
Posts: 802
Joined: 7 years ago
Favourite Beer: The wet kind
Location: SW Ontario
Contact:

Re: Argentia wine kit help

Post by Warthaug » 2 years ago

Your OG should be close to the kit norm; slight variances will occur due to differences in water additions, etc, but you should be within half a brix of the gravity stated in the kit. Even if your wine had a low starting gravity, at 2.3 brix it is still done.

I don't think corks fit screw-tops, but there is nothing wrong with screw-top for short-term, or even long-term aging. I use corks cause I like opening corked bottles; there isn't much of a better reason to use them (and they can cause issues, such as cork taint, if used improperly).

The costco kits are not overly great; good for more basic wines, but you will be disappointed if you are trying to brew some of the beefier styles. The price is so low as you are diluting the grape must with water more than a higher quality kit. We use the costco kits for summer "deck" wines, and for wine coolers, but buy more expensive kits for the fancier stuff. I have no particular line of kits that I prefer; as a 'rule' I look for a kit that is at least 18L of juice (for a 23L batch). Some of the better kits will have oak, wine skins and other additives that can greatly improve the wine. In the fall many wine shops will sell undiluted pressed juice, which makes some really good wines.

For the fancier kits, time is your friend. I age in secondary at least 5 months prior to bottling, and try not to drink whites until they are at least 8 months old, and we don't touch our reds until they are over a year. Its hard at first, but if you brew on a regular schedule you can build up a nice wine cellar, at which point it is easy to age wines until they are ready. We're enjoying a 2-year old Malbec right now which is better than any Malbec I could afford to by at the wine store.

One section (of four) of my wine cellar. Sorry, beer's hogging the shot:
Image

Bryan
Visit my blog at suigenerisbrewing.com. Homebrewing, yeast wrangling, wild yeast and more!

lukie
Posts: 16
Joined: 2 years ago
Favourite Beer: Rochefort 10

Re: Argentia wine kit help

Post by lukie » 2 years ago

Warthaug wrote:Your OG should be close to the kit norm; slight variances will occur due to differences in water additions, etc, but you should be within half a brix of the gravity stated in the kit. Even if your wine had a low starting gravity, at 2.3 brix it is still done.

I don't think corks fit screw-tops, but there is nothing wrong with screw-top for short-term, or even long-term aging. I use corks cause I like opening corked bottles; there isn't much of a better reason to use them (and they can cause issues, such as cork taint, if used improperly).

The costco kits are not overly great; good for more basic wines, but you will be disappointed if you are trying to brew some of the beefier styles. The price is so low as you are diluting the grape must with water more than a higher quality kit. We use the costco kits for summer "deck" wines, and for wine coolers, but buy more expensive kits for the fancier stuff. I have no particular line of kits that I prefer; as a 'rule' I look for a kit that is at least 18L of juice (for a 23L batch). Some of the better kits will have oak, wine skins and other additives that can greatly improve the wine. In the fall many wine shops will sell undiluted pressed juice, which makes some really good wines.

For the fancier kits, time is your friend. I age in secondary at least 5 months prior to bottling, and try not to drink whites until they are at least 8 months old, and we don't touch our reds until they are over a year. Its hard at first, but if you brew on a regular schedule you can build up a nice wine cellar, at which point it is easy to age wines until they are ready. We're enjoying a 2-year old Malbec right now which is better than any Malbec I could afford to by at the wine store.

One section (of four) of my wine cellar. Sorry, beer's hogging the shot:
Image

Bryan
Wow, sweet celler and beer set-up. Thanks for all the info. Hopefully I will get to the advanced stage where I can age wines for 2 years.

So my Brix is still at a constant 7, not going down. Guess that means the yeast is done prematurely for some reason. I'm trying to determine where I erred and of course it's very difficult without having the initial OG. I did use tap water for the batch, since I read that this is fine if the tap water tastes okay. One thing I didn't do was use a cleaner like PBW or OxiClean Free because I mistakenly thought that the Star San was also meant for this. Now I know better. However, in doing the leak test and having that constant bead of water I poured, soaked and repoured water all around that receptacle multiple times (at least 4 times) so hopefully it washed away any dirt/dust that was inside. I also poured the StarSan at the prescribed quantity and did not flush it our after, I think that's what you're supposed to do right?

Also, I made the small mistake of opening the bottom lever of the Fastferment just AFTER I sprinkled the yeast on top of the juice, wheveras I think you're supposed to open the lever before sprinkling the yeast. Maybe this created a short suction and the yeast drowned, I just don't know. I do remember that it took all of 12 hours (or just a bit over) for fermentation to start and I was concerned with it taking that long, but once it started it was bubbling A LOT for the first 3-4 days. Hmm, where did I go wrong?

Post Reply