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Winemaking Tutorial - Lesson Four

Primary Fermentation

Now that your wine is happily bubbling away (producing alcohol!), let's discuss some of the things you should be doing during this phase.

  1. Take a rest during days 1-5. You deserve it!
    NOTE: If using elderberries, you may wish to stir once a day. This is optional.
  2. After about 6 or 7 days of primary fermentation, take a small sample of wine and record the specific gravity (SG). Be sure to sanitize, rinse, and air dry all the pieces of equipment that you'll be using (wine thief, sample jar, and hydrometer) before the sample is taken. You'll notice that the SG is lower than the initial SG you recorded a week ago. This is supposed to happen; otherwise, you wouldn't be making wine! We'll be interested in monitoring the SG on a daily basis, until it approaches the level that demarks the end of primary fermentation. Each wine kit manufacturer recommends a different SG level to shoot for, based on the kind of wine kit purchased.
  3. For instance: Spagnol kits (i.e. Vino Del Vida, Cellar Classic) recommend an SG of 1.010 or lower before racking the wine to the carboy to start secondary fermentation. A lower fermentation temperature will result in a longer fermenting period. For proper SG targets, please refer to the instructions provided within each kit.
  4. Once the "target" specific gravity for your type of wine has been reached, this signals the end of primary fermentation.


So far, all of the mixing and fermenting has occurred in the plastic fermenting bucket. Now, as we head into secondary fermentation, we'll be using the glass carboy and our racking equipment.

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