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The instructions in my wine and beer kits talk about number of days and also hydrometer readings, which do I follow?

Posted by Paul Sass, August 9th, 2012 | 7 Comments

One of the most important tools in your wine & beer making process is the hydrometer.  The principle of the hydrometer is to measure the density of your wine & beer.  As the wine & beer ferments creating alcohol, the hydrometer will sink deeper into the wine & beer, giving you important readings as to the progress of your fermentation.

Over the years The Home Vintner has educated over 10,000 wine & beer makers through our classes, stressing the importance of taking readings.  It is essential to take a reading BEFORE you pitch the yeast; BEFORE stabilizing; & BEFORE bottling.

Our wine & beer kits contain a lot of natural sugars, making them very viscous and difficult to dissolve.  It's very important that you stir, stir, stir your wine & beer at start-up in the primary and take a reading with your hydrometer.   If it is lower than the recommended specific gravity, go back and stir, stir, stir again until you reach the proper specific gravity.  If this step is skipped, the yeast will "top ferment".   A lot of the sugars will settle to the bottom and you will lose a substantial amount of character and weight, creating a wine or beer of lesser quality.

Before each stage of wine & beer making the hydrometer reading must obtain the correct reading indicated in the directions before you move on.  The number of days suggested are an approximate indication but the hobbyist must not move on until the correct hydrometer reading is reached.  Yes, with Calgary’s altitude it is going to take longer than indicated.  Time, time, time, don’t be in a hurry!

Post filed under: Ask The Vintner

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Walson Tai wrote on Jun 18, 2013 9:13 PM:
I think I killed my gluten free kit. for the following reasons:
1. I used a wood spoon (didn't in see the awesome stir tool in the kit)
2. Read the instructions on the glutem free kit, but didn't take a hydo test before I sprinkled the yeast.
3. I stirred (with my wooden spoon) for 5 minutes after reaching 23 L. But did not stir as vigorously as I seed in other videos.

what can I do to save this?
Walson Tai wrote on Jun 18, 2013 9:14 PM:
where can I go to get intstructions on how to use the hydrometer?
Ron wrote on Jul 13, 2013 2:26 PM:
From your questions I would highly recommend that you attend one of our wine & beer making classes. In 2 1/2 hours all you questions will be answered.
Jerrod wrote on Jan 1, 2014 7:11 PM:
I have an island mist kit and after 5 days we moved it to secondary ferm. on the 2nd day of secondary ferm i took a SG reading of 0.992. Can i go ahead to stabilizing and fining stage instead of waiting another 8 days?
Ron wrote on Jan 1, 2014 7:17 PM:
Always go by Specific Gravity. Leave the wine in the carboy for at least 3 weeks.
Kevin wrote on May 1, 2014 10:09 AM:
Is it alright to leave the wine in the primary for more than the recommended 5-7 days? I started a kit, but I'm going to be out of the country for 10 days, so it might be sitting for about 12 days before I could get to it.
Pat wrote on May 1, 2014 11:24 AM:
12 days could be pushing the limit, especially if you have a primary that does not have an airtight lid. You can always rack it over to the carboy before you leave and if it is fermenting rapidly and quite active, pick up a "blow-off" tube from The HOme Vintner. This tube fits over the inside of your airlock and place it in a large bottle 1/2 full of water. This in essence creates a large airlock thus eliminating blowing through your regular airlock.

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