Popped Corks

amprice(5)October 18, 2008

This is my first year making our own wine. I followed the recipe of 1 qt fruit (we used our grapes), 1pkg yeast, 2cups sugar, 1 gallon water. Mashed the grapes, strained for the juice and bottled in a glass jar for 3 weeks. Strained again, bottled and corked it. Went downstairs last night to put our apples into cold storage only to discover that 4 of the bottles had blown their corks and I had "wine" all over the shelf. No fancy eq. just plain old stuff. What would have caused this? They were all from the second batch which the only difference was the grapes were riper off the vine. I am getting ready to do a third batch and the only difference this time is I am using the wine yeast instead of regular yeast. Have I wasted all my time?

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You added 2 cups of sugar to a quart of grapes?

It was still fermenting in the bottles is why the corks popped. How did you know fermentation was finished when you bottled? Not sure why you added so much sugar and water instead of just using the grape juice. Plus if you used riper grapes, they had more sugar than the first batch anyhow. But using so much sugar makes it hard to predict.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 2:54PM
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so what should i do with the ones that haven't popped? are they no good and it is just a matter of time before they blow too? with this being the first year we had grapes we were just trying to find things to do with them so any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2008 at 8:49PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

I'm not an expert and I don't know the answer to your question as to whether your wine is still usable. But, I let mine sit in the carboy for up to 6 months to ensure it will not begin fermenting again and to allow the wine to clarify.

Good luck on getting answers to your questions.


    Bookmark   October 21, 2008 at 10:50AM
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makalu_gw(z5b NY)

You definitely haven't wasted your time ... it's called experimenting! ;) I think your wine will be usable though I'm not sure based on the ingredients that you're going to love the first results.

I agree with rosesinny that you bottled (at least the second batch) too early and it was still going thus the carbon dioxide from the fermentation built up and blew the corks. You've said that 4 bottles blew and they were all from the second batch ... normally I only get 4 or 5 bottles per gallon so it seems like the whole second batch is gone. If not, I'd be really careful with any remaining second batch bottles since they're likely to be carbonated and I'd either toss them or open them away from people while wearing protective clothing.

Just to be sure, I'd also open 1 from the first batch and see how it's doing. Taste it and see if you like the taste, look at it and see if it's still clear, etc. Then I'd make whatever adjustments you think are reasonable before making your third batch. You've already made one major change - going with wine yeast - and that's going to change the taste of the grape wine substantially and almost definitely for the better. At the end of the fermentation, your third batch should have significantly less sweetness, more alcohol and much less yeast taste in it since the yeast is specially designed to produce the product you want and not beer or bread. It'll also probably take twice as long to ferment too - most of my wine fermentations take 4-6 weeks at 72 degrees to get done in the primary fermentation and then as Tj does I transfer the wine to another jug and let it sit a for a few months to clear further.

As you get more into this hobby, you're going to very quickly want to pick up something to measure specific gravity because it's the easiest way to tell if a wine is done fermenting (it'll be at a constant reading for several tests). They're cheap and really cut down on the cleanup from spraying wine all over the place.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 8:20AM
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Those were my exact words to my husband just last night! My next question is when i transfer to another jug am i straining it and moving it or just dumping from one to another? and then what is the specific name for the thing that will measure gravity? Watch for flying corks tonight as we will be opening the other 2 bottles tonight to get rid of them as that was one mess i don't want to clean up again.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 12:58PM
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You pour it carefully and leave the sediment. If you want to filter it, then you can do that too. And if you want to get rid of any other solids, you can fine it - loosely beat some egg whites, stir them in, and pour off again. That's called "fining". But again, you have a lot of sugar and water in relation to your juice so it's really hard to predict what will happen when.

When they make Champagne, they leave the bottles upside down, let the sediment settle in the neck, freeze the necks, and pull out the little plug of frozen sediment. Then they add a little bit of a sugar and water mix and seal the bottle. That's what makes it bubbly, because that starts another fermentation in the bottle. But that's also why the Champagne corks are tightly held onto the bottles with the wire mesh - so they don't fly off. So if your stuff isn't done fermenting, it will continue to ferment in the bottle. The device is called a hydrometer and it's worth getting one because not only do they hold the cork down tightly for Champagne, they also use extra heavy bottles so that they don't explode! And that can be much more dangerous than a popped cork.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 1:24PM
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last 2 bottles fizzed like a shakin up soda bottle. husbands tshirt soaking in the wash now. we opened 1 bottle from the first batch and from the look on my husbands face after trying it opened the rest and dumped them too. strained the jug for the 3rd batch and put into a clean jug and will now let sit for another couple months and then i am sure i will be back into the forum for more very sound advice. thanks for your assistance to the newbies.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2008 at 6:56PM
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sandy0225(z5 Indiana)

Check out my 45 day wine recipe I just posted. It tells you just how to make your wine, and what supplies you need, and I assure you this one will taste good.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 6:59PM
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i had looked at your recipe just before I checked in on my own post and it looks great but for my use it really doesn't help. We have grapes, an over abundance of grapes, and are trying to find ways to use them other than jelly. I have been giving 2008 jelly away to family and friends and have been getting rave reviews for my first try but eventually everybody will be overflowing grape jelly!!! Anybody got any ideas? Grapes are harder to do other things with than all our apples!!!!

    Bookmark   January 14, 2009 at 9:43PM
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One thing after reading this thread is that on one mentioned the use of an airlock. The addition of the sugar to the grapes resulted in an incomplete fermentation or possibly a secondary fermentation after they were bottled-and bottled too early. Depending on the amount of wine made, say one gallon (4 bottles), I would transfer remaining into a one gallon container and cap with a $1.00 air lock filled with water (available at any home brew shop or on-line). This will allow the wine to finish fermenting and letting that CO2 gas off. Then check on the wine after a couple of months. BTW what type of grapes did you use? If winegrapes, you're looking at about 1 year before bottling if concord or similar, 2 years.

Also for aging the wines, keep away from any heat source, I learned along time ago when some of our wines were stored near our furnace room.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2009 at 3:57PM
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