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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Our Most Frequently Asked Ten Questions - #1

Instructions say to use a primary fermenter. Do I have to?

First of all, what is a primary? A primary fermenter is where the juice (also known as must) begins its journey into wine.  They are usually larger in size than the volume of liquid you are fermenting. Example: if you are fermenting a six gallon batch of wine, you would want to use a primary that would hold more than six gallons. Generally, a gallon larger than what you are fermenting (recommend a seven-gallon fermenter for a six-gallon batch). A primary would have a larger opening and can be a pail or large mouth carboy. The large openings also are helpful if you are adding solid fruit or other items into the fermenter.

Even though you could "get away with" not using a primary we do recommend that you do and here's why: 

1). Room to breathe - yeast need a few things for a healthy production (we will be covering how to have a healthy yeast production in a future blog post). One of the key elements is to provide an ample amount of oxygen for the yeast. Doing a six-gallon batch in a six-gallon fermenter does not provide any room for oxygen. 

2). Room to foam - with healthy yeast production, your juice (must) will begin converting to wine.  In addition to creating alcohol, carbon dioxide gas (CO2) will begin to form causing a layer of foam.  Depending on certain conditions (yeast types, temperatures, etc.), your wine may create a large amount of foam. In a primary fermenter, there is adequate space for the foam to rise without making a mess. 

3.)  Clarity - the juice/wine will only stay in the primary fermenter for a week or two. Once most of the sugars are gone (this will be determined by a hydrometer), your wine should be transferred (also known as racking) off the sediment (solid matters including dead yeast that sink to the bottom of fermenter). This will aid in clearing your wine. 

by: Lets Do Wine