I have no idea what I’m doing here, this being my first attempt at making wine. Our initial idea was to use a potato masher of German design to squeeze one handful of grapes at a time and then put the skins to one side for later inclusion, but this didn’t work out, presumably because the first layer of skins blocked up all the small holes in the device and led to a kind of hydraulic lock.
A fall-back option would have been to use the same bladder press that we use for cider, but that needs to be full before it can be used and I’m not sure we have enough grapes for a complete press. A workaround would have been to fill the press with the bladder partially inflated and make room by letting out water as needed, but then we may still not have enough squashed material at the other end and could end up overloading the bladder. The risk of contamination also isn’t ideal; cider is a fairly robust tipple and I’m not sure if grape juice has the same tolerance for contamination, so using a cider press didn’t sit well with me on principle.
In the end it was suggested I use another potato masher (this time a traditional British design) to stomp the grapes in their plastic buckets, which seemed mechanically similar (and hygienically superior) to stomping it using our feet. So I mashed them up last night as best as I could, which isn’t saying a lot since the smaller, firmer fruit was easily ejected to the side of the masher once a slippery slime was made using the riper fruit. Looking back I think I only macerated something like 60% of all grapes.
Having left the skins to soak in their juice overnight we started again this morning, and this time I decided to manually squash the remaining fruit literally by hand before bundling it into a muslin bag and squeezing it out over the bucket. It soon became apparent that I’d need the full complement of both types of fruit, and the combined effort yielded about 9.5 litres, into which I pitched the yeast starter I made last night.
Before pitching I checked the OG which came in at about 1.066. That should translate to 8.7% if we’re aiming for a semi-sweet wine, according to Brewfather.