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Winemaking Terms - Primary

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Primary:

A crock, bowl, bucket, pail, or other non-reactive, food-safe vessel in which the initial, or primary fermentation takes place. The primary should be capable of containing 1/4 to 1/2 more volume than the volume of the must it will contain to allow for a rising of the cap and a sufficient ullage above the cap to allow a good aerobic fermentation. Thus, a 1-1/2 gallon pail is about right for a 1-gallon batch of wine, although a larger vessel is okay. Typically, the primary has a large mouth to allow easy access. It should be covered during fermentation to prevent dust and airborne bacteria, molds and wild yeast from blowing into it, but should not be air-tight. Also known as the primary fermentation vessel.
 
Primary Fermentation:
 
The initial, main alcohol fermentation by yeast. It is usually begun by adding an active yeast starter to a must or juice in a covered primary fermentation vessel, but may begin spontaneously from wild yeast on the grapes or fresh fruit base. After a period of vigorous fermentation, the must is pressed or strained and/or the juice is transferred to a secondary fermentation vessel (e.g. a carboy or demijohn) and covered by an airlock. Even though the wine is now in a secondary fermentation vessel, the alcohol fermentation taking place is a continuation of the primary fermentation. 
 
Primary Fermentation Vessel:
 
A crock, bowl, bucket, pail, or other non-reactive, food-safe vessel in which the initial, or primary fermentation takes place. The primary should be capable of containing 1/4 to 1/2 more volume than the volume of the must it will contain to allow for a rising of the cap and a sufficient ullage above the cap to allow a good aerobic fermentation. Thus, a 1-1/2 gallon pail is about right for a 1-gallon batch of wine, although a larger vessel is okay. Typically, the primary has a large mouth to allow easy access. It should be covered during fermentation to prevent dust and airborne bacteria, molds and wild yeast from settling into it, but should not initially be closed air-tight as it is desirous for the must to have exposure to plenty of air during the first 48-72 hours of fermentation. Also known as the primary.

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Source: Jack Keller

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