> Some books even describe primary fermentation in open vats without airlocks
> and vigorously stirring three times a day.
There are two schools of thought expressed on this newsgroup about
this subject. One school (of which I am a member) recognizes that
yeast need plenty of oxygen early on to propagate explosively from a
few hundred thousand cells in the batch to a few million cells per
drop. Open vats, covered with tight-woven sanitized cloth such as
muslin, allow that oxygen in while presenting a reasonable barrier to
airborne contaminates. The stirring need not be vigorous or
prolonged. You just want to circulate yeast on the bottom upward so
they too can get some oxygen and go about budding as rapidly as
possible. The other school doesn't want any outside air to enter the
primary and so they slap an airlock on top and deprive their yeast of
much-needed oxygen. I think they are sacrificing rapid and healthy
propagation for unnecessary quarantine, but at least they are not
exposing their must to any bad bugs.
> What I did was stir it for 2 minutes each day and then airlock it again.
You seem to have taken a middle road, quarantining your must under an
airlock and then breaking quarantine for two minutes a day to stir. I
would think 20-30 seconds would be enough.
> The reason I tasted it (which really wasn't a tasting more like putting it
> to my lips and then tasting what was on my lips) was curiosity of the stage.
No harm done. You satisfied your curiosity but didn't learn anything
because there is really nothing to learn at this young stage except
the must is fermenting.
> But for all the books I have read and info online, I have yet to read what
> the wine should smell like at this stage if things are going right.
Well, the reason you haven't read that anywhere is because there isn't
an answer. The smell of fermenting must is as varied as there are
grape varieties, ripeness of grapes, vintages, yeast strains, and
temperature gradients. Every batch is going to smell just a little
different, and if you get into making fruit, berry and vegetable
wines, the differences will increase dramatically. There is no
"right" smell at this stage, and I echo Trevor's observation that it
is probably too early to even detect a bad smell as it will be masked
by the fragrance of fermenting must.
You have a good, inquisitive attitude. That's good. Hang in there.
The first batch is always the most nerve-wracking, but usually turns
out very well. But for heaven's sake, let it age. It is, after all,
Jack Keller, The Winemaking Home Page