Originally Posted by Kathi
Thanks Brewbush. We are at the transfer stage. Gravity was .998 (well below 1.02). I took your advice to wait a few days. How do I know when it's "finished up?" Will the floating yeast go away? The directions specifically said not to stir in the yeast. Could this have happened because it wasn't sprinkled in evenly or something?
If the wine smells fine, take a tube and draw a little bit out of the bucket from below the surface. (A cheap wine thief is a wonderful investment, if you don't have one.)
Put that in a glass and taste it. You should taste nothing that will make you recoil or make a face. No off flavors, though it will not be a developed wine yet so it may taste a bit harsh. If it smells good and tastes good, you are OK.
When you rack, be sure to pay special attention not to let any of that surface matter get into your cane or into your clean carboy. That may mean you have to leave slightly more liquid in the fermentation bucket than you otherwise would have. Do it. It will make clearing easier.
It really looks just fine, but it pays to do the smell and taste test. I am always encouraging new winemakers to taste the wine all along the way, so you get a feel for what it is like in the process. It's helpful as you develop your skills.
Yeast has different rates of flocculation (the rate at which it settles to the bottom as lees or in beer, eventually a hard cake) depending on what type you are using. So what you see is normal.
You know your wine is finished when it reaches 1.00 or slightly below on a hydrometer (unless you use a recipe that specifically specifies a different value). You can GUESS when it is finished by looking for cessation of yeast bubble activity, but the hydrometer is the only way to know where you are in the process for certain.
I never let wine sit in the fermenter after it has finished. That's because you risk oxidation if the protective layer of CO2 diminishes after the yeast are done doing most of their work. Transfer to a well topped-up carboy, and the risk is over.
All the best!