1st gallon of raspberry wine in the fermenter

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Mildly Amused
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Jan 19, 2022
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Central Alberta
Good evening to all.

I am 100% new to wine, I have just pitched yeast on my first gallon of raspberry wine.

I have made mashes before and I am kinda stuck on aging and 'secondary ferment' vs clarifying. I just cleared a mash so I could get it ready for production. Cold crashed it? I popped it out on the deck over night and she went from finished ferment to clear overnight.

My question? If all I read and watch states that racking is intended to remove sediment (lees) and allow you to you move on to the next stage of clarification is cold craching not an ideal option to get a drinkable product after initial ferment is complete?

I struggle to understand what is happening if sg is showing a completed fermentation, ie. all sugar is converted to alcohol, yet a second ferment is required to clear the product. The need for campden tablets to stop an additional ferment is where I get lost. Why continue to ferment? I understand the risk of acetobacter and a change from a young wine to vinegar. I think I get aging. Mellowing flavors and allowing things to blend as things mature, likely exposing more complex flavors? I think I also get that certain ferments with more complex elements will benefit from time allowing more to develop, but when making a simple berry wine is the racking just intended to clarify and temperatures can accompish what otherwise just takes time?

Is yeast still suspended after a cold crash although 'clarified'? Will this create a secondary ferment if immediately bottled?

Thanks for any clarification.
1) There is only one ferment that turns fermentable sugars into alcohol.
2) There is another type of ferment called Malolactic Fermentation abbreviated as MLF. That is not often done with most fruit wines - You might look it up on this site or the web for complete description.

There is no second fermentation to clear the wine. That just takes time and sometimes a little help with fining agents

When your SG has dropped below .998 most if not all fermentable sugar has been used. Of course the lowest SG you will probably see with a normal fermentation is .990

Campden tablets (Potassium Metabisulfate (K-Meta) in tablet form) is added to help preserve the wine. When used with Potassium Sorbate the combination prevents a restart of fermentation if there are sugars remaining or when you back-sweeten the wine.

Yeast will die if the yeast has reached it maximum Alcohol level. (In crude terms think it dies due to the toxicity of it's own waste - the Alcohol)
Yeast will go dormant when all the available sugar has been consumed, but it may not die so if more fermentable sugar is added and the yeast has not reached it's limit, the ferment may restart.

Cold Crashing your wine can help but it can also reduce certain acids which may be undesirable so using it all the time is generally not a great idea. Let time do the work for you. The Aging process does several things for you without much help at all:
1) Allows sediment to drop out and the wine to clear
2) Permits the gassing off of residual CO2
3) Rounds off the wine as you mentioned mellowing it and creating a much more enjoyable product.

A common practice in aging wine is to rack it about every 3 months to remove the sediment and at those 3 month intervals K-Meta is added to keep the SO2 level up and help preserve the wine. There are ways to measure the SO2 levels to very accurately maintain the exact level, however; for most beginning wine makers the 3 month racking and K-meta addition provides a pretty accurate and safe level in the wine.

Keep in mind that other than white wines, most wines really need to age at least 9-12 months and trying to rush them generally ends in disappointment as the new wine has a sharpness and sometimes downright unpleasant taste. That last point depends a lot on the type of wine. Raspberry wine that I made needed at least 15-18 months before it was really enjoyable. Your experience may vary but rushing a wine rarely pays off.
@vinny , welcome to Wine Making Talk

Your question leads me to wonder if the terminology is getting in the way. From a grocery perspective wine/ a beverage at 11%+/- alcohol where air is excluded is very stable. Your major risk is that you have lots of air exposure which results in off flavors or another organism dropping by to make vinegar out of the alcohol.
Secondary fermentation is a poor term for raspberry wine. Natural fermentations as wine happen in waves where one organism eats sugar then the next organism eats the alcohol to make vinegar or eats malic acid as with Scooters example. Having metabisulphite (campden) acts as a fence which delays oxygen effect and also holds back malolactic organisms.

A lot of the work that folks do as multiple racking is to remove cosmetic issues so that you have a crystal clear beverage. Racking and cold crashing will not affect the taste as much as oxidation so as a new winemaker pick the battle. Next age in raspberry isn’t your friend. A year or two are good shelf life. When you move to red grape or other tannic fruit as choke cherry age can smooth bitter flavors out.

A last note sugar is magic! and as with pasta sauce a little sugar will balance (FIX) the finished flavors and make the fruit pop. A young wine with live yeast can start fermentation again and a food science trick on your first batch is to use Wine Conditioner with sorbate (holds the yeast back) so you don’t carbonate the bottles. , , , , , Good luck on the first batch.
I agree with Scooter and Riceguy.

My take on the terminology is that, when people refer to "primary" and "secondary," they are really speaking of the primary fermentation vessel and the secondary fermentation vessel. That is, the words primary and secondary are modifying the vessel, not the fermentation process.
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Yes @vinny, you sound like you have been making other adult beverages. Beer? If not beer or wine, don't tell us because everything else is taboo on this site.

Wine process is like beer except when it isn't. Beer we boil and mash, then ferment without oxygen either just a primary or a primary and secondary fermentation. With wine, we have a primary fermentation usually in a bucket without a lid, with plenty of oxygen stirred in the wine. Once fermented dry, then we transfer the wine by siphon or "rack" to a secondary vessel, usually a demijohn or carboy to age, clear, clarify. Cold crashing does help drop sediment in wine but is not the method of choice right after moving from the primary fermentation vessel to the secondary vessel.

Winemaker81 should be weighing in soon. He will have a much better explanation and will direct you to better resources.
Thanks for all the thoughtful replys.

I suppose the real motivation behind my attempts to grasp the process is my excitment to taste a finished product. This is where the understanding comes to me, tasting different batches with slightly differing techniques, recipes, aging times etc. 15 months seems a long time to wait to find out you don't like what you are making. If racking was just to clear, my thoughts were a cold crash could speed this up and a fellow could get to tweeking further recipes and developing an understanding of the product and craft.

I also wanted to keep it as simple and natural as possible. Does K-Meta build up as you add more on additional rackings, or does it dissipate with time? Can a clear wine have suspended live yeast, or is it pretty safe to back sweeten a 6 month clear wine without K-Meta or sorbate?

It seems to me that I have started off on the wrong foot. It's not unlike me to get ahead of myself. With all the videos of Welch's 3 week wines, I assumed that 12 months + would not be necessarry for my first attempt and I could play with the times and results. The raspberries were in the freezer and that wine is now a project of curiosity, I can wait to see what develops.

However, now I want to get something else started. My intention was to make gallon batches which hopefully started off palletable so I could taste a new wine, then bottle to understand the changes it would go through as it ages, intending to learn minimum age times, worthwhile moments of patience, when enough is enough, or even too much.

Where should I begin with a basic understanding of wine making being the goal? Starting with an acceptable product and moving to devolop that further. Concentrates, fresh fruit? Fruit or grape base?

I feel I walked into the advanced class when I am looking for the beginner series.
Yes @vinny, you sound like you have been making other adult beverages. Beer? If not beer or wine, don't tell us because everything else is taboo on this site.

I have played with ferments in the past. Simple drinks like kombucha, to carrot wine. At the time I had an abundance of carrots, not an interest in making wine. I have grasped some basics, but I am now more interested in understanding the complexities of the process over making lots of product.
You are in the right place to understand the process.

One warning, kombucha SCOBY contains Brettanomyces which will infect your wine making equipment and ruin your wine. Don't ever try to make wine with the equipment you used for kombucha or make both in the same area. Frankly, I would not brew anything with Brettanomyces in my house or anywhere close (miles) to my wine and beer production areas.

K-meta does dissipate with time. You might get away with back sweetening a 6 month clear wine without sorbate but you should let it sit for a week or two (even with sorbate you should wait) before bottling to see if fermentation restarts.

You sound like you are on the right track to start small and experiment. You should plan to wait awhile though before you bottle and decide on taste. If you want the quick wines, check out Skeeter Pee and Dragon Blood. Personally, I don't care for either but some folks think they great and both are quite quick from start to bottle.
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Excellent info on the Kobucha. I don't have plans to make any at the moment, but I wouldn't have thought about it affecting wine, or worried about having it in close proximity. Duly noted!

I appreciate the input. I'll have a look at those recipes.

Am I correct in inferring from your statement that a reactivated ferment is not really a bad thing, but that it happening in the bottle and popping the corks/making a mess is the actual concern?
My intention was to make gallon batches which hopefully started off palletable so I could taste a new wine, then bottle to understand the changes it would go through as it ages, intending to learn minimum age times, worthwhile moments of patience, when enough is enough, or even too much.

You are in the right place to understand the process.

You should plan to wait awhile though before you bottle and decide on taste.

I'm tripping over my thoughts a bit. Thinking fermentation is done, bottle, begin aging. I should have said aging to understand the changes.

I'm picking up that racking is part of the clarification/aging process? Does aging/mellowing for the most part stop when you bottle your finished product and aging is in it's majority completed in the secondary fermenter?
A reactivated ferment isn't bad per se but will move your timeline further. I have back sweetened and probably will again but generally bottle fruit wines dry to avoid any bottle refermentation. I sweeten when I open a bottle of fruit wine. That gives me control over the amount of sweetness. It is difficult though to give away fruit wine since some small amount of sweetening will enhance he fruit flavor and nose.

Aging is done in bulk (carboy) and in the bottle. Some red grape wines age best in oak barrels and then mellow in the bottle. Whites age better in the bottle because of the risk of oxidation. Fruit wines are more like whites and probably age better in the bottle.
I prefer to bulk age my wines in a glass carboy with an airlock. I fill the carboys to about 1/2 inch below the stopper, so there is very little air. The ratio of air to wine is lower than it would be in bottles, so I am not worried about oxidation. I think that it makes a lot of sense to do most of the aging in bulk. That way you can taste it occasionally to know how it is progressing. But some prefer to age in bottles, which works too. Sometimes we run out of carboys and need to bottle the wine to make room for a new batch.

Once I am satisfied with the taste, I add Potassium Sorbate + Kmeta to stabilize and add some sugar or honey, then bottle it. Most fruit wines benefit from a little added sugar, which really brings out the fruit flavor. Stabilization is important at this stage so that it does not start re-fermenting in the bottle, which can produce "bottle bombs."

There are several factors that affect the length of time you can or should age wine, including the alcohol content, acid level, and amount of tannin. Higher tannin wines need to age a year or two to allow the flavors to mellow and integrate. Tannin also provides protection against oxidation, so those wines can safely be aged for several years. On the other hand a lower acid, low tannin wine should probably be consumed within a year or so. With grape wines the tannin comes from the skins, so red wines need to be aged longer than white wines. But some white wines such as Chardonnay are usually aged on oak, so they have higher tannin levels (gained from the oak). There is not a simple answer that applies to all fruit wines.

Ask a question on this forum and you will probably get a dozen different answers. There is a lot to learn, but have fun and experiment. Make something that you enjoy drinking, which might be different from what someone else would prefer.
Are you using black or red raspberries? Fresh or frozen? Vine picked or store bought? I make wine from black raspberries using recipe from an old winemaker. I also make wine from fresh grape juice buckets and from kits. I like having a variety bottled to choose from.
The black raspberry wine is very special so I generally save it for special occasions. It definitely requires aging to realize it’s potential. It’s enjoyable after 1year but much better after 2. My experience is it is best if bulk aged 2 years then bottle aged for 4 or more years.
Over past 12 years I’ve made 12 gallons each year. My first few years I only made 6 gal batches so it’s gone but I think I still have a few bottles from 2012.
Recipe results in a fairly high acidity and high alcohol (average maybe 13.5%). I rack secondary using vacuum method maybe 3 times over first year to eliminate sediment and CO2 and I always top off with same wine from an earlier year. The second year of bulk aging I just let it sit.
I add no Kmeta at any point in the process. The acidity and alcohol along with good sanitation and eliminating air exposure seems to be sufficient.
Red raspberry's from the garden frozen from summer. I had no other intentions for them so this kicked up the wine interest.

My intentions have completely changed. I only made a gallon as I wanted to see results before making large batches to make sure I like what I am making. I'm gonna set this one out for the long term and see what happens.

I am looking around for other recipes to try to get a handle of what fruits and juices give what flavors to get a basic feel for what I can make and how I can affect that with process.

I did a fair bit of reading and watching of vids before I jumped in. Thought I had a good idea of what I needed to know, maybe slightly over confident due to the extremely relaxed welch's concentrate 'great wine in 3 weeks' videos. I figured I couldn't go wrong if I used real berries, followed a recipe, and skipped the garden hose and outdoor mixing for sanitized equipment in the kitchen.

I got a quick taste of reality and I will use the experience to aim for a more involved, longer aging on the raspberry wine I have on the go, and I will also go back to the beginning and start on something a little more... step 1
CAUTION: MANY YouTube videos contain oversimplified processes or just plain bad ideas. Especially the ones that suggest that you can have great wine in just 2 weeks or something like that. Figure on at least a year before a wine will ready and enjoyable. The exception to that are white wines or wines made with more delicate flavors (Typically also lighter colored wines)
Elsewhere here someone was asking about making wine without chemicals "Like they do in Europe." While it can be done at home, those old ways are actually done by following practices handed down from generation to generation or taught to beginners by experienced wine makers. You can find that thread on this forum. >>> Want to avoid some chemcials what are the alternatives ? <<<
I like the reply above about bottle dry and sweeten as you consume it. I have had refermentation with wine under nine months old. ,,,,, normal bottles will explode, the heavy glass champagne bottle will take the pressure but then be ready to wire on the cork.

A few yeast in the wine are a problem, if there is sugar they will multiply. Pasteurizeing like cider folks do can eliminate the need for sorbate, BUT while you are going for the learning curve I would plan on sorbate, ,,, as a just in case. Kits bottle at 90 days so I could see following kit directions. Just take the appearance of the last glass with a grain of saltppp

@vinny have you looked for a vinters club. They are scattered through out the country. Tasting some one else’s is fast learning and frequently comes with hints or I wish I would have comments. If you don’t find one on the web, asking at the shop where you buy corks and air locks should give hints about what is in the community. This is a pretty wide spread hobby, zcraigs list? ,,, stores work too, ,,, and I have to say wine tourism, a flight of five flavors is cheaper than making a gallon of fruit.

What can you make wine out of? basically anything that is edible. Lots of folks do the common stuff like grapes and strawberries. How about pine needles? or ginseng? staghorn sumach? Water melon? hot peppers? choke cherry? and on and on. Jack Keller spent his life collecting recipes and is worth a web search. A basic wine has acid flavor balanced with sweet and some tannin to give long flavor notes.

Last note is repeating that sugar is magic. It can make fruit flavors and aroma pop out.
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I got a quick taste of reality and I will use the experience to aim for a more involved, longer aging on the raspberry wine I have on the go, and I will also go back to the beginning and start on something a little more... step 1
How is your red raspberry going? I have a batch of red raspberry aging that is so acidic that I'm going to have to back sweeten and probably blend. I hate to have to blend because is is such a pretty color.
I VERY quickly realized that I had been lulled into a false sense of confidence. This is good, though. I don't like easy, I like learning. I like the process and the science behind things. This is going to be fun. It's just going to require further study.

I appreciate all the replys. I can see this site is a good place to start. I am going to browse around, read recipes, peruse the topics and get a better grasp before I fire up the next batch.

And, I will certainly be back with more questions. Thanks to everyone that replied and for the courteous welcome.
How is your red raspberry going? I have a batch of red raspberry aging that is so acidic that I'm going to have to back sweeten and probably blend. I hate to have to blend because is is such a pretty color.

I have no idea! :p

It seems to have taken off like a rocket. I opened it up yesterday and gave it a stir. Lots of action.

It certainly is a vibrant red. I'm excited to see it clear. Hopefully it will taste as good as it will look.
You aren't tasting? I taste every day in primary and at least every time I rack. Mine is clear as a bell but super-tart/sour. Not vinegar but the acid was extremely high. I've been messing about with it but it is still pretty tart. I am going to blend but I need a low acid blender.