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Best time to backsweeten??

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bein_bein

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Hi All,
When is the best time to backsweeten? I have a blackberry/raspberry blend that I just racked for the second time and will bottle in about 1 month. What the preferred method. By that,I mean what is the preferred sweetener (if there is one). What is the best way to determine how much to sweeten? All I really want to do with this wine is take the edge of the dryness just a teeny bit. I tasted some while transferring and the alcohol content ( it's about 13.5%) along with the dryness is a little strong.I sweetened some of the leftover from my topping bottle (about 1/16 tsp sugar for just over a pint) and it balanced it out quite nicely. Should I just try to calculate that into gallons?
I have also read about a wine 'conditioner'. Can anyone give me some info on that? And lastly ... :rolleyes: I have read if you use regular sugar, that it should be boiled...well, after it's dissolved in water I assume...comments?? Thanks! :D
 

cpfan

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Most kit instructions suggest backsweetening when the wine is stabilized and cleared. Then any solids should settle with the clearing agent, prior to racking/filtering/bottling/whatever.

I have backsweetened right before bottling. Figuring that taste testing a 'finished' but not 'aged' wine for sweetness is a bit easier.

Before sweetening make sure that you have added the right amount of sulfite and sorbate to prevent renewed fermentation.

Commercial wine conditioner is usually liguid invert sugar and potassium sorbate. But you need to use a LOT of the conditioner to get enough sorbate into the wine.

You can make your own conditioner by boiling sugar in water. In essence making your own conditioner. Sorry I don't recall the recipe.

Some people just add sugar and stir it in, like you did in the glass.

BTW, based on your description, I'd try about 10ml of commercial wine conditioner per US gallon.

Steve
 

bein_bein

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Thanks cpfan,
I'll see if I can locate a 'recipe' for conditioner, if that fails I can pick up some conditioner at my supply house.
I added some campden tabs at each racking (first racking was 1 1/2 tabs for 3 US gals, second racking was 1 tab for 3 us gals) Is that the sulfite you referred to? Would what I have added be enough to prevent fermentation if I added the sorbate??
 
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cpfan

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Yes campden is sulfite. Sorry but contrary to popular opinion, sulfite/campden doesn't kill yeast, it temporarily stuns it. A couple of days later it's back to life and merrily fermenting away.

Potassium sorbate doesn't even kill the yeast. It acts as "birth control" stopping the yeast from reproducing and thus producing alcohol.

At least, thats the way I understand it.

Steve
 

bein_bein

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Ok...so I need to get some potaasium sulfite, potassium sorbate and some conditioner. I am guessing I should add the sulfite and sorbate now, then add the conditioner as needed when I bottle, correct??
 

cpfan

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Ok...so I need to get some potaasium sulfite, potassium sorbate and some conditioner. I am guessing I should add the sulfite and sorbate now, then add the conditioner as needed when I bottle, correct??
Thats the way that I would probably do it if using commercial wine conditioner.

BTW, found a better description of sorbate's action...
http://winemakermag.com/feature/785.html

Fell free to read it all, but sorbate is about 2/3 of the way down with a header "Sorbate Kills Yeast".

Steve
 

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Check the label of the wine conditioner you are using. It probably will contain sirbate in which case additional sorbate will note be needed.

If you are adding sugar, you can make a simple syrup by warming some on the wine on a stove top and slowly dissolving the sugar into the warmed mixture, let cool and then add to the wine. I would recommend you do "bench trails". That is, using a small sample of wine and adding small samples of the sugar mixture until you get to the desired sweetness. Record how much of a wine sample you started with and how much sugar mixture you used then convert to the amount of wine you want to sweeten. Whenever you add sugar to sweeten a wine you need to add potassium sorbate; otherwise, the dormant yeast in the fermented wine will become active again and the wine will ferment again. If this happens after bottling you will likely have a mess on your hands from the bottles exploding or the corks popping out.
 

bein_bein

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Another quick question. Should I dissolve the sorbate and sulfite in water first or can I just add it to the carboy in the correct amount?
 

cpfan

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Check the label of the wine conditioner you are using. It probably will contain sirbate in which case additional sorbate will note be needed.
Please note that the above statement is INCORRECT. YES, commercial wine conditioner does contain potassum sorbate. However it is present to prevent activity while the conditioner is on the shelf, NOT to prevent re-fermentation in your wine. And one batch of wine conditioner that the store received mustn't have contained enough sorbate because the bottles started to expand after a while.

At least two suppliers of wine conditioner say that there is insufficent sorbate in the wine conditioner unless a minimum amount of wine conditioner is used. An old Spagnols handout indicates that the minimum requirement for not adding extra sorbate is 15 ml/litre or 345ml/23 litre (6 US gallon) batch. FYI 345ml is about 1 1/3 cups.

If you are adding that much (or more) commercial wine conditioner, then additional sorbate is not required. If you are lightly sweetening the wine, then sorbate is required. When I ran a small Ferment on Premises, the norm was in the order of 60-150ml. Only one customer regularly used more than 250ml (one cup).

Steve
 

bein_bein

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At least two suppliers of wine conditioner say that there is insufficent sorbate in the wine conditioner unless a minimum amount of wine conditioner is used. An old Spagnols handout indicates that the minimum requirement for not adding extra sorbate is 15 ml/litre .....

If you are adding that much (or more) commercial wine conditioner, then additional sorbate is not required. If you are lightly sweetening the wine, then sorbate is required....

Steve
That sounds about right Cpfan. The conditioner I have states that very thing right on the label "Minimum addition 15ml per litre"
My potassium sorbate requires 1/2 tsp per gal. So my assumption after reading that was I would either have to add 90mL to my 3 gal batch or add additional sorbate.Since my goal is to just 'take the edge off' as I mentioned earlier, I think 90mL would be way too much. Sooo... I will stablilize now and probably start out at about 10mL per gal as suggested....but now back to my previous question...

Another quick question. Should I dissolve the sorbate and sulfite in water first or can I just add it to the carboy in the correct amount?
I should have said " add it dry in the correct amount."
 

cpfan

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Sorry B&B, it's been a bit of a hectic day (eBay selling & buying, friends, wife, etc), so I forgot about the dissolving question.

Personally, I always dissolve the powders in water or wine. Some sorbates can be a little slow to dissolve, and doing it in a measuring cup assures me that I won't have any problems. Usually about a 1/4 cup is enough.

However, I know that other winemakers just pour the additives into the carboy, and stir.

Steve
 

bein_bein

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Thanks Steve,
So you're an Ebay'er too eh (isn't most of the known world?? LOL) I know just what you mean though. You know it's bad when you come home from work and find a package , and when you open it you say.. " Oh yeah! I forgot all about that one..." LOL
 
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The bottle of wine conditioner that I am looking at says "Add to wine after stabilizing and clearing, Minimum addition 15 mL Per Litre (2oz/US Gal). I read this as the minimum amount of conditioner to add to have an affect on the wine and not the minimum amount of sorbate that is in the conditioner. When I purchased the conditioner I did ask if the addition of sorbate was necessary and I was told it was not. This is not to say that I wasn't given incorrect information but from the label it doesn't mention anything about adding sorbate. Sorbate is listed as an ingredient. I can't see how using below the minimum amount would require the addition of sorbate, if it were the other way around then that would make sense to me. I haven't seen any literature or instruction sheets so I can only go by my experience. I did send an email to wine supply retailer that is well known and will see what their response is.

I have only used this product once and did not like the way it incorporated into the wine which is why I switched to just making my own sugar additions. The time that I did use it I did not add any additional sorbate and did not experience a refermentation.
 
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cpfan

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I have only used this product once and did not like the way it incorporated into the wine which is why I switched to just making my own sugar additions. The time that I did use it I did not add any additional sorbate and did not experience a refermentation.
How much conditioner did you add that once?

I have added wine conditioner to many customer's wines (in 6 years running a Ferment on Premises).

Think about this. I'll use easy to understand made-up numbers. Let's say that you need 15 g of sorbate per litre to prevent re-fermentation, and that wine conditioner contains 1 g of sorbate per ml. To get sufficient sorbate you need to add 15 ml of conditioner per litre. If you add LESS, then you won't get enough sorbate. If you add more you will get more than enough sorbate.

Steve
 

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Rocco
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Steve, if I recall, I used 4 oz per litre which is more than the minimum so I guess that is why I didn't get any re-fermentation. The problem I had was that when I mixed the conditioner into the wine the wine was all streaky. No matter how much I stirred the conditioner into the wine it would not fully incorporate. A few days later you could see that some of the conditioner had settled to the bottom. When I siphoned off a glass and held it to the light you could see swirls throughout the wine.
 

cpfan

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Unusual problem. I have never seen that. I used to add drops of wine conditioner to a glass of wine. A quick swirl and it was gone.

I had one regular customer who wanted me to sweeten at bottling time (I prefer to sweeten at stabilizing) because he would sometimes change the amount of conditioner he added. [In reality, he wanted me to thief him a glass of wine for testing the sweetness.] Don't recall that kind of result.

Steve
 

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Rocco
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Steve, you just gave me a great idea. My wife and I have differing tastes on wine. I prefer dry reds and whites; she likes sweet whites. I didn't think of adding a few drops to a glass. This means that I can buy the type of white wine I like and add a few drops to a glass for her. Even if I do get some swirling in her glass it won't matter, she always add an ice cube or two no matter how chilled the wine. Now I don't have to buy two different wines each time.
 

cpfan

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You're welcome. In the store I sold wine conditioner to

1 - people who make wine at home
2 - people who made wine in the store, but one spouse liked the wine sweeter than the other.

Steve
 
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