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Blackberry Wine Question

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DavidB

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I have 9 gallons of blackberry wine that I have racked off to 9 individual 1 gallon jugs. I prefer to put it in gallon jugs for final clearing because it seems to work better for me. Plus I only have one carboy and my wife don’t like the buckets sitting around too long. Anyway, before I did this, I tested the SG and it was .990. I added Kmeta and sorbate, sweetened to taste and degassed. Believing the process was over; I put tops on the jugs and set it off to sit a while. The other day, I noticed that 5 of the 9 gallons had a LOT of gas in them and the sediment was rising. The other jugs are doing fine, but I put airlocks back on these 5 and they are going strong again. Any ideas what I did wrong? I should also mention that this entire batch has a strong vinegar smell and taste. I know I didn’t let air get to it as it was under an air lock the whole time. What, if anything can I do to save it?
 

countrygirl

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oh, my, davidb, i'm new to all this, but i know the vinegar smell/taste is not good:sh
i know the little fruit flies can contaminate ur wine/must, too and cause the same effect:(
not sure the cause of the refermentation, especially since u used kmeta?
how much did u use?
 

Tom

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How much meta and sorbate did you add?


How long after you added it did you backsweeten?
 

Julie

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When you say you put tops on the jugs, were these airlocks?
 

Tom

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When did you start this?
how many times did you rack?
 

Wade E

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Sorry to answer your questions with answers but we need to do this to further diagnose the situation. When this was in primary did you have the bucket covered well so that no fruit flies could get at the must and was all the equipment sanitized well? There are a few circumstances that can make a fermentation start over, 1 is that you sweetened to soon not letting the sulfite and sorbate do its thing first. 2 being that the sorbate is too old and is past its expiration date. The third is that it started malolactic fermentation started before you added the other ingredients and Blackberry has lots of malic acid in it to do that, its one of only a few fruit wines that can sometimes need a malo lactic fermentation. Did you take an sg reading after you sweetened?
 

DavidB

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It was started late June or early July. I haven't yet learned to keep up with this but maybe this experience will cause me to heed this advice. The tops on the jugs were the metal caps they come with. I had kept it under air locks prior to that and all were done with any movement - fermentation. SG was .990. The other jugs are doing just fine and have no gas, but all 9 gallons have the vinegar smell / taste. Used a ''pinch" of k-meta (that’s the smallest measuring tool I have) and 3/4 tsp of sorbate per gallon of wine. I waited maybe an hour (rough estimate) between adding chemicals and sweetening.
 

DavidB

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I did take an SG after I had sweetened and when I saw the gas. All jugs have 1.035 now. I used two food grade 5 - gallon buckets with lids and air locks to do this. Everything was cleaned with k-meta prior to use and I put the k-meta in with the blackberries two or three days prior to pitching yeast.

Everytime I rack, I clean everything with k-meta. Just bought a 1 pound package of both k-meta and sorbate and keep them in the fridge. They are well within the use by date.
 

Wade E

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One hour between sweetening is not enough although thats how kits are done. A pinch of sulfite is nowhere near enough unless you are talking a pinch to each gallon. Go to Walmart as they have set of measuring spoons that actually has 1/4 tsp or you could make a sotion and add the dissolved soution to your wine. What I meant about sg was did you take a reading after you sweetened. If it truly slells like vinegar then you might have a problem that is irreversable but lots of times its just a new wine maker not use to the smells of a fermentation and also every fermentation actually produces some acetic acid which vinegar is so you will smell this vinegar sometimes but it shouldnt taste of it.
 

Wade E

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Ooops, you answered most of my questions and snuck them in on your second post there. Give it a day or two and take an sg rewading to see if its dropping, it could just be a malolactic fermentation which turns malic acid into lactic acid which this wine might benefit from with the exception of the fact that you had added sorbate which the two of these should really never go together as it can make your wine take on a geranium smell and taste. If you have the means of cold crashing these batches in a fridge I would consider this for a few weeks.
 

DavidB

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Wade,
Thanks for the information. I got my "training" in making wine at a community college using a kit. The instructor failed to tell us to wait before adding K-meta and sorbate when using real fruit. But I'm really confused about your statement regarding the two chemicals. I'm not supposed to add both when it’s done fermenting? Should I just add the sorbate at the end?
By the way, the pinch is per gallon.
 

Wade E

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What I was stating was that malolactic fermentation and sorbate are very bad together so lets hope this is just a re fermentation f this batch as that just produces more alc. Did you check to see if this wine was stable for 3 days when you add sulfite and sorbate as there have been times when a fermentation has gone lower and adding these chemicals to a wine that is still fermenting will not stop it and then adding sugar will result in your batch to get going good again. Your wine must be stable before adding these two ingredients.
 

DavidB

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Ah, okay now I understand. I did not check to see if it was stable but it had been sitting with no activity for quite a while. I will check from now on.

I don't have any way to cold shock this but I'm also not willing to throw it out yet either. Maybe it will come around. Worst case, I guess I have to learn to enjoy vinegar.
 

Wade E

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Never throw out a wine until at least after 8 months as Ive had 2 wines that were just nasty until about 8 months later and now they are just awesome.
 

DavidB

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Update: I just got down one of the gallons that I was telling you about. The smell / taste of vinegar has subsided at least 50%. It is actually very pleasant smelling and the taste is coming around very well too. I guess what I thought was vinegar was the smell of a new wine that I was trying to drink before it’s time. The other jugs that I had under the caps have now been moved and air locks applied because they are still stinking.
Rookie question based on this experience: Is it best to set up bulk storage with an air lock applied or should I go ahead and close them off. Seems this batch needs more time to let off some gas. Should I store all my wines with air locks? What works best?
 
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