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checking SG in must

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winemaker81

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I have always found checking SG in wine that has chunks, e.g., fruit and/or oak, to be a challenge. It's hard to get clear wine without a fair amount of effort. My wine thief gets clogged and either won't fill or leaks.

My solution is to use a tall & narrow fine mesh nylon straining bag. I rinse it, a Fermtech wine thief, and a hydrometer in K-meta, then wrap the thief in the bag. I push it into the must and give it 15-20 seconds for the thief to fill. Pull it out, leaving the bag embedded in the must, and drop in the hydrometer.

Due to CO2, the reading will not be 100% accurate. However, during fermentation this is not important to me, as I'm looking for an indicator of how far along the fermentation is. I care about the original and final SG, not the accuracy of the intermediate readings.

Cleaning the bag isn't hard. I rinse it off with a sprayer to get most of the "stuff" off it. Then I drape it over the divider between my sinks (I installed a deep double stainless steel sink in my wine making area), and spray both sides to remove debris, then flip the bag and do the same for the other side.
 

Boatboy24

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I place a fine mesh strainer into the must (but not all the way). Then I scoop out a clean sample with a measuring cup and pour it into a graduated cylinder. From there, easy peasy to measure.
 

VinesnBines

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I do the same as Jim except I use a small kitchen strainer. Mine is small enough to fit in a five gallon bucket in the case of small batches. I saw the same method at a commercial winery.
 

winemaker81

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How do you get through a thick cap with the strainer?

Hmmm ... I'm thinking a turkey baster squirted through a strainer to remove any chunks. It's be much easier to clean than the mesh bag.

The one advantage to my method is the mesh on the bag is finer than any strainer I've seen, so all but the smallest particles are avoided.
 

Boatboy24

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How do you get through a thick cap with the strainer?
I'll usually check just after punching down, so there isn't much of a cap. I just gently push the strainer down into the must, making sure not to submerge it, of course.
 

Ajmassa

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I poke a hole thru the cap, right on the side and insert the thief on an angle. Even with a super think cap once you poke a hole the liquid rises high enough to thief a sample.
Then I jerk the thief up and down till I feel it fill. Can tell by the pressure no longer pushing up plus you can sorta hear it too. Drop right into the cylinder with hydrometer already in it. If a seed clogs it as I’m emptying the thief I’ll shake over top the fermentor to empty then refill. Usually takes only 2 or 3x to fill the jar enough. Couple seeds make it thru but no biggie.

cant do this when it’s crazy thick tho. Last month I had to fill a cup lined with a muslin bag. Squeezed it out. Still too thick. Then I had to pour thru I metal strainer over a cup. Rinsing strainer as it clogs up like 100x. Huge pain but Otherwise was like putting the hydrometer in cement.9357A1A4-BDE1-4A2B-8C5C-554967060523.jpeg
 

NCWC

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I have a kitchen strainer a ladle and 2 cup measure
After punching the cap I push the ladle down, get some juice, strain into the measuring cup, works great
 

VinesnBines

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Ditto with Jim (Boat Boy) and.NCWC. After punching I push the strainer in and scoop with a cup into my cylinder.
 

VinesnBines

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I will agree that a thick must is hard to take a good SG. I just monitor progress and after pressing, I get a better SG. So when I get in the zone of 1.010, I start thinking of pressing.
 

JustJoe

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I put a large mesh bag into the fermenter than add the fruit inside of the bag. To take thee SG I just pull the bag away from one side and draw the the sample, which looks like finished wine, from outside the bag. That also makes it very easy to remove skins and seeds by lifting the bag out.
 

salcoco

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use a refractometer only need a drop. even though not accurate due to alcohol dose indicate progress. if need be use spreadsheet correction for actual measurement. get near end use hydrometer.
 
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