Cranberry wine fermenting too long?

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Ericphotoart

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I’m making cranberry wine. Secondary fermentation started December 1st and it is in the 6th week. I started from a very high SG – 1.124. Currently 1.012. I use EC-1118 yeast. After transferring to carboy for the 2nd fermentation I left a lot of sediments and maybe this is the reason the wine is still fermenting pretty well. Do you think I should rack it to slow it down a little bit?
 
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Racking it, might slow it down, but it will eventually pick back up, maybe. I will say if that ferments all the way down to dry (0.998 or lower) you are going to be pushing the limits of what EC-1118 can produce for alcohol and it's going to be rather hot (around 18% ABV). Most folks find that fruit wines are better suited at much lower alcohol levels like 10-12% ABV. Right now you are near 15% ABV, so it should be able to finish fermentation. If everything is all good.

Have you added any nutrients to your must? What temperature are you fermenting at? Do you have any idea what the starting Ph of your must was?
 

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Remember that your ferment conditions may not match those used in testing the yeast ABV limits in a laboratory. Under your fermentation conditions the yeast may well have already died off and fermentation is probably over unless that SG is still dropping. Also beware of CO2 gas causing an error in the readings. To be sure about that last point when you release your hydrometer in the wine give it a little spin. Then take a reading quickly don't wait 30 seconds or a minute or two to do so.

So if it's been 6 weeks and that SG isn't dropping after 3 days, I'd call it done. The same old response Airlock activity or lack thereof is NOT a reliable indication of an active fermentation. The only true measure is an SG reading.
 

Ericphotoart

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I added yeast energizer 12 hours after adding the yeasts. Primary fermentation in 6 gallon bucket, steady 70 degrees. I don't know Ph. Thanks for the tip on CO2 gases. I was not aware of that. The fermentation is quite active. You can see the activity in the carboy as well as the airlock.
My understanding was that the secondary fermentation should not last that long, maybe 2-3 weeks but not 6. If this is not the case, then I will leave it alone until SG doesn't drop.
 

Scooter68

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Yes, when I expect the SG to have reached the bottom I check it for at least 3 days and if it hasn't changed and the SG is below 1.015 I call it done. While a good ferment will usually drop below .998 sometimes things just quit down there close. Especially if you start with a High SG as you did. I've tried a time or two to start out with that high SG (above 1.120 and more often than not the ferments quits somewhere around 1.015 to 1.010 At that point I figure the conditions for the yeast were just too much for it to do any more. Step feeding seems to work better for many folks than starting out with the max SG possible. In fact some folks claim to have pushed beyond the published ABV limits of yeasts by step feeding.
 

Ericphotoart

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I was fermenting a banana wine recently and the fermentation stopped at 0.990. It is still in the carboy. I plan to rack it every month until May and hopefully it will be crystal clear. With the cranberry wine I was afraid that leaving the fermentation with yeasts fr such a long time may ruin the taste and the final taste will be just too "yeasty".
 

Bossbaby

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Did you make this wine from fresh cranberries or from juice? I made 7 gal from whole berries last year, the ph was very low to start off and even EC1118 wouldnt get it going until I watered it down a little. I ended up with a great wine that is almost gone now, sadly I missed out on buying more berries this year due to Covid so I have to ration the rest, It made for a great gift to hand out on the holidays.
 

Jovimaple

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I was fermenting a banana wine recently and the fermentation stopped at 0.990. It is still in the carboy. I plan to rack it every month until May and hopefully it will be crystal clear.
Racking that many times could lead to oxidation. Most of the experienced wine makers on WMT rack about every 3 months or less, after racking off the gross lees. Just make sure to add kmeta every 3 months even if not racking. It should be okay on fine lees, as long as you make sure the airlocks stay full. I now rack one final time at bottling time, to leave the fine lees behind, then bottle from the newly racked carboy. I add one more dose of kmeta at that racking.
 

Ericphotoart

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Did you make this wine from fresh cranberries or from juice? I made 7 gal from whole berries last year, the ph was very low to start off and even EC1118 wouldnt get it going until I watered it down a little. I ended up with a great wine that is almost gone now, sadly I missed out on buying more berries this year due to Covid so I have to ration the rest, It made for a great gift to hand out on the holidays.

Yes. Fresh Ocean Spray cranberries chopped in food processor slightly. I had the same problem with starting the fermentation. I used 16.5 lbs of cranberries. It took me 8 days to start the fermentation and different methods to do it. Finally I removed about 1/2 gallon of must, watered in down, added fresh yeast, energizer and slowly added this to the main bucket.
 

Ericphotoart

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Racking that many times could lead to oxidation. Most of the experienced wine makers on WMT rack about every 3 months or less, after racking off the gross lees. Just make sure to add kmeta every 3 months even if not racking. It should be okay on fine lees, as long as you make sure the airlocks stay full. I now rack one final time at bottling time, to leave the fine lees behind, then bottle from the newly racked carboy. I add one more dose of kmeta at that racking.

I understand that banana wine fermentation is quite a long process and require more racking than most wines. This is my first banana wine and so far it tastes quite good with a distinctive banana flavor. I will back sweeten it before bottling also.
 
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I understand that banana wine fermentation is quite a long process and require more racking than most wines. This is my first banana wine and so far it tastes quite good with a distinctive banana flavor. I will back sweeten it before bottling also.
A primary purpose of racking wine is to remove sediment. Monthly racking, unless you have gross lees to remove, is counterproductive. As @Jovimaple said, you are unnecessarily exposing the wine to air, and you are unnecessarily losing volume with each racking.

Racking more often than every 3 months in bulk aging is not recommended. In recent years I have stopped racking in bulk aging unless I have gross lees, and simply add K-meta every 3 months.
 

Rice_Guy

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what is your desired goal? a sweet wine?
cranberry wine. . Do you think I should rack it to slow it down a little bit?

* Yeast die off/ have metabolism problems below pH 2.8, in a normal fruit fermentation CO2 is produced which pushes the pH down from three something to three. You started with a low pH since you have cranberry (juice examples; 2018 pH 2.52/ 2019 pH 2.69/ store juice pH 2.70)
* Yeast do not live in high sugar (osmotic pressure) solutions. You are pushing the limit with a gravity of 1.124,,,
* Yeast do not live in high alcohol generally 18% for 1118 BUT this is like building another fence on top of the fences of pH and osmotic pressure.
* At this point you could treat with metabisulphite (add another fence) and completely kill off the yeast.
* Racking is another fence but a weaker one, it pulls nutrients out of the wine which yeast need at the same time as adding oxygen, which the yeast need.

Folks in the vinters club who run 100% cranberry juice and want it to go dry pull some of the acid out with calcium carbonate, ,,,,, removing one of the fences that kill off yeast.
Again what is your goal? ,,, The TA on the 100% juice examples above were 3.16% / 3.26% / 2.80%. For a balanced wine with a TA four times normal you may wind up back sweetening to 1.060. ,,,, If the goal is dry you need to remove lots of acid either by dilution or adding a carbonate.
 
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