Do I need to Sorbate again?

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drainsurgeon

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I started a version of Dragon Blood about 6 weeks ago. At second racking I de-gassed and added kmeta and sorbate. I tweaked it for the last month with raisins, oak and got the pH where I want. I am ready to back sweeten and bottle but looking through my records, it's been a little over a month since I added the sorbate. Do I need to add it again?
 

richmke

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Sorbate is one and done. Can't undo it. Don't need to do it again.
 

Johnd

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Thank you very much richmke. Kind of like permanent birth control huh?
I thought the same thing until I was corrected on a different thread a few weeks back. Some subsequent research done on the topic produced the following excerpt from and article produced by The Winemakers Academy, note the section in red:

"Limitations of Potassium Sorbate

While this additive does stabilize wines it does have three distinct limitations. First, it is ineffective against bacteria.

If stray bacteria or lactic acid bacteria were to get in your wine while using only potassium sorbate it would not prevent spoilage or malolactic fermentation (as caused by lactic acid bacteria). The combination of sulfites and sorbate help reduce your risks of this as mentioned before.

The second limitation of potassium sorbate is the length of time it is effective. Once added to wine it stays in the desireable form of sorbic acid only for a short time. Over time it breaks down into ethyl sorbate which can add notes of pineapple or celery to your wine.

The change into ethyl sorbate is not preventable. By using potassium sorbate winemakers are putting a definite shelf life on their wines before they pick up these off flavors.

The third limitation is that it reacts poorly with lactic acid bacteria. According to my research it can produce strong geranium odors which most wine drinkers consider a flaw.

Because of these limitations many wineries do not use potassium sorbate. They opt to stabilize with sulfites only an rely on their ability to properly sanitize everything to prevent spoilage. Interestingly, wines with potassium sorbate may not be classified as organic."

I cannot tell you what the time limitation is, but know that there is one.........
 

drainsurgeon

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I thought the same thing until I was corrected on a different thread a few weeks back. Some subsequent research done on the topic produced the following excerpt from and article produced by The Winemakers Academy, note the section in red:

"Limitations of Potassium Sorbate

While this additive does stabilize wines it does have three distinct limitations. First, it is ineffective against bacteria.

If stray bacteria or lactic acid bacteria were to get in your wine while using only potassium sorbate it would not prevent spoilage or malolactic fermentation (as caused by lactic acid bacteria). The combination of sulfites and sorbate help reduce your risks of this as mentioned before.

The second limitation of potassium sorbate is the length of time it is effective. Once added to wine it stays in the desireable form of sorbic acid only for a short time. Over time it breaks down into ethyl sorbate which can add notes of pineapple or celery to your wine.

The change into ethyl sorbate is not preventable. By using potassium sorbate winemakers are putting a definite shelf life on their wines before they pick up these off flavors.

The third limitation is that it reacts poorly with lactic acid bacteria. According to my research it can produce strong geranium odors which most wine drinkers consider a flaw.

Because of these limitations many wineries do not use potassium sorbate. They opt to stabilize with sulfites only an rely on their ability to properly sanitize everything to prevent spoilage. Interestingly, wines with potassium sorbate may not be classified as organic."

I cannot tell you what the time limitation is, but know that there is one.........
I appreciate the information, but I'm a little confused. I thought that kmeta was to protect the wine from bacteria and that sorbate was to "sterilize" any remaining yeast and keep it from growing again. I know that together it referred to "stabilizing", but is it possible to back sweeten (without sorbate) and not start a second fermentation? This information makes me wonder if I want to use sorbate at all!
 

Johnd

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I appreciate the information, but I'm a little confused. I thought that kmeta was to protect the wine from bacteria and that sorbate was to "sterilize" any remaining yeast and keep it from growing again. I know that together it referred to "stabilizing", but is it possible to back sweeten (without sorbate) and not start a second fermentation? This information makes me wonder if I want to use sorbate at all!
It is, but typically requires sterile filtering of your wine to remove all yeast, and then scrupulously clean habits to keep it that way until you are bottled.
 

drainsurgeon

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It is, but typically requires sterile filtering of your wine to remove all yeast, and then scrupulously clean habits to keep it that way until you are bottled.
So the yeast needs to be filtered out before adding any more sugar, or risk a second fermentation? The only other thing I could think of is to bring the temp of the must down below the level that the yeast can survive. I presently don't have an extra fridge available to do that, but winter is coming. :h
 

Johnd

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So the yeast needs to be filtered out before adding any more sugar, or risk a second fermentation? The only other thing I could think of is to bring the temp of the must down below the level that the yeast can survive. I presently don't have an extra fridge available to do that, but winter is coming. :h
I do not know if low temperatures will accomplish that, but high temps can do it. I wouldn't subject my wines to high temps.

When I was in my saltwater fish tank mode, I had a reef filter system, and attached to the return pump, I had an ultraviolet light tube that the water had to flow through before returning to the tank. I've often wondered if a setup like that would sterilize wine...........
 

drainsurgeon

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I do not know if low temperatures will accomplish that, but high temps can do it. I wouldn't subject my wines to high temps.

When I was in my saltwater fish tank mode, I had a reef filter system, and attached to the return pump, I had an ultraviolet light tube that the water had to flow through before returning to the tank. I've often wondered if a setup like that would sterilize wine...........
Interesting thought. I was a plumbing contractor and dealt with water filtration and purification equipment for years. UV lights do kill bacteria and I assume that yeast cells would not survive either. I'll have to look into that.

I do have to clarify what the temp range of a yeast means. Like EC-118 has a range of 45-95 degrees. I thought that was the range that the yeast could survive. Are you saying that if I put my carboy in a cooler and brought the must down to, say, 35 for a couple of days that the yeast could survive that?
 
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Johnd

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Interesting thought. I was a plumbing contractor and dealt with water filtration and purification equipment for years. UV lights do kill bacteria and I assume that yeast cells would not survive either. I'll have to look into that.

I do have to clarify what the temp range of a yeast means. Like EC-118 has a range of 45-95 degrees. I thought that was the range that the yeast could survive. Are you saying that if I put my carboy in a cooler and brought the must down to, say, 35 for a couple of days that the yeast could survive that?
I'm saying that I don't know from experience if those temps will kill yeast. This is a clip from an article from Winemaker Magazine about using frozen must:

"Once the must has reached ambient temperature, the winemaking process used should be no different than that of working with fresh grapes. Red varieties should be sulfited to attenuate the native yeast if not previously sulfited, and cultured yeast pitched after the usual 24 hour waiting period."

That certainly gives me doubts, most must is frozen for extended periods of time at near 0 F, and they still recommend sulfiting...............
 

drainsurgeon

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I've read post's both ways. Some say that when using frozen fruit that it's not necessary to sulfite. Others say to sulfite anyway. I've done a few batches from frozen fruit now, without adding sulfites, but have not gotten to age them yet to where I know if I have a problem or not. Sometimes I think that they are just trying to cover their butts. Like kit manufacturers have you add both kmeta AND sorbate in step three, even if there is no f-pack and the wine is intended to stay dry.
 

Johnd

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I've read post's both ways. Some say that when using frozen fruit that it's not necessary to sulfite. Others say to sulfite anyway. I've done a few batches from frozen fruit now, without adding sulfites, but have not gotten to age them yet to where I know if I have a problem or not. Sometimes I think that they are just trying to cover their butts. Like kit manufacturers have you add both kmeta AND sorbate in step three, even if there is no f-pack and the wine is intended to stay dry.
Agreed. I don't sulfite frozen must and haven't had a problem. I also use sorbate on the very few wines that I sweeten, I can taste it, but it's no big deal.
 

drainsurgeon

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I would certainly be open to an alternative if there is one. Just based on the information you provided, I would opt not to add sorbate if that's feasible. The batch I have going now fermented out to 14.1% so even if a second ferment started it wouldn't go much farther. The EC-118 will go to 18% I believe. Really don't want jet fuel though. Is there a safe time frame that just waiting to back sweeten won't kick in a second ferment? (without sorbate)
 

Johnd

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I would certainly be open to an alternative if there is one. Just based on the information you provided, I would opt not to add sorbate if that's feasible. The batch I have going now fermented out to 14.1% so even if a second ferment started it wouldn't go much farther. The EC-118 will go to 18% I believe. Really don't want jet fuel though. Is there a safe time frame that just waiting to back sweeten won't kick in a second ferment? (without sorbate)
Other than sterile filtering, I don't know of another option. There may be one, but I don't know what it is.
 

grapeman

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After following this thread for a while now I feel I have to speak up just a bit here. We are all allowed our own opinions here and they are welcome, however your reference to The Winemakers Academy sounds like it is referencing a well respected scientific study. It is not. The Winemakers Academy is a blog site written by one individual who may or may not be any more informed on winemaking than the average person. Just because it is written on the internet does not make it true. There has been a lot of wine made out there every year- some with k-meta and sorbate and some without it. I can almost guarantee that the average home winemaker will prevent refermentation in his bottles a lot better using them than not.

Stepping down from my platform now, carry on.
 

Johnd

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After following this thread for a while now I feel I have to speak up just a bit here. We are all allowed our own opinions here and they are welcome, however your reference to The Winemakers Academy sounds like it is referencing a well respected scientific study. It is not. The Winemakers Academy is a blog site written by one individual who may or may not be any more informed on winemaking than the average person. Just because it is written on the internet does not make it true. There has been a lot of wine made out there every year- some with k-meta and sorbate and some without it. I can almost guarantee that the average home winemaker will prevent refermentation in his bottles a lot better using them than not.

Stepping down from my platform now, carry on.
LOL, platforms are good here! Didn't intend to put the WA info up on a pedestal. I don't disagree at all that the KMS / sorbate duo is highly successful, and use it myself on sweetened wines, which was stated earlier. Drainsurgeon was asking for alternate methods, I offered the only other one that I know, sterile filtration. I have the equipment and am capable of performing sterile filtration, but still elect to use KMS / sorbate when it's prudent due to the wine style, despite the fact that I can taste it in my wines. As for sorbate limiting the life expectancy of wine, I wouldn't get into a discussion about that, as I have not had a wine long enough to know.
 

drainsurgeon

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After following this thread for a while now I feel I have to speak up just a bit here. We are all allowed our own opinions here and they are welcome, however your reference to The Winemakers Academy sounds like it is referencing a well respected scientific study. It is not. The Winemakers Academy is a blog site written by one individual who may or may not be any more informed on winemaking than the average person. Just because it is written on the internet does not make it true. There has been a lot of wine made out there every year- some with k-meta and sorbate and some without it. I can almost guarantee that the average home winemaker will prevent refermentation in his bottles a lot better using them than not.

Stepping down from my platform now, carry on.
This is why I love this site and forum. There are many here with vast knowledge on wine making and history. I have learned so much in 3 months that I can't believe it. I am very grateful for all that share what they have learned so I don't have to throw wine down the drain LOL! I made kits for 7 years and really had no idea what I was doing. I didn't know what kmeta was or what it did. I didn't own a pH meter or know how to use it. I thought a Brute was a bully. I look forward to reading here just about every day. Thank you, all of you that contribute here and making WMT what it is. My hat's off to you!
 

richmke

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You can freeze yeast to preserve it, and use it to pitch in another fermentation. Beer makers do it all the time. There is stuff to use to improve survivability of the yeast.

K-meta kills the yeast/bacteria, and Sorbate keeps whatever survives from reproducing. You need both if you intend to back-sweeten the wine. If you don't back-sweeten, then you don't need to use Sorbate.

DB is intended to be drunk early, so don't worry about possible future off flavors.

Another option is to NOT back-sweeten DB and don't use sorbate. when you drink it, you can then add sugar to taste.
 
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Redbird1

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I believe you could also use a non-fermentable sweetener, although I don't have any experience with them myself.
 

heatherd

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I looked at non-fermentable sweeteners for cider and thought they all had flavors that I didn't want in my batch. Stuff like xylitol. Just my opinion on that, as I know folks use them.
 

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