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Elderflower wine not clearing

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Toonster

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My batch of elderflower wine (made following this recipe: http://www.farminmypocket.co.uk/featured/elderflower-wine-recipe) doesn't seem to be clearing properly.

Fermentation ceased by the 10th Dec (consistent 0.990 readings), and I racked it then.
It sat in the carboy till the 8th Jan (just over four weeks), when I checked it, and it was still cloudy.

I added isenglass finings (recommendation from my local brew-shop) according to the directions on the bottle on the 13th Jan - the instructions on the bottle said it should clear in 24-48 hours. I tested both on the 14th Jan and today (17th Jan), and the wine still is very cloudy (completely opaque in a glass). It doesn't taste too bad (could do with a few months resting), but obviously doesn't look great.

So - should I add more isenglass (or another product - though there wasn't exactly a great choice in the shop!), or re-rack and rest again? If I re-rack, then I'm likely to have a massive headspace at the top of the carboy. Would that be a problem?
 

Stressbaby

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The wine is very young, barely a month. I don't even think about fining a wine until 6 months because I let my wines degas on their own. You have to degas before the fining agents can properly clear the wine. And if you are in our hemisphere, it's winter, meaning it's cold, and cold wine doesn't degas very well.

If it were me at this point I would:
  • Dose with Kmeta.
  • Rack off the Insinglass.
  • Pour off the dregs into a small mason jar and put it in the fridge.
  • After 12-24 hours, carefully pour off as much of the clearer wine as you can from the top of the mason jar and add that back to your batch to minimize losses.
  • Top up with a generic white.
  • Warm it up
  • Degas by method of your choice (whip, vaccuum, time)
  • Use Dualfine (SuperKleer) if still needed.
Your link is broken, for me anyway, can't see the recipe.
 

salcoco

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maintain temp of wine at least 70 deg f. some fining do not work at cool temp.
 

Toonster

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Thanks both. Stressbaby - I'll post the full recipe when I'm back home this evening (the link works fine for me) - The recipe suggested that two weeks after fermentation had ceased it would be clearing.

I'm in New Zealand, so low temperatures are not currently a problem - pretty much the reverse! The house has been consistently at 29C during the day except yesterday when we had a bit of rain and it was a cool 26... We're getting it down to about 25 overnight. I don't have a wine cellar, so the wine has to suffer with us...
 

BernardSmith

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So, if you followed the recipe you boiled the chopped up raisins and that may have set any pectins in the grapes. There is no mention of adding pectic enzyme to break up the pectins so part of the problem MAY be that there is some pectin in the wine. Pectinase - the enzyme that breaks up pectins - is denatured by alcohol so it is always best to add this about 12 hours before you pitch the yeast but I believe that if you triple or quadruple the dose of enzyme it will help break up those pectins even in the presence of alcohol.
As a general rule, if you add fruit you want to add pectic enzyme
 

Toonster

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Thanks Bernard - no, I didn't use pectic enzyme *sigh*. I'll give that a go (given I have pectinase, and don't have any Kmeta, so I'd rather give that a try first!) How long would you reckon to then leave it? I.e. am I looking at weeks or months?

Stressbaby - for info, the full recipe from the link above is:
Elderflower wine recipe ingredients
The quantities below are for 5 gallons, with the quantities for 1 gallon brews given in brackets.

If you can’t get fresh elderflowers you can still make this wine using 100g (20g) of dried elderflowers although the flavour is not so fine. If you can pick the flowers but don’t have the time to actually make the wine, trim them as per step 1 in the recipe below and put them in an airtight plastic container for freezing. Use them straight from frozen.

How to make elderflower wine
  1. Give each flower head a quick shake to knock off any remaining bugs, then trim the flowerlets off the stems with a pair of scissors (or strip them off with a wide-toothed comb) into a sterilised brew bin or lidded food grade plastic tub. You should end up with about 1 pint of trimmed flowerlets for every gallon of wine. Don’t be tempted to use more, or the aroma may become unpleasant. Thanks to reader Vambo for the comb suggestion!
  2. Chop the sultanas up a bit with a sharp knife and add them to the brew bin or tub. If you find this too messy, give them a quick blip in batches in a food processor. You’re not aiming to pulp them, just break the skins.
  3. Bring 2 gallons / 9 litres (4 pints / 2.25 litres for the smaller brew) of water to the boil and add the sugar and citric acid. Stir until it has all dissolved, and pour it over the flowers and sultanas. Put the lid on and leave it overnight for the water to extract most of the sugar from the fruit.
  4. Next day, add another 1 gallon / 4.5 litres (2 pints / 1.125 litres for the smaller brew) of cold water plus the yeast compound powder (or yeast and yeast nutrient) and the tea. Give it a quick stir. Take care to read the instructions on the yeast, as they vary from type to type: most modern yeasts can be added dry but a few need to be made up as a ‘starter bottle’.
  5. Leave the brew for four or five days. There will be an intial rush of fermentation which will push some of the flowers and fruit up in an unappetizing yeasty crust. Stir this back in daily using a ladle or similar implement which has been scalded with boiling water. Make sure that you fit the lid snugly again afterwards.
  6. Strain the brew into a second container. On a large scale this means using a straining bag and another brew bin, but on a small scale you can use a nylon sieve and a sterilised saucepan, and transfer it to a demijohn afterwards. Feel free to squeeze the pulp to get as much liquid out as you can and then put the pulp in your compost bin, mixed with other materials.
  7. Top the liquid up to 5 gallons / 22.5 litres (1 gallon / 4.5 litres for the smaller brew) with water, and close the lid tightly (or fit the airlock, if you’re using a demijohn). Once it’s sat for a while you’ll see lots of little bubbles rising to the surface as the yeast converts the sugar to alcohol. Leave it to finish fermentation – about six weeks depending on temperature. Some people like to monitor the progress of their wine with a gadget called a hydrometer, and deliberately stop it early for a sweeter wine – but this isn’t essential.
  8. Once the bubbles have stopped and the wine begins to look clear at the top, ‘rack’ it by syphoning or pouring it off the yeasty sediment at the bottom.
  9. Stop any further fermentation using campden tablets and stabilising tablets, as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  10. Leave the elderflower wine undisturbed in a cool place to clear. This can be as little as two weeks, but it’s fine to leave it for longer if needs be.
  11. Rack the wine again and pour or syphon it into sterilised bottles, and close with the sterilised caps, stoppers or corks. Then label the bottles so you don’t mix it up with future brews.
Your elderflower wine should be drinkable by Christmas, but like most homebrew wines it needs to be left for a while to develop character. It will be at its best next summer, served ice cold – if any of it survives for long enough!
 

Stressbaby

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To be clear, Kmeta is not to help with clearing it is to prevent oxidation while doing the other stuff.

After seeing the recipe, I agree with Bernard, try the pectinase before more isinglass or SuperKleer. Degassing should still help.
 

BernardSmith

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I make elderflower wine several times a year (in small batches, 1-3 gallons), It's one of our favorites. I don't add raisins but it can still take weeks to clear bright.

One other likely reason for a lack of clarity is that yeast and other particles are still in suspension and they are still in suspension because there is still a great deal of CO2 absorbed in the wine. Two things you might try are 1: to degas - by stirring vigorously or by pulling a vacuum through the wine. and/or 2: you might "cold crash" the wine by placing the fermenter in a fridge. The low temperature tends to force the yeast to drop out of suspension and as they do so they tend to drag with them many of the other particles. Finings (like SuperKlear, Bentonite) do the same thing electrostatically - they have either a positive or a negative electrical charge (depending on the specific type of fining agent) and they attach themselves to ions with the opposite electrical charge and their combined weight pulls the particles to the bottom
 

Toonster

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Thanks both - very useful.
Stressbaby - thanks for the info - products like that aren't mentioned in my NZ produced winemaking books, so I'm not sure whether we can get them here. (I'll have a nosey at the brew shop on Saturday)

I'll try the degassing by stirring as well as the pectinase (unfortunately the chilling method isn't practical - my fridge is pretty much full already!)

I'll let you know :)
 

Toonster

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Nope - no kmeta - the brewshop owner had never even heard of it, or any other product for preventing oxidation (I wasn't sure whether it was a brand name or a generic, as googling just gives me brewmaking forums or foreign language ones!). Must be something that isn't done in NZ...
 

sour_grapes

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Nope - no kmeta - the brewshop owner had never even heard of it, or any other product for preventing oxidation (I wasn't sure whether it was a brand name or a generic, as googling just gives me brewmaking forums or foreign language ones!). Must be something that isn't done in NZ...
He or she may have heard of "Campden tablets." Same chemical in a different form: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campden_tablet
 

Stressbaby

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Nope - no kmeta - the brewshop owner had never even heard of it, or any other product for preventing oxidation (I wasn't sure whether it was a brand name or a generic, as googling just gives me brewmaking forums or foreign language ones!). Must be something that isn't done in NZ...
I'm looking right now at a bottle of Loveblock 2016 Marlborough Sauv Blanc and it "contains sulfites" so it is absolutely used in NZ. Maybe you need to find a new brewshop.

Campden = KMS = Kmeta = potassium metabisulfite => sulfites
 

Toonster

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He or she may have heard of "Campden tablets." Same chemical in a different form: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campden_tablet
Thanks - now Campden tablets I have heard of, and have. I thought they were used for stopping further fermentation, not preventing oxidation, so had no way of making a connection between the two very different names!

Thanks for the clarification.

ETA Even the packet of tablets says that they are used for "sterilising and stabilising wine" - nothing about oxidation at all.
 
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sour_grapes

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ETA Even the packet of tablets says that they are used for "sterilising and stabilising wine" - nothing about oxidation at all.
Arguably, "stabilizing" = "not oxidizing" (among other meanings, I s'pose).
 

Toonster

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I'd taken it to mean "stopping further fermentation" - all part of my learning curve :)

But hey, I don't have to buy more products, so that's only a good thing!
 

Toonster

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Right - back into the carboy - I added the campden tablets, then 24 hrs later all of the rest of my pectinase (about 3 times the suggested amount for a starting brew), and some vigorous degassing, too. Frustratingly, it was completely clear running through the syphon hose, but in the quantities needed for a glass, it clouds up. Patience time!
 

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