Fermentation

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Rusty Nesmith

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I started my Merlot on 11/1/19 and sg was 1.084. Today when I punched it down it was at 1.026. I can see there is pressure because of the airlock but it is not bubbling much. Will it finish fermenting without bubbling or do I need to add something?
 

cmason1957

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I started my Merlot on 11/1/19 and sg was 1.084. Today when I punched it down it was at 1.026. I can see there is pressure because of the airlock but it is not bubbling much. Will it finish fermenting without bubbling or do I need to add something?
Oh airlock bubbles, some folks put so much faith in you and you mean so little. Your hydrometer really will tell you what is going on. It sounds like it is dropping quite nicely. You should be fine. Probably about ready to rack on Friday.
 

Rusty Nesmith

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Thanks. I wasn’t sure if it would finish or not. I have to punch it down every day, I will keep a close eye on it. I tasted a few drops left in the hydrometer tube and it is still pretty sweet.
 

CDrew

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What's the temp? What yeast? It sounds a bit slow to me, but keep checking your readings. At least it's moving. If it's in a cold garage, it may take awhile.

But I disagree, airlock bubbles are a pretty good indication of alcoholic fermentation.
 

Rusty Nesmith

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What's the temp? What yeast? It sounds a bit slow to me, but keep checking your readings. At least it's moving. If it's in a cold garage, it may take awhile.

But I disagree, airlock bubbles are a pretty good indication of alcoholic fermentation.
Sorry. The yeast is EC 1118. I have a heater on it and am keeping it at a constant 73 to 74 degrees. I go in the garage at least 5 times a day just to check the temp. For the first 5 days it was bubbling a lot more than the Cab Sauvignon fermentation. Yesterday it was bubbling like crazy and today it has slowed down quite a bit.
 

Jal5

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As has been stated your hydrometer readings are the key!
 

G259

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A week or so is pretty much standard, so I would rack to a carboy, and get it off the 'air'. It still will be fermenting, but it doesn't need (or want) the extra oxygen, now that the yeast have already multiplied.
 

Rusty Nesmith

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Good news. It is still fermenting. I punched it down and checked it today and it is 1.008. I put the lid back on and the airlock. After a minute it started to bubble again but slow. I am thinking the lid was not on all the way yesterday.
 

tjgaul

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My Fermonster lid does not seal completely all the time. It doesn't take much of a leak to stop the bubbles from flowing through the airlock. One batch went from 1.045 to .998 without any noticeable action through the lock. The hydrometer is definitely the true measure. 1.008 is getting there!
 

bstnh1

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My Fermonster lid does not seal completely all the time. It doesn't take much of a leak to stop the bubbles from flowing through the airlock. One batch went from 1.045 to .998 without any noticeable action through the lock. The hydrometer is definitely the true measure. 1.008 is getting there!
I agree 100%! You really have to crank down on those Fermonster lids to seal them completely. And if you do get it well sealed, to get them off you definitely need the lid wrench. I use food grade silicone on the seal and it helps with keeping the gasket in place, but it doesn't seem to make getting the lid on and off much easier.
 

4score

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Good news. It is still fermenting. I punched it down and checked it today and it is 1.008. I put the lid back on and the airlock. After a minute it started to bubble again but slow. I am thinking the lid was not on all the way yesterday.
I think there's too much worrying about fermentation lids. I ferment 1000 pounds of grape must in an open bin all the way to zero sugar. There's so much CO2 in the must that the wine is well protected.
 

G259

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I think you're right. I have fermented open to below 1.000 before, without any side effects. My buckets seal pretty well, but with this talk of buckets that don't seal well, and I'll assume the wine was good, is there any argument?
 

Scooter68

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You have a wine must producing gas which results in a positive pressure in the container.

Folks, that little leak is of ZERO concern during an active fermentation. Oxygen is not going to damage your wine. What you need to pay attention to is whether or not fruit flies or dust can get in through the leak. The normal leaks that occur with a snapped on or screwed down lid should not be a problem in that way.

All a leak means at that point is your airlock is not going to produce as much 'evidence' of fermentation - BUT In reality bubbling in the airlock is NOT a sure sign of fermentation - It's sign that a positive pressure condition exists and some gas is being produced OR it could even occur with a change in barometric pressure. Fermentation may be ongoing or it may be finished and residual CO2 is gassing off.

NEVER trust an airlock as proof of fermentation - ALWAYS use the hydrometer.
 

G259

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Very, very true. However, I use the bubbling 'rate' as an an indication of how fast things are happening. Hydrometer tests will tell me more, but who has not used the bubbling 'rate' to tell them when to test the SG?
 

Scooter68

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Then you are using a very unreliable method. - Bubbling rate of an airlock is at best a very vague representation of what's happening.

Change yeasts and or any number of other variables that the bubble rate significant may mean something different - Again - it's just as sign that the pressure inside the container is lower than the outside.

Leaks can come and go and trying to obtain a perfect seal is a LOT of effort for a very dubious return on your efforts.
 

G259

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Yeah, it's a GENERAL indication, not a specific one. I think I've indicated that, but if you want to keep downing my methods, go ahead!
 

Johnd

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Yeah, it's a GENERAL indication, not a specific one. I think I've indicated that, but if you want to keep downing my methods, go ahead!
As long as you have a good seal on your vessel, bubble rate equates directly to rate of CO2 production, and can therefore be a good indicator of level of fermentation activity. Scooters point is just that a leak will affect that visible evidence.

If one understands that the bubbling vigor isn’t foolproof in a bucket or similar vessel, no harm, no foul. Bubbling can also continue after fermentation has completely ceased, as the wine releases it’s CO2, in this case, it’s not an indicator of any active fermentation.
 

Scooter68

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Not seeing bubbles in an airlock - Does NOT equal no fermentation - plain and simple.

We see a lot of questions on here about this very thing - typically from first time wine makers or those who mistakenly became 'dependent' on the sight of those bubbles for their sense of security.

That's the reason for my aggressive, 'downing' comments. When new wine makers are mislead on what should be happening, what they should see - it can lead to panic, premature intervention, and loss of confidence in the actions. Since I understand that this site is all about sharing the knowledge and encouraging, I find it very difficult to sit back and watch repeated guidance to folks that make a person worry over nothing or take unnecessary steps. That's the only reason for my comments like this - To prevent fostering a misleading trust in something like the bubbling airlock on a bucket or large mouth container.

I've seen a wine in a glass carboy that is already a .990 and the airlock itself never bubbled even though there was a steady stream of fine bubbles in evidence. I didn't stand around and wait to see if the airlock eventually moved. I did check the airlock fit and moved on.

I've checked on wines that have been aging for several months only to see the airlock sitting there as high as possible, no streams of bubbles or foam or even evidence of wine or foam having entered the airlock. In those cases I clean and refresh the airlock, smell the wine, and maybe lower the level half an inch by taking a small taste sample. Unless something smells or tastes seriously wrong, I move on.

As always, I can be wrong about something and I'm always ready to learn more and/or better ways or more correct methods.
 

Rusty Nesmith

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The main reason for this post was I have heard from people that when the airlock stops bubbling it’s done. I knew it wasn’t done and that is why I asked. Obviously I didn’t know I had an air leak when the airlock stopped bubbling. My concern was the yeast wasn’t going to make it to the end and I might have to add more to it.
 
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