Other First FWK Cab Sauv Issue

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idahorevbob

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OK gang, any ideas here: I just racked my first FWK Cab Sauv kit from the fermentation bucket to the 6 gallon carboy. I know almost all the kits will need a bit of topping up with another wine, but I only had 5 gallons. I would have needed 5-6 bottles of wine to top up to within a couple inches of the top of the carboy. In hindsight I wish I had just re-racked to a 5 gallon carboy but my stupid brain didn't think of the EASY answer until it was too late......

I ended up adding two bottles of Merlot and a bottle of distilled water and it is still not topped up all the way. I used some CO2 to purge oxygen and called it good enough. I tasted it and it was pretty good even with all my mad scientist fixes.

This is my fifth kit wine - the others were all Winexpert - and I've never been this low in the past. The WE kits instructions all had me rack the wine to a carboy after the initial big fermentation. The FWK instructions left it in the fermentation bucket with the lid loose on top. I am betting that there was evaporation at play. The FWK kit did have two bags of skins that I assume absorbed a little liquid (yes, I squeezed out what I could). However, being about a gallon short was surprising.

Before anyone asks, yes, I used a 6-gallon carboy. In fact, it was straight out of the box from Northern Brewer (sanitized of course....) Also, yes, I'm sure I started with 6 gallons. I have a brewing bucket from my beer making days that is factory marked. It could be off....but not a whole gallon. In short, I followed the instructions verbatim.

What thinkest thou, O experts of grape?
 

Gilmango

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The only possibility that occurs to me is that you might have put both of the big muslin sacks of skins in before you filled it to 6 gallons? In other words the 6 gallons in your primary included all the space taken up by those sacks. In that case you would have started with less than 6 gallons of liquid, than you lost some more to the gross lees, and finally some more to liquid getting absorbed by the skins (and those FWK skins are so stiff that they are hard to squeeze).

But if you filled your primary to 6 gallons before adding the big skin sacks, then I am at a loss as to how you lost a full gallon of wine, 1/6th of your total, to the lees and skin absorption.

Probably too late with this batch, but many of us pour the lees+liquid mixture (which is left over after transferring the wine to secondary) into sanitized bottles which then go into the fridge. After two or three days the liquid is on top and the lees is compacted at the bottom. Pretty easy to pour off the liquid and add it to your secondary if you are not already fully topped.
 

Vlabruz

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5 gal carboys are about 5.3 gallons to the neck so from now on I will be racking to a 6 gallon out of primary. Ill let sit till most sediment clears and then rack to a 5 gallon. This way, no topping up with anything but itself.
 

Rocky

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OK gang, any ideas here: I just racked my first FWK Cab Sauv kit from the fermentation bucket to the 6 gallon carboy. I know almost all the kits will need a bit of topping up with another wine, but I only had 5 gallons. I would have needed 5-6 bottles of wine to top up to within a couple inches of the top of the carboy. In hindsight I wish I had just re-racked to a 5 gallon carboy but my stupid brain didn't think of the EASY answer until it was too late......

I ended up adding two bottles of Merlot and a bottle of distilled water and it is still not topped up all the way. I used some CO2 to purge oxygen and called it good enough. I tasted it and it was pretty good even with all my mad scientist fixes.

This is my fifth kit wine - the others were all Winexpert - and I've never been this low in the past. The WE kits instructions all had me rack the wine to a carboy after the initial big fermentation. The FWK instructions left it in the fermentation bucket with the lid loose on top. I am betting that there was evaporation at play. The FWK kit did have two bags of skins that I assume absorbed a little liquid (yes, I squeezed out what I could). However, being about a gallon short was surprising.

Before anyone asks, yes, I used a 6-gallon carboy. In fact, it was straight out of the box from Northern Brewer (sanitized of course....) Also, yes, I'm sure I started with 6 gallons. I have a brewing bucket from my beer making days that is factory marked. It could be off....but not a whole gallon. In short, I followed the instructions verbatim.

What thinkest thou, O experts of grape?
One thought I have is that you did not snap down your lid on the fermentation bucket once the SG hit 1.010 (See Step 3, para 3). It is a little confusing in the text but in watching the videos and reading the instructions, my interpretation is the lid is loose on top from SGi to SG 1.010 and then snapped down with an airlock in place for 14 or 15 days. A lot of evaporation could have happened in that period.

Just curious, what was your SGi (initial specific gravity)?

In any case, losing a full gallon is excessive. One thing I always do is rack to a 5-gallon carboy plus other bottles (I have a variety of 1 gallon, 1/2-gallon, 3-liter,1500 ml and 750 ml bottles). A number 6.5 stopper with airlock fits nicely on the 1- and 1/2-gallon jugs and the 3-liter, and a number 2 stopper with airlock fits on the bottles.
 
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Gilmango

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Like @Vlabruz , I wonder if your carboy isn't larger than 6 gallons. Mine are about 6.3 or so.
I have read that most glass carboys are the stated gallons up to the shoulder, where it begins to taper, so nearly all of them are at least 0.3 gallons or more than stated. And it can vary by shape, size, and manufacturer. I've literally read negative reviews of glass carboys that only contained the stated volume (vs. stated volume is what fills to the shoulder).

Really good point which I should have mentioned as another source of 'where did 1 gallon of wine possibly go missing'? In this case the answer, happily, is that it did not go missing at all, just that the carboy is bigger than listed.
 

idahorevbob

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OK. I bet you're all correct about the carboy being larger. Like I mentioned, it was a brand new "6 gallon" carboy. So, maybe this one is, indeed, much larger.

To answer, one of the first thoughts above, I filled the bucket to 6 gallons before adding the skins in the bags. In fact, I was worried that my fermentation bucket wouldn't be big enough after adding skins, seeds, etc. The foam of fermentation actually was touching the lid.

I think @Rocky has the answer. I never snapped the lid down. I just re-read the instructions and they do not say to do so. They aren't terrible, but the instructions are vague in a few places. I didn't take an original gravity reading because as I was in the process of starting this batch I broke my hydrometer.....which I had owned for 30 years!

Oh, well, the wine tasted pretty darn good after adding two bottles of commercial Cab Sauv and a bottle of distilled water, so what the heck.

Thanks for you thoughts!
 

Rocky

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OK. I bet you're all correct about the carboy being larger. Like I mentioned, it was a brand new "6 gallon" carboy. So, maybe this one is, indeed, much larger.

To answer, one of the first thoughts above, I filled the bucket to 6 gallons before adding the skins in the bags. In fact, I was worried that my fermentation bucket wouldn't be big enough after adding skins, seeds, etc. The foam of fermentation actually was touching the lid.

I think @Rocky has the answer. I never snapped the lid down. I just re-read the instructions and they do not say to do so. They aren't terrible, but the instructions are vague in a few places. I didn't take an original gravity reading because as I was in the process of starting this batch I broke my hydrometer.....which I had owned for 30 years!

Oh, well, the wine tasted pretty darn good after adding two bottles of commercial Cab Sauv and a bottle of distilled water, so what the heck.

Thanks for you thoughts!
I am beginning to re-think this issue. I just racked my Petite Sirah from the fermenter to a 6-gallon carboy and I was about a quart or so from filling it. Now, on its own, this would not cause concern, but I had added even more water, i.e., above the 6-gallon mark of my fermenter because the SG was so high. The initial reading was 1.112 and I brought it down to 1.106, so that the finished wine would not be so hot. Therefore, I had a few quarts in excess of 6 gallons when I started. I was surprised that I could not fill a 6-gallon carboy.

The differences I saw in making this wine from others I have made were two: the speed of fermenting and the temperature of the wine while fermenting was close to 80 degrees F (ambient temperature in my basement is about 66-68 degrees F), and these are probably related. I wonder if this contributes to a greater amount of evaporation. How have others done, volume-wise in making the FWK red kits? Not trying to start a shitstorm, just throwing this out for discussion.
 

Brian55

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I am beginning to re-think this issue. I just racked my Petite Sirah from the fermenter to a 6-gallon carboy and I was about a quart or so from filling it. Now, on its own, this would not cause concern, but I had added even more water, i.e., above the 6-gallon mark of my fermenter because the SG was so high. The initial reading was 1.112 and I brought it down to 1.106, so that the finished wine would not be so hot. Therefore, I had a few quarts in excess of 6 gallons when I started. I was surprised that I could not fill a 6-gallon carboy.

The differences I saw in making this wine from others I have made were two: the speed of fermenting and the temperature of the wine while fermenting was close to 80 degrees F (ambient temperature in my basement is about 66-68 degrees F), and these are probably related. I wonder if this contributes to a greater amount of evaporation. How have others done, volume-wise in making the FWK red kits? Not trying to start a shitstorm, just throwing this out for discussion.
The FWK reds I've made all took about 1.5 bottles on average to top. No different than the WE and RJS kits.
 

Rocky

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The FWK reds I've made all took about 1.5 bottles on average to top. No different than the WE and RJS kits.
I normally do not need 1.5 bottles to top when I start with 6 gallons. I have a kit of RJ Spagnols En Primeur going now and when I racked from primary to secondary, I needed nothing at all. In this case with the FWK, I did not start with 6 gallons, more like 6 1/2 to 7 gallons and ended up with about 5.75 gallons.
 
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The differences I saw in making this wine from others I have made were two: the speed of fermenting and the temperature of the wine while fermenting was close to 80 degrees F (ambient temperature in my basement is about 66-68 degrees F), and these are probably related.
I agree with @Brian55. The lost is more likely due to waste during racking -- how much sediment and free wine did you have in the bottom of the fermenter?
 

Rocky

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I agree with @Brian55. The lost is more likely due to waste during racking -- how much sediment and free wine did you have in the bottom of the fermenter?
NONE! Okay, maybe a tablespoon full.

I moved the wine using the spigot on the fermenter. When I could get no more out because of oak clogging the spigot, I got a clean 6-gallon bucket, sanitized in, put a large, sanitized strainer on it and poured everything that was still in the fermenter into the bucket. I then poured the contents of the bucket into the secondary fermenter and discarded the catch in the strainer, which was almost all oak chips.
 

idahorevbob

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I also had very little loss after racking. Being the cheap SOB that I am, I left very little.....maybe enough to make the oak chips wet.....max of 1/4 bottle.
 

Rocky

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That's really weird. Are the markings on the fermenter, or whatever way you measured the volume, correct?

I'm about out of ideas ....
Bryan, on my fermenter, the markings are on the inside of the container (it is an Igloo 10-gallon cooler jug) in both gallons and liters. When I added the additional water to drop the SG, the level was just below the 7 gallon mark.
 

Vlabruz

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I wasted a lot of wine by leaving it in the lees with my first WE kit. Now I get as much as possible even if that means sucking up a little lees. Then it gets aerated and clearing agents added. Im not worried about the head space at this point.. Ill leave it in the carboy a week or two to clear and rack again to a 5 gallon carboy. Ill than dump the 6 gallon remnants into a mason jar and put it in the fridge. Use that for topping up later if needed on the next racking.
 

bstnh1

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Whether you toss out the lees on the first couple of rackings or do it later in the process, you're gonna have to get rid of all of them or wind up with wine with a lot of sediment. No way can you make any 6 gallon kit, using the proper volume of water, and wind up with only a couple of ounces of lees.
 

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