First kit wine - fast fermentation

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sixdoubleo

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Hi there. First-time winemaker here working on my first kit. It's a box of "Moments" Zinfandel I picked up at a local Home Brew Store. I also bought one of the deluxe equipment kits they had.

Anyway, I followed the instructions on the kit, and found that my wine has reached .994-.995 SG within 5 days. Is this normal? The kit indicates it should be 1.020-1.000 in 5-11 days, and then .998-.990 8-10 days after THAT.

Did I do something wrong?

Here's the specifcs...

Day 1:
Did some warm water in the primary fermenter, stirred in bentonite. Then added the 1-2 gallon contents of the juice bag. Added water to bring the whole thing up to 6 gallons. Stirred vigorously. Checked the SG and it was 1.090. Then I added the yeast. Waited 10 minutes, then stirred. Put the lid on, added the airlock filled half full with SO2 solution (mixed at 2oz Potassium Metabisulfite/1 gallon water).

Day 2-4:
The house was smelling pretty strongly of fermentation and the airlock was going crazy. Room was between 71-75 degrees f.

Day 5: Checked SG and it read 1.010. The juice kit says this is the point where you want to rack to a glass carboy. I was somewhat hesitant, as it had only been 4 actual days elapsed of fermentation, and the kit indicated it should take 5-11 days. I decided to wait until the next day and check again.

Day 6: Checked SG and it read 1.000-0.998. Decided to rack wine to the secondary glass carboy. As I was removing the lid from the plastic bucket, the SO2 in the airlock fell into the bucket. After fully racking the wine, I noticed it was still about 2-3 inches from the top of the carboy. The instructions stated NOT to top off the carboy at this point so I did not. I replaced the airlock and let it sit.

Day 7: I check SG and it is .995-.994. There doesn't appear to be any "visible" fermentation going on and I don't smell anything coming out of the airlock.

At this point, what should I do? I am already at the target SG level indicated by the instructions and it doesn't seem like it's been long enough. I'm thinking I need to top off the carboy at this point so I dont risk oxygen in the wine?

Also, could the SO2 solution in the airlock have halted fermentation? Or is that not enough solution to affect it?

Thanks for any help or suggestions. Looking forward to learning more!

Dave
 
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cpfan

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At this point, what should I do? I am already at the target SG level indicated by the instructions and it doesn't seem like it's been long enough. I'm thinking I need to top off the carboy at this point so I dont risk oxygen in the wine?

Also, could the SO2 solution in the airlock have halted fermentation? Or is that not enough solution to affect it?

Thanks for any help or suggestions. Looking forward to learning more!

Dave
Dave:

0. Welcome to a great hobby.

1. You did NOTHING wrong. Sometimes fermentation happens quickly especially when conditions are ideal (mainly temperature).

2. Now...be patient (a winemaker's best virtue). Leave it in carboy until about day 18 (or longer). It may ferment a little more to .992 or so. And the wine will also start to settle (a good thing).

3. 2-3 inches from top of carboy sounds great. Do not top up further. I rarely have my carboys that full.

4. The K-meta solution in the airlock did not stop fermentation. The fermentation is finished (or nearly so).

Steve
 

hayfire

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Welcome to the forums sixdoubleo. I am not much of a kit maker so I will let someone else answer specifics on that, but it looks likes things are going great with your first kit. Checking your SG is much more important than the days that they tell you that it will take. It sounds like your wine is getting pretty much done by your last sg readings, don't worry about the pot/meta from the airlock. Just relax have a glass of wine and let this batch sit for a while. Someone with a lot of kit experience will come through with some detailed advise on finishing up this batch for you.
 

hayfire

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Lol, see I told you someone with experience would show up soon. I had a phone call in the middle of my post and he beat me here.
 

Green Mountains

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Yup, sounds like it all went fine....just quickly. Certainly better than the usual complaint....SLOW or stuck fermentation.

And as stated...now comes the patience. The fermentation is that fast part and makes the juice WINE. The patience of aging is what makes the wine GOOD.

Welcome to the fold and welcome to the craft.
 

Wade E

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I agree with all. Most kits will finish faster then stated in the instruction. Just keep following the instructions and everything will be just fine. Dont be afraid to give it a little more time in the carboy before bottling though as even after using the fining(clearing) agent some very fine sediment can fall out of suspension and this will be in your bottles if you bottle it too soon.
 

sixdoubleo

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OK, thanks for the advice guys. I'm doing just that. It seems the SG has leveled out now for 4 days at .995-.994. I will go ahead and rack it to another carboy and put the stabilizers in this weekend.

But just so I understand....once fermentation stops or comes to a crawl, what is it that protects the wine with that big air space at the top of the carboy? I have probably about a half to one gallon-sized air space in the top of the carboy.

I assume the carbon dioxide given off during fermentation is what protects it. But once fermentation stops, and I'm removing the airlock every day to check gravity, what is keeping that large air space from spoiling the wine?
 

crisella

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I agree with all. Most kits will finish faster then stated in the instruction. Just keep following the instructions and everything will be just fine. Dont be afraid to give it a little more time in the carboy before bottling though as even after using the fining(clearing) agent some very fine sediment can fall out of suspension and this will be in your bottles if you bottle it too soon.
Wade, I'm I agree 100% with this. I imagine most people think that if the fermentation is very slow or taking longer than specified in the kit, they think something may have gone wrong. The instructions seem to have a "window" if fermentation time. It would be impossible to list in the instructions how thie kit will react in you're house.

I know the hardest thing to do is WAIT for the aging to be complete so I am stockpiling kits so when it is ready, I'll be set! :db
 
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O
But just so I understand....once fermentation stops or comes to a crawl, what is it that protects the wine with that big air space at the top of the carboy? I have probably about a half to one gallon-sized air space in the top of the carboy.

I assume the carbon dioxide given off during fermentation is what protects it. But once fermentation stops, and I'm removing the airlock every day to check gravity, what is keeping that large air space from spoiling the wine?
that sounds like alot of space. you might want to top it up with a like wine (another ok zin). is it below where the bottle becomes vertical? you want at most 4-5" in the top.

try to not check the sg so much. i check it after it's stopped bubbling for a few days (3-4) and then again 3-4 days later. that way i know it's done. the only other times is to see if it's under 1.030 and i rack into the secondary soon after.

wine can sit for a time during and after fermentation with an airlock, but you don't want alot of head space.

you should be fine, top up and it will be ok. wine doesn't spoil easily, but you don't want to risk it either.
 

jdeere5220

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I followed the instructions on the kit, and found that my wine has reached .994-.995 SG within 5 days. Is this normal?
Yes, normal, and you didn't do anything wrong, and mine have been going about the same.

However I've been reading lately that a little slower fermentation is better:

1) Improves varietal character
2) Yeast throw off less "esters".

I don't know what esters are exactly, but apparently you don't want them in your wine. The advice I've seen is to ferment in the 60-65 F range after it gets going, rather than north of 70F. I use a brew belt, so I'm going to start taking that off after 2-3 days and see how that works out. It will take a bit longer, but the advice from Tim at W.E. is that a little slower ferment is better.
 

Wade E

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That depends on what you are fermenting and what you are looking fo in that wine. If you are looking for a fruit bomb then cooler fermentation is what you want but almost all white wines will benefit from a cooler fermentation.
 

cpfan

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It will take a bit longer, but the advice from Tim at W.E. is that a little slower ferment is better.
I'm a bit surprised at this comment. Tim's usual advice is to make WE kits at 74F from start to finish.

Steve
 

Wade E

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Tim will throw you some curves some times, He used to say there was no need to stir the kit wines until that Raspberry Choc port came out and was having s many problems so now they will say stir the wine continuously.
 

jdeere5220

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That depends on what you are fermenting and what you are looking fo in that wine. If you are looking for a fruit bomb then cooler fermentation is what you want but almost all white wines will benefit from a cooler fermentation.
Thanks Wade. The particular article I was referring to was linked on this forum somewhere, but now I can't find it. When I find it I'll link to it again, it was good reading.

Ahh.... I always find it as soon as I post that I can't find it. Here's one article (tip #6) that talks about lower ferment temp:

http://www.winemakermag.com/stories/kit/article/indices/25-kit-winemaking/459-make-your-kit-wine-shine
 
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