First racking - then stuck >:/

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Rappatuz

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So I'm one of those noobs in need of guidance. Thank you Wine Making Talk.

I'm currently making my first wine. Actually, my first three wines (I decided to just go all in):
  • An apple/rowan berry white/rose I started late September on Mangrove Jack’s MA33 yeast. Estimated 11 % abv.
  • A red currant/blueberry/black currant red I started early October on Lalvin 71B-1122 yeast. Estimated 12 % abv.
  • A rose hip strong wine/port I started mid-December on Red Star Premier Classique yeast. Estimated 14 % abv + Brandy fortification.
Fermentation has gone fine, although a little slow, probably because room temperatures have been a little below optimal. Over to the first wine/issue: A month after starting the apple/rowan berry wine it was racked to a new carboy. SG was measured to about 1.005 at this point and the wine was very clear. Racking wasn't perfect, I whirled up a little sediment in the process, although most of it was left behind. After racking, fermentation just stopped. I made sure the stopper and airlock had a tight seal and checked for bubble activity. Nothing. I moved it to a warmer room and after a little while I would occasionally see a solitary CO2 bubble rising to the surface. This was not enough to make the airlock "go off". About a week ago, I measured the SG to about 1.000, which means the wine has kept fermenting at a very slow pace. At this point I'm pretty happy about the taste and the sweetness of the wine. I don't think the SG will drop more due to no observed activity for a long time.

To the first question: EC Kraus (the website) says that wine shouldn't be bottled before SG is below 0.998 (probably because bottle fermentation with SG over 0.998 potentially can pop corks). I plan on doing another racking before bottling. If SG is still 1.000 at that point, will bottling be a risk? I know I can try to get it to ferment further with a starter but I would like to keep the residual sugar in the wine if possible.

Another wine, another issue. I did the first racking of the second wine (berries) two weeks ago and like the first wine, it just stopped fermenting. SG about 1.006 on this one. Absolutely no activity in the airlock since. Tried to raise the room temperature too. The SG is still 1.006. I don't know if any sediment made it over to the new carboy, but I don't think it could've been much (hard to see due to dark wine).

To the second question: I don't have the impression that fermentation-stop after first racking is a common problem (yes, I've given the google search function a shot). My hypothesis is that
the sediment in the first carboy also contains the lion's share of the active yeast, which is left behind when racking. What do you think? I'll probably make a starter to get this one going again but I thought I'd gather some wisdom from the sages of WMT before doing so.

The third wine hasn't been racked yet, but I hope to avoid getting stuck on this one too.
 
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cmason1957

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That first rack, I never worry about how much of the lees I might get and try to get a bunch. Like you say, them yeast in there be working. It will all get cleared out later. If toy got none of that, it may be why you ferments are stealing. Getting them restarted is a really hard thing to do, what with the alcohol and the lack of sugar.
 

pillswoj

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Did your recipes include yeast nutrients? Did you use more nutrients at 2/3s sugar depletion?
 

ThreeSheetsToTheWind

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How does the Rowan berry taste? I remember them being very tart and sort of a citrus taste.

As for bottling the first batch as it is I would add sorbate and make sure the wine is clear, should be no problem.
 

Scooter68

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If you are happy with the taste, the abv is at least 9%, and acidity is no higher than a pH of 3.6.

I would let it age. With no change in the SG after 3 days - i would rack it, add K-meta and start aging it. My first Black Currant stalled out at an SG of 1.005 with and ABV of 15.5 and it was perfect. Didn't need to back-sweeten it at all.
 

Rappatuz

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That first rack, I never worry about how much of the lees I might get and try to get a bunch. Like you say, them yeast in there be working. It will all get cleared out later. If toy got none of that, it may be why you ferments are stealing. Getting them restarted is a really hard thing to do, what with the alcohol and the lack of sugar.
Got it! I'll invite more sediments to the after party when racking my third wine.

Did your recipes include yeast nutrients? Did you use more nutrients at 2/3s sugar depletion?
The recipes included yeast nutrients, which I added before the yeast. I read a book and did some serious research before starting my first wine. I wasn't aware that it was necessary to add more nutrients than the specified starting amount. How much should I add the second time around?

How does the Rowan berry taste? I remember them being very tart and sort of a citrus taste.

As for bottling the first batch as it is I would add sorbate and make sure the wine is clear, should be no problem.
Rowan berries are very tart, but if you put them in the freezer for a couple of days they'll become sweeter (they'll still be quite tart). I made this recipe myself by pouring boiling water over equal amounts of diced apples and mashed rowan berries in two separate glasses. Then I mixed the juices in a third glass until I found a good tasting ratio. Mass-wise a lot more apples than rowan berries were used. Rowan berries are very potent.

I want to avoid using sorbate as I've read it may cause an unpleasant taste that will get more prominent over time. At this moment I'd rather make them dry than to use sorbate.

If you are happy with the taste, the abv is at least 9%, and acidity is no higher than a pH of 3.6.

I would let it age. With no change in the SG after 3 days - i would rack it, add K-meta and start aging it. My first Black Currant stalled out at an SG of 1.005 with and ABV of 15.5 and it was perfect. Didn't need to back-sweeten it at all.
At 15.5 % abv the yeast may have been killed off by the alcohol (depending on the strain of course). I've read that K-meta isn't enough to stabilize a wine, that potassium sorbate needs to be added to keep the yeast from reproducing. How do you feel confident that your wine won't re-ferment?
 

ThreeSheetsToTheWind

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I want to avoid using sorbate as I've read it may cause an unpleasant taste that will get more prominent over time. At this moment I'd rather make them dry than to use sorbate.
Fair enough, but the possibility of refermentation is somewhat high given that there is still sugar present. I have avoided using sorbate before by pasteurising sweetened wine after bottle carbing it. I forget the temps/times involved but it was as simple as using a large stockpot to heat the bottles and kill the yeast. The sparkling wine tasted great and no bottle bombs, so I had 100% success with the whole batch.

That being said, I use sorbate frequently and can honestly say I have no idea what sorbate tastes like. If added as per package instructions, the flavor of the wine both pre and post sorbate is identical to me.
 

Rappatuz

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Fair enough, but the possibility of refermentation is somewhat high given that there is still sugar present. I have avoided using sorbate before by pasteurising sweetened wine after bottle carbing it. I forget the temps/times involved but it was as simple as using a large stockpot to heat the bottles and kill the yeast. The sparkling wine tasted great and no bottle bombs, so I had 100% success with the whole batch.

That being said, I use sorbate frequently and can honestly say I have no idea what sorbate tastes like. If added as per package instructions, the flavor of the wine both pre and post sorbate is identical to me.
I will probably try out the k-meta/sorbate method on a future batch. Just wanted these first batches to be as "clean" as possible if that makes any sense. Regarding my apple/rowan berry wine currently at 1.000, do you think the sugar level could be high enough to actually pop a wine? I mean if EC Kraus says 0.998 is safe, could +0.002 make it a potential bomb?

I checked out pasteurization. Nice to know there's another method to stabilize a wine. Do you know if heating affects the taste of the wine?
 

ThreeSheetsToTheWind

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Regarding my apple/rowan berry wine currently at 1.000, do you think the sugar level could be high enough to actually pop a wine? I mean if EC Kraus says 0.998 is safe, could +0.002 make it a potential bomb?
I'm actually not sure how much sugar it takes to burst bottles. I have had pieces of glass fly 15 feet across a room and a carpet that smelled like apple cider before.

If refermentation starts in the bottles, best case is you get some carbonation. Maybe that's something you'd like to explore. Worst case you blow corks or burst bottles. Not the end of the world, but easily avoidable.

Do you know if heating affects the taste of the wine?
Mine tasted just like the regular backsweetened batches I've made, but carbonated. Definitely no "cooked" taste or anything like that. It was a fun process.
 

Scooter68

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For aging a wine with an airlock you don't need sorbate. The worst that could happen once you add K-META is fermentation might restart and finish. That wouldn't be a problem right?

As for that Black Currant the yeast was good for up to 18%. (That always assumed the right conditions) That batch aged with just K-META for 10 months and the SG never changed. Before bottling K-meta and sorbate were added. I never add sorbate for aging. I add it about 1 week before I back-sweeten or if the wine fermentation stalled. Issues with a sorbate taste most often seem to occur with an old wine or with old foods that have sorbate.

As for leaving fruit wines dry - there is a better than even chance you'll be missing some flavor. That and tart wine needs more sugar than other wines.
 

Rappatuz

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For aging a wine with an airlock you don't need sorbate. The worst that could happen once you add K-META is fermentation might restart and finish. That wouldn't be a problem right?
Ahh, I thought you wrote bottling without using any sorbate. Should've read more closely.

As for that Black Currant the yeast was good for up to 18%. (That always assumed the right conditions) That batch aged with just K-META for 10 months and the SG never changed. Before bottling K-meta and sorbate were added. I never add sorbate for aging. I add it about 1 week before I back-sweeten or if the wine fermentation stalled. Issues with a sorbate taste most often seem to occur with an old wine or with old foods that have sorbate.
That's the reason why I don't want to add sorbate: I want to store a few (or many) bottles of my first wines and see how they develop over many years. Maybe I'll pasteurize the wines at the current sugar levels.

As for leaving fruit wines dry - there is a better than even chance you'll be missing some flavor. That and tart wine needs more sugar than other wines.
You may be right about that. I plan on experimenting a lot on my future wine-endeavours.
 
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