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First time with Fresh Juice, slow go?

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VinoAlex

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Hey everyone. I have made several of the WineXpert Eclipse kits before but my local wine shop had fresh juice that they were flying in that I decided to give a go at. The WineXpert kits all achieved the desired SG within the first 1-2 weeks easily. I am having a super slow go at the entire process here. What's going on? Is this normal?

I got the juice (Italian Cab) on Nov 1. Waited for the juice to come to 73 degrees which took a day.
Nov 2: Primary Fermentation Added 2 packets of Yeast, Oak Chips, Initial SG 1.105
Nov 6: Check SG 1.046, stirred
Nov 10: Secondary Fermentation from bucket to carboy removing oak SG 1.038
Nov 11: Added yeast nutrients, 6 tbsp
Nov 17: Checked SG 1.034, stirred
Nov 27: Checked SG 1.020, stirred

Everything looks, smells, and tastes fine. Just wondering if this is normal for fresh juice and if I did anything incorrectly? Room temp is constant 73-75 degrees.I am not being impatient, just curious because this is so different than the immediate fermentation results of the kits.
 

Ajmassa

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You are right to be curious because that is definitely longer than typical, which are no different than kits.
Definitely stir frequently during a ferment. Every day 1-2x. No nutrients until day 9 may have been a factor. Nice to have a go-to nutrient regimen. Many options. you’ll get 10 different nutrient suggestions from 10 different people. I transfer to glass upon completion, since you want all the yeast/sediment in there during the ferment. So Racking early could be another factor. (Tho already looked slow by then)
No way to know for sure, but as long as it continues dropping just go with it. You could probably stand to giver her another nutrient shot now. Just no DAP this late. (Someone else will no doubt chime in with a suggested type/amount) Sometimes that last bit is the toughest to ferment. And remember to stir. You may have to carry her across the finish line, but as long as you finish is all that matters now.
 

mainshipfred

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@Ajmassa5983 has a lot of good points. The only other thing I can think is the must, coming from Italy, was shipped with a high level of sulfite. I understand that unless the sulfites are allowed to gas off it can kill some of the yeast hulls and cause a sluggish fermentation. I recently had a batch that didn't stop but was finishing slowly and I added some champagne yeast to finish it off.
 

Ajmassa

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Do you know they’re flown in or assuming? My supplier lists their Cali juices offered. And then specify others as their “Italian varietals”. I assume it stems from regulations to always specify certain juices like Barolo or Sangiovese ‘Italian juice” even if from Cali- tricking me for a long time. (* I think. I don’t know for sure)
If it is from Italy then what Fred said about sulphites could be a big factor.
 

sour_grapes

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I do not think that racking to secondary at 1.038 did you any favors. You gave up a lot of your yeast!

What kind of yeast did you use?

You aren't using a refractometer by any chance, are you?
 

jgmillr1

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Agree with the above recommendations. Racking was early and yeast nutrients were added late.

You may want to get some EC1118 yeast to finish your fermentation. That yeast is very tolerant and a clean fermenter. Since there is already significant alcohol in there, you would want to make a yeast starter using the EC1118 and let it ferment half through the sugar in the starter juice before incrementally blending in your stuck Italian wine to acclimate it. You should be able to pitch this into your Italian wine to complete the job.
 

VinoAlex

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Hey everyone! Thanks for all the great responses. You guys are a wealth of knowledge.

So the thought process behind the racking was because I put in 4 cups of oak and the local wine making shop said I wouldn't want to sit on that much oak for any more time. In the future I will have to just take a strainer to the top so I don't remove much of the yeast.

I am pretty sure I am using EC1118 already. I don't have any starter juice left and don't know how to obtain any now so I think I am on the struggle bus and just have to work with what I have?

Not using a refractometer - I have heard a bit about that, what is the benefit?

Also not sure if it is truly from Italy now that the point was made that it could be vines instead.
 

jgmillr1

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I am pretty sure I am using EC1118 already. I don't have any starter juice left and don't know how to obtain any now so I think I am on the struggle bus and just have to work with what I have?
You can use some frozen store bought apple juice for the starter. That is neutral in flavor/acid and won't have sorbate.

Not using a refractometer - I have heard a bit about that, what is the benefit?
The refractometer uses the changes in the index of refraction in the liquid to measure the sugar concentration. It is calibrated to sugar in water. The presence of alcohol will change index of refraction by itself, offsetting the measured sugar. A dry wine will read about 5 brix on a refractometer, roughly. This is why sour_grapes asked if you were using a refractometer; he wanted to be sure it was an accurate measurement of the SG.

The advantages of the refractometer are that it only requires a drop of liquid and it is not nearly as subject to temperture errors as a hydrometer. You just have to be careful when interpreting its results if alcohol is present.
 

Ajmassa

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So the thought process behind the racking was because I put in 4 cups of oak and the local wine making shop said I wouldn't want to sit on that much oak for any more time. In the future I will have to just take a strainer to the top so I don't remove much of the yeast.
.
Refractometers are probably most popular for checking grapes.
In the future just let it ride! 4 cups of oak chips in I’m assuming 5-6 gal of juice doesn’t sound crazy. I personally don’t think that needed to be a big concern even in an extended fermentation. Possibly even better. The tannins from the oak are being nabbed up in all the chemical changes occurring during a ferment. And helps make a bigger more complex wine. It’s not until later on when oaking will impart actual oak flavor to it.
If you had left em in there you’d just be high on tannin. Which would balance well with age in a bigger wine with higher abv. (Your 1.105 sg would definitely qualify).
Btw what varietal are you making? SG still dropping and showing visible activity?
 

Marta Sommer

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Checking with the meter is possible for most grapes. great discussion with valid points ...
 

jgmann67

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So the thought process behind the racking was because I put in 4 cups of oak and the local wine making shop said I wouldn't want to sit on that much oak for any more time. In the future I will have to just take a strainer to the top so I don't remove much of the yeast.
Maybe it's me, but 4 cups of oak seems like an awful lot in your primary. How much wine are you making? I'm going to assume you're doing a 6 gallon batch. Next time, consider doing some Tannin FT Rouge in the primary and move your oak to a later stage. About 8-9 grams of FT Rouge in the primary is all you'll need. Then, either during MLF or clearing, add 3.5 ounces of oak cubes.
 
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