First Timer Issue with Hydrogen Sulfide

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pammyjeanb

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Good Morning,

New poster here! :)

I am trying to figure out what went wrong with my raspberry wine to generate the rotten egg smell. My temperatures were well controlled at 68-72 degrees, I always add yeast nutrients and I even staggered them this time over the course of the first 3 days.

This isn't a smell / issue that developed over the course of the ferment, but happened right out of the gate when activity first commenced and I'm wondering if possibly it was something that I added this year that I haven't in the past and that particular component generated the rotten egg smell.

I changed up my yeasts this year...I typically use Lalvin EC1118, but this year I used Lalvin K1-V1116 as it was reputed to work very well with berry wines.

I also used Tannin FT Route and Lallzyme EX-V. I typically just brew a strong cup or two of black tea to add as the tannin and I've never used the Lallzyme enzyme... just the standard pectinase.

I tend to apply the KISS (keep it simple stupid) method, but sometimes my 'creativity' gets the better of me, especially when I see all those winemaking ingredients that claim to elevate your wine to a higher level...it's hard to pass up.

Has anyone experienced 'rotten eggs' right from the start (Day 1) with either the Lalvin K1-1116 or the powered tannin or Lallzyme enzyme? Possibly it was a 'perfect storm' of all three...I don't know. I just know that I don't want this to happen again.

I splashed the wine from bucket to bucket a couple of times in hopes of aerating the issue and, to me, that seemed to alleviate the smell/taste some, but as my husband said, it was still like tasting a fart. lol

Thanks!

Pam
 
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Hit it with a double-dose of K-meta and stir very well. Do it in a ventilated area and/or run a fan. Sooner is better with H2S treatment.

As to why it happened? The answer is typically stress from lack of nutrients, but in your situation you may never be positive of the source.

If, after the smell is gone, you may have an off-taste produced by mercaptans which are produced with the H2S. The treatment for this is ascorbic acid, but go very light with it, as it's a strong acid and can make your wine very sharp.

I had my first personal experience wit H2S a couple of years ago, and it took 6 months for the wine to recover. The good news is that it did.
 

pammyjeanb

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Hit it with a double-dose of K-meta and stir very well. Do it in a ventilated area and/or run a fan. Sooner is better with H2S treatment.

As to why it happened? The answer is typically stress from lack of nutrients, but in your situation you may never be positive of the source.

If, after the smell is gone, you may have an off-taste produced by mercaptans which are produced with the H2S. The treatment for this is ascorbic acid, but go very light with it, as it's a strong acid and can make your wine very sharp.

I had my first personal experience wit H2S a couple of years ago, and it took 6 months for the wine to recover. The good news is that it did.
The advice is much appreciated!

I'm glad to know that there's a chance that, with some additional steps, the smell has the potential to age out. I have a fall crop of raspberries coming and I'm going to try the K1-1116 yeast again, but will skip the powdered tannin and lallyzyme enzyme.

Thanks,
Pam
 

BigDaveK

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To happen so fast is really curious.
That possibly implies there was bacteria somewhere - raspberries? Bucket? Water? Do you use well water?
Might be wise to double check everything if for no other reason than peace of mind.

Like winemaker81 said, kmeta is the usual go-to solution.
I've read pouring through a copper scouring pad will work. Never tried, don't know the pros or cons.
 

BernardSmith

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I wonder if sulfates in the soil might encourage yeast to produce H2S. Stress is normally a typical cause and a lack of O2 might add to the stress but if you grow berries and you add sulfur to the soil to lower the pH (I do that for the blueberry bushes we just planted) then I wonder if perhaps the berries can sometimes contain an excess of sulfur that helps create the H2S.
 

Rice_Guy

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Welcome to Wine Making Talk

@winemaker81 has pointed out the “normal” source for H2S production, which is poor yeast nutrition. Learning how to fix stinky sulfur in whites I have switched to Fermaid O followed by K. At some point I will be on the web and build a minimum $ order and get some Renaissance yeast which should prevent the issue.
I would not do a copper pad treatment, it is hard to regulate. As a first line consider Reduless and if you have the ability to weigh it out copper sulfate would do it. Copper should never be unmeasured and if added should be promptly racked off the insoluble copper sulfate.
 

pammyjeanb

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[COLOR=rgb(0, 0, 0)]BigDaveK[/COLOR] - The possibility of some bad berries as you suggested might be a possibility. There is always the opportunity to miss some berries that should be otherwise discarded. Though there were no telltale signs of infection, such as mold, off colors, the typical smell of infection, deviation from typical viscosity, ...unless a sign of infection could be isolated to the dreaded egg smell. I'm on town water and filter my wine and beer water. And, having sold raw milk for years, I'm extremely paranoid about contamination. But, no one's perfect and missteps do happen, so although I say that the odds of contamination from unhygienic practices are low, it would be unreasonable to think that it couldn't happen.

BernardSmith - I did amend my soil about 4 years ago with elemental sulfur as my soils are rather alkaline. Though, I made several 5 gallon batches last year and I'm thinking if that was the issue, then at least one of my batches would have been affected last year.

Rice_Guy - I actually switched to Fermaid O this year. I typically just use what I believe to be the same yeast nutrient that I do for my beer. My LHBS has the same yeast nutrient in both their 'wine' and 'beer' sections, so I'm assuming they're one in the same.

Thanks for your thoughts on this!

Pam


 
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I've read pouring through a copper scouring pad will work. Never tried, don't know the pros or cons.
Introducing a highly poisonous substance into your wine is the main con. As @Rice_Guy mentioned, copper must be carefully regulated when adding into wine, as it will form an ugly poison. BITD we poured wine over new pennies to eliminate H2S -- it's now known this is a dangerous practice. If you have H2S and it won't go away with stirring/K-meta, spend the money on a product like Reduless.

I did amend my soil about 4 years ago with elemental sulfur as my soils are rather alkaline.
I did a quick search -- elemental sulfur is a secondary cause of H2S in wine.

While it makes sense that previous batches would have exhibited the problem, it may be that conditions had to be just so for the H2S to form, so this year's was the unlucky batch.
 

Raptor99

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It's curious that the odor turned up so soon. @winemaker81 has already outlined how to deal with H2S. As to why this happened, a bit more information might help us to spot potential problems:
* What was your process to start the wine?
* How did you prep the berries?
* What is the volume of this batch?
* How did you hydrate the yeast?
* What kind of nutrients did you add? How much? When did you add them?
 

pammyjeanb

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It's curious that the odor turned up so soon. @winemaker81 has already outlined how to deal with H2S. As to why this happened, a bit more information might help us to spot potential problems:
* What was your process to start the wine?
* How did you prep the berries?
* What is the volume of this batch?
* How did you hydrate the yeast?
* What kind of nutrients did you add? How much? When did you add them?
So, below are my notes from this batch:
  • 7/17/22 - a.m. - 5 gallons raspberry wine
  • 20lbs organic red raspberries - picked in 2022, picked over - then frozen
  • 9lbs organic cane sugar
  • Filtered water - boiled for 20 minutes -added the 9lbs sugar - amount needed to top up to 5 gallon mark on pail
  • Added hot sugar water to berries in bucket - crushed berries once thawed - Brix 22 = 1.092
  • PH at 3 - added 3 tbsp calcium chloride
  • 1/4 tsp K meta
  • 1/2 Lallzyme Ex V
  • 2.5tsp Ferm-O
  • 7/17/22 p.m. - hydrated K1-1116 w/filtered water in cup sterilized with Star San and added once temp of berries came to 70 degrees.
  • 7/18/22 - 3 g "Rouge" tannin, 2.5tsp Ferm-O
  • 7/19/22 - 2.5tsp Ferm-O
  • 7/28/22 - racked - activity pretty much done, racked to remove from 3" of lees
  • 8/14/22 - racked - splashed to aerate and added 1/8 tsp K meta - SG = 0.994
There was substantial activity within, I'd say, 12 hours and that sulfur smell right from the first bubble.

Every piece of equipment, right down to the teaspoon, is cleaned using PBW cleaner and then sanitized with Star San. I tend to just leave the equipment in the hot Star San until I need it.

I don't test for TA. I have tried and repeatedly failed when using the cheap test kits...being a dark red color, it's impossible for me to discern the color change. I do have my eye on the Vinmetrica SC-300.

Thanks,
Pam
 

Raptor99

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Thanks for sharing your notes. Taking detailed notes is a great way to improve your craft. Your procedure looks good. I'm don't know whether you re-checked pH a day after adding the calcium chloride. It would be good to know if that is in the right range.

I'm not sure why the sulfur smell showed up so quickly. There are a number of different sulfur smells, and H2S is only one of them. It has taken me a while to learn to distinguish between them. Splash racking back and forth is a good way to eliminate this early on. I suggest that you wait a few days and then smell and taste it again.

As for possible causes, I did a few calculations. K1V has a low to medium YAN requirement (YAN = Yeast Assimilable Nitrogen). Assuming minimal nutrients from the fruit, you would need to add about 175 PPM of YAN. You added 2.5 * 3 = 7.5 tsp. Ferm-O. I found a chart showing 1 tsp. of Ferm-O = 2.5 g (see below). You added about 18.75 g Ferm-O, which would provide 119 PPM YAN. So it looks like the nutrient amount is low.

Here's the chart:
 

pammyjeanb

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My 2 cents -
1 - A pH of 3.0 is ok in my book. I had one at 2.8 and let it go.
2 - my package of calcium chloride says "Add up to 1 tsp per 5 gallons". You added 3 tbsp. I really don't know that much about it. How does it taste?
Woops, typo...it was 3 tsp of calcium chloride, not 3 tbsp!

P.
 

pammyjeanb

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Thanks for sharing your notes. Taking detailed notes is a great way to improve your craft. Your procedure looks good. I'm don't know whether you re-checked pH a day after adding the calcium chloride. It would be good to know if that is in the right range.

I'm not sure why the sulfur smell showed up so quickly. There are a number of different sulfur smells, and H2S is only one of them. It has taken me a while to learn to distinguish between them. Splash racking back and forth is a good way to eliminate this early on. I suggest that you wait a few days and then smell and taste it again.

As for possible causes, I did a few calculations. K1V has a low to medium YAN requirement (YAN = Yeast Assimilable Nitrogen). Assuming minimal nutrients from the fruit, you would need to add about 175 PPM of YAN. You added 2.5 * 3 = 7.5 tsp. Ferm-O. I found a chart showing 1 tsp. of Ferm-O = 2.5 g (see below). You added about 18.75 g Ferm-O, which would provide 119 PPM YAN. So it looks like the nutrient amount is low.

Here's the chart:

Thank you so much for the time you spent calculating this! I located a 'Yeast-Nutrition Planner' on the Scott Laboratory website. It seems that I need to pay closer attention to my nutrient calculations...or more aptly, I need to start calculating and stop guessing/assuming with my nutrients. Again, thanks for your tutorial, Raptor99 !
 

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