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Paulie vino

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Thanks for all the advice so far. The fermentation is continuing. I have not added anything but last night I started to smell what I thought was the beginning of some funky odors (since tbisbisy first time we grapes I don't really know how it's supposed to smell). Fast forward to this morning and the smell seems to be leaning toward the sulfur, rotten egg type smell so now I'm worried about that. I added Fermaid o yesterday morning, as I stated a few posts ago, so the yeast should be well fed. The only thing that changed was the temp of the ferment went up about 10 degrees, maybe that's causing it? I punched down and tried to splash it around to get rid of the smell. I'll see how it is when I get home from work today. Crossing my fingers for now
 
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Fast forward to this morning and the smell seems to be leaning toward the sulfur, rotten egg type smell so now I'm worried about that.
H2S can be described as swamp gas and/or dog farts. It's noxious. If you have that reek, add a dose of K-meta and stir the must as well you can. Run a fan and open the windows if you can.
 

Paulie vino

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How much Kmeta per gallon? Is that going to negatively affect the yeast? This is still fermenting.
 
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Is it similar smell to your juice bucket ferments? sometimes the first half of fermentation can smell absolutely incredible and then the 2nd half takes on an aggressive bitter undertone. But not necessarily h2s. It’s difficult to describe smells. Also difficult to make decisions based on our less-than-confident non-professional perceptions.

Any time I smelled “it” i would dose some nutrients and introduce more oxygen by punching & churning.
FermO is all organic so sometimes it may lack the balls to handle what’s required.

I never added or heard of adding k-meta during a ferment. But @winemaker81 has been making wine for about 100 yrs so I’m sure he’s not gonna steer you wrong lol. My guess would be at least a 30ppm addition. And no I don’t believe it would affect the yeast at all.

*using FermCalc 30ppm sulphites in 7.7gal of wine is only 1.5g or 1/4tsp

*and others may correct me if I’m wrong but I believe your water window is very much wide open.


-ph meter. 1st one. no time to properly research the purchase. Yep. I was in same boat. Amazon is your friend. $12. For in a pinch ya can’t beat it. That’s 1 beer at the ballpark. Can always properly upgrade later on.
 
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Paulie vino

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Is it similar smell to your juice bucket ferments? sometimes the first half of fermentation can smell absolutely incredible and then the 2nd half takes on an aggressive bitter undertone. But not necessarily h2s. It’s difficult to describe smells. Also difficult to make decisions based on our less-than-confident non-professional perception
I was thinking about my 3 prior fermentations with juice buckets and they all smelled good, almost like a juicy fresh floral smell. This current fermentation started off ok, didn't smell like too much of anything, ever since the must temp went up to the high 70s is when I noticed the smell. It's probably at least half way done fermenting by now if not more. Im getting acid tonight, I may water it down to avoid such a high alcohol wine as I'd rather not be drinking 16 or 17 percent wine. Plus maybe it will help to add some acid since I'm assuming it is probably too high in pH.

Many things to think about...
 
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I was thinking about my 3 prior fermentations with juice buckets and they all smelled good, almost like a juicy fresh floral smell. This current fermentation started off ok, didn't smell like too much of anything, ever since the must temp went up to the high 70s is when I noticed the smell. It's probably at least half way done fermenting by now if not more. Im getting acid tonight, I may water it down to avoid such a high alcohol wine as I'd rather not be drinking 16 or 17 percent wine. Plus maybe it will help to add some acid since I'm assuming it is probably too high in pH.

Many things to think about...
The temps rising in unison with the smell changing likely isnt the cause. Both are just effects of the fermentation kicking into high gear. I’ll be following along as you monitor. I’m curious to see how it is later tonight and then you can decide what actions youll take if troubleshooting is necessary.
 
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@Paulie vino, visualize the aftermath of eating bean burritos, pickled eggs, and a third thing in the same vein. Full H2S is an "oh my GAWD!" incident of olfactory horror. If I hadn't experienced it before, I probably would not have picked up on my recent brush with it until it was farther along. But I caught a whiff and knew what it was.

As @Ajmassa said, wine can smell really good in the initial stages, but it can also have odd smells that disappear.

While I wouldn't normally add K-meta during fermentation, it's a trade-off. H2S, which can be stopped (nutrients) and driven off (stirring), forms mercaptans which require long term treatment to eliminate. Adding K-meta immediately and stirring well can fix the problem before it gets bad. H2S is the one thing in winemaking that I can think of that requires immediately attention.

I hit my wine with a double-dose of K-meta (1/2 tsp per 5 gallons). It had no appreciable effect upon the fermentation, which was half way through. Commercial yeast are generally K-meta tolerant. I spent 6 months fixing my last encounter with H2S as I caught it late -- don't be like Bryan! ;)

Note that I haven't quite been making wine for 100 years, and I certainly make mistakes. Always ask questions.
 

Paulie vino

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So here's the evening update. Brix 4.9 SG 1.020. Punched down around 530 and the smell isn't what @winemaker81 described, more of a gym locker kinda smell with maybe a hint of sulfur but nothing that knocks me on my butt. It seems to go away after stirring, or maybe I just go nose blind. When I get real close to the must and smell, I almost get a burning in my nose or like the smell has a bite to it, maybe that's the concentrated CO2? Not sure how else to describe it.

Also something of note, the must seems to have gotten a little warmer. Room temp is 68 but the cap was 82 before punch down, the liquid is around 80. I'm fermenting in a large stainless steel pot and one thing I didn't think about was heat retention. The bottom of the pot is clad aluminum and it feels warmer than the rest of the pot. Maybe the bottom of the must is hotter than the rest, I can't tell since my thermometer is only about 5 inches long. I wonder if the metal is retaining more heat than a plastic brute for example, and leading to some off aromas because of a warmer ferment. Maybe next year I'll invest in a brute.

I tasted some of the must and at first I got a small sulfur smell but after a few minutes it went away.

I think my plan for now is to let it ride as is, punch it down 4-5 times tomorrow and Sunday to combat the heat build up and potential hydrogen sulfide issue. I will also monitor for a stuck fermentation. At what point would I add ec1118? How much time should I give it before declaring it "stuck"? 24 hours of no movement on the hydrometer? If all goes well maybe I'll be pressing on Sunday or Monday. Plan on doing MLF as well, assuming it's not too much alcohol for the bacteria (CH16)

As always thanks for your advice!
 
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I will also monitor for a stuck fermentation. At what point would I add ec1118? How much time should I give it before declaring it "stuck"? 24 hours of no movement on the hydrometer?
At 1.020 the fermentation can slow down. I generally call a stuck fermentation if the SG doesn't change in 48 hours.

You're going to press tomorrow (Sunday) or Monday regardless of SG? That doesn't give you much time to figure out if the ferment is stuck, but it honestly doesn't matter. You can press regardless. Actually, the act of pressing (disturbing the wine) may unstick a stuck fermentation.

IIRC you're using D254, which is rated for 16% ABV. If you don't water back, you're going to exceed that, so making an EC-1118 starter now makes sense. It may not be necessary, but it will do no harm.
 

Paulie vino

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You're going to press tomorrow (Sunday) or Monday regardless of SG? That doesn't give you much time to figure out if the ferment is stuck, but it honestly doesn't matter. You can press regardless. Actually, the act of pressing (disturbing the wine) may unstick a stuck fermentation.
I plan to press when it's dry. According to the more wine manuals it states "If you are using a hydrometer, the alcohol in the sample will skew the accuracy of the
result; a reading of 0° Brix is not actually dry. Because alcohol is lighter than water, you
will need a reading of –1.5° to –2° for true 0° Brix determination." So I will probably press around -1.5 or -2, brix.unless you guys have another opinion. ( I found this thread whis is helpful When to Press??? plus a few others). It seems like everyone has their own definition of when to press, so I'm not sure what a good number is. I'll probably do it at 0 brix or 1.000 based on what I've read but I'm open to suggestions.

Given the current rate of fermentation, I'm estimating that to happen Sunday or Monday. I'd prefer Sunday since it's a weekend and I will have a lot more time to figure out what I'm doing, being my first press and all. If I press Monday it would be in the evening after work and I'd have limited time.

It makes sense that the fermentation speed will slow doen as the wine becomes more alcoholic (harsher environment for the yeast to work in). I'll let the hydrometer be my guide.

On a side note, room temp in the garage went down by almost 10 degrees overnight, must temp decreased from 82 to 72 and it doesn't have the same funky smell, so maybe or was all the heat in the must that was contributing to the smell. I'll take another brix and sg reading later today to see how it's moving along.
 
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I plan to press when it's dry.
Folks like refractometers as they're easy, but as you pointed out the, once fermentation starts, the resulting number requires translation. A link to a paper that provides translation between Brix and SG was posted recently -- I don't have it so you'll have to search for it.

I do it the old fashioned way, with a hydrometer. It measures SG, and I don't have to translate. I have a test jar, and a FermTech wine thief which is wide enough to hold a hydrometer. It works nicely, but sometimes the hydrometer wants to stick to the side, so it takes some jostling. It has the advantage that I can draw a sample and release it back into the fermenter with minimal air contact.

Red wines usually finish below 1.000, typically between 0.994 and 0.997, although I've had a few finish at 1.001. It sounds like your plan is reasonable.

My reds are probably below 1.000 today -- I haven't checked yet. My son & I will be pressing tomorrow morning.
 

Paulie vino

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@winemaker81 thanks for the advice. I just took another reading and the must temp is hanging around around 72, room temp is 66. Sg 1.003 and brix 0.7. Looks like fermentation is continuing, I will check tomorrow morning and I'm hopefully it will be at 1.000 and I can press. I may press anyway tomorrow for timing reasons. Since I am so close I don't think it will matter too much? Do you think I should still be concerned for a stuck fermentation at this point with the SG so low?
 

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Do you think I should still be concerned for a stuck fermentation at this point with the SG so low?
Maybe, maybe not. If the OG had been lower, I'd say no. With a high OG and a yeast rated for 16%? It could go either way.

IMO you're good for pressing tomorrow. Get the wine in carboy(s) with a bit of extra headspace (several inches) so that it doesn't overflow the carboy while finishing fermentation and degassing. Ignore it for a week, then check the SG. If you're <= 0.998, it's probably done. Wait another week, rack off the lees, and you're in bulk aging.

If the SG doesn't drop by next weekend (> 0.998) prepare a EC-1118 starter and inoculate. Let's cross our fingers that this isn't necessary -- you're so closed to the finish line.
 

Paulie vino

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Ok I'll plan on pressing tomorrow. I was going to rack off the gross lee's after 24 hours but you're saying to wait a week? That goes against everything I've read about letting wine sit on gross lee's. I plan to use a mesh kitchen strainer to catch most of the heavy stuff but I'm sure a lot will settle out anyway. Can you elaborate?
 
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Ok I'll plan on pressing tomorrow. I was going to rack off the gross lee's after 24 hours but you're saying to wait a week? That goes against everything I've read about letting wine sit on gross lee's. I plan to use a mesh kitchen strainer to catch most of the heavy stuff but I'm sure a lot will settle out anyway. Can you elaborate?
There are probably dozens of "rules" for fermentation and racking. Since you blundered and asked me to elaborate, I will. ;)

My early mentors used what I call the 1-3-3 rule -- 1 week fermentation, 3 weeks clearing, and 3 months bulk aging. So the wine was pressed after 1 week, racked after 3 weeks, and again after 3 months. Some bottled then, others bottled in another 3 to 21 months.

I've read professional papers that state that wine MUST be racked 24 hours after pressing, else the grape solids will immediate decompose and ruin the wine. Counterpoint that with extended maceration where the fermenter is sealed before fermentation ends, and unsealed and racked up to 90 days later. That is a common practice in Burgundy to produce long aging wines. We have folks on this forum doing EM up to 6 weeks.

Add to that numerous professional articles stating gross lees drops 24 to 72 hours after fermentation, so racking 24 hours after pressing only gets the first part of it.

Kit vendors have been saying for several decades to rack on Day 14, and not worrying about topping up the carboy for the duration (4 to 8 weeks). Finer Wine Kits says to seal the fermenter when the SG drops below 1.020, and unseal and rack on Day 14 (a short EM).

Confused? Not sure who to believe? Welcome to the club!

Me? I'm focusing on what I know works, including practices of professional winemakers, practices of experienced winemakers on this forum, and my own experiences.

What I do depends on the wine. If making a kit, I'll follow the FWK process. @Matteo_Lahm of FWK does his research, and I have at least as much confidence in his approach as any other, and it's shown success based upon posts on this forum. I'm currently using that process for three 1 lug batches -- I sealed the fermenters when the SG was between 1.020 and 1.008 (all 3 buckets different), and will press a week from Sunday. By then fermentation will be done and the gross lees will have dropped. These wines will be combined and I'll rack again in 2 or 3 weeks, depending on sediment buildup. Bulk aging will be in carboy.

My larger batches (four 4 lug batches) will be pressed tomorrow. They'll go into demijohns or carboys, and will be racked in 2 or 3 weeks. At that point they should be ready for barrel.
 

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I'd say there are as many racking schedules as there are winemakers. They all work. For me, I like to clean up the wine early. ie Press, and then rack again 2-3 days later. Due to scheduling, I have racked off the gross lees as short as 12 hours. But after that, I try and minimize racking to reduce O2 exposure. So typically I'll rack 3 days after press, then 2-3 months off the oak cubes I use, and then again immediately before bottling after the next harvest. But very often I'll go 6 months or more between rackings. You do need to keep up with the So2 levels to some degree, but the less you rack, the less sulfite you need because you are minimizing air exposure.
 
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When is doubt for racking grape wines I default to 3-3-3. (Courtesy of @salcoco)

after fermentation and racked into glass:
3 days rack off sludge
Then 3 weeks
Then 3 months concurrently (Tho I admit I don’t do this)

also a wine stuck at 1.001ish is almost impossible to get a starter goin in that high abv wine. I wasted so much effort once trying this. Never again. I wouldnt even sweat it if it sticks that low.

still rack as you planned. Often those last few ticks end up just taking a bit more time. Either way it’s still cool. The fact it’s so close to 1.000 is already a W imo.
 

Paulie vino

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Thanks again for all the replies. I let the wine sit 3 days before racking, mostly due to my schedule. After racking I ended up with 7 gallons (1x 5 gallon carboy and 2x 1 gallon carboys). The SG was 0.996, so it looks like the fermentation finished without having to add any more yeast. I'm not sure if I get any hydrogen sulfide smells, it smelled a little funny, not like finished wine but maybe that comes with time, i don't know. I added CH 16 to all the containers, and a medium toast French oak wine stix to the 5 gallon carboy. MLF appears to be underway, visual inspection shows a steady stream of bubbles rising up. I'll plan on oaking for 2-3 months based on the wine stix instructions and monitor the taste as it goes along. So far it's been a fun process, thanks again for your help.
 

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Everything appears to be going well. The steady stream of bubbles is most likely the wine outgassing, excess CO2 coming out of suspension. My understanding is the outgassing from MLF is a much lower output, possibly not visible.
 
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