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(Fruit wine) SG out of whack?

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wineoceros

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Hello all,
Newbie here!

I'm working on my very first batch and I just need someone to decipher what's happening.

5 gallon batch of strawberry wine.
Per the recipe:
First rack @ around 5-7 days.
SG should be around 1.030-1.040 at that time.

So here's my confusion...
It took my batch solid 48 hours after pitching yeast to begin foaming.

I waited to rack until 5days AFTER it began foaming (today) and when I checked, SG was 0.098.
Everything I'm reading says that shouldn't happen until the end of fermentation.
Is this a good or bad thing? I have no clue.

I went ahead and racked it.

My other issue:
After racking, I see that there is a significant amount of headspace in the secondary.
Like... a solid 8+ inches.
I suppose that I just didn't siphon enough off. *sigh*

I will also note that almost all of the fruity layer at the top of the primary had completely dissapeared within a matter of hours...
I had a thick layer at the surface the whole time, with this morning being no exception. This evening as I went to rack, 90% of it had vanished!
This has added to my confusion because everything I'm reading is telling me that I should have had to strain off the excess fruit prior to racking.
But... there was no excess fruit!

As far as the extra headspace, I'm wondering if leaving that much room in the secondary will be an issue, or should I transfer it to a smaller carboy and just take the loss?

As far as all of the other deviation, I have no idea.
Did I ruin my batch??
 

sour_grapes

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As best as I can tell, everything sounds normal and fine.

48 hours to start foaming is normal.

I assume your SG is 0.998. This is a good value. You may have gotten there a little early, but it is fine.

Yes, you need to reduce your headspace. You have a number of options for this. You could find a smaller vessel to rack into. You could top off this vessel with a wine that is complementary to you current wine. You could add sanitized, food-grade marbles to your current vessel.
 

mhopkins

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Hello all,
Newbie here!

My other issue:
After racking, I see that there is a significant amount of headspace in the secondary.
Like... a solid 8+ inches.
I suppose that I just didn't siphon enough off. *sigh*
I have tried marbles to eliminate headspace. They work well, but when it comes time for another racking I lose a lot of wine to that which remains in between the marbles (along with whatever lees remains). I now use a water bladder headspace eliminator. You can see one demonstrated here:
I chose to make one rather than buying one. Used our Seal-a-Meal to make the bladder. Works well!
 

Scooter68

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Lesson 1 - For the future - ALWAYS plan on a significant loss of volume with fruit wines. That means if you want 5 gallons of wine from a heavy pulp fruit you may need to start as much as 6 1/2 gallons of must. (OR more)

Also plan for how to handle the leftover pulp. Many times you can recover more wine after you complete the racking by simply carefully pouring off the upper layers of the sediment through a stainless steel strainer sitting in a funnel. That liquid can than be placed in a glass container with a loosely fitted screw cap and chilled. Once chilled in a couple of hours tighten the cap and wait a day or two. You will often find as much as half the volume can be recovered. Of course you don't want to do that with ALL of the pulp sediment, just with most liquid the upper layer.

Some fruits like blackberries and blueberries end up with a lot less pulp sediment. It varies from fruit to fruit. Grapes of course are one of the lowest pulp fruits with just seeds and skins remaining after fermentation.
 

wineoceros

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As best as I can tell, everything sounds normal and fine.

48 hours to start foaming is normal.

I assume your SG is 0.998. This is a good value. You may have gotten there a little early, but it is fine.

Yes, you need to reduce your headspace. You have a number of options for this. You could find a smaller vessel to rack into. You could top off this vessel with a wine that is complementary to you current wine. You could add sanitized, food-grade marbles to your current vessel.
Oh yes, sorry, 0.998.
How risky would it be to leave it with the extra headspace for one more day?
I have a smaller carboy coming but it won't arrive until tomorrow.
 

wineoceros

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Lesson 1 - For the future - ALWAYS plan on a significant loss of volume with fruit wines. That means if you want 5 gallons of wine from a heavy pulp fruit you may need to start as much as 6 1/2 gallons of must. (OR more)

Also plan for how to handle the leftover pulp. Many times you can recover more wine after you complete the racking by simply carefully pouring off the upper layers of the sediment through a stainless steel strainer sitting in a funnel. That liquid can than be placed in a glass container with a loosely fitted screw cap and chilled. Once chilled in a couple of hours tighten the cap and wait a day or two. You will often find as much as half the volume can be recovered. Of course you don't want to do that with ALL of the pulp sediment, just with most liquid the upper layer.

Some fruits like blackberries and blueberries end up with a lot less pulp sediment. It varies from fruit to fruit. Grapes of course are one of the lowest pulp fruits with just seeds and skins remaining after fermentation.
Definitely a lesson learned!
Thanks for the info!
 

sour_grapes

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No worries for a few days. It won't oxidize instantaneously. There is likely still plenty of CO2 in your wine, which helps protect the wine as it outgases and pushes O2 away.
 

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