How clear is clear?

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cody

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Hi all,

I am nearing completion of my first batch of feijoa wine (seems to be very popular here in New Zealand - perhaps not a common fruit elsewhere?) and I have a terribly naive newbie question about clearing.

It's in a 23 litre (about 6 gallons I think) demijohn and has been racked 3 times over a ~3 month period. Fermentation has slowed/stopped and I can see its starting to clear. I am very happy with the flavor, alcohol level and balance and there's no sign of off odour or taste. I am just wanting to make sure I don't screw up remainder of the process.

When I draw a sample into a glass or trial jar, it looks nice and clear with a sort of golden yellowy hue that I'm used to seeing in white grape wine. It doesn't appear to be cloudy.

In the demijohn however it looks more like an amber/brown and I can't see through the glass demijohn from one side to the other, or view the bottom to determine the amount of sediment sitting there.

Is the opaqueness of the demijohn merely the colour of the wine itself, or is it possible for a small sample to look clear but reveal it's still cloudy when you view a large quantity?

At this stage, my planned course of action is:
1. Leave it another week as it's only been 2 weeks since the last racking.
2. Rack into a clean demijohn, adding campden tablets.
3. A day later add potassium sorbate to make sure the yeast is completely dead.
4. Assuming I am happy with its clarity, bottle from here.

I sort of imagined before bottling I'd want to make sure it wasn't producing any more sediment. Once the yeast is dead I, suppose the only other source of sediment could be solids settling, but with its current colour, I can't clearly see the bottom of the demijohn to check! I have a suspicion it's only partially cleared at this point, perhaps not so obvious in a small sample. Also having taken the sample from the top, I suppose I probably got the clearest wine but at the bottom of the demijohn it's probably still a bit cloudy.

Any suggestions welcome, thanks in advance!

Cody
 

St Allie

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Hiya Cody,

welcome to the forum !

my thoughts are.. it's not finished clearing.. if it has stopped bubbling and you have checked the SG over 3 days with no change.. add the sorbate and the sulphite and leave it in a cool place to finish clearing. It may take another few weeks. Just forget about it for a month. You should be able to see through the carboy .. all the way to the bottom.

cheers from another aucklander ( westie here)!

Allie
 
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smurfe

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First off, welcome aboard. Another from NZ. Allie gave you great advice. One thing you can do is shine a flashlight through the carboy. If you can't see the track of the beam through the liquid, it is clear. Also, many liquids will look darker in mass than in the glass. Don't let that bother you.
 

Madriver Wines

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I have a mixed berry that is so dark it is impossible to see thru it. I am going by time and letting it sit. Last racking it was clear in the glass like yours but I cant guarantee it is done so time is our friend here. Take some and wait at least a couple more weeks. You are correct about it clearing at the top first so stay the course.
Steve
 

cpfan

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Steve:

You could take a sample with a wine thief. It should be easier to check that sample for clarity.

Steve
 

myakkagldwngr

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I have a blackberry that I wonder the same thing about. In a glass it looks good, and I really like the taste. I plan on racking it one more time soon and adding the sorbate. If I can resist the urge to drink more of it, I'll try and let it set another month then bottle it.
Trouble is, I've just started playing with wine making and I want to drink some of my product. :)
 

Tom

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Ahh !
Remember the 3 "P's"
Patience
Patience
Patience
 

cody

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Hi all, wow - a day later and I've got a bunch of replies. Thanks for the welcome and the advice, it's a big help to benefit from your collective experience!

Looking at the wine today, I can slightly make out the edge of the sediment layer so it must still be continuing to clear.

And Hi St. Allie, I'm also a West Aucklander - Titirangi in fact.

Cody
 

St Allie

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I'm just up the road a bit Cody.. Waitakere

Allie
 

Boozehag

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Hi from me too, Im from Hamilton!

I am onto my second lot of feijoa wine and have used finings to make mine clear as I want to get a general stock happening so I can concentrate on better wine making and being 'patient' when I have enough stocks to not worry about runnnig out in the meantime !!!:)

Anyway I bottled the first lot thinking it was clear but I see a small amount sediment forming already so obviously it wasnt!

This second lot I have left longer and will rack again tonight and leave it for another month, although it looks really clear as in I can almost see through it in carboy and the sample is very clear, and the sediment on bottom is a very distinct seperate amount I want to be sure this time.

What Im saying is that your feijoa doesnt sound like it is clear to me, Id leave it longer if I were you.
 

cody

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I thought I'd reply to this thread with a roundup of my clearing/bottling experience - thanks to you guys for the advise thus far.

I realized after reading some other posts that I was using Lalvin EC1118 yeast which apparently has a tendency to leave a very high alcohol content if you let it go. So, thinking I was going to end up with rocket fuel, I did my final racking with some urgency when I thought it looked pretty clear, then added sorbate and resolved to leave it for a month to make extra sure.

Well, after a month it had gone even clearer and left new sediment. During this time I became more aware of degassing, and tasting my wine, realized that it was "tingly" on the tongue and had more CO2 dissolved in it than I wanted. So, I bought a mix-stir thing and gave it a whizz. Of course, this immediately mixed the sediment back into suspension which put my bottling plans awry for a while.

A week later, it had "re-cleared" and last night I bottled it.

I racked into a clean demijohn just to make extra sure I wouldn't accidentally mix the sediment back into the wine (again) and then bottled. This went mostly without a hitch as I am used to bottling from my limited beer-brewing experience. The only issue I struck was my syphon tube didn't perfectly fit my bottling valve so things got a bit leaky between bottles and I had a bit of a mess to clean up afterwards. Nonetheless I got 30 bottles plus a little extra so no problem. Nice and clear and very happy with it.

In the final tasting however, this wine is very sweet - dessert wine sweet. Had I thought it through a bit more, I think I would have left it going longer. Having tasted the wine as it went from ridiculously sweet at the start of secondary fermentation to it's final point, and then learning about EC1118, I got a bit twitchy and added the sorbate too early.

I suppose I've learned now that you can always add more sugar at the end, but you can't take it out! :)
 

smurfe

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I thought I'd reply to this thread with a roundup of my clearing/bottling experience - thanks to you guys for the advise thus far.

I realized after reading some other posts that I was using Lalvin EC1118 yeast which apparently has a tendency to leave a very high alcohol content if you let it go. So, thinking I was going to end up with rocket fuel, I did my final racking with some urgency when I thought it looked pretty clear, then added sorbate and resolved to leave it for a month to make extra sure.

Well, after a month it had gone even clearer and left new sediment. During this time I became more aware of degassing, and tasting my wine, realized that it was "tingly" on the tongue and had more CO2 dissolved in it than I wanted. So, I bought a mix-stir thing and gave it a whizz. Of course, this immediately mixed the sediment back into suspension which put my bottling plans awry for a while.

A week later, it had "re-cleared" and last night I bottled it.

I racked into a clean demijohn just to make extra sure I wouldn't accidentally mix the sediment back into the wine (again) and then bottled. This went mostly without a hitch as I am used to bottling from my limited beer-brewing experience. The only issue I struck was my syphon tube didn't perfectly fit my bottling valve so things got a bit leaky between bottles and I had a bit of a mess to clean up afterwards. Nonetheless I got 30 bottles plus a little extra so no problem. Nice and clear and very happy with it.

In the final tasting however, this wine is very sweet - dessert wine sweet. Had I thought it through a bit more, I think I would have left it going longer. Having tasted the wine as it went from ridiculously sweet at the start of secondary fermentation to it's final point, and then learning about EC1118, I got a bit twitchy and added the sorbate too early.

I suppose I've learned now that you can always add more sugar at the end, but you can't take it out! :)
OK, we need to clear a few things up here for you. There is nothing wrong with using the Champagne yeast. I use it more than any other yeast. It in itself don't make a wine any higher in alcohol content. The only way you are going to make the yeast make rocket fuel is if you start with an SG high enough to allow the yeast to convert the sugar to those type of rocket fuel alcohol levels. That is why you see Wade, Myself, and others stressing to measure your SG and keep it at an acceptable level to start such as 1.085 for a fruit wine compared to 1.115. It's not the yeast, it's you SG, fermentation and FG. I have used Cotes de Blanc numerous times which is supposed to leave a residual sweetness. I have never once not had the yeast ferment to dry. I always recommend that you ferment to dry, stabilize and then sweeten. That way is predictable and proven. Trying to stop a fermentation at a sweetness level is never predictable.
 

cody

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Thanks Smurfe, what you say makes sense. In fact, I already have more EC1118 yeast ready to go for my next batch!

We had another couple of glasses of the wine tonight, properly chilled the sweetness doesn't hit you in the face so much. I think we'll definitely be enjoying the rest of this batch. :h
 
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leave it in a cool place to finish clearing. It may take another few weeks. Just forget about it for a month. You should be able to see through the carboy .. all the way to the bottom.
i have never made this wine, but i can tell you, putting it in a cool dark place will help to clear it as allie states. you could have used clearing agent, but not at that stage. you can age it in a carboy, therefore, you can keep racking, up to say 5 times before you want to consider a clearing agent, IMO. i have racked wine 7 times w/out using a cleaning agent as i prefer not to use one unless it's not showing an improvements.

i also agree with smurfe on the fact that leaving the yeast with just as much sugar as needed keeps the alc/vol down and allows you to sweeten to your liking. another comment i would add to that would be to sweeten to slightly drier than you like it. it WILL get more sweet and smooth over time. sugar hides imperfections. a good wine might be semi-sweet, a great wine will be semi-dry to dry. unless of course you just like a lil sweetness:D
 

Pat Parks

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Thanks for the flashlight tip, Smurfe -

I tried it on a gallon of green tea wine in a glass jug SG has been stable for weeks) that I was wondering about, and I can definitely see the track of the light. How long can the process take from start to finish? I've only done one other batch not from a kit that cleared quickly and dramatically; this one seems to be taking some time from the start. I can see well through it (count fingers, etc.), but the flashlight definitely showed its beam, and some cloudiness.
 

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