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How do i know when primary is done.. confused

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rino

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Currently i have my grapes sitting in a 500 liter red vat... we used 13 cases of sangiovese grapes... I purchased a hydrometer, but not sure what im looking for... The must has been sitting for 5 days now and when we tested it on the 5th day the readings were.... If i did it correct
We only did one test and got..

80 in the table wine section
18 Brix
10% alcohol

Am i ready to press and rack into the demijohn with these numbers? or does it need to sit long??

thanks
 

sour_grapes

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I hope someone more experienced with large batches will chime in. However, no, do not transfer to demijohns with that much sugar. You should let the Brix get down to 3 or so before transferring.

Do you know what your hydrometer read on day 1?

Take a look here for info on reading hydrometers: https://www.winemakingtalk.com/threads/how-to-read-hydrometer.10346/ In particular, note that you do not have 10% alcohol; rather, the sugars left in your must, if fermented, would contribute ~10% more alcohol by volume (ABV) than what you have now.
 

rino

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we didnt check it the first day... Im been told different things someone is telling me about 2 more days. Another person is telling me about about week and wait til all the must is under and liquid is above it... currently the must looks dry and its rising and we stir it twice a day to mix it up...

So which is it ...am i waiting for the must to sink ??
 

NorCal

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The visuals are good indicators. Experienced winemakers can tell the brix by the cap. Believe your hydrometer. When it hits .5 to -.5 rack.
 

rino

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Will the skins sink and juice come over it? Each day the must keeps rising and we have a dry skin shell that we break up twice a day... So will that shell stop forming and sink down and juice will rise over it??
 

Stressbaby

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That shell is the "cap." It forms when CO2 produced by the yeast rises, lifting the grapes and skins to the top. You are correctly "punching down" the cap twice a day.

When fermentation slows the cap "sinks." It doesn't truly sink, but rather it just fails to form, because there is not enough CO2 being produced to push everything to the top. In my opinion that is a pretty good indicator that it is time to press and move off into demijohns.
 

whackfol

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I leave on skins as long as I can. That’s where the color, tannins and flavors come from. At the same time, once fermentation ends (even slows too much) you lose the protection of the CO2 and expose the wine to O2. When the must gets soupy with no cap build up and/or the hydrometer drops below 0, I suggest pressing and transferring to a container with an airlock. If you don’t have time to press now, cover with Saran Wrap or put some dry ice on top in a small container to reduce the exposure to oxygen.

Fermentation will likely continue after you press.
There is a school of thought that extended maceration is beneficial to creating “smoother, more supple” wines. As a home winemaker, I won’t consider something like this because I have limited controls over the environment and, my priority is protecting the wine from oxidation. It’s probablt the greatest flaw of home made wine. Wait as long as you can, but don’t risk the wine.
 

Dom Lausic

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With our most recent batches of Cab Sauv & Pinot Noir, it took about 5 days to reach a Brix of -1 (not adjusted for temp). Fermentation duration is based on yeast and temperature. So it can take a longer than that. 18 Brix is definitely not ready.

Trust your hydrometer, as that is the true measure of when your wine is ready to rack. Once you hit a Brix of 1 to -1, you can then decide whether you leave the wine on the skins to macerate a little longer. For the home winemaker, this is usually dictated by work schedules! I left my wine on the skins for an extra 3 days. We still had a cap and CO2 was still being produced, so I think we ended up OK.
 

rino

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ok so took another brix test... when we took it on 5 day.

80 in the table wine section
18 Brix
10% alcohol the 5 day we were at

Now on day 7

40 SpGr
11.5 Brix
6% alcohol

......
 

G259

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So, in two days you made 4% alcohol (10-6), and there is 6% potential alcohol to be made. I agree with the stirring twice daily, again - to give contact of the skins to your wine, and to give the yeast a little oxygen (in the beginning), which they need to reproduce. After fermentation is complete, oxygen is the enemy - I'll assume that you have a bung and airlock for your carboy, when it's done, and you transfer into it.

I'll also assume that the SG was 1.080, and 1.040. At 1.020-1.010 you can think about putting in a carboy /w airlock.
 
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rino

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ok so probably another day or 2 we should be ready to move it to the demijohns with the bunks and locks??
 

G259

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The fermentation will start to slow, let your hydrometer tell you when.
 

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