Hydrometer already showing 0.994 in primary fermentation

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Sep 30, 2023
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Hi all. I was making wine from black grapes and the hydrometer showed 1085 initially. I used double dose of metabisulfite and added yeast 48 hours later. After 5 days of adding the yeast, the hydrometer is showing 0.994 in primary fermentation. Was wondering if it's time to move to secondary fermentation despite the instructions stating to wait 10-14 days.

Note that there was a bit of sediment in the wine I tested that showed the result of 0.994. is it possible that the sediment caused the hydrometer to show a lower number?
If you're absolutely sure the reading is correct it is time to rack off the skins.


  • Is the color acceptable?
  • Is there enough tannin for what you're trying to achieve?
  • Are the flavors what you expect?
  • Blah, blah, etc, etc.
Extending the maceration will allow more color to be extracted from the skins. That, along with tannin.

The guys who are better with chemistry can chime in on the other advantages.

N.B. It is safe to not do it. If you elect to extend, it is wise to leave the new wine under an airlock.
The fermentation is probably complete; if not, there's not much left to go. You can press at any time; now or give it a few more days. Even if the ferment is complete, the wine will be outgassing heavily for a while, so it's safe to not press immediately.

Some folks do extended maceration (EM) so not pressing yet is also fine, but as @distancerunner stated, in doing so you may pull too much tannin, etc. I don't know anything about black grapes to say if EM is a good idea or not. If you don't know either, then I recommend against it for this batch.

For most wines, I do not consider the calendar prior to fermentation ending. It's going to take as long as it takes, and the hydrometer indicates where we are in the process. Recipes are often what worked, not what's best, so take that timing with skepticism. The SG is reality.

I've done short EM where I seal the fermenter at SG 1.010 and press on Day 14. While that seems calendar-driven, the time to seal the fermenter is hydrometer driven.

The sediment is not an issue. All wines at this stage have a lot of solids floating around.

Post-fermentation? Now things are more-or-less calendar driven, e.g., bulk age 3 months, add K-meta, bulk age another 3 months, etc.
Brian is spot on. If you know the grapes and what to expect it's easier to make decisions on extended maceration. Having quality fruit helps, too.

Don't forget to taste! If the tannins aren't up to snuff, EM can help.

Recipes will only get you so far.

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