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Dec 30, 2021
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Hi my name is John and I’m from the UK. I have done a little wine making with kits in the past, but have tried making my own blackcurrant wine this year. I carried out initial fermentation with the berries, yeast and sugar and then moved into demijohns for the secondary fermentation. These have been fermenting away quite happily for the last 2 1/2 months, but are now showing signs of stopping as not much activity in the air locks. Can anyone please advise if this is the time to add the finnings, or shouldn’t be doing something else? Any help would be much appreciated. I hope posted this in the right location? John
Welcome to WMT, John!

I am fairly confident that the fermentation was completed months ago. The activity in the airlocks was likely just offgassing of CO2. However, the best way to know for sure is to use a hydrometer. These measure the density (specific gravity, or SG) of the wine, and are not very expensive. As the yeast eat the sugar, the SG of the wine goes down. When the SG is less than about 0.998 or so, and is constant, your fermentation is finished. Do yourself a favor and buy a hydrometer.
Now would be a good time to add your sulphites if you haven't done so yet to help protect this wine. Other than that it will clear on it's own over the next few months, you will also want to do a racking to remove the gross Lee's at the bottom and keep your carboy filled up to the neck if you plan on aging. But like stated before pick up a hydrometer it's one of the most important tools in wine making.
Thanks very much for the advise, and yes I have got a hydrometer already. I’m my ignorance I thought it was just a case of adding the finnings and then letting the wine calm down before bottling! I have read about Camden tablets and you mentioned sulphites which I know nothing about? What do I do after I check the sg and the reading is less than 0.998?
Campden is a form of potassium metabisulphite,You will want 1 campden tablet per gal, crush it up between 2 spoons nice and fine, rack some wine into the new carboy add powder and stir it in then add the rest of wine. leave the junk behind and top up with a like wine, let that wine age for at least 6 months or longer racking off of fines near the end and add potassium sorbate and another dose of campden/sulphites b4 sweetening and bottling. If you search for key words on this app you will find old discussions about out any question you have plus there is always someone willing to answer them like this.
if, like me, you like books for easy reference there are lots of good ones out there as well. Look for one that specializes in fruit wines. Beware there are some that eschew the use of sorbate and sulfites. Of course Wine can be made without these additives but you take more chances with spoilage, bottles exploding, and how long you can age the wine.
John, welcome to Wine Making Talk.

Kits are designed to be run quickly as three months. As a result the manufacturer does a lot of cleaning material that would fall out eventually. ,,,, You could follow the kit time line if you are willing to have solids settle out once it is in the bottle, ,,, and I have done this/ been careful not to give the bottom of a bottle to a friend.
Fresh fruit has lots of clarification. This can take the form of adding pectin enzyme, or adding bentonite like a kit, or letting it sit a year in the carboy/ gravity pulls stuff down. (if you aren’t patient, this is only a cosmetic issue) The biggest issue that I have seen in fruit wines at contest is oxidation. For this keep the carboy topped up and use metabisulphite/ Campden tablets. My product quality improved when I started to add 50ppm potassium metabisulphite at all my scheduled rankings. ( a week, a month, nine months) Last point, the wine does not have a calendar, so if you took 2.5 months for the first racking it can still make good wine.

Good luck on your project.
You are all so very helpful on here, and I have learnt so much already just reading your replies. I think from the advice you’re giving me I need to do my second racking and add Campden tablets appropriately, & making sure I fill the demijohns to the top with likewise wine. If this is correct, how long do I leave it for then?, and do I add finnings before I do the final racking?, and how many days do I leave it after adding finnings? Thank you very much for all your help and support , this is a great site. John
First of all welcome to =WMT. Yep, add your tablets. If you are going to sweeten, add sorbate also. Is your wine clearing on its own? If; so it will probably just clear nicely with time in the carboy. And now I have a question. How does it taste? Will probably need a little sugar to bring out the blackberry flavor. It will probably have some yeast taste to it, but with time that will fall out. Have a good time with it, Arne.
Fining agents are a personal decision, like filtering, and there are reasons beyond precipitating sediment, e.g., bentonite clears protein haze. Most wines will clear with time, although some require help. I don't have the link handy, but an Australian wine research organization has a very handy page that describes many fining agents.

Regarding when to fine? Any time after fermentation ends and the wine is degassed. If I fine, I do it early so anything the fining agent doesn't get has time to settle.

When to bottle? Not before 4 months. In your case I'd let the wine bulk age at least 4-6 months from now.
Thank you all so much for your help, you are also kind and knowledgeable. I will defo recommend this site to my mates👍.
Hi all, just a quick update. I wracked 4 gallons of blackberry wine today with a coarse filter and added the Campden tablets. Because I hadn’t looked at the demijohns for some time and just looked at the airlocks I was surprised how much junk was inside them! Is this normal, or should I have been keeping my eye on them and racked them earlier? I think I must have lost close on 1/2 gallon in the 4 gallons in junk!! Tomorrow I have 2 gallons of Apple and blackberry to rack/Camden tablets and again there looks to be a bit of junk in both demijohns. Any more tips or am I doing it right? I intend leaving it now until April/may time where I will filter and bottle, unless I should be doing something else or missed a step out? Thanks for all your help again, it is very much appreciated. John X
The amount of gross lees (fruit solids) varies widely. Yours is on the high end, but it happens.

Watch your sediment. After filtering with a coarse pad you should have no gross lees, but I'd watch anyway. You will possibly get fine lees, which is yeast hulls. The wine can age on this, and it's common to do this with whites.

April/May sounds good.
Is there anything I can do to keep the amount of lees down in future? When you say watch the sediment, what do you actually mean? Is it if there is too much I need to filter again to remove it? Do I need to add Camden tablets again? Any help greatly appreciated, John
Sediment is the lees, anything that 'falls out' of the wine, and you will probably only have 'fine' lees (see above). Add Campden at each 3 month racking, again - if it is 2 months or 4 months, wine is very forgiving. Sanitation is the one line you have to draw, so get used to that.
Another thought -- filtering is used to polish wine, not to clear it. Excess solid plug the filters, using them up quicker. A lot of folks filter just before bottling, long after the wine is clear.

A rule of thumb is to add K-meta at each racking after fermentation completes, and every 3 months during bulk aging.

K-meta is Potassium Metabisulfite. You can get this as Campden tablets and as a powder. For small batches (1 US gallon / 4 liters) use 1 tablet per gallon. For larger batches, it's cheaper and easier to use K-meta powder, as the dosage is 1/4 tsp per 5 to 6 gallons.
all you need to do at this point is sit back and let this wine age. Give it another dose of sulphite in 3 months and keep your airlock full and tight.
All the advice I have been given has been so helpful thank you. Some wine that I had made in 2021 which was from a kit format I tried last week. I thought it was very very sweet To the point that I thought it was quite sickly..
with the new batch that I have on the go now I’m I right in thinking the longer I leave it the more the sugar will turn to alcohol, or is that not true? This wine is from fresh berries and not a kit format so do you think it will be the same or will it not be as sweet? Is there anyway I can do away with some of the sweetness? Thanks john

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