I thought it was clear - Red

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crabjoe

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Is there a fool proof way to know a Red has cleared? I tried lights and just hold a glass to the sun and thought my Cab Sav had cleared. But.... When I added some bentonite, without 24 hours, it looks like it dropped an inch of sediment from what I thought was a clear Red.

I could be wrong since sometimes, the sediment collects up the wall of the carboy a bit, but still.. Is there a foolproof way to tell a Red has cleared?

BTW, I think I'm going to rack it this weekend, using a 1 micron filter, in the hopes that afterwards, it'll be clear and I won't need to rack until I'm ready to bottle.
 

cmason1957

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If you rack a cloudy wine through a 1 micron filter, you are going to need a bunch of filters, you will clog them. I never filter a red through tighter than a 5 micron filter and then only after they have sat for a year. Patience and time are the best things for clearing your wine and then maybe filtering. There is a downside to racking the wine frequently, you are oxidizing that wine just a little bit every time.

As a side note, I bet what you are seeing is the bentonite you added, that stuff swells a bunch.
 

Johnd

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Is there a fool proof way to know a Red has cleared? I tried lights and just hold a glass to the sun and thought my Cab Sav had cleared. But.... When I added some bentonite, without 24 hours, it looks like it dropped an inch of sediment from what I thought was a clear Red.

I could be wrong since sometimes, the sediment collects up the wall of the carboy a bit, but still.. Is there a foolproof way to tell a Red has cleared?

BTW, I think I'm going to rack it this weekend, using a 1 micron filter, in the hopes that afterwards, it'll be clear and I won't need to rack until I'm ready to bottle.
Stop rushing. It’s not about when you’re ready to bottle, it’s when the wine is ready to bottle. Clearing agents and filtering are no replacement for time. There are continuing chemical reactions in wine that will produce solids for quite some time. Filtering won’t stop the reactions from occurring. If you want crystal clear wines that drop little to no solids over time, you’ve got to let nature take its course.

I learned that lesson yet again this past spring with my strawberry wine. Nice and clear after 2 months, filtered at .5 microns, back sweetened and bottled. Beautiful, crystal clear, sparkly strawberry wine. At 6 months, a fine layer of white sediment appeared. It couldn’t be filtered out because it didn’t exist when I filtered, but as the wine evolved chemically, a precipitate was released from solution.

Time, my friend, time.
 

crabjoe

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I do understand that it could drop more sediment, even after it being filtered and seeming clear. My Sav Blanc, which was so clear after I had cleared and filtered ended up with this cloud looking sediment after it had been sitting in the carboy for around 2 months. I only noticed it because I was going to bottle it and I was like where did this come from? Still, it was a white, so it was easy to tell that it had cleared.. and easy to see the sediment after some time.

The Cab Sav, I thought was clear based on looking at it.. I was a bit excited because I hadn't used any fining agents and it looked almost like a glossy black in the carboy.. Man I was really excited and for whatever reason, I added bentonite to find that there must have been a ton of sediment floating around.

Originally I was going to filter rack it then add some sparkolloid, but now I'm thinking maybe I shouldn't even rack it.

Should I just let it sit on the sediment until the end of this month? That'll be 3 months since the last time I racked.

BTW, the reason I'm so impatient is because mostly because I'm new.. and because I'm trying to collect some wines I made, and lastly because I'm trying to free up some carboys so I can start a few more wines... I've got 3 kits I want to start and I'm trying to get the timing right, based on the limited number of carboys, to get some juice buckets in the spring for more wine.
 

cmason1957

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Feel free to bottle it. Perhaps, since you are in a hurry to bottle, you should and not worth about what might fall out. Just decant the wine and stop before you get every last drop of of the bottle. It's your wine, so what you wish with it. To fully avoid having stuff fall out, time is the prescription. It doesn't really get any simpler than that.
 

sour_grapes

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The Cab Sav, I thought was clear based on looking at it.. I was a bit excited because I hadn't used any fining agents and it looked almost like a glossy black in the carboy.. Man I was really excited and for whatever reason, I added bentonite to find that there must have been a ton of sediment floating around.
Help me understand: You had a wine that looked clear, and then you added "some bentonite" to it. Later, you found that sediment had fallen out. Of course, the bentonite itself will become sediment. You acknowledge this in your first post. I strongly suspect that you had clear wine, then you dumped some clay into it, and now you have some clay on the bottom of your carboy!
 

jgmann67

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If you’re taking a poll, I vote leave your wine alone for another month.

At the end of that month, taste it. If you like what you tasted, rack to a clean carboy and dose it with kmeta. At this point you can decide whether to bottle it or not.

I would let it sit another 3 months in a cold cellar over the winter to see if I could get some wine crystals to precipitate out of the wine. But if you’re satisfied with the taste and feel the urge, bottle away.


(Btw - if you taste it and DON’T like what you’re tasting at all, forget bottling - just rack, dose and try to figure out what went BONK in your process).
 

bshef

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Not to be flip but if you need carboy space, hit Craig's List and pick up some carboys or beer kegs. Stainless beer kegs work great as secondaries. Austin Brew Supply and Adventures in Home brewing have a Corny Keg fermentation lid that is drilled for an airlock for $12. I have lids for my corny kegs so I can use for kegging or fermentation. .Also I have some used commercial kegs with the shank removed. Takes a #12 drilled stopper and you have another 5 or 15.5 gallon (depending on size) stainless tank! You are in Port Deposit, MD correct? Check DC Craig's List for carboys. Also Annapolis Brew Supply has a great supply.
 
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crabjoe

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Help me understand: You had a wine that looked clear, and then you added "some bentonite" to it. Later, you found that sediment had fallen out. Of course, the bentonite itself will become sediment. You acknowledge this in your first post. I strongly suspect that you had clear wine, then you dumped some clay into it, and now you have some clay on the bottom of your carboy!
I never thought that what I'm now seeing is just the clay. I'm going to go with this thought.


If you’re taking a poll, I vote leave your wine alone for another month.

At the end of that month, taste it. If you like what you tasted, rack to a clean carboy and dose it with kmeta. At this point you can decide whether to bottle it or not.

I would let it sit another 3 months in a cold cellar over the winter to see if I could get some wine crystals to precipitate out of the wine. But if you’re satisfied with the taste and feel the urge, bottle away.


(Btw - if you taste it and DON’T like what you’re tasting at all, forget bottling - just rack, dose and try to figure out what went BONK in your process).
Ok.. I'm going to let it sit for the remainder of this month. As for crystals, I had them drop back in late October. That was the last time I racked and partly the reason I thought it was clear.

Not to be flip but if you need carboy space, hit Craig's List and pick up some carboys or beer kegs. Stainless beer kegs work great as secondaries. Austin Brew Supply and Adventures in Home brewing have a Corny Keg fermentation lid that is drilled for an airlock for $12. I have lids for my corny kegs so I can use for kegging or fermentation. .Also I have some used commercial kegs with the shank removed. Takes a #12 drilled stopper and you have another 5 or 15.5 gallon (depending on size) stainless tank! You are in Port Deposit, MD correct? Check DC Craig's List for carboys. Also Annapolis Brew Supply has a great supply.
I've got 2 empty corny kegs.. Wasn't even thinking of using them. Not because I was thinking I couldn't use an airlock, but because in my head, I keep thinking CO2 to fill the head space, and I didn't want to carbonate the wine... seemed counter intuitive. But the lid idea is good.

Thanks all!
 

Ct Winemaker

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As others have noted, the sediment is likely (or mostly) the bentonite. Not sure why you went with bentonite in red wine, we (and I believe others) only use bentonite in white wine usually followed by cold stabilization which helps to compress the bentonite prior to racking off the bentonite sediment.
 

jburtner

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I have a batch of three wines from grapes I started almost two years ago. Racked off sediment a number of times and finally bottled a couple months ago after also filtering through a 5 micron filter and then letting sit for another month. Drinking some of them now and there's still sediment in the bottles. I decant these into a carafe for drinking and let them sit and open up for an hour too.

I guess I should have let them bulk age for longer but it tasted ready. I store them laying down on their sides in the cellar like usual and have started keeping one or two standing up to be "the next to drink" so the sediment can settle on the bottom instead of the side for better decanting.

I've also had a couple whites develop very fine sediment in the bottle after a good while bulk aging. I was reading a link posted around here about Pet-Nat yesterday and lees in the bottle can also help with long term cellaring and preventing oxidation - If accurate I consider this a benefit.

I'll live with it as a sign of small batch production when this happens.

Cheers!
-johann
 

Johnd

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I have a batch of three wines from grapes I started almost two years ago. Racked off sediment a number of times and finally bottled a couple months ago after also filtering through a 5 micron filter and then letting sit for another month. Drinking some of them now and there's still sediment in the bottles. I decant these into a carafe for drinking and let them sit and open up for an hour too.

I guess I should have let them bulk age for longer but it tasted ready. I store them laying down on their sides in the cellar like usual and have started keeping one or two standing up to be "the next to drink" so the sediment can settle on the bottom instead of the side for better decanting.

I've also had a couple whites develop very fine sediment in the bottle after a good while bulk aging. I was reading a link posted around here about Pet-Nat yesterday and lees in the bottle can also help with long term cellaring and preventing oxidation - If accurate I consider this a benefit.

I'll live with it as a sign of small batch production when this happens.

Cheers!
-johann
Recall that one of the chemical changes, particularly in reds, is the combination of tannins into longer chains. As they combine, they can become heavy enough to precipitate, that may be what you are seeing. Nearly two years bulk aging is plenty. Many of the finest wines in the world have sediment and you don’t pour out the entire contents of the bottle to avoid pouring out the sediment.
 

jburtner

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Absolutely and I'm not too worried about it. These wines in particular were wines that I had made a decimal error in my Ex-V dosing and as a result they received upwards of 10x the Lallezyme ExV enzyme and became very mushy during AF with lots of precipitate falling out over the bulk aging period even though they appeared very clear.

Cheers,
johann
 

crabjoe

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As others have noted, the sediment is likely (or mostly) the bentonite. Not sure why you went with bentonite in red wine, we (and I believe others) only use bentonite in white wine usually followed by cold stabilization which helps to compress the bentonite prior to racking off the bentonite sediment.
I used it because I had read to use bentonite 1st, then use sparkolloid, if the bentonite wasn't able to get it completely cleared.

This was my 1st red wine, so I now know for the future to not use bentonite and if I need to, I guess I'll use the sparkolloid only.

Thanks
 

ras2018

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IMO I would continue using bentonite in all your wines, not just white wines. I’ve used it since I started in this hobby and have always had great results.
 

stickman

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Bentonite is used mainly for protein stability, so red wine with enough tannin usually ends up protein stable on its own. Bentonite use in reds from grapes would only be for specific issues that need a remedy, otherwise it is best avoided as color can be easily stripped. The color in red wine from grapes is not stable until 3 to 4 months after fermentation.
Kits are a different story, they are often lower in tannin so protein stability can be an issue requiring bentonite or other fining agent. Kit wine color has already been stabilized so bentonite color stripping is less of an issue.
 

Ct Winemaker

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I didn’t realize that this particular issue was a kit wine. Thought it was grapes, thus my comment about not using bentonite for reds. Agree that it can be used with red grape made wine for very specific situations, just not for what I would consider “routine” clearing.
 
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