Inconsistent hydrometer readings from same sample

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Khristyjeff

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Hi all. Doing my first kit and I think I should be racking in my secondary or I'm close to being ready. My hydrometer readings from yesterday were 1.014 mainly with couple readings of 1.03. Today my readings were mainly 1.004 with one at 1.026, one at 1.02 and another at 1.03. The kit instructions say to rack into secondary between 1.010 and 1.020.
As far as my hydrometer use procedure, I've been stirring the wine before taking a sample since at first I thought all the fizz was contributing to the different readings. I'm checking to make sure it's floating and not hitting the side, and I give it a little spin to try to keep the bubbles away from the side. The must temps are constant between 72 & 74 F.

So my 2 questions are: 1). why do I get these inconstant readings from the same sample, and 2) Does it look like I should be racking into the secondary now given the current readings?

Thanks for any help you can offer. I've already learned a lot from reading this forum.
 

sour_grapes

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Hi all. Doing my first kit and I think I should be racking in my secondary or I'm close to being ready. My hydrometer readings from yesterday were 1.014 mainly with couple readings of 1.03. Today my readings were mainly 1.004 with one at 1.026, one at 1.02 and another at 1.03. The kit instructions say to rack into secondary between 1.010 and 1.020.
As far as my hydrometer use procedure, I've been stirring the wine before taking a sample since at first I thought all the fizz was contributing to the different readings. I'm checking to make sure it's floating and not hitting the side, and I give it a little spin to try to keep the bubbles away from the side. The must temps are constant between 72 & 74 F.

So my 2 questions are: 1). why do I get these inconstant readings from the same sample, and 2) Does it look like I should be racking into the secondary now given the current readings?

Thanks for any help you can offer. I've already learned a lot from reading this forum.

Before trying to get to the bottom of this, are you SURE of those readings? You said:

"1.004 with one at 1.026, one at 1.02 and another at 1.03." Do you really mean this, i.e., you report (but I am adding zeroes to make it easy to compare:

1.004
1.026
1.020
1.030

This is simply too large a difference to be explicable. Can you verify that this is what you meant?
 

Khristyjeff

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Before trying to get to the bottom of this, are you SURE of those readings? You said:

"1.004 with one at 1.026, one at 1.02 and another at 1.03." Do you really mean this, i.e., you report (but I am adding zeroes to make it easy to compare:

1.004
1.026
1.020
1.030

This is simply too large a difference to be explicable. Can you verify that this is what you meant?
Yes. Those strange numbers are what I read. I checked again and did not stir first. Again higher numbers. I left the hydrometer in the test jar while stirring the rest and while doing that noticed the hydrometer slowly sinking until it settled on the lower number.
So my theory is (and feel free to disagree) is that the very active CO2 bubbles lifted the hydrometer giving the higher false readings. As the contents of the test jar “settled down”, the hydrometer dropped to it’s proper position.
 

sour_grapes

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Well, I like your theory well enough. I always give my hydrometer a spin (as you referenced), and get the reading as it slows down to a stop.

Just in case:
 

BernardSmith

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The CO2 is going to give you false readings. You might want to shake the sample cylinder to remove the CO2 if you can (do you have something to cork the top while you shake it?) or if you can, you might want to allow the wine in the cylinder to stand for a few minutes so that any gas will be expelled. An alternative might be to degas the fermenter for a few minutes by rapidly stirring the contents before taking a sample
 

Khristyjeff

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The CO2 is going to give you false readings. You might want to shake the sample cylinder to remove the CO2 if you can (do you have something to cork the top while you shake it?) or if you can, you might want to allow the wine in the cylinder to stand for a few minutes so that any gas will be expelled. An alternative might be to degas the fermenter for a few minutes by rapidly stirring the contents before taking a sample
Thanks for the reply, Bernard. I'll do that in the future.
An update: I racked to the carboy with some oak chips late Saturday. Was still bubbling late last night a lot in the airlock and you could see the tiny bubbles at the top of the carboy. This morning all of that has stopped and the kit says to leave it in there for 10 days. They don't say anything about taking SG readings or anything. Does that sound right to you? I did taste a sample at racking and it tasted pretty good. Not rancid at all:).
 

BernardSmith

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The oak chips have very rough surfaces and rough surfaces create points of nucleation for the gas. So even if the fermentation had absolutely ended because all the sugar had been consumed the CO2 saturating the liquid would be forced out of solution by the oak. That's also why if you add powders to wines or meads there is a great tendency for the froth that results to shoot out the mouth of the carboy
 
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