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Initial SG too low, day three reading very high now?

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Elle-j

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Hello all,

I am new to wine making and it's my first kit. It's a wilko red wine kit, I got as a gift.

My initial SG was 1.054 but I only reaslised that was too low today when I took a second reading. The demijohn has been kept at 24 degrees Celsius (about 75 Fahrenheit) for three days and has been bubbling nicely. Today is day three and following the kit I had to top up the wine with water. Before topping it up I took a SG reading for my own curiosity. It was 1.130, right at the "dessert wine" marker on the hydrometer. It seams a bit high to me for just three days in the hotpress.

Any suggestions on what is going on? And if my first reading is too low should I add more sugar now?

Thanks in advance!

Elle
 

sour_grapes

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Hello all,

I am new to wine making and it's my first kit. It's a wilko red wine kit, I got as a gift.

My initial SG was 1.054 but I only reaslised that was too low today when I took a second reading. The demijohn has been kept at 24 degrees Celsius (about 75 Fahrenheit) for three days and has been bubbling nicely. Today is day three and following the kit I had to top up the wine with water. Before topping it up I took a SG reading for my own curiosity. It was 1.130, right at the "dessert wine" marker on the hydrometer. It seams a bit high to me for just three days in the hotpress.

Any suggestions on what is going on? And if my first reading is too low should I add more sugar now?

Thanks in advance!

Elle
Welcome to WMT, Elle!

I am afraid the numbers you cite above don't really make sense, that is, they don't seem to follow the expected progression. Typically, a kit will start out at something like 1.090, and then the SG will fall towards 1.000 over the course of a few days. There isn't really a way for it to go UP as you report.

Just to make sure you are reading the hydrometer correctly, perhaps you could watch this video and let us know if you still report the same numbers:
 

Elle-j

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Hi!

Thanks for such a quick reply sorry I didn't see it sooner.

So I am confident I'm reading the hydrometer right but after watching your video I watched about ten more and realised what I've done wrong.

First when I took the initial SG there wasn't enough juice in the trial jar. Because I remember it sinking straight to the bottom and not floating. I tested my theory today by playing around with water levels and the hydrometer.

Then when I took the reading yesterday I didn't let the sample de-gass. It was way too fizzy. So even though I took a reading from the bottom of the foam line it was still way off.

I've just taken another sample there and let it properly go flat before taking the reading. (I've attached a photo)

Am I right in reading this as 1.070/1.071?
So if I read the initial SG wrong we can assume it was more like 1.090 like you said then I'd be back on track?

Wine smells really fruity and sweet and is still bubbling away.

Thank you so much for your help!20200414_120551.jpg
 

Johnd

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@Elle-j , looks like you’ve got the hang of it, 1.071-ish it it! It would appear that you’re on the right track.
 

sour_grapes

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I have to respectfully disagree with @Johnd here. Looks like 1.068 to me. (Of course, the difference between 1.071 and 1.068 is not that important, but the principle of how to read the hydrometer is.)

I agree with your other comments -- seems like you are on track.
 

Elle-j

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Okay brilliant thank you both so much.

Do you have any tips on how to read from the water level and not the bit that's clinging to the hydrometer?

Hope you're all staying home and safe where ever you are!
 

Johnd

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Okay brilliant thank you both so much.

Do you have any tips on how to read from the water level and not the bit that's clinging to the hydrometer?

Hope you're all staying home and safe where ever you are!
I wasn't really intending to get into this, but since you asked, you really don't want to read at the line where the top of the liquid is warped up the hydrometer, and the foam in your sample confuses the situation a bit more, see the illustration below:
hydrometer_illustration.jpg
In your photo, you can actually see the 1.068 line in the foam, and knowing that this is actually a bit elevated due to the clinging action, my evaluation was that you were pretty close to 1.070, which is why I said "1.071-ish". As @sour_grapes said, the difference just isn't big enough to make an issue of...........
 

sour_grapes

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I certainly agree with @Johnd on his point about the meniscus. I should have been more careful. I was worried that @Elle-j was reading UPWARDS from the 1.070 line instead of downwards from the 1.060 line.
 

bstnh1

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That small difference in SG readings would amount to about a .25% (1/4 of 1 %) difference in ABV. I doubt anyone has a palate that would detect that.;)
 

winemaker81

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I am afraid the numbers you cite above don't really make sense, that is, they don't seem to follow the expected progression. Typically, a kit will start out at something like 1.090, and then the SG will fall towards 1.000 over the course of a few days. There isn't really a way for it to go UP as you report.
If the kit is not stirred well, that can account for the SG going up on successive days. IMO it's worth investing in a drill-mounted stirring rod to help ensure the must is well mixed.

I've had the same problem with fresh grapes, so I stir the heck out of the must and take 3 different readings from different locations in the vat. If I don't get close results, I stir more.
 

Rice_Guy

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note, if I see any gas bubbles the specific gravity probably reads higher than if I killed it in a microwave and cooled, or pulled a vacuum for five minutes.
 

Johnd

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note, if I see any gas bubbles the specific gravity probably reads higher than if I killed it in a microwave and cooled, or pulled a vacuum for five minutes.
That's absolutely correct, as you say, if it's not gas free, clinging bubbles will cause the hydrometer to float higher than it should. My little trick for that is to just give the hydrometer a spin like a top and read it before it stops and collects bubbles.........YMMV
 

Sailor323

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It is possible that the must wasn't adequately stirred at the beginning. This would result in a low SG
 

BMarNJ

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And what about the temperature of the must? My hydrometer is calibrated to 60 degrees and came with a conversion chart for other temps.
 

winemaker81

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The difference in SG (1.054 / 1.130) is far too great to be explained by temperature. For a hydrometer calibrated at 60 F, if the SG is 1.054 at 75 F, the adjustment puts it at 1.055.
 

BMarNJ

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@winemaker81 , yes I agree though my adj scale is more like +.0025. I was just commenting on making an accurate measurement with the hydrometer. And was the initial reading also at 75? Just one more thing to pay attention to for an accurate reading.
 

winemaker81

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@BMarNJ, gotcha. I used an online temperature adjuster, which is of questionable accuracy.

Several of us commented regarding stirring well. I've had problems with fresh fruit where I got different readings in successive checks. As I commented above, I check 3 places in the fermenter, and if I don't get close readings, I stir again.

For kits, I use a drill mounted stirring rod, it makes a huge difference.
 

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