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Lost wine after fermentation

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kuziwk

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Hi guys ran into an issue on two wine kits I did. The instructions allow to ferment fully in the bucket...after fermentation finished I continued to rack into a carboy but could not get the last little bit since it was a thick sludge at the bottom of the bucket which would not siphon mixed with the provided oak powder. Kit was a caller craft for the red and atmosphere for the white ..both kits are vineco. What went wrong? Should I have waited for some of the yeast to settle more for a few days? Had to top up with three bottles of wine to bring the carboy up. The red is more understandable since it included the skins, however whites from other manufacturers I've done in the past settle really well but this did not...wasting about a litre of unsettled sludge.

Edit: I should mention that I almost always end up with just over 31 bottles at the end..is there something wrong with my carboys? I could always not top up and end up with 28 bottles but I'm afraid of the head space in the carboy
 
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sour_grapes

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One useful trick is to transfer the leftovers from your bucket to a mason jar (or the like) and put it in the fridge. The next day, you will have some clear wine that you can pour off the sludge.

My carboys are also larger than 23 liters, so I too get ~31.5 bottles out of them. This is fine with me. You really should continue to top off. Personally, I have no qualms at all about using other wine to top off the carboy. My reasoning is that, hey, I have this not-filled carboy and 3 bottles of wine. My choices are to drink the bottles now and to risk the wine, or to top off the carboy, protect the wine, and drink those 3 bottles later. Why the hell not do the second choice?
 

kuziwk

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One useful trick is to transfer the leftovers from your bucket to a mason jar (or the like) and put it in the fridge. The next day, you will have some clear wine that you can pour off the sludge.

My carboys are also larger than 23 liters, so I too get ~31.5 bottles out of them. This is fine with me. You really should continue to top off. Personally, I have no qualms at all about using other wine to top off the carboy. My reasoning is that, hey, I have this not-filled carboy and 3 bottles of wine. My choices are to drink the bottles now and to risk the wine, or to top off the carboy, protect the wine, and drink those 3 bottles later. Why the hell not do the second choice?
Makes sense, I make a cheaper but palatable Shiraz for topping up...made with leftover grapeskins of whatever higher end kit i choose. I didn't want to to put more than two bottles for the Rosso though so I ended up using my amarone to top up the third bottle. Just hope that 3 or 4 bottle won't be noticed in the wine...on the bright side at least I won't know the difference.

I thought about cold crashing the bucket to settle the wine but can't risk freezing it. I could put it in the garage overnight which is heated but I risk the garage/outdoor cat getting to it somehow...I live on an acreage and the cat keeps mice away from the garage
 

LouisCKpasteur

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I tend to do Eclipse kits, and I can say that when all is said and done on the red kits at least I get the 30 bottles maybe one out of ten times. It's usually 27 or 28, once as low as 26.
 

kuziwk

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I tend to do Eclipse kits, and I can say that when all is said and done on the red kits at least I get the 30 bottles maybe one out of ten times. It's usually 27 or 28, once as low as 26.
So you don't top up? I usually don't bulk age for more than two months since I think it ages quick in the bottle which I prefer since my wine celler only holds about 140 bottles and I like to start drinking them very slowly after 6 months and more so after a year. Furthermore 2 months is plenty for the oak cubes to release their flavor. That said I feel two months is too long in the carboy to leave that amount of headspace. I'm pretty paranoid though and would not even leave the wine with that amount of headspace for 4 weeks.
 

LouisCKpasteur

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I'm with you on the concern about headspace. The problem is WE in their own instructions say not to worry about the headspace for the duration of an eight week kit. I do top up if I'm bulk aging beyond that (which is what I do now) but on some kits I was aging in the bottle - hence the 26-28. My solution, if it is a hard to find varietal blend (ie can't find it at the local party store or Kroger) - is to go from 6 gallon carboy to five and bottle the odd bottle or two. But I come back to the head space for that initial 8 weeks - obviously the first week-ten dayish it's being protected by the CO2 generated by ferment. I haven't noticed any oxidation problems but admittely I don't have any wine older than 26 months either.
 

kuziwk

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I'm with you on the concern about headspace. The problem is WE in their own instructions say not to worry about the headspace for the duration of an eight week kit. I do top up if I'm bulk aging beyond that (which is what I do now) but on some kits I was aging in the bottle - hence the 26-28. My solution, if it is a hard to find varietal blend (ie can't find it at the local party store or Kroger) - is to go from 6 gallon carboy to five and bottle the odd bottle or two. But I come back to the head space for that initial 8 weeks - obviously the first week-ten dayish it's being protected by the CO2 generated by ferment. I haven't noticed any oxidation problems but admittely I don't have any wine older than 26 months either.
Yeah neither do I since i only started a year ago. My only regrets were not doing more high end kits at that time. My wine celler is also passive at around 68 in the summer on hot days and 65 in the winter on cooler days or the wonter. Not ideal for storing bottles for more than a few years anyways. I've read the wine kits that say not to top up...vineco says the same I believe but I still do especially if I bulk age for a few months I also use this as an oupourtunity to use oak cubes as I feel 2-3 weeks is not enough which is typically what the instructions suggest to add them during clearing. I clear first than add the cubes for 6 weeks or so. I also skip secondary fermentation since it seems like alot of wine kits are now telling people to ferment in the bucket. I attach an airlock about about 5 days into fermentation.
 
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Country

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I’ll share a technique that some of us here do. When you are ready to set aside for bulk aging, make the last rack into a clean 5 gallon carboy and bottle the rest. Enjoy the bottles as you wait for the remaining 5 gallons to age for as long as you like. Cheers!
 

jgmann67

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Bottling too quickly runs the risk of having CO2 in the bottle with the wine. To avoid the risk - Buy more carboys and bulk age for 6-12 months in a warmer environment.

I need more 5 gallon carboys myself. Ever since I started doing EMs with my wine kits, I notice I’m sometimes way short of the 6 gallon mark.
 

Regmata

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I hated using wine to top up...even if I got it back later. I have started using clear glass marbles that I boil for 10 minutes, allow to cool and then place in the carboys until I get the appropriate headspace.
 

ratflinger

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Been making kits for about 10 years now. I dump my fermenter into a 6.5 gal glass carboy for the killing and initial settling, it's usually there for 2 - 4 weeks, but there should be enough CO2 left to protect it. I then transfer into a 6gal glass carboy and top up with water, wine, or marbles - depends on what I feel like, but I've not noticed any real difference. This will set for at least 2 months. I then filter into a 6 gal Better Bottle for 3 months. So at this point I'm about 6 months in, I'll either bottle it or keg it. I'm really into kegging now, so 5 gal in the keg & 5 bottles. The bottles I keep as a QA for at the end of the keg to see if notice any difference, so far I have not. I pressurize the keg with argon, which being heaver than air keeps the the air off the wine. Of course long-term kits go into bottles and into my long-term racks.
 

Loghousewines

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I don't worry about headspace anymore since using the All in one vacumn headspace eliminator. It pulls about 20 inches of vacumn.
 

SethF

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I don't worry about headspace anymore since using the All in one vacumn headspace eliminator. It pulls about 20 inches of vacumn.
Can you please expand a bit on this? I've looked at their website and really don't understand how their headspace resolution works .
 

cmason1957

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You put the headspace eliminator on your target carboy and then use the vacuum pump to suck out most of the gas in the headspace. There is still gas left in there, but much less. I use these for fairly short periods of time and on small amounts of headspace, as in I wouldn't use one on a 6 gallon carboy, with 3 gallons of wine in it. I would use it on a 6 gallon carboy with 5.5 gallons of wine in it.
 

SethF

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1) Curious how this is then sealed and how long the seal lasts.
2) I find it unlikely that the air is compressed much, considering this is a solid container.
3) I generally have moved away from glass to Pet Fermonsters (6.5 and 7.5 gallons). I don't think I could relably seal this to a vacuum, and would be concerned about and collapse.

I top off regularly, but would certainly find glass marbles to be a good solution.

Thanks
Seth
 

sour_grapes

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2) I find it unlikely that the air is compressed much, considering this is a solid container.
Huh? :? I cannot make sense of this comment. The air was originally inside the carboy. You then sucked some of it (~2/3 of it) out. You did not compress the air in the headspace, you rarefied it. As Craig pointed out, you still have ~1/3 of the air left, so I wouldn't recommend relying on this method for a large amount of headspace.

3) I generally have moved away from glass to Pet Fermonsters (6.5 and 7.5 gallons). I don't think I could relably seal this to a vacuum, and would be concerned about and collapse.
True, you can't really use this method on plastic carboys.
 

cmason1957

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I a with Paul, I don't understand what you are asking, but I will do my best.
1) This is sealed by a bung, with a visual indicator and a one-way valve.
2) There is no (well not much) compression of the air, some is removed.
3) This will not work at all on a PET carboy, non-compressible types only.
 

SethF

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Sorry, should have used the word evacuate instead of compress, and was looking at this the wrong way. While you may remove some of the air, without a reduction in the volume of space like a vacuum storage bag (hence the comment that it is a solid container) you still have a large volume of air left unless you reduce the headspace to begin with.

Is there an indicator that would demonstrate the loss of the seal?

I use Vaccuvins regularly with my wine bottles, but I have no expectation that the seal will survive longer than a few days/weeks at most.

It appears to me that the goal of the home winemaker is to reduce the ratio of air to wine as much as possible. The only reliable way would be to reduce the volume of headspace.

I wish I could afford/have the space for/handle some of the variable tanks that are out there.
 

sour_grapes

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Sorry, should have used the word evacuate instead of compress, and was looking at this the wrong way. While you may remove some of the air, without a reduction in the volume of space like a vacuum storage bag (hence the comment that it is a solid container) you still have a large volume of air left unless you reduce the headspace to begin with.

It is not the physical volume that matters, but the number of oxygen molecules. If they were all pumped out, then the volume of headspace wouldn't matter.

Nonetheless, you are correct that topping off is a good, straightforward way to get rid of the oxygen. It is my preferred (read: only) method.
 

kuziwk

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Looks like yet again with a passport kit I run into this issue of wasted wine. I just tried putting the wine sludge in the fridge in a sanitized jar with a few pumps of sulphite from a spray bottle. I left it overnight and it still didn't clear, Hmm very strange. I'm going to leave it for another night. Perhaps I should have degassed the sludge lol.

I've heard that getting as much liquid as possible (sludge and all) from the primary is the best approach, but if it's sludge why would I bother racking it. True...the sludge will fill headspace but sooner or later you will have to top up and rack off the sludge anyways. I just find it strange that some kits have a nice hard packed dead yeast layer and some don't leaving a loose slurry on the bottom.
 

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