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WineXpert Lot's of sludge in my 3-4 year old red wine

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RiderEh

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Hi All,

As my wine ages, I’m finding more and more dirty bottles with sludge on the bottom. We’ve since purchased a decanter and use this as our go to, and don’t pour out the last 3/4” of the bottle or so. I’m wondering why this is happening, as when we bottle the wine appears clear. I typically follow the instructions, but use an extended method similar to what Tim Vandergrift once posted about:
  1. 1 week in primary, rack
  2. @ 4 weeks total stabilize and clear, this may or may not include a rack as some instructions explicitly say don’t rack, and some do. I realize the new instructions have changed everything, but I’m thinking I’ll just rack before clearing going forward
  3. @7 weeks total rack again
  4. @14 weeks total or later (whenever we have time) we bottle
Any input would be appreciated. I've never found any sludge in my white kits.

I know the new kits are coming with kieselsol so I'm hoping that helps.
 

salcoco

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chances are the sludge you describe is tannin drop out. not sure you can do anything about it except decant .
 

Johnd

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You're not aging long enough in carboys before bottling. Allow 9 - 12 months bulk aging before bottling, or filter with polishing pads if you must bottle earlier.
 

NorCal

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One of the key elements of winemaking...patience. Let it sit in the carboy for a year as @Johnd said. The wine will be a lot better and you will not have the sediment problem (to that extent anyway).
 

pillswoj

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Not to contradict Johnd, but filtering does not help, I tried a few years ago even filtered they will drop a sediment on aging. The only way to avoid it is to bulk age and even then it is no guarantee. 2017's RJS High Tail Cab Franc I bulk aged for 12 months, checking it the other day it has dropped a sediment somewhere around the 18-19 month mark. I always decant my reds that I age, with care and Bordeaux bottles you should be able to get almost all the wine and leave about 1/2 oz of wine and sediment behind.
 

RiderEh

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Thanks guys. I'm not sure bulk aging everything is ideal for us, I'd need to buy some more carboys anyways. I have 5 now, but also use some for beer. I'll definitely consider this though and sounds like I know the root of my problem. Time to drink the old stuff up!
 

winemaker81

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I disagree with previous posters -- 3/4" sediment after 4 years is not tannins or anything simple.

What fining agents are you using? How careful is your racking? If you are getting that much sediment in the bottle, something is not right.

Please don't take this as me taking you to task. As much as we want to think of wine making as a science, it's got a lot of art mixed in. Looking through my old logs, I found an instance where I had to unbottle an entire batch of peach wine, add pectic enzyme, clarify and rebottle to get the wine to clear. Stuff happens, we learn, we NEVER make that mistake again. [EVERY fruit wine I make is hit with pectic enzyme!] :)

If you're doing kit wines, RJS and Winexpert include fining agents -- use them as instructed. If you'e doing fresh grapes or fruit, add bentonite at the beginning of fermentation, then add a fining agent after fermentation is complete. I am using Super-Kleer (kieselsol/chitosan) for a batch of elderberry, but gelatin, sparkaloid or whatever will do.

Rack carefully, leaving sediment behind. I keep extra bottles on hand -- I pour the "free" part of the sludge into bottles and put in the refrigerator. I save a surprising amount of wine doing that -- which I bottle separately and use first.
 

GaDawg

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Hi All,

As my wine ages, I’m finding more and more dirty bottles with sludge on the bottom. We’ve since purchased a decanter and use this as our go to, and don’t pour out the last 3/4” of the bottle or so. I’m wondering why this is happening, as when we bottle the wine appears clear. I typically follow the instructions, but use an extended method similar to what Tim Vandergrift once posted about:
  1. 1 week in primary, rack
  2. @ 4 weeks total stabilize and clear, this may or may not include a rack as some instructions explicitly say don’t rack, and some do. I realize the new instructions have changed everything, but I’m thinking I’ll just rack before clearing going forward
  3. @7 weeks total rack again
  4. @14 weeks total or later (whenever we have time) we bottle
Any input would be appreciated. I've never found any sludge in my white kits.

I know the new kits are coming with kieselsol so I'm hoping that helps.
RiderEh, we really need more information. What brand kit and what type of wine? Did you use bentonite before fermentation? How did you clear your wine? How did you use the chemicals that came with the kit?
 

RiderEh

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I'm exclusively using Winexpert kits, typically LE's or Eclipse with a few Selection's. The one difference I do is I sprinkle the bentonite directly on top, then whip it in good with a drill stainless whip to get lots of oxygen in there. Then once it's settled down from whipping I sprinkle yeast on top. I never mix either yeast or bentonite with water prior to pouring in. After that I follow the directions I previously provided using the chems supplied.

It's not 3/4" of solid settlement on the bottom, but since the bottles lay flat in storage it's hard to tell. After tipping them up there is always some sludge in the bottom and the bottles are dirty on the sides. Hence why we usually don't drink the last 3/4" of the bottle.
 

bstnh1

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I've done a lot of WE red kits (Selection) and have had them in the bottle for as long as 6 years. I don't filter and don't bulk age for longer than a month. Have never had sediment or sludge in any bottles. I follow kit instructions.
 
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RiderEh

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No big secret. I just follow the kit instructions. Although I am not using the new WE instructions. I'm using the old tried and true instructions. If I see no sediment for 2 weeks after racking, I'm ready to bottle.
So do you put the bentonite in water first? Maybe that's what I'm missing. I don't see how it would make a huge difference though.
 

bstnh1

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Yes. With the new kits that have a lot more bentonite than before, I make a slurry of 2 or 3 cups boiling water in a separate container. I add the bentonite to the hot water while whisking it to avoid lumps. I then stir that into the juice in my fermenter. But, as you said, I'm not sure why that would have anything to do with sludge in the bottles. What are you using for water?
 

GaDawg

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So do you put the bentonite in water first? Maybe that's what I'm missing. I don't see how it would make a huge difference though.
I mix bentonite in hot water with an energian blender and I have never had a sediment problem, but I don’t see how it would make a difference.
 

RiderEh

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I'm using ozonated water in the big 5 gal jugs or RO water, typically ozonated. I never use tap water.
 

bstnh1

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I know some wineries use ozonated water as a sanitizer, but I've never heard of using it to make the wine. I'm not what, if any, effect that might have on the finished product. Many of us use spring water and I've never had a problem with that.
 

GaDawg

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I use tap water. I was taught if it is good enough to drink, it's good enough for wine.
 

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