My S.G. won't go below 1.020

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I am hoping someone can help me with a trick to get my Costco wine kit's specific gravity below 1.020. I've already syphoned it from the primary pail into the carboy to get rid of the sediment (which apparently I did prematurely as this was supposed to be done at 1.010). The carboy is sitting in a warn place so the temperature shouldn't be an issue. One thing I keep reading and may be the issue is that I added water "as per instructions" and I couldn't say with 100% confidence if I topped up the levels to 23L. Can I add additional water during secondary fermentation, and would that drop my specific gravity?
Any help would be greatly appreciated, I'm really enjoying this new hobby! Thanks in advance!!
 
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Are you measuring the SG with a hydrometer or a refractometer?
I'm using a refractometer but I have a hydrometer as well which is saying "roughly" the same thing. I say roughly because my hydrometer was broken right at the top and I'm not sure the paper inside hasn't moved slightly (hence why a bought the fancy new refractometer - hahaha).
 

sour_grapes

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You cannot (easily) use a refractometer to measure SG after fermentation has started. Alcohol has a different index of refraction than water, which skews the result. A finished wine tends to measure "1.020" to "1.035" using a refractometer. (I am using scare quotes to indicate that these are not actual values of SG, just what the refractometer reads.) Short answer: get another hydrometer!

Other ideas: taste it to see if it is sweet. And/or read this page to see if you want to tackle correcting the refractometer reading to a real SG: - ValleyVintner Main Page
 
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You cannot (easily) use a refractometer to measure SG after fermentation has started. Alcohol has a different index of refraction than water, which skews the result. A finished wine tends to measure "1.020" to "1.035" using a refractometer. (I am using scare quotes to indicate that these are not actual values of SG, just what the refractometer reads.) Short answer: get another hydrometer!

Other ideas: taste it to see if it is sweet. And/or read this page to see if you want to tackle correcting the refractometer reading to a real SG: - ValleyVintner Main Page
Thanks sir....will do. Appreciate the help and references.
 

Bmd2k1

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What variety of wine is this ? Do you intend for it to be semi-sweet?

What was your starting SG?

What yeast did ya pitch?

Do you have any EC1118 - if ya need to pitch something to bring it below 1.00
 
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The wine is a cabernet sauvignon, starting SG was 1.09, and I used EC1118 on day 1 of the primary fermentation (which brought it down to 1.020 where it has stayed since). Anything you can recommend to bring it down further would be great. I will take Sour_grapes advice and buy a hydrometer instead of a refractometer; but in the meantime, I'd still like to salvage this batch.

...and actually, what is the worse thing that would happen if it's not brought down (out of curiosity only - hahaha)?

Thanks for your help!
 
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@Acadian Beginner, welcome to WMT!

Your OG of 1.090 is good -- don't add any water. While kits are designed to be reconstituted to 23 liters, if you're off by a liter (high or low) it's not a real problem as long as the OG is in a good place (typically between 1.085 and 1.100).

How long did it take to go from 1.090 to 1.020, and how long has it been at 1.020?

I agree with @sour_grapes regarding refractometer vs hydrometer. Each tool has its place, but once fermentation has started, the hydrometer is easier to use as there is no translation of the reading.

BTW -- use 3 digits to the right of the decimal for SG. It makes it very clear what the reading is and avoids confusion.
 
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It took roughly a week to reach 1.020. Should i just sit on it (so to speak) until it goes down and disregard the suggested dates listed in the kit instructions?
...and thank you for the correction in my wine language. It's only my 2nd time making wine, I'll get there yet. Hahaha.
Thanks again!
 

ChuckD

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It took roughly a week to reach 1.020. Should i just sit on it (so to speak) until it goes down and disregard the suggested dates listed in the kit instructions?
...and thank you for the correction in my wine language. It's only my 2nd time making wine, I'll get there yet. Hahaha.
Thanks again!
You are perfectly fine letting it sit under airlock until your new hydrometer arrives. You can’t make an informed decision on the next step until you get a true SG reading.
 
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It took roughly a week to reach 1.020. Should i just sit on it (so to speak) until it goes down and disregard the suggested dates listed in the kit instructions?
Yeast is notoriously unwilling to use a calendar; they won't even admit that calendars exist! ;)

Kit instructions use time, as it's the easiest thing for a beginner to understand, and it generally works even if it's not the best system. Every ferment is different, so using your hydrometer (when you get it) is the best choice.

Are you stirring the wine daily? It's often recommended to stir 3 times per day, mixing up the sediment that is already forming on the bottom of the primary. This introduces O2, which yeast uses for reproduction -- post fermentation O2 is the enemy but during fermentation it is necessary. Stirring can also promote activity.

At this point I recommend one of two courses of action:

1) Rack the wine into secondary now and let it set 1 to 2 weeks. The disturbance of racking may promote activity, and the ferment will probably complete. Check the SG and if fermentation is complete, proceed with fining.

2) Put the lid on the fermenter and add the airlock, and ignore the wine for a week. This is the Finer Wine Kits (FWK) method -- ferment in an open bucket, stirring daily, until the SG drops below 1.020, then seal the fermenter and let it rest until Day 14 (counted from the start date). During this time the ferment should complete and gross lees (fruit solids) will drop. Unseal the primary and rack the wine into secondary, check the SG, and proceed with fining.

#1 is what I did for decades, but in the last year I've switched to #2.
 

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I'll second winemaker_81. I had a stuck kit Chardonnay that I transferred from carboy (primary) to bucket, added more yeast, stirred for a week - all to no avail. I finally decided to throw up my hands and returned the wine to carboys intending to take method #2. It started refermentation almost immediately and finished dry in about a week. Although I stirred several times a day for a week, I think the transfer - pouring by pitcher full into the carboys was the trigger.

Anyway, try just leaving it alone. The yeast will finally kick in and finish. Many folks will attest to that fact when they bottle too soon and have corks pushing or bottle bombs.
 

Rice_Guy

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At the risk of being repetitive, you could TASTE IT. A wine that is truly at 1.020 will be quite sweet.
A wine at 1.020 will taste pleasing/ fruity/ quite sweet. This is in the range which Lipton bottled lemon-tea will be placed.

Kits are put together well enough that normal inhibitors are not there,,, so I would seriously question having a natural yeast inhibitor present. At 1.000 it should taste slightly unpleasant/ carbonic/ mildly sweet/ yeasty. At 0.995 it should have lost the sweet note.

Remember a hundred years ago all wines were done by taste. It works! On the positive side any alcohol above 5% ABV is a good micro preservative. If combined with limited head space you can successfully produce an alcoholic beverage.
 

sour_grapes

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A wine at 1.020 will taste pleasing/ fruity/ quite sweet. This is in the range which Lipton bottled lemon-tea will be placed.

Kits are put together well enough that normal inhibitors are not there,,, so I would seriously question having a natural yeast inhibitor present. At 1.000 it should taste slightly unpleasant/ carbonic/ mildly sweet/ yeasty. At 0.995 it should have lost the sweet note.

Remember a hundred years ago all wines were done by taste. It works! On the positive side any alcohol above 5% ABV is a good micro preservative. If combined with limited head space you can successfully produce an alcoholic beverage.

Thanks for fleshing that out. I like to say that my wine at that point in the fermentation tastes like Grape Nehi soda!
 

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@Acadian Beginner, you said that your SG was 1.020 as measured with a refractometer. A refractometer is a bit trickier to use. When you use a refractometer you should always ignore the SG scale. Only record the Brix number. Once fermentation has started, the SG number will be incorrect due to the presence of alcohol.

If you know both the original and current Brix numbers, you can calculate the actual current SG here: Homebrew Refractometer Calculator. But if you don't have the original Brix number, that won't help you. Do you have a hydrometer? That is the easiest way to directly measure the current SG. Or as @sour_grapes said, taste it!

To everyone else: If I understand the situation correctly, his wine is not at 1.020. The SG is probably quite a bit lower than that.
 

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