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Tony_Tiz

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Hello All,

I just joined this forum and I was looking to get a little help. This may be a little long and I apologize in advance. I'm new to wine making, I got started from my father in law, who was born and raised in Italy and has been making home made wine all his life and any information I've received is from him. Needless to say, its old school. He does not sue any preservatives. He uses the wild yeast (I know, you don't need to say it). I know there's risk with using wild yeast.
So this is what I did. I bought 4 crates of grapes (bought from a distributor not a vineyard), 3 Cab and 1 Merlot. I read that to make a Cab, you need 75% cab and 25% Merlot not sure how true this is. Anyway, I sanitized all my glass carboys, airlocks, containers etc with bleach. I crushed the grapes into a large tub, and left the juice, skins and stems ferment for about 5 days, mixing every day. After that I drained the juice and pressed the skins and stems. I got an initial SG reading of 1.020 with my hygrometer. This gave me about 10 gallons. Right now its fermenting in two 5 gallon glass carboys, with airlocks of course.
I've since been doing a lot of research of preservatives, specific gravity, pH etc. and I have a strong feeling that I will be throwing out my investment because of the lack of potassium metabisulfite and the wild yeast factor.
I have a few questions:

1. Is there a way I can salvage my wine if I add 1/4 teaspoon per 5 gallons of pot. metabisulfite when I go to rack my second time?
2. Should I be adding Pot. Meta. every time I have to rack my wine?
3. Why was my SG so high after the initial ferment? I've read it should have been much higher.
4. Whats the difference between Potassium Metabisulfite and Campden tablets?

Again sorry so long....

Tony
 

cmason1957

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First comment, bleach. You really don't want to use that, it will sanitize, but it does really increase your chances of getting cork taint down the line. A strong (2 Tbsp + 1 tbsp Acid/Gallon) of Potassium Metabisulphite is a far better sanitizer.

From the bottom -
4) Campden tablets can be made of either sodium or potassium metabisulfite, major difference is cost (campden is much more expensive).
3) You SG wasn't so high, it just wasn't finished fermenting, probably needed a few more days, but not a horrible thing.
2) If your SG has lowered below 1.000, then I add 1/4 tsp to 6 gallons carboy every time or 1/2 tsp to 6 gallons every other time I rack.
1) See #2 answer above.

Welcome to the forum.
 

NorCal

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Welcome Tony, let’s of good info here. Don’t use bleach. Next time I’d look to ferment in an open bucket, covered with a towel to keep the bugs out. You can then punch down and get more out of your grapes.
 

winemaker81

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Wild yeast works, but as you said, it's a risk. If you're buying consistently from a single vineyard and getting good results, the risk is lower but never goes away.

Folks doing malolactic fermentation (MLF) do NOT add sulfite initially, as it prevents or inhibits the MLF, so you not adding sulfite for a few days is not a problem.

Depending on the source fruit, I don't add sulfite until after fermentation completes. Commercial wine yeast has a "killer factor" where it suppresses wild yeasts and bacteria so the initial addition of sulfite is not necessary. I add 1/4 tsp K-sulfite to each 5 to 6 gallons of wine at each racking.

With "old style" wine making, most or all of last year's production was consumed during or shortly after this fall's fermentation. Sulfite was less of a problem as the wine was consumed relatively young. I owned a supply shop in Rome NY -- the Utica/Rome area has a very high population of Italian-extraction, so I'm very familiar with "making wine the way Grandpa does/did". It certainly works, but using modern techniques and materials produces a more consistently high quality result.
 

Tony_Tiz

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Wild yeast works, but as you said, it's a risk. If you're buying consistently from a single vineyard and getting good results, the risk is lower but never goes away.

Folks doing malolactic fermentation (MLF) do NOT add sulfite initially, as it prevents or inhibits the MLF, so you not adding sulfite for a few days is not a problem.

Depending on the source fruit, I don't add sulfite until after fermentation completes. Commercial wine yeast has a "killer factor" where it suppresses wild yeasts and bacteria so the initial addition of sulfite is not necessary. I add 1/4 tsp K-sulfite to each 5 to 6 gallons of wine at each racking.

With "old style" wine making, most or all of last year's production was consumed during or shortly after this fall's fermentation. Sulfite was less of a problem as the wine was consumed relatively young. I owned a supply shop in Rome NY -- the Utica/Rome area has a very high population of Italian-extraction, so I'm very familiar with "making wine the way Grandpa does/did". It certainly works, but using modern techniques and materials produces a more consistently high quality result.
Welcome Tony, let’s of good info here. Don’t use bleach. Next time I’d look to ferment in an open bucket, covered with a towel to keep the bugs out. You can then punch down and get more out of your grapes.
Thanks NorCal. Yea, I only used bleach on the glass, didnt use on plastic, didnt want the plastic absorbing it.
Welcome Tony, let’s of good info here. Don’t use bleach. Next time I’d look to ferment in an open bucket, covered with a towel to keep the bugs out. You can then punch down and get more out of your grapes.
 

Tony_Tiz

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When you say K-Sulfites, are you referring Pot. Metabisulfite or any sulfites in general? Also, when it comes to PM, should it be added to your must 2-3 days before the yeast? This is for next year.
 

Ajmassa

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Strictly potassium metabisulphite when adding to wine. When making a sanitizer solution you can use the sodium metabisulphite. I don’t even buy the sodium tho.

If adding sulphite/So2 at crush you should do it right away. And wait at least a day before pitching yeast.

I used bleach to clean a few things this year because of fruit flies. But made sure it was long gone before any more grapes came in contact again.
Neutralized the bleach with vinegar solution. Then got rid of the vinegar with an ammonia based cleaner (windex) before cleaning with the winemaking cleanser PBW and then sanitizing with K-meta. It sucked.
 

winemaker81

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It used to be common to use sodium meta, as it was significantly cheaper. Then folks starting using Kmeta in the wine and NAmeta for sterilizing. Like ajmassa, I buy only Kmeta.

There is no need to rinse the Kmeta water off the hardware, just shake off the excess. Not using NAmeta keeps the sodium out of the wine.
 

Tony_Tiz

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Two more questions:

1. When will I know its time to bottle?
2. Should I mix in K-Meta again when I do bottle?
 

winemaker81

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Bottle when the wine is stable and clear. Stable means fermentation is fully completed, and clear means the wine has no visible suspended particles and is no longer dropping sediment.

If you are using fining agents, this can be as little as 2 weeks after fermentation is completely. Alternately, if you are filtering, you can bottle after filtering. In either case, give the wine time to prove it's no longer dropping sediment before bottling. Personally, I'd wait at a month after adding a fining agent.

If you are not using fining agents, clearing can take months. Rack every 3 months, waiting for no more sediment to drop.

I recommend degassing the wine once fermentation is complete (SG is typically 0.998 or lower and there is no visible sign of activity). Stir the wine vigorously for 5 to 10 minutes to drive off dissolved CO2. The CO2 will keep sediment in suspension and prevent it from clearing. Alternately, buy a drill-mounted stirring rod -- these are worth the $12-$15 USD they cost.

If you're not sure if the wine is ready to bottle, wait. I've pulled the corks on 50 bottles 'cuz I was impatient -- had a lot of sediment in the bottles. Put it back in carboys, fined it, and bottled again in 3 months. While I've had worse moments, this is not a fond memory. :)

I add 1/4 tsp Kmeta per 5 gallons every time I rack -- AFTER fermentation is done. If doing malolactic fermentation, you should also wait until that is done. Plus I add at bottling time.
 

Tony_Tiz

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Bottle when the wine is stable and clear. Stable means fermentation is fully completed, and clear means the wine has no visible suspended particles and is no longer dropping sediment.

If you are using fining agents, this can be as little as 2 weeks after fermentation is completely. Alternately, if you are filtering, you can bottle after filtering. In either case, give the wine time to prove it's no longer dropping sediment before bottling. Personally, I'd wait at a month after adding a fining agent.

If you are not using fining agents, clearing can take months. Rack every 3 months, waiting for no more sediment to drop.

I recommend degassing the wine once fermentation is complete (SG is typically 0.998 or lower and there is no visible sign of activity). Stir the wine vigorously for 5 to 10 minutes to drive off dissolved CO2. The CO2 will keep sediment in suspension and prevent it from clearing. Alternately, buy a drill-mounted stirring rod -- these are worth the $12-$15 USD they cost.

If you're not sure if the wine is ready to bottle, wait. I've pulled the corks on 50 bottles 'cuz I was impatient -- had a lot of sediment in the bottles. Put it back in carboys, fined it, and bottled again in 3 months. While I've had worse moments, this is not a fond memory. :)

I add 1/4 tsp Kmeta per 5 gallons every time I rack -- AFTER fermentation is done. If doing malolactic fermentation, you should also wait until that is done. Plus I add at bottling time.
Wow, thanks ....the really helps
 

CK55

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Is Bentonite a fining agent?
Yep it is, it's a good one as well. I use bentonite and I use Kieselsol and Chitosan which can work as fast as 1 day but recommended 4 days wait.
 

Tony_Tiz

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Bottle when the wine is stable and clear. Stable means fermentation is fully completed, and clear means the wine has no visible suspended particles and is no longer dropping sediment.

If you are using fining agents, this can be as little as 2 weeks after fermentation is completely. Alternately, if you are filtering, you can bottle after filtering. In either case, give the wine time to prove it's no longer dropping sediment before bottling. Personally, I'd wait at a month after adding a fining agent.

If you are not using fining agents, clearing can take months. Rack every 3 months, waiting for no more sediment to drop.

I recommend degassing the wine once fermentation is complete (SG is typically 0.998 or lower and there is no visible sign of activity). Stir the wine vigorously for 5 to 10 minutes to drive off dissolved CO2. The CO2 will keep sediment in suspension and prevent it from clearing. Alternately, buy a drill-mounted stirring rod -- these are worth the $12-$15 USD they cost.

If you're not sure if the wine is ready to bottle, wait. I've pulled the corks on 50 bottles 'cuz I was impatient -- had a lot of sediment in the bottles. Put it back in carboys, fined it, and bottled again in 3 months. While I've had worse moments, this is not a fond memory. :)

I add 1/4 tsp Kmeta per 5 gallons every time I rack -- AFTER fermentation is done. If doing malolactic fermentation, you should also wait until that is done. Plus I add at bottling time.
When should i de-gas? When I know all sediment is out after I've racked 2-3 times? Is this the proper order: stablize, clarify, degas, filter?
 

Farmside

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First comment, bleach. You really don't want to use that, it will sanitize, but it does really increase your chances of getting cork taint down the line. A strong (2 Tbsp + 1 tbsp Acid/Gallon) of Potassium Metabisulphite is a far better sanitizer.
.
I’m new also, and confused on why bleach should not be used to sanitize when it is used in most (if not all) commercial applications to disinfect drinking water?
 

wrongway

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WELCOME and have much FUN!!

My understanding is that Chlorine bleach is a good glass equipment sanitizer, but is of limited usage for plastic, since it can be absorbed by the plastic, leading to off-flavors in your wine. I was once told that bleach also tends to leave a film that will kill yeast. I am not sure of the accuracy of this info. Hopefully someone with more experience will chime in.
 
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