Newbie here- Elderberry wine question

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Korgan45

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Hello all, I am making 3 gallons of Elderberry/ blackberry wine. I made one gallon last year and this year I had such a great crop of elderberries and the wine came out really good last year so I increased the quantity. I based it on Danger Daves recipe for DB. Everything is going according to plan except I have a question about the secondary fermentation. I racked the primary into the carboy and it's been 24 hours and there is no sign of bubbling through the airlock. Is this ok or does there definetly have to be bubbles going through it? The SG went from 1.078 to 0.998 in 8 days (3 days consistently 0.998) I strained and removed the gross lees from the primary and then added 1.5 tsp potassium sorbate, 2 Campden tabs and 1/2 tablespoon of Sparkloid, then I degassed and decanted into the carboy. Should I have degassed first before adding the chemicals? I tasted it and it's pretty good but I am concerned there is no secondary fermentation going on. Really appreciate having a place to get advice! I am having alot of fun doing this and will probably be trying more in the future. Thanks !
 

Ohio Bob

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You should be fine. It’s probably done fermenting so you’re not seeing bubbles. It’s a common practice to rack to secondary when the SG gets to about 1.020, so you let it go a little farther. No big deal.
 

Rice_Guy

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* potassium sorbate will stop yeast from reproducing, this will minimize the production of CO2
* we are entering the cool part of the year, CO2 is more soluble when cool. Th see gas release you could warm up the carboy.
* my first thought was that the cork wasn’t set tight therefore gas was bypassing the air lock, it is possible but sorbate is more likely.
* degassing is possible at any time. My current process is to intentionally keep CO2 in the wine till the week when I plan on bottling it. CO2 helps protect the flavor/ acts as an inert gas.
 

Korgan45

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* potassium sorbate will stop yeast from reproducing, this will minimize the production of CO2
* we are entering the cool part of the year, CO2 is more soluble when cool. Th see gas release you could warm up the carboy.
* my first thought was that the cork wasn’t set tight therefore gas was bypassing the air lock, it is possible but sorbate is more likely.
* degassing is possible at any time. My current process is to intentionally keep CO2 in the wine till the week when I plan on bottling it. CO2 helps protect the flavor/ acts as an inert gas.
Thanks, great information
 
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The SG went from 1.078 to 0.998 in 8 days (3 days consistently 0.998) I strained and removed the gross lees from the primary and then added 1.5 tsp potassium sorbate, 2 Campden tabs and 1/2 tablespoon of Sparkloid, then I degassed and decanted into the carboy.
An SG of 0.998 may indicate the wine is done fermenting.

With yeast there is only one fermentation. "Secondary fermentation" refers to malolactic fermentation, which is bacteria converting malic acid into a milder lactic acid, which is done for some grape wines.

Fermentation can continue in the carboy, if there is sugar remaining. In your situation, it's very possible none is left. Also you added sorbate + K-meta (Campden tablets), which as @Rice_Guy said, prevents yeast from reproducing. If you have sugar left, if the fermentation was slow enough, it won't restart.

I don't see a problem with your process -- it's just misunderstanding on your part about how things work. But you're in the right place to fill in those gaps!

The most common sequence of actions is to let the wine ferment down below 1.020. As @Ohio Bob said, some folks rack to carboy at this point, while others rack at any point down to "done" (SG <= 0.998 and unchanging for 3 day). It all works.

Desgassing or adding fining agents before the ferment is done is counterproductive, as continued fermentation produces CO2 and holds particles in suspension.

Then let the wine complete fermenting. Gross lees (fruit solids) drops within 72 hours of the end of fermentation. At this point, rack again (doesn't have to be after 3 days, some folks don't rack for 3 weeks).

At this point, add K-meta (Campden). The wine is dry at this point and you do not need to add sorbate until you're ready to backsweeten, which can be months later. I recommend bulk aging at least 3 months -- wine goes through a lot of chemical changes and this makes for consistent bottles. Also, even with fining agents you may get fine lees, and it dropping in the jug is better than in the bottle.
 

Korgan45

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Thanks so much! It's so kind of people to take the time to explain to us newbies. This is a wonderful group. There's alot more chemistry involved in winemaking than I initially thought. I'm learning alot and it's starting to make sense but it seems like the wine itself is rather forgiving! Either way its a fun hobby 🙂
 
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There's alot more chemistry involved in winemaking than I initially thought.
Wait 'til you get to the biology and physics. You'll wish you paid more attention in high school! ;)

I've written posts detailing wines from start to finish -- you may find these useful in understanding the full process. Also note that there is often more than one way to do things, so you will find different sequences of events that work just as well.

 

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