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KevinAZ

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Hi there!
I'm pretty new to winemaking and I had a must not start and I'm worried. Here's what I've done and at least one thing that I'm worried about. Hibiscus Wine was the goal. I started here with this recipe: Hibiscus Flower Wine

I adjusted the recipe up and did this:

Day 1:
Added 5 gallons of water and 12 lbs. of white sugar together with 0.8 lbs. of hibiscus flowers (dried and placed in a mesh nylon bag).
Added 1 Tbsp. K-Meta, 3 Tbsps. Acid Blend, 2 Tbsps. Yeast Energizer.
Stirred thoroughly and final volume was about 6 gallons (+/- a few ounces)
Got lazy and thought I'd try to avoid punching down the bag, so I added a little grate from our Air Fryer to hold down the mesh bag (thinking this killed things for some reason... :'(

Day 2:
Added full packet of Red Star Premier Blanc yeast (Sprinkled on top)
Closed the bucket back up (it has an airlock)

Day 3:
Got excited about starting watermelon wine and didn't do anything with the Hibiscus, but then I noticed it wasn't bubbling. There was no positive pressure in the airlock at all. So, I took out the grate, punched things down, and sprinkled another packet of Red Star Premier Blanc, crossed my fingers, and started typing this post.

OH! The OG was 1.122 (16.5 % potential ABV, I know that's a little high, but the yeast should be able to handle it and if the hibiscus was too strong I wanted to be able to dilute it down and keep the wine at about 12.5%)

Did I kill everything with the grate? Did I add way too much K-Meta? Did I not wait long enough for the K-Meta to dissipate before adding my first batch of yeast? Is there anything else you can think of that I did wrong?

I don't think the yeast was bad. I bought a dozen packs at once and the first pack fermented my prickly pear wine just fine (OMG it's GOOD!!) and the date on the packs is 2024.

Thanks in advance. I know this was a long read,
Kevin
 

BernardSmith

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I agree. Way too much K-meta. But you might want to check if the gravity is nevertheless falling. Bubbles are great entertainment but they really don't tell you very much: if there are none might there be poor seals between the fermenter and the lid or bung and or airlock? and if there are bubbles does that always mean that the yeast is being active? Sometimes the wine will out gas very vigorously if there is a change in temperature or air pressure. Your hydrometer is the standard tool to use to monitor fermentation. bubbles, as I suggest, are for entertainment purposes.
 

D&S

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Hi there!
I'm pretty new to winemaking and I had a must not start and I'm worried. Here's what I've done and at least one thing that I'm worried about. Hibiscus Wine was the goal. I started here with this recipe: Hibiscus Flower Wine

I adjusted the recipe up and did this:

Day 1:
Added 5 gallons of water and 12 lbs. of white sugar together with 0.8 lbs. of hibiscus flowers (dried and placed in a mesh nylon bag).
Added 1 Tbsp. K-Meta, 3 Tbsps. Acid Blend, 2 Tbsps. Yeast Energizer.
Stirred thoroughly and final volume was about 6 gallons (+/- a few ounces)
Got lazy and thought I'd try to avoid punching down the bag, so I added a little grate from our Air Fryer to hold down the mesh bag (thinking this killed things for some reason... :'(

Day 2:
Added full packet of Red Star Premier Blanc yeast (Sprinkled on top)
Closed the bucket back up (it has an airlock)

Day 3:
Got excited about starting watermelon wine and didn't do anything with the Hibiscus, but then I noticed it wasn't bubbling. There was no positive pressure in the airlock at all. So, I took out the grate, punched things down, and sprinkled another packet of Red Star Premier Blanc, crossed my fingers, and started typing this post.

OH! The OG was 1.122 (16.5 % potential ABV, I know that's a little high, but the yeast should be able to handle it and if the hibiscus was too strong I wanted to be able to dilute it down and keep the wine at about 12.5%)

Did I kill everything with the grate? Did I add way too much K-Meta? Did I not wait long enough for the K-Meta to dissipate before adding my first batch of yeast? Is there anything else you can think of that I did wrong?

I don't think the yeast was bad. I bought a dozen packs at once and the first pack fermented my prickly pear wine just fine (OMG it's GOOD!!) and the date on the packs is 2024.

Thanks in advance. I know this was a long read,
Kevin
I did the same thing with some white Cayuga juice, way to much K- meta. Mine came back after 6 days of splashing, degassing and siphoning into another clean container. At last i added a pack of Red Star Premier Cuvee. Now its bubbling Great.
 

winemaker81

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@BernardSmith is spot on -- check the SG. While I doubt the wine is fermenting with that much SO2 present, it's a best practice to always test before doing anything.

1 Tbsp K-meta is 12 times too much. I'd stir the must 3 times per day for 3 days, then try a yeast starter: in a wine bottle put 1 packet yeast, 1/2 tsp nutrient, 1 tsp sugar, and 1 cup distilled or purified water. Swirl to mix and cover loosely (napkin over top is fine) and let stand in a warm place for 24 hours. Gently pour it down the side of the fermenter so the starter spreads as little as possible.

Stirring the must daily during fermentation stimulates the yeast. In winemaking laziness doesn't work, but patience does. ;)
 

Scooter68

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Many folks find that a ferment with a starting SG of 1.100 and over will have issues even getting started. You are at the high end of your yeast tolerance. Generally speaking you are better off stating with a lower SG and then doing one or more step feedings. Published alcohol tolerance numbers are based on LABORATORY conditions and ours will typically not match those conditions.
Secondly that high an ABV with a lighter flavor wine is likely to taste more like a falvored vodka than a classic wine. (Yes, that's exaggerating a bit but in reality lighter flavors are much better at lower ABV's)
Finally, the pH of a wine is also important to both aid fermentation and protect from spoilage. You don't mention the pH at the start and without that.... it is impossible to be certain if your batch is in a good starting rainge.
 

KevinAZ

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Hi All,

Thank you all for your feedback, advice, and tips. This has been exceptionally helpful. Here's the update on what I've done and what I've measured:

Many of you mentioned the K-Meta (and now I know I have a problem with my watermelon wine too that I'll have to try to correct in a similar way). I transferred my must to a carboy with my All-In-One pump (splash racking). Then I degassed the must about 4 times with a Headspace Eliminator (draw a vacuum, let it sit, release, draw another). And finally, I transferred back to my fermentation bucket (splash racking again). I'm hoping that this released all the SO2 and maybe put some O2 in.

I measured the PH (test strips) and it's about a 3.5 or 3.6 (yes, a proper PH meter is on the buy list soon). So I think I'm fairly OK there.

I measured the SG and got 1.100. I've had 22 points of movement so far. So there's hope :)

Finally, I put in a third packet of yeast, crossed my fingers, said a little prayer, and sealed it back up (under lid and airlock).

Please let me know what you think about my actions and if you think I'm on the right track.

Greatfully,
Kevin
 
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BernardSmith

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Hi Kevin, So this sounds far more hopeful than your earlier plea for help. BUT here's what I always suggest. If a wine maker feels that adding more yeast to a stuck fermentation will help the way to add that yeast is not to simply re-pitch it into the problem batch. That's because it MAY BE that something is going on in the batch that is systematically inhibiting or preventing the yeast from fermenting the available sugars. Adding MORE yeast may not solve that problem any more than sending a couple of infantrymen into a building when the first pair that you sent in have failed to come out. What you do is this:
You create a little starter with your yeast (say, a cup of spring water and a teaspoon of sugar) and the yeast. When you see the yeast frothing after about twenty minutes, take the same volume from the stuck batch and add THAT to the yeast. When you know that that is actively fermenting you take the same volume (now two cups) and add that to the yeast and you keep on repeating this until over a few hours (or days) the stuck batch has been added to the yeast. What this does is "dilutes" the problem with the active volume and in my opinion this is the BEST way to kick start a stalled batch. Does that make sense?
 

KevinAZ

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Hey Bernard,

I think you're 100% right on doing the starter. I totally forgot about it. #Facepalm

I'll give it a day and if there's no real action I'll do the starter tomorrow. At least I got what I think was a good deal on the yeast when I bought it :) (12 packs for $10 if I remember right).

If it doesn't work after that, I'll just dump it and start again. The hibiscus was only $3, the sugar was $6.50, and the water was $5. So spending more than $3.50 on yeast doesn't make sense.

Thanks again,
Kevin
 

winemaker81

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@KevinAZ, don't be so quick to give up. This is an important learning experience. The things you learn fixing this batch will carry with you.

The key point is that your SG dropped 22 points. THAT is significant -- it means fermentation is happening. The overdose of SO2 didn't help it, but it's not stopping it. Check the SG tomorrow. If it's dropping, no matter how much or how little -- fermentation is continuing.

Patience, Grasshopper!
 

Scooter68

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Ah yes - That key element of wine making - Patience. Hardest part for many new winemakers. Master that and this hobby becomes a lot more fun.

One point to add to what some others have said - Save some time and effort and ditch lid to the bucket. Just use a nice towel, Part of an old sheet, dishtowel, or some muslin cloth. Tie it on with some string/cord and you are good to go. Airlocks on buckets are really waste of time AND they lead people to think that nothings going on because they don't see bubbles. HINT: Bucket lids are notoriously leaky. The gas seeps out without pushing your airlock. To prove this to yourself, wet down that seal in the lid then snap it on, install the airlock and watch. During the first few hours with an active ferment you wills see bubbling in the airlock. The next morning and no more bubbles, because that water is gone and the gas is just seeping out.
As for oxygen ruining the wine.... the gasses coming off the wine will displace the air and protect the wine. Even after the fermentation finishes you will still have gassing off going on for days, weeks and in some cases a few months.
 

KevinAZ

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So here's the latest update:

I remeasured the SG on Saturday and no movement at all. I made a yeast starter from a full pack of Red Star Premier Blanc and about 1/2 a cup of warm water and then added about 1/2 a cup of must about 30 minutes later. I let that sit until it had a really thick foam on top and added it back to the must. It's been over three days now, and no movement at all again on the SG.

Ideas?

Thanks in advance,
Kevin
 

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