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ELF Wine

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This is my first batch (white wine from home grown Niagara grapes)...starting gravity 1.090...recipe said ferment in primary 3-5 days or until hydrometer reading between 1.040 - 1.020...it's been 5 days, I took a reading and the hydrometer went straight to the bottom of the tube and bottomed out...any suggestions??? thanks in advance...
 

sour_grapes

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First of all, the recipe seems to me to be in error. I would not rack out of the primary fermentation vessel until the SG is below 1.010. Racking at 1.040 is way too high, and can lead to "wine volcanoes" in your glass carboy.

Secondly, it sounds like your wine is done fermenting. You probably should try harder to get a hydrometer reading by putting some of the wine into a taller, narrower container so that the hydrometer does not bottom out.
 

stickman

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Niagara is a white grape, so did the recipe say to ferment on the skins? Maybe that's why it suggests to move out of primary at 1.040. Normally white grapes are pressed and then the juice is fermented separately, though there are some winemakers that do allow some short skin contact depending on the variety.
 

sour_grapes

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Niagara is a white grape, so did the recipe say to ferment on the skins? Maybe that's why it suggests to move out of primary at 1.040. Normally white grapes are pressed and then the juice is fermented separately, though there are some winemakers that do allow some short skin contact depending on the variety.
Ahh, I did not pick up on the variety! Mea culpa.
 

ELF Wine

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...Did not ferment with the skins, but I did freeze the grapes with the skin on (several sources on the internet said that freezing is beneficial as it breaks down the pulp at the cellular level allowing more of the good stuff to be extracted when pressing)...I did buy a small press, the shop told me to use juice ONLY on white grapes...again, my first batch so I'm not sure what's correct when I get information...I'm using a book (Mary's Recipes) suggested by my local shop, so whatever it says is all I know...it didn't address the possibility of the reading going below the target...
 

ELF Wine

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...just ran the hydrometer again, filled the tube till it was within 1/4" from the top with the scale in...it floated this time and read 0.990...should I rack it and move on, or is there something else I need to do to it? Is it OK or is it something to pour down the sink? What SHOULD the reading be after the initial fermentation? Did I let it go too long? Oh, and thank you guys for answering so quickly... I really appreciate it since I know just a little more than nothing...
 

ELF Wine

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...this is the recipe I'm using...I added everything in the order stated. You said "get it sulfited properly" ... is there something I need to do/add at this point to do that?
 

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ibglowin

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You need to get some Potassium Metabisulfate which is required to keep your wine from oxidizing rapidly. You can pick this up at any local home brew store or online.
 

ELF Wine

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...I have potassium Metabisulfate...I added 1/4 tsp to the original recipe before fermentation (my local shop told me to use that instead of the campden tablet)... do I need to add more?
 

ELF Wine

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...I notice you are in New Mexico... I LOVE green chili. have you ever made green chili wine?? lol.
 

ibglowin

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How many gallons do you have after racking to carboy?

...I have potassium Metabisulfate...I added 1/4 tsp to the original recipe before fermentation (my local shop told me to use that instead of the campden tablet)... do I need to add more?
 

ELF Wine

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haven't racked yet...I was letting it settle before I racked it. I probably did the wrong thing, but when the hydrometer dropped to the bottom, I stirred the must to see if that changed the reading (it didn't). After I added enough juice to get the 0.990 reading, I figured I should let the sediment settle out before I racked it...I'm making 1 gallon batches. I have two started, the second about a week behind the first. I figured I would experiment with the first batches rather than make a 6 gallon mistake with most of my grapes...also, I have 1 gallon fermonster pet carboys...is that OK?
 

KCCam

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...I have potassium Metabisulfate...I added 1/4 tsp to the original recipe before fermentation (my local shop told me to use that instead of the campden tablet)... do I need to add more?
1/4 tsp is the dose for 4-6 gallons. 1 gallon requires only 1/16 tsp, which is equivalent to one Campden tablet. Someone more experienced than I am can tell you how that affects the dose you need before aging or bottling.
 

ELF Wine

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How many gallons do you have after racking to carboy?
oops...haven't got on here in a while...just got back from 1 1/2 weeks in Colorado...to answer the question, I'm doing 1 gallon batches, so I have 1 gallon minus what I lost in sediment etc. from racking it...
 

winemaker81

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@ELF Wine, first -- dealing with your current situation. The hydrometer indicates fermentation is done (you already know this). Rack the wine, leaving the sediment behind. When you have less than a gallon, the choices are to top up the container with a compatible wine. Niagara is vitus labrusca, so the result is "grapey". Pretty much any basic dry white wine will probably do.

The other choice is to find a smaller container and move it into that so you have a small air space. From here, let the wine age 2 to 12 months (your own choice on that, personally I'd not bulk age a Niagara for more than 2 to 4 months, but that's my choice). [this is the short answer, as this post is long, I'm intentionally being brief. There is more to bulk aging, but you have time and we need to keep you rolling.]

Next batch? Dump that recipe as it recommends things not normally done with a grape wine.

Start with 9-12 lbs of grapes, crush, press, & ferment. This amount typically gives you ~1 gallon of finished wine. Ferment in a larger, open food grade container. For larger batches a lot of us use Rubbermaid Brutes -- the orange buckets sold at Home Depot are supposed to be food grade and are a size better suited to small batches. Store the excess wine in smaller containers, and use to top up the main container as you lose volume to sediment.

Note: Although it's not typically done with whites, you can crush, ferment, and press (like is done with reds). This produces a much heavier wine -- you may want to try it for fun, as it's only a gallon.

DO NOT add water. Grapes are traditionally the fruit for making wine as grapes contain everything needed to make wine -- fruit juice, sugar, acid, etc. Adding water to a grape wine dilutes it. Other fruits require adding water, most grapes do not.

If the initial SG is below 1.075, add sugar to raise it. SG 1.075 will result in about 10% ABV. SG 1.100 produces over 14% ABV, which may be hotter than you may desire. I typically like my wines to start between 1.080 and 1.090, but this is your decision. You can find online calculators that give you the ABV when entering Brix or SG.

Chances are that if your sugar is low, it is not that low. I recommend adding 1/4 cup sugar at a time, stir very well, then check SG. Repeat until you get the desired SG.

Pectic enzyme and yeast nutrient are good, although you should read the package in case the formulation is different. IMO you don't need to add Campden before fermentation completes, but some like to do it. When using a commercial yeast, it should not impact fermentation. For yeast, the indicated yeast is fine, although any white wine yeast will work just fine.
 
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