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Scooter68

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Yes even after fermentation finishes there is a lot of CO2 gas being released - typically you will see lots of fine bubbles.
As to the smaller bottle - Assuming you filled that last, that bottle has a the larger part of the lees/sediment. That's OK - Chill it down and it should start to clear quickly. Look for some smaller glass bottles. The Kombucha Tea bottles (Glass ones) 16 oz I believe, make great extra storage containers. Also the ones I've found at our recycling center have the same size lid as the 1 gallon carboys.
 

AlphaGrayWolf

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I have the smaller bottle just to top off with after all the racking is done and bottling starts - I plan on giving it 2 months and see how it is and then rerack into another carboy and then let it sit until maybe Thanksgiving or so and then try bottling. I am guessing I will have to backsweeten, since I don't like dry wines - possibly with grape juice. I can't fit them in the fridge, the best I could do is outside, maybe in the garage
 

Scooter68

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Yeah garage will work for now. Better settling in colder conditions but it also slows the aging process so just do it for a month at most.

By Thanksgiving you should have a very decent wine to enjoy.
As far as back-sweetening - Yes, that will bring back the flavor too so yes.
 

AlphaGrayWolf

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2nd Racking done tonight - topped off with Arbor Mist Merlot Blackberry and set in closet to finish. Not tasting much of the berries, still @ .990 @73 degrees. Was sitting all this time on my kitchen counter, so exposed to probably more like than optimal. Wine was definitely clear. Dry, but not bitterly. May not backsweeten, remains to be seen after it sits until Christmas or so. Added Campdan tab and stabilizer at this racking.
 

Scooter68

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A little back sweetening will probably bring back a lot of flavor and it doesn't have to go so far as to make it "Sweet." If you like dry wines you can stop short of 1.00 with back-sweetening and that would probably give you more flavor. BUT as you said - that can wait until after Christmas at least. Let all the CO2 dissipate and the sharp 'edges' round off.
Congrats on a successful ferment!!
 

AlphaGrayWolf

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A little back sweetening will probably bring back a lot of flavor and it doesn't have to go so far as to make it "Sweet." If you like dry wines you can stop short of 1.00 with back-sweetening and that would probably give you more flavor. BUT as you said - that can wait until after Christmas at least. Let all the CO2 dissipate and the sharp 'edges' round off.
Congrats on a successful ferment!!
Thanks! Now I want to start another batch, maybe some good red. Thinking about stepping up to 5 or 6 gal batch, and buying grapes online? Not sure of the cost though, may be an issue.
 

Scooter68

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Thanks! Now I want to start another batch, maybe some good red. Thinking about stepping up to 5 or 6 gal batch, and buying grapes online? Not sure of the cost though, may be an issue.
I'd post a new message thread with that as a question. Include what part of the country you live in. Many folks on here do grape wine, not me but many others do and they can tell you what places might be near you where you might be able to drive and pick them up or get shipping cheaper. Ask also about how the grapes or grape juice is prepaired. Juice from grapes is often innoculated with a yeast already and as soon as it's thawed out it will begin to ferment. Much more about them but I'm not the best source for that info.
 

AlphaGrayWolf

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Another question regarding this batch - since I have added the stabilizer at this last racking - after 4 months of secondary - can I cap my gallon jug for aging or do I still need to keep the airlock?
 

Scooter68

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I would ALWAYS have some sort of airlock or bung that allows pressure to be released. Plenty of stories of folks being away for a few weeks or not checking for a week or two only to find that at sometime since they last checked - the bung/stopper popped off and their wine has been exposed to the air and possibly fruit flies getting into their wine. There are some who use a silicone bung that has a pressure relief device built in (Gasses Out but not in I think) or just maintain an airlock. The latter takes weekly or bi-weekly checking but that's just part of the process.
 

AlphaGrayWolf

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I would ALWAYS have some sort of airlock or bung that allows pressure to be released. Plenty of stories of folks being away for a few weeks or not checking for a week or two only to find that at sometime since they last checked - the bung/stopper popped off and their wine has been exposed to the air and possibly fruit flies getting into their wine. There are some who use a silicone bung that has a pressure relief device built in (Gasses Out but not in I think) or just maintain an airlock. The latter takes weekly or bi-weekly checking but that's just part of the process.
How will I know when it's ok to bottle then? That's the confusing part. I thought that after it is stabilized it's ok to cap or cork.
 

winemaker81

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I'm using vented bungs once fermentation is done and the wine is clear. It saves having to check fluid levels in the airlock. Until fermentation is done and the wine is clear, I want to see if there is activity, hence the airlock.

If the wine is completely stable (SG below 0.998 and no CO2 escaping) it should be safe to cap, but oddly enough, it appears most of us are too paranoid to do that. Yet we'll take that same wine and bottle it. Nope, this does not make sense.

When to bottle? When the wine is stable and clear. I typically wait 2 weeks after the last racking to ensure no sediment is dropping, and given my normal practices, there was at most a fine layer in the bottom of the carboy before the last racking.

Sediment in the bottle ruins the appearance. A small amount doesn't affect the taste, but it muddies the wine when you pour it. A lot of sediment CAN negatively affect the flavor, and it looks really ugly when poured.
 

AlphaGrayWolf

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I'm using vented bungs once fermentation is done and the wine is clear. It saves having to check fluid levels in the airlock. Until fermentation is done and the wine is clear, I want to see if there is activity, hence the airlock.

If the wine is completely stable (SG below 0.998 and no CO2 escaping) it should be safe to cap, but oddly enough, it appears most of us are too paranoid to do that. Yet we'll take that same wine and bottle it. Nope, this does not make sense.

When to bottle? When the wine is stable and clear. I typically wait 2 weeks after the last racking to ensure no sediment is dropping, and given my normal practices, there was at most a fine layer in the bottom of the carboy before the last racking.

Sediment in the bottle ruins the appearance. A small amount doesn't affect the taste, but it muddies the wine when you pour it. A lot of sediment CAN negatively affect the flavor, and it looks really ugly when poured.
Ok, so at 2nd racking wine was at .990 SG and no activity, clear. I plan on back-sweetening to 1.000 (just as a guess). I plan on doing this in a week or two.
 

winemaker81

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0.990? Can't get lower than that.

I used to bench test, e.g., take a small amount of wine and gradually sweeten it until I'm satisfied, then do the math to figure out how much to sweeten the full batch. Sweeten the full batch in stages, tasting in between, to ensure you don't over-sweeten. This works well, unless you mess up the math.

Nowdays I sweeten the full batch. I make sugar syrup (boil 1 cup water, gradually stir in 2 cups sugar, boil (stirring) until clear; cool to room temp). For a 5 gallon batch, I add 1/4 cup syrup, stir really well (I use a drill-mounted stirring rod, but don't make the wine foam), and taste. Repeat until I think it needs just a bit more, then stop.

For a 1 gallon batch? I'd probably add 1 or 2 Tbsp at a time. And you won't need as much sugar syrup -- I'd cut the above recipe in half, maybe in quarter (1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar). Sounds like you want to lightly sweeten, so you won't need much syrup to hit that goal.

Use caution when sweetening ... it's much easier to add more than take some out. ;)
 

AlphaGrayWolf

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0.990? Can't get lower than that.

I used to bench test, e.g., take a small amount of wine and gradually sweeten it until I'm satisfied, then do the math to figure out how much to sweeten the full batch. Sweeten the full batch in stages, tasting in between, to ensure you don't over-sweeten. This works well, unless you mess up the math.

Nowdays I sweeten the full batch. I make sugar syrup (boil 1 cup water, gradually stir in 2 cups sugar, boil (stirring) until clear; cool to room temp). For a 5 gallon batch, I add 1/4 cup syrup, stir really well (I use a drill-mounted stirring rod, but don't make the wine foam), and taste. Repeat until I think it needs just a bit more, then stop.

For a 1 gallon batch? I'd probably add 1 or 2 Tbsp at a time. And you won't need as much sugar syrup -- I'd cut the above recipe in half, maybe in quarter (1/4 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar). Sounds like you want to lightly sweeten, so you won't need much syrup to hit that goal.

Use caution when sweetening ... it's much easier to add more than take some out. ;)
Exactly the advice I was looking for, thanks!!! And just ordered more blueberries for another try, this time instead of 4 lbs. blueberries and 1 lb. blackberries, going to try 8 lbs of blueberries with less water. Experimenting is fun!!!
 

Scooter68

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Exactly the advice I was looking for, thanks!!! And just ordered more blueberries for another try, this time instead of 4 lbs. blueberries and 1 lb. blackberries, going to try 8 lbs of blueberries with less water. Experimenting is fun!!!
Your more is better for blueberries should give you much better wine. I would caution about going to 8 lbs - I know this sounds crazy but with blueberries the acidity can get really strong at that amount. Blueberry wine is an annual thing for me - (Or more often if I find we have horded too many berries from our bushes. ) Anyway, you can try 8 but I've gone to somewhere between 6-7 lbs per gallon. The water addition is still small at that point and can mostly come from a simple syrup. Just allow for higher lees volume with the greater amount of berries. Blueberries are pretty good about breaking down and leaving less lees than some fruit but with 7-8 lbs per gallon you are going to have a pretty significant amount of lees. I'd start at about 1 1/3 gallons of must per gallon of finished wine you aim for. If you have 'extra' you can always hold that out for topping off as you go.

Good luck with the blueberry wine, and all the rest of course.
 

AlphaGrayWolf

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Ok, boys and girls - after 3 months of aging, finally back-sweetened today with 2 tsp. simple sugar after doing a degassing just to make sure. Will let that sit a while and test to see how it turns out - maybe a month or so, unless any reason I should let it go more. Big decision is whether to bottle into 750 ml. or just keep in gallon carboy with screw top.
 

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Two teaspoons of simple sugar (is that 1 teaspoon of sugar dissolved in 1 teaspoon of water?) You might want to taste the wine to see if it is as sweet as you want it. To me back sweetening might mean adding 4 oz of sugar dissolved in either wine or water. Four ounces of sugar will raise the gravity of a gallon by about 10 points and if your wine was at say 1.000 then it would be at 1.010 and that is semi sweet (though how sweet will depend on the level of acidity and alcohol in the wine). BUT while I tend to ASSUME that a very dry wine or mead will need about 10 points of sweetener, bench testing is always the best approach. (in other words, if 4 oz is my default, I might add to 20 ml enough sweetener to be equivalent of 2, 3, 4, 5 (even 6 oz) and if the test suggests that the best option for THIS wine is between 2 and 3 oz, then I repeat the process adding the equivalent amount of sugar to each identical sample, of say, 2.2, 2.4, 2.6 and 2.8 oz (I still have some of the 2 and some of the 3 oz sample... and I see which hits the "sweet spot" (pun very much intended!)
 

winemaker81

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finally back-sweetened today with 2 tsp. simple sugar
My first take was that's a tiny amount of sugar ... but I used 1/4 cup in 5 gallons, which is roughly 1.8 tsp/gallon, so your amount makes sense, at least to me. It reduces the bitter and/or astringent flavor without making the wine too sweet.

Big decision is whether to bottle into 750 ml. or just keep in gallon carboy with screw top.
The problem with the gallon jug is oxidation, unless you drink a lot faster than I expect. I suggest moving to smaller bottles.

A friend bottled in gallon jugs -- his cellar had "walls" formed from 4 count cases of gallon jug boxes. When he needed wine, he grabbed a jug and decanted into 4 quart bottles.

I buy jug wine in 4 liter jugs for cooking, and keep the bottles for wine making. My habit is to decant into 5x 750 ml and 1x 375ml screw cap bottles.

While I don't generally recommend screw cap bottles for storage, it does work. If you go this route, after bottling turn each bottle upside down. If it doesn't leak, you're good. If it does leak, move the wine to a different bottle and recycle that one.
 

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