Post fermentation time after clearing

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DragonTail

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New to wine making. Started with a kit, followed instructions from a-z, turned out great. Moved on to country fruit wines. I am using a Jack Keller winemaking book and have 5 gallon recipes going now. These recipes call for an extended post fermentation time in the carboy/jug. Couple questions on this process.

1) Once fermentation is done and the wine is clear, I assume this is just an aging process. What is the difference between aging it in the carboy as to aging it in the bottle? I would like to free up some of my carboys to start other batches, but the recipes seem to demand the wine set in the carboy for 3 to 4 months.

2) Working on a pear recipe. It directs me to stir the wine every 15 days post fermentation. Why would I do this? I thought the idea was for the wine to clear and to leave the lees on the bottom of the carboy so the clear wine can be racked off.

3) The wines I am working on, I have racked off more than the recipe calls for. I am concerned with the potassium metabisulfite level, and that it may be too low. Recipes call for that addition at the very end of the process closer to stabilization / bottling time. I did not want to try and tackle testing the metabisulfite levels yet. I had originally bought those test strips but found out they are not very accurate. If I wanted to test it correctly, I should get a basic lab set up. Seems complicated. My plan was to follow the recipes which seem to keep the metabisulfite level up via the author already working out the recipe (add 0.2g potassium metabisulfite at the end).
 
Welcome to WMT.

Aging in the carboy vs bottle allows the wine to age in bulk, leading to more consistent results. Extended aging also allows the wine to clear without the use of clearing agents.

Many winemakers, myself included, don’t rack on a schedule. I rack only when it’s needed. Generally this is a few weeks after fermentation is complete… after gross lees have settled. I then bulk age and rack again prior to bottling. I add k-meta at each racking. I have bulk aged up to 6 months without adding more k-meta with no problems as long as the carboy is topped up and remains unopened. If you prefer adding k-meta at three-month intervals just use your wine thief to steal a sample, give it a good taste, then mix in the k-meta and return it to the carboy and top up with a similar wine.
 
Kits are designed to be bottled in a very short time frame, 4 to 8 weeks. Typically bentonite is added pre-ferment and kieselsol & chitosan post-ferment to ensure the wine is clear. While it's possible to make any wine using a similar methodology, you'll find that most folks on this forum recommend a longer process.

I was originally taught to not bottle before 4 months, and practical experience has validated this, for the reasons Chuck mentioned.

Regarding stirring the pear wine, search on "sur lie" and "battonage". Gross lees (fruit solids) supposedly drops within 24-72 hours after fermentation completes. Anything that drops after that is fine lees (yeast hulls). Sur lie and battonage are techniques for using the fine lees to add complexity, aroma, and flavor to a wine. IME Pear is pretty bland, so it makes sense to use these techniques to improve it.

Also keep in mind that recipes are what worked, and not necessarily what's best. I've seen crazy things in recipes, so it's entirely possible your recipe has nothing to do with sur lie or battonage.

K-meta addition is a wide range. 1/4 tsp K-meta for 19-23 liters is a common rule. I've never done sulfite testing and don't feel the need, as various studies have indicated that the standard rule produces a good level of protection.
 
Welcome to WMT.

Aging in the carboy vs bottle allows the wine to age in bulk, leading to more consistent results. Extended aging also allows the wine to clear without the use of clearing agents.

Many winemakers, myself included, don’t rack on a schedule. I rack only when it’s needed. Generally this is a few weeks after fermentation is complete… after gross lees have settled. I then bulk age and rack again prior to bottling. I add k-meta at each racking. I have bulk aged up to 6 months without adding more k-meta with no problems as long as the carboy is topped up and remains unopened. If you prefer adding k-meta at three-month intervals just use your wine thief to steal a sample, give it a good taste, then mix in the k-meta and return it to the carboy and top up with a similar wine.
Thank you for the reply. So what is the dosage of the k meta? Say I have a recipe that says .2mg per gallon before bottling, would that be the total dose (divide estimated number of rackings?) or would it be that much every time it is racked? I assume you lose some every time you rack. Also, is there a drawback to too much k meta? Do you tase it in the wine if you have too much?
 
Thank you for the reply. So what is the dosage of the k meta? Say I have a recipe that says .2mg per gallon before bottling, would that be the total dose (divide estimated number of rackings?) or would it be that much every time it is racked? I assume you lose some every time you rack. Also, is there a drawback to too much k meta? Do you tase it in the wine if you have too much?
Kmeta lasts approximately 3 months. Some people won’t rack at 3 month intervals, but will add additional Kmeta. Typical dosage is 1/4 tsp per 5/6 gallons of wine. Yes, you can taste/smell excessive Kmeta but I believe it is way in excess of the recommended dosage.
 
Thank you for the reply. So what is the dosage of the k meta? Say I have a recipe that says .2mg per gallon before bottling, would that be the total dose (divide estimated number of rackings?) or would it be that much every time it is racked? I assume you lose some every time you rack. Also, is there a drawback to too much k meta? Do you tase it in the wine if you have too much?
The rule of thumb is 1/4 tsp per 19-23 liters of wine. I add this starting with the first post-fermentation racking, at each subsequent racking, every 3 months during bulk aging, and at bottling.

K-meta releases free SO2 in the wine, and this protects the wine by bonding with contaminants (including O2), rendering them harmless. In this way the free SO2 gets used up and must be replenished.

Too much K-meta will produce a burnt match smell, which will dissipate as the free SO2 is used up. The wine can absorb a lot of K-meta, far more than you'll typically add unless you're bulk aging for a year and racking monthly.

EDIT: For my heavy reds, I typically press when the ferment is done and move into glass. 3 weeks later I rack into a barrel, and add K-meta every 3 months, then at the end of 12 months rack & bottle.

I do not double dose at the final racking, as that racking is part of the bottling process.
 
Kits are designed to be bottled in a very short time frame, 4 to 8 weeks. Typically bentonite is added pre-ferment and kieselsol & chitosan post-ferment to ensure the wine is clear. While it's possible to make any wine using a similar methodology, you'll find that most folks on this forum recommend a longer process.

I was originally taught to not bottle before 4 months, and practical experience has validated this, for the reasons Chuck mentioned.

Regarding stirring the pear wine, search on "sur lie" and "battonage". Gross lees (fruit solids) supposedly drops within 24-72 hours after fermentation completes. Anything that drops after that is fine lees (yeast hulls). Sur lie and battonage are techniques for using the fine lees to add complexity, aroma, and flavor to a wine. IME Pear is pretty bland, so it makes sense to use these techniques to improve it.

Also keep in mind that recipes are what worked, and not necessarily what's best. I've seen crazy things in recipes, so it's entirely possible your recipe has nothing to do with sur lie or battonage.

K-meta addition is a wide range. 1/4 tsp K-meta for 19-23 liters is a common rule. I've never done sulfite testing and don't feel the need, as various studies have indicated that the standard rule produces a good level of protection.
Thank you for all the info. Follow-up question. I am using recipes that call for .2mg k meta at the end for one gallon. Does that pan out to the 19-23 liters for 1/4 tsp rule?

My wine is pretty clear after about 3 rackings in about one and a half months. I bought a clearing agent to use but did not use it yet. I believe I am going to let it sit for a couple more months and follow your wisdom. I hate my glass containers used up for that many months but seems like that is the best way to work this. Going to have to get some more containers. I have plenty of primary plastic buckets, but not as many glass containers. I like to be working on something all the time so the 8 gallon jugs, 6 carboys (2 each 6, 5, 3 gallons respectively) won't be enough. Looked a number of places and seems the best you can do is around $10 for a gallon jug. I like gallon jugs for small batches.
 
I am using recipes that call for .2mg k meta at the end for one gallon. Does that pan out to the 19-23 liters for 1/4 tsp rule?
Winemakers Academy site says 1/4 tsp = 1.4 g, so that translates to 0.23 to 0.28 g per 1 US gallon. 0.2 mg cannot be correct. do you mean g?

My wine is pretty clear after about 3 rackings in about one and a half months.
It may look clear, but you'll find few people on this forum that will bet your wine won't drop sediment if you bottle now.

Winemaking is a patience game. Get used to containers being used for months -- it's their purpose. My wines spend 4 to 12 months in carboys, and 12+ months in barrels.

Going to have to get some more containers.
Yup!

Carlo Rossi wines in 4 liter jugs are a good buy. I get 4 liters of cooking wine and it comes with a free 4 liter jug. ;)

Something to consider is that gallon batches and carboy batches take about the same amount of effort to manage.
 
Welcome to WMT!

Carboys breed like rabbits! 🤣😂🤣

I use campden tablets (potassium, NOT sodium) if less than 3 gallons - that's one crushed tablet per gallon. For 3 gallons, I use 1/8 tsp kmeta powder, and for 5 or 6 gallons, I use 1/4 tsp.

I also rack only when necessary - once after gross lees drop, then typically I leave it sit in the carboy until time to bottle. I dose with kmeta every few months, and once at bottling time. I rack into a bucket and add the kmeta as that's happening, then bottle from the bucket.

If I backsweeten, that of course adds a racking. I do the same procedure as bottling - rack into a bucket with kmeta added during the racking process to get it stirred in. I also add the potassium sorbate (to ensure the yeastie beasties don't restart fermentation), then stir in the sugar, then rack back to carboy.
 
Winemakers Academy site says 1/4 tsp = 1.4 g, so that translates to 0.23 to 0.28 g per 1 US gallon. 0.2 mg cannot be correct. do you mean g?
Yes. g not mg. Funny thing is I remember grade school where we were told to learn the metric system because US conversion was coming. Didn't happen and I guess it didn't stick. lol
 
Welcome to WMT!

Carboys breed like rabbits! 🤣😂🤣

I use campden tablets (potassium, NOT sodium) if less than 3 gallons - that's one crushed tablet per gallon. For 3 gallons, I use 1/8 tsp kmeta powder, and for 5 or 6 gallons, I use 1/4 tsp.

I also rack only when necessary - once after gross lees drop, then typically I leave it sit in the carboy until time to bottle. I dose with kmeta every few months, and once at bottling time. I rack into a bucket and add the kmeta as that's happening, then bottle from the bucket.

If I backsweeten, that of course adds a racking. I do the same procedure as bottling - rack into a bucket with kmeta added during the racking process to get it stirred in. I also add the potassium sorbate (to ensure the yeastie beasties don't restart fermentation), then stir in the sugar, then rack back to carboy.
Yeah, I just ordered 12 more gallon jugs.
 
Winemakers Academy site says 1/4 tsp = 1.4 g, so that translates to 0.23 to 0.28 g per 1 US gallon. 0.2 mg cannot be correct. do you mean g?


It may look clear, but you'll find few people on this forum that will bet your wine won't drop sediment if you bottle now.

Winemaking is a patience game. Get used to containers being used for months -- it's their purpose. My wines spend 4 to 12 months in carboys, and 12+ months in barrels.


Yup!

Carlo Rossi wines in 4 liter jugs are a good buy. I get 4 liters of cooking wine and it comes with a free 4 liter jug. ;)

Something to consider is that gallon batches and carboy batches take about the same amount of effort to manage.
I was going to get more larger carboys, but in reality I do not have the room for 28 bottles every time I do a batch. I like to tinker with a wide variety of wine recipes. Lots of effort / hobby time without filling my basement. Once I hit on a recipe I like I will expand it to maybe a 3 or 5 gallon carboy. For now I am happy with lots of little experiments.

I will have to get a couple of those Rossi wines. I use wine in my cooking so sounds like a win / win situation.
 
Winemakers Academy site says 1/4 tsp = 1.4 g, so that translates to 0.23 to 0.28 g per 1 US gallon. 0.2 mg cannot be correct. do you mean g?


It may look clear, but you'll find few people on this forum that will bet your wine won't drop sediment if you bottle now.

Winemaking is a patience game. Get used to containers being used for months -- it's their purpose. My wines spend 4 to 12 months in carboys, and 12+ months in barrels.


Yup!

Carlo Rossi wines in 4 liter jugs are a good buy. I get 4 liters of cooking wine and it comes with a free 4 liter jug. ;)

Something to consider is that gallon batches and carboy batches take about the same amount of effort to manage.
RE: small batches: I've never understood why people make 1 gallon batches of wine. As you said, it takes the same amount of effort and time to produce one gallon as it does to make a 23 liter carboy batch.
 
RE: small batches: I've never understood why people make 1 gallon batches of wine. As you said, it takes the same amount of effort and time to produce one gallon as it does to make a 23 liter carboy batch.
I expect space is the #1 reason -- the first two years I was married, we lived in a 830 sf apartment. I had room for a few cases of wine, but all my gear was in my parents' basement. That is life for a lot of folks.

Need is another reason -- some of our members drink a LOT less wine than others. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. ;)

Rounding out the reasons I can think of is "experimentation". Some folks like to try lots of different things.
 
I expect space is the #1 reason -- the first two years I was married, we lived in a 830 sf apartment. I had room for a few cases of wine, but all my gear was in my parents' basement. That is life for a lot of folks.

Need is another reason -- some of our members drink a LOT less wine than others. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. ;)

Rounding out the reasons I can think of is "experimentation". Some folks like to try lots of different things.
That is exactly my reasons. I do not want 28 bottles for every batch I make. I want to experiment. I have a fair amount of room but I have other hobbies that take up those spaces (canning, cooking, gardening, fermenting hot sauce), and I do not want to overflow my house with 1,000 bottles of wine... although I would love space for a wine room. I like my adult beverages, but I do not limit myself to just wine.
 
That is exactly my reasons. I do not want 28 bottles for every batch I make. I want to experiment. I have a fair amount of room but I have other hobbies that take up those spaces (canning, cooking, gardening, fermenting hot sauce), and I do not want to overflow my house with 1,000 bottles of wine... although I would love space for a wine room. I like my adult beverages, but I do not limit myself to just wine.
I'm the exact opposite, one of my deciding factors on a wine is "do I want 2 cases of this?" If I don't, I probably won't make it. 🤣

This is a perfect illustration that we all have our own needs.
 
As I get more into the hobby (and especially transitioning from fruit wines to grapes) I find myself making fewer 1-gallon batches and making wine less frequently as well. I think from here on out I'm probably going to settle into making 2-3 carboys of wine each fall from fresh grapes, plus the odd 1-gallon batch of seasonal country wines (planning on trying rhubarb this spring). The other continuing 1 gallon batches I will probably make are rosé saignees from the red fermentations.

1 gallons are nice for experimenting but a lot less convenient in many ways. They oxidize easier. They aren't worth breaking out the all-in-one pump for racking/bottling, and certainly not worth filtering. And as a consequence it's hard to get them as degassed (which is kind of fine for rosé and a lot of country wines anyway)
 
welcome to WMT

Free SO2 is a function of pH. Shelf life / taste is better with low pH. pH is also involved in resistance to infection If you don’t have a meter I would encourage pH before sulphite.
For a basic estimate within 24 hours free SO2 should be 10ppm and the rest is bound. Tannic wines (ex reds & crab apple) should hold 10ppm well. White & Country wines without tannin (antioxidant) continue to drop but are relatively stable as long as you don’t open the carboy. How much? there are sulphite calculators as Winemaker magazine. How much? most folks start identifying this at 100ppm.
Clearing? practically speaking once the gross lees are off this is a cosmetic issue. We could also accomplish this by pouring carefully and never let the guests have the last glass. Several have pointed out that fining agents speed the process.
 

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