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Potassium sorbate, or not?!

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Head Brewster

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So, since my last post, re back sweetening, (which incidentally I've not been brave enough to do, yet!) I've opened a couple of bottles, one rhubarb, one blackberry, that have obviously been leaking, "popped" on opening, and been fizzy! (A nice surprise, but not sure how I stand on the fizzy red front!) My question is, as I've now discovered potassium sorbate, as an aid to preventing further fermentation, can I, should I, just pop some in to every gallon before I bottle?!
My next question, is why did this happen? SG before bottling the blackberry was 996, pretty stable, I'd say! I now know the bottle of blackberry had sediment in it. Am I bottling too early, or not reracking enough? The blackberry was 10 months, from starting to bottling.
My main question is, would it hurt to put potassium sorbate in every gallon before I bottle?
Thank you in advance! x
 

Doug’s wines

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Hi @Head Brewster. My first thought reading your post is that you might have a residual co2 issue. Did the wine fully degas before bottling? Generally with a 10 month age before bottling I would think so however if it was aged cool perhaps not.

You seem to be thinking residual sugar was fermenting. It’s also possible, yet given the times you state and SG you posted that is less likely than co2. That said, I sorbate all my wine (gasp). There’s no issues with using it if you want.

Final thought is it could be bacteria, but let’s not go down that route.
 

meadmaker1

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Yes bottling to early.
If you havent finished fermenting or degassing sorbate wont help. Fermentation can finnish very slowly and may have finished after bottling.
How old is it now? It may not be finished yet , hopefully its stored in a way that a popped cork doest become your best wine storey some day.
Fizzy wine tends to open by itself especially if it warms with weather changes like mine did
What is stable and how can you be sure?
Time will definitely help. And if you have sediment then there is no question you bottled too soon.
Most wines and there are some exceptions will take at least 3 months to clear many 6 or more. And no recipe or kit instruction will change it.
The reward for waiting is worth it
 

Scooter68

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I am not an "Anti-Additive" guy but as to the use of Potasium Sorbate - If the wine has essentially no residual sugar (SG below .995) there's no point in adding it. In fact some people can detect the presence of Sorbate, especially as the wine ages (After the Sorbate is added)

So in a dry wine I would never use Potassium Sorbate.

Only if I am back-sweetening and I certainly would be sure to add it at the last possible time - After the wine is finished bulk aging, no more than a week before back-sweetening. Then I would bottle within about a week after back-sweetening unless the wine becomes cloudy/hazy. There is nothing to be gained by exposing Sorbate any sooner that absolutely necessary.
 

Donatelo

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Some rules for bottling: 1. Never ever bottle cloudy wine. Never. 2. Bottle only after the wine has achieved dry. Any fermentation must be completely finished before bottling. I keep a airlock on and that way you can tell if it is still fermenting. I have a white Cranberry that is still fermenting 4 months after secondary.You can back sweeten after the wine has gone to dry. 3. never bottle a wine that has a problem, Any problem such as fizzy, acidic or off tasting flavors will remain in the bottled wine. 4 The use of 1/2 once of bentonite per 5 gallons at primary fermentation will allow the wine to clear any haze before bottling.
Patience above all is important. Age in bulk no less than 3 months. 6 months is better. Rack it off the lees 3 days before bottling and you can add crushed Campden tablets before bottling.
I am a newbie at this, but I think the ones on here that have more experience will agree.
 
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Head Brewster

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Thanks guys!
The wine was bottled July 2016. I had planned today to bottle another 10 month blackberry, but I think I may rerack it instead! Perhaps it's not clearing properly. After looking at my notes, I realise both batches had only been racked once, and with blackberry, it's difficult to see sediment in the demijohns!
Thanks again! x
 

meadmaker1

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I use a rechargable spot light to look for bubbles an check clearity.
Hold it to the side of the car boy and stair in like looking into a crystal ball.20180408_083925.jpg
 

grapeman

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One thing I see nobody mention here is potassium metabisulfite either in powder form or the pre-measured and pill shaped campden tablets. That inhibits bacterial and other microbial growth in the wine and is generally used in conjunction with the potassium sorbate. One tablet is usually recommended per gallon of wine. It needs to be crushed first and mixed with a bit of your wine to dissolve it before adding to your wine. Blackberries are fairly high in malic acid and without the kmeta you may have a malolactic bacterial infection (mlf). The kmeta helps prevent that when applied to the wine but probably won't stop it if begun. Like the others say the wine should age a bit more before bottling, but it needs some protection.
 

jgmillr1

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My next question, is why did this happen? SG before bottling the blackberry was 996, pretty stable, I'd say! I now know the bottle of blackberry had sediment in it. Am I bottling too early, or not reracking enough? The blackberry was 10 months, from starting to bottling.
The blackberry was a dry wine? You should always add sorbate if you intentionally back-sweeten your wine. As for dry wines, I find it depends on the yeast strain. Some strains like D47 tend to leave some residual sugar that can referment later in the bottle if you don't add sorbate. Other strains (EC1118, RC212, BM4X4, etc) will ferment fully dry and can safely be bottled w/o sorbate.

Ten months should be plenty of time to allow it to complete fermenting but it all depends on your cellar temperature and bottle storage temp.

Blackberry is known to drop pigment as sediment if the color has not been stabilized. But that is small, so if you find yeast-like cloudy type of sediment, then it probably was refermenting.

I'm sure some will disagree, but if in doubt whether there is any residual sugar, it would not hurt to prophylactically add sorbate (and sulfites).

One thing I see nobody mention here is potassium metabisulfite
Bingo. A proper level of sulfites should always be added anyway but it is especially important to add sulfites when adding sorbate. This prevents bacteria from metabilizing the sorbate into the dreaded geranium taint.
 

meadmaker1

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10 month old wine should have been racked 3 or four times.
Every three months and bump kmeta each time.
In a carboy you can see sediment get drawn into racking cane even paper thin layers on the bottom will give up wisps off the bottom but the less there is the less that gets picked up
 

Scooter68

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LEAVING LEES BEHIND - I use a plastic clip with my racking cane to keep the tip off the bottom. When the level gets close to the tip of the cane I start lowering the tip further down until I see the lees starting to 'rise' towards the tip. At some point you have to declare victory and leave the rest behind. Good news is that mistakes, lees sucked up early on, still have plenty of time to be removed with later rackings. This applies to whatever transfer equipment you use.
 

meadmaker1

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I follow the same practice.
Some fermenting vessels are not clear so the visual adjustment is compromised
 

Scooter68

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Initial fermentation is a little tricky but with a bucket or non-transparent container I start the cane well out of the lees and work it down slowly and as soon as I see lees starting up the tube, I pull out the cane. With primary fermentation it's not nearly as critical and in fact I may want some of the finer lees in the secondary just to make sure I have enough yeast. A lot also depends on the fruit. With bagged berries like blackberries or blueberries, the lees are not as thick and I just don't worry as much about them as long as the coarse stuff ls left behind an the bag is pulled out. With peaches, again I remove the bag and then just watch for the coarse stuff to rise in the tube.
 

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