Primary Fermentation

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Linetec

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I checked my SG this morning and it’s reading around 1.004. I started at 1.082. Is it safe to transfer to secondary? I’ve read to stir the pail prior to transferring over to carboy so that the yeast will transfer over as well.

The top of the juice seams to have a light ring of foam. I’m assuming that it’s still fermenting.
 

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winemaker81

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The wine is still fermenting -- if the SG is 0.998 or lower and remains constant for 3 days, you can assume it's done.

Folks rack any place between 1.020 and "done", so you can rack this at any time.

The must should be stirred at least once per day, to keep it mixed and to keep the cap (if there is one) from drying out. The yeast is fully suspended, so stirring at this time won't have any effect in that regard.
 

Linetec

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The wine is still fermenting -- if the SG is 0.998 or lower and remains constant for 3 days, you can assume it's done.

Folks rack any place between 1.020 and "done", so you can rack this at any time.

The must should be stirred at least once per day, to keep it mixed and to keep the cap (if there is one) from drying out. The yeast is fully suspended, so stirring at this time won't have any effect in that regard.
So the wine would still need to be stirred while it's in the carboy for secondary fermentation?
 

winemaker81

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So the wine would still need to be stirred while it's in the carboy for secondary fermentation?
Sorry, I was not clear. Get a glass of wine, and keep the bottle handy -- I'm going into detail .... :p

Fermentation is normally started in an open container as yeast uses O2 for reproduction, e.g., it's aerobic. Fermentation -- yeast eating sugar, and peeing alcohol and farting CO2, is anaerobic; O2 is not required. Stirring keeps the surface from drying out and introduces some O2 which the yeast uses. Fermentation in a closed container typically takes longer as the yeast doesn't have O2 so it reproduces slower.

Folks typically rack between 1.020 and "done". It's more common to rack whites at a higher SG to preserve aroma, as the fermentation slows down in a closed container and the aromatics are not blown off as much. Reds are typically fermented to a much lower SG as longer skin contact is desired. Red juices and fruit wines are typically racked in between those 2 extremes. Keep in mind there is no firm rule -- folks do what they want and there are many counter-examples to what I've said.

If the wine is racked prior to fermentation ending, fermentation continues in the carboy. Although reputable sources may call this "secondary fermentation", it's not -- it's just a continuation of "primary fermentation". Also note that at this point the yeast is eating and not reproducing as much, so fermentation slows down anyway.

There is no stirring in the carboy. Fruit pulp is not present (pressing eliminated all but fine particles) and in a closed container, there's no need to keep anything on the surface from drying out. The emitted CO2 protects the wine from even large head spaces. I leave a large head space at this point, to avoid producing a volcano when the foam overflows the carboy. [Yes, this was learned from hard experience!]

Secondary fermentation is what malolactic fermentation is often called. MLF is not yeast based, it's a bacteria that eats malic acid and emits the milder lactic acid, releasing very fine bubbles of CO2.
 

Linetec

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Sorry, I was not clear. Get a glass of wine, and keep the bottle handy -- I'm going into detail .... :p

Fermentation is normally started in an open container as yeast uses O2 for reproduction, e.g., it's aerobic. Fermentation -- yeast eating sugar, and peeing alcohol and farting CO2, is anaerobic; O2 is not required. Stirring keeps the surface from drying out and introduces some O2 which the yeast uses. Fermentation in a closed container typically takes longer as the yeast doesn't have O2 so it reproduces slower.

Folks typically rack between 1.020 and "done". It's more common to rack whites at a higher SG to preserve aroma, as the fermentation slows down in a closed container and the aromatics are not blown off as much. Reds are typically fermented to a much lower SG as longer skin contact is desired. Red juices and fruit wines are typically racked in between those 2 extremes. Keep in mind there is no firm rule -- folks do what they want and there are many counter-examples to what I've said.

If the wine is racked prior to fermentation ending, fermentation continues in the carboy. Although reputable sources may call this "secondary fermentation", it's not -- it's just a continuation of "primary fermentation". Also note that at this point the yeast is eating and not reproducing as much, so fermentation slows down anyway.

There is no stirring in the carboy. Fruit pulp is not present (pressing eliminated all but fine particles) and in a closed container, there's no need to keep anything on the surface from drying out. The emitted CO2 protects the wine from even large head spaces. I leave a large head space at this point, to avoid producing a volcano when the foam overflows the carboy. [Yes, this was learned from hard experience!]

Secondary fermentation is what malolactic fermentation is often called. MLF is not yeast based, it's a bacteria that eats malic acid and emits the milder lactic acid, releasing very fine bubbles of CO2.
Very well explained!! So would your recommendation be to leave the juice in the pail until I achieve a SG reading of .999 or lower?

I have not explored the MLF avenue yet but giving I’m fairly new to this and still learning, I plan on learning about MLF and how it’s performed.

Only reason I suggested moving it to the carboys was due to a reading I found online that suggested once the SG had achieved 1.020 or lower to move it and then let it ferment till it reached .999. Once the SG was reached, potassium sorbate would be introduced stopping any leftover fermentation.
 

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Sit back and take a deep breath. As @winemaker81 mentioned above, you can rack over to a glass carboy and install an airlock anywhere under a SG of 1.020. Most of us rack at a SG of 1.010 or lower. Fermentation is considered completed once the SG is .998 to .994 and no signs of fermentation for 3 to 5 days. In other words, the SG reading does not change anymore and becomes stable.
Potassium Sorbate does not need to be added until you are ready to bottle the wine which should not be until at least 6 to 9 months or longer. The wine is considered to be in bulk storage during this phase where it ages, clears and drops sediment. The only thing that you will need to perform during this time period is to rack off of any settlement and add the recommended amount of Potassium Metabisulfite every 3 months as it ages in bulk storage.
 

Linetec

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Sit back and take a deep breath. As @winemaker81 mentioned above, you can rack over to a glass carboy and install an airlock anywhere under a SG of 1.020. Most of us rack at a SG of 1.010 or lower. Fermentation is considered completed once the SG is .998 to .994 and no signs of fermentation for 3 to 5 days. In other words, the SG reading does not change anymore and becomes stable.
Potassium Sorbate does not need to be added until you are ready to bottle the wine which should not be until at least 6 to 9 months or longer. The wine is considered to be in bulk storage during this phase where it ages, clears and drops sediment. The only thing that you will need to perform during this time period is to rack off of any settlement and add the recommended amount of Potassium Metabisulfite every 3 months as it ages in bulk storage.
That’s what I’ve done in the past and was successful but you start reading posts and threads and start to question of what I’m doing is the right way of going about it. I just want to make sure I’m consistent in my wine making ways…lol…

what would you say is the recommended amount of potassium metabisulfite to add? 1/4 teaspoon per 6 gallons?
 

Rembee

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Yes, 1/4 tsp per 5 to 6 gallons is what most of us add.
I try and rack as least as possible. There may be sometimes after the 3 months are up that there is a mere dusting of sediment on the bottom and I will not rack. Only adding the k meta and replenishing the sanitizer in the airlock and letting it go for another 3 months.
 

winemaker81

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@Linetec, I'll tell you want I do. Juice is racked between 1.000 and 1.010, so I have activity remaining. The wine goes into the carboy with activity remaining, and I leave headspace that I'd not leave if the wine was post-fermentation. I let this wine rest for 5-21 days. At this time fermentation is complete and the gross lees has started to compact.

Why? Much earlier in my career I traveled a lot for work. Doing the above meant I could leave my wine for a week and not worry about it. The CO2 expelled during the last part of fermentation kept the wine safe from O2. Plus once the sediment (gross lees) starts to compact, I'm avoiding loss of wine.

I try and rack as least as possible. There may be sometimes after the 3 months are up that there is a mere dusting of sediment on the bottom and I will not rack. Only adding the k meta and replenishing the sanitizer in the airlock and letting it go for another 3 months.
Excellent advice that I cannot add to.
 

Linetec

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Any recommendations on a citric acid
@Linetec, I'll tell you want I do. Juice is racked between 1.000 and 1.010, so I have activity remaining. The wine goes into the carboy with activity remaining, and I leave headspace that I'd not leave if the wine was post-fermentation. I let this wine rest for 5-21 days. At this time fermentation is complete and the gross lees has started to compact.

Why? Much earlier in my career I traveled a lot for work. Doing the above meant I could leave my wine for a week and not worry about it. The CO2 expelled during the last part of fermentation kept the wine safe from O2. Plus once the sediment (gross lees) starts to compact, I'm avoiding loss of wine.


Excellent advice that I cannot add to.
@Linetec, I'll tell you want I do. Juice is racked between 1.000 and 1.010, so I have activity remaining. The wine goes into the carboy with activity remaining, and I leave headspace that I'd not leave if the wine was post-fermentation. I let this wine rest for 5-21 days. At this time fermentation is complete and the gross lees has started to compact.

Why? Much earlier in my career I traveled a lot for work. Doing the above meant I could leave my wine for a week and not worry about it. The CO2 expelled during the last part of fermentation kept the wine safe from O2. Plus once the sediment (gross lees) starts to compact, I'm avoiding loss of wine.


Excellent advice that I cannot add to.
@winemaker81 agreed excellent advice!! So let me ask you this, do you add 1/4 tsp of KMeta when you transfer to the carboy?
 

Linetec

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@winemaker81 Disregard the citric acid, I found some online…in regards to transferring to a carboy, do you add 1/4tsp of kmeta?
 

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@winemaker81 Disregard the citric acid, I found some online…in regards to transferring to a carboy, do you add 1/4tsp of kmeta?
I also use a bucket for primary fermentation and rack to a carboy anytime below sg 1.010. For this first rack, when fermentation will continue a bit in the carboy, I do NOT add kmeta. Once sg is stable below .995, I rack off the gross lees and at that time, I add kmeta (1/4 tsp per 5-6 gallons).
 

Linetec

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I also use a bucket for primary fermentation and rack to a carboy anytime below sg 1.010. For this first rack, when fermentation will continue a bit in the carboy, I do NOT add kmeta. Once sg is stable below .995, I rack off the gross lees and at that time, I add kmeta (1/4 tsp per 5-6 gallons).
@Jovimaple thank you for the input. I just measured 3 of my pails and I’m sitting at around 1.002. My other pails are still above 1.020 and I think that’s due to the type of yeast I used which was EC-1118. The 3 that are at 1.002 were fermented with RC-212 and kicked off right away.
I will transfer these 3 into the carboys and monitor like @winemaker81 said he does.
 

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Sit back and take a deep breath. As @winemaker81 mentioned above, you can rack over to a glass carboy and install an airlock anywhere under a SG of 1.020. Most of us rack at a SG of 1.010 or lower. Fermentation is considered completed once the SG is .998 to .994 and no signs of fermentation for 3 to 5 days. In other words, the SG reading does not change anymore and becomes stable.
Potassium Sorbate does not need to be added until you are ready to bottle the wine which should not be until at least 6 to 9 months or longer. The wine is considered to be in bulk storage during this phase where it ages, clears and drops sediment. The only thing that you will need to perform during this time period is to rack off of any settlement and add the recommended amount of Potassium Metabisulfite every 3 months as it ages in bulk storage.
If the wine goes through MLF for 10-11 months, do you add potassium sorbate at bottling? Also, what temperature does MLF require. My basement gets down to 58* F in the winter. Is that too low?
 

winemaker81

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in regards to transferring to a carboy, do you add 1/4tsp of kmeta?
Like @Jovimaple, I do not add K-meta until fermentation is done. Cultured yeast is typically SO2 resistant, but there's no good reason to potentially stunt the yeast at the end.

For me, the first racking/pressing happens when the SG is between 1.010 and 0.998 (I prefer having a bit of activity remaining). No K-meta at this time.

Wine goes into carboys with a relatively large headspace, as the wine is emitting CO2 and it's VERY possible to produce your very own volcano. [Learned this the hard way!] Leave room for foam -- not all wines foam much at this point, but some do ...

After 1 to 3 weeks when fermentation is done, I rack off the gross lees. Once fermentation ends the gross lees drops more, and I watch for it to compact. The thickness of the layer increases, then decreases. Use a grease pencil to mark the carboy if you want. During this racking I add the first dose of K-meta, and at every racking after this. In bulk aging, I add K-meta every 3 months.

I just want to make sure I’m consistent in my wine making ways
Consistency is important when using good practices; however, keep learning with the intent to improve your process. My process has improved in just the last 3 years, based upon things I've learned from other members, and research I've done in response to questions.

My other pails are still above 1.020 and I think that’s due to the type of yeast I used which was EC-1118.
EC-1118 will ferment a rock if given a chance, so I expect other factors affect the situation -- fruit, initial SG, how healthy and/or large the yeast culture is, nutrients, temperature, sharp temperature changes, etc.

How long has the wine been fermenting, and at what temperature? If it's been less than a week, I wouldn't worry to much. If you get the to 2 week mark and the temperature is 68F or higher, then I'd move the wine into carboys to let it finish. It might not hurt to add a bit more nutrient and move it to a warmer place, if that is possible. Stir a couple times per day.

I have fermented whites at 58 F, and it took 3+ weeks to complete.

If the wine goes through MLF for 10-11 months, do you add potassium sorbate at bottling? Also, what temperature does MLF require. My basement gets down to 58* F in the winter. Is that too low?
MLF and sorbate do not mix well. If you are going to backsweeten the wine, there is an additive (cannot remember the name) that kills the MLF bacteria -- use that first. I don't have direct experience, so you'll want input from others.

If you are not backsweetening a wine, there is no need to add sorbate. Sorbate + K-meta prevent a renewed fermentation, but if there's nothing for the yeast to eat, it's not a problem.
 

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Like @Jovimaple, I do not add K-meta until fermentation is done. Cultured yeast is typically SO2 resistant, but there's no good reason to potentially stunt the yeast at the end.

For me, the first racking/pressing happens when the SG is between 1.010 and 0.998 (I prefer having a bit of activity remaining). No K-meta at this time.

Wine goes into carboys with a relatively large headspace, as the wine is emitting CO2 and it's VERY possible to produce your very own volcano. [Learned this the hard way!] Leave room for foam -- not all wines foam much at this point, but some do ...

After 1 to 3 weeks when fermentation is done, I rack off the gross lees. Once fermentation ends the gross lees drops more, and I watch for it to compact. The thickness of the layer increases, then decreases. Use a grease pencil to mark the carboy if you want. During this racking I add the first dose of K-meta, and at every racking after this. In bulk aging, I add K-meta every 3 months.


Consistency is important when using good practices; however, keep learning with the intent to improve your process. My process has improved in just the last 3 years, based upon things I've learned from other members, and research I've done in response to questions.


EC-1118 will ferment a rock if given a chance, so I expect other factors affect the situation -- fruit, initial SG, how healthy and/or large the yeast culture is, nutrients, temperature, sharp temperature changes, etc.

How long has the wine been fermenting, and at what temperature? If it's been less than a week, I wouldn't worry to much. If you get the to 2 week mark and the temperature is 68F or higher, then I'd move the wine into carboys to let it finish. It might not hurt to add a bit more nutrient and move it to a warmer place, if that is possible. Stir a couple times per day.

I have fermented whites at 58 F, and it took 3+ weeks to complete.


MLF and sorbate do not mix well. If you are going to backsweeten the wine, there is an additive (cannot remember the name) that kills the MLF bacteria -- use that first. I don't have direct experience, so you'll want input from others.

If you are not backsweetening a wine, there is no need to add sorbate. Sorbate + K-meta prevent a renewed fermentation, but if there's nothing for the yeast to eat, it's not a problem.
[/QUOTE
 

wineview

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Like @Jovimaple, I do not add K-meta until fermentation is done. Cultured yeast is typically SO2 resistant, but there's no good reason to potentially stunt the yeast at the end.

For me, the first racking/pressing happens when the SG is between 1.010 and 0.998 (I prefer having a bit of activity remaining). No K-meta at this time.

Wine goes into carboys with a relatively large headspace, as the wine is emitting CO2 and it's VERY possible to produce your very own volcano. [Learned this the hard way!] Leave room for foam -- not all wines foam much at this point, but some do ...

After 1 to 3 weeks when fermentation is done, I rack off the gross lees. Once fermentation ends the gross lees drops more, and I watch for it to compact. The thickness of the layer increases, then decreases. Use a grease pencil to mark the carboy if you want. During this racking I add the first dose of K-meta, and at every racking after this. In bulk aging, I add K-meta every 3 months.


Consistency is important when using good practices; however, keep learning with the intent to improve your process. My process has improved in just the last 3 years, based upon things I've learned from other members, and research I've done in response to questions.


EC-1118 will ferment a rock if given a chance, so I expect other factors affect the situation -- fruit, initial SG, how healthy and/or large the yeast culture is, nutrients, temperature, sharp temperature changes, etc.

How long has the wine been fermenting, and at what temperature? If it's been less than a week, I wouldn't worry to much. If you get the to 2 week mark and the temperature is 68F or higher, then I'd move the wine into carboys to let it finish. It might not hurt to add a bit more nutrient and move it to a warmer place, if that is possible. Stir a couple times per day.

I have fermented whites at 58 F, and it took 3+ weeks to complete.


MLF and sorbate do not mix well. If you are going to backsweeten the wine, there is an additive (cannot remember the name) that kills the MLF bacteria -- use that first. I don't have direct experience, so you'll want input from others.

If you are not backsweetening a wine, there is no need to add sorbate. Sorbate + K-meta prevent a renewed fermentation, but if there's nothing for the yeast to eat, it's not a problem.
Are you saying no K-meta after MLF at bottling too?
 

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Nope. I add K-meta at each racking, including just before bottling.
Thanks. I'm new to MLF and thought I read not to add anything after Malolactic Fermentation. I see now to stay away from Potassium Sorbate and K-meta is ok.
 

cmason1957

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Thanks. I'm new to MLF and thought I read not to add anything after Malolactic Fermentation. I see now to stay away from Potassium Sorbate and K-meta is ok.
You may have mixed up what you read (I know I do that all the time).

It should be you add no (or little) K-Meta prior to Malolactic Fermentation completing. After MLF completion normal additions of K-Meta should be done.
 

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