Racking off fine lees too soon

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MrFrench

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Greetings all, I have a question about whether I’ve racked off the fine lees too early and how to correct it.

I’ve recently made a plum wine, the SG was 1.070 and had fermented to 0.998 in about 3 days, at which point it was racked off the gross lees.

A few days after that it was down to 0.990, a layer of lees on the carboy appeared to be 1/2” thick so I racked again only to find that the layer was climbing the side of the carboy and appearing thicker than it was.

Today, after about 2 weeks bulk ageing after this second racking I tasted the wine. Of course it is early days but the overall impression is that it will end up lacking in some character.

Does it matter that there is no real ageing on the lees? If I wanted to encourage some, could I just add some prune or grape concentrate to stimulate yeast growth again and leave it on the dormant cells a few months?

Thanks in advance for comments or suggestions :)
 
3 week old wine rarely tastes like wine, so don't worry. I agree with the previous posters -- you're fine for now. Give it 3 months, then taste test.

A bit of correction -- gross lees supposedly drop 24-72 hours after the end of fermentation, and you first racked while the wine was still fermenting, and your second racking was about the time it completed. If you racked 3 days after the wine hit 0.990, THEN you'd have got all the gross lees. At this point you got most of it.

Winemaking is a procrastinator's dream. Don't be in a hurry to rack. Next time, when the wine is done fermenting, wait 3 days, then rack.

A lot of wines are aged on the fine lees. A lot more are not. It's a stylistic thing, so don't worry.

What is your recipe, e.g., how many kilos of plums per gallon (US or Imperial) or liter?
 
3 week old wine rarely tastes like wine, so don't worry. I agree with the previous posters -- you're fine for now. Give it 3 months, then taste test.

A bit of correction -- gross lees supposedly drop 24-72 hours after the end of fermentation, and you first racked while the wine was still fermenting, and your second racking was about the time it completed. If you racked 3 days after the wine hit 0.990, THEN you'd have got all the gross lees. At this point you got most of it.

Winemaking is a procrastinator's dream. Don't be in a hurry to rack. Next time, when the wine is done fermenting, wait 3 days, then rack.

A lot of wines are aged on the fine lees. A lot more are not. It's a stylistic thing, so don't worry.

What is your recipe, e.g., how many kilos of plums per gallon (US or Imperial) or liter?

Thanks for the replies, I’ll leave it for a couple more months and sit on my hands.

As for recipe;

2.1kg plums (weight after removing stones)
4L water
1.2kg brewing sugar
1 Campden tablet
1/4 tsp wine tannin
1 tsp acid blend
1 tsp Yeast nutrient

after 12hrs; 1tsp pectin enzyme
After a further 24hrs pitch yeast

Couldn’t tell you what the yeast strain is, it was labelled ‘strong wine yeast’ in fairly nondescript packaging
 
2.1kg plums (weight after removing stones)
I haven't made plum wine, but from what I've read, that may be a bit low for this fruit; you might want to start with 2.8 to 3 kg. Someone who's made plum wine might weigh in on the subject.

Yes, you can restart the fermentation if you desire, but I'd go a different route. You'll want to backsweeten at least a bit, as fruit wines really benefit from a bit of sugar (or a lot of sugar, depending on your taste).

Wait 3 months and taste. At that time stabilize with potassium sorbate + K-meta, and backsweeten with prune juice. That will give you more flavor and body.

Next time I suggest starting with more fruit, and use sugar to bump the SG to 1.080-1.090. Wine preserves better if the ABV is > 10%, and backsweetening with juice will dilute that a bit, so starting with a higher ABV keeps it above 10%.

All that said, it sounds like you are in good shape.

This is kind of a personal question, but if you sit on your hands, how are you going to hold a wine glass? ;)
 
I haven't made plum wine, but from what I've read, that may be a bit low for this fruit; you might want to start with 2.8 to 3 kg. Someone who's made plum wine might weigh in on the subject.

Yes, you can restart the fermentation if you desire, but I'd go a different route. You'll want to backsweeten at least a bit, as fruit wines really benefit from a bit of sugar (or a lot of sugar, depending on your taste).

Wait 3 months and taste. At that time stabilize with potassium sorbate + K-meta, and backsweeten with prune juice. That will give you more flavor and body.

Next time I suggest starting with more fruit, and use sugar to bump the SG to 1.080-1.090. Wine preserves better if the ABV is > 10%, and backsweetening with juice will dilute that a bit, so starting with a higher ABV keeps it above 10%.

All that said, it sounds like you are in good shape.

This is kind of a personal question, but if you sit on your hands, how are you going to hold a wine glass? ;)
yes you have 4.5 lbs of plum next time use 5.5 lb
 
I haven't made plum wine, but from what I've read, that may be a bit low for this fruit; you might want to start with 2.8 to 3 kg. Someone who's made plum wine might weigh in on the subject.

Yes, you can restart the fermentation if you desire, but I'd go a different route. You'll want to backsweeten at least a bit, as fruit wines really benefit from a bit of sugar (or a lot of sugar, depending on your taste).

Wait 3 months and taste. At that time stabilize with potassium sorbate + K-meta, and backsweeten with prune juice. That will give you more flavor and body.

Next time I suggest starting with more fruit, and use sugar to bump the SG to 1.080-1.090. Wine preserves better if the ABV is > 10%, and backsweetening with juice will dilute that a bit, so starting with a higher ABV keeps it above 10%.

All that said, it sounds like you are in good shape.

This is kind of a personal question, but if you sit on your hands, how are you going to hold a wine glass? ;)
Okay great, thank-you again for the advice, and to @Hazelemere also.

I’ll pick up some plums today and wait for them to ripen to try another batch. On the existing one in the meantime, patience. And maybe a campden tablet seeing as I opened the airlock yesterday?

I can already tell this hobby is going to require subtle execution and discreet storage not to upset my better half..!
Oh and rapid cleaning up after making mess. Any other survival tips greatly appreciated 😂
 
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On the existing one in the meantime, patience. And maybe a campden tablet seeing as I opened the airlock yesterday?
K-meta is a good idea at racking. Just opening the airlock, unless you're doing it frequently, doesn't cause problems.

If you migrate to larger batches (19-23 liters), buy powdered K-meta, as it's typically cheaper than Campden and doesn't require crushing.

I can already tell this hobby is going to require subtle execution and discreet storage not to upset my better half..!
Oh and rapid cleaning up after making mess. Any other survival tips greatly appreciated
Make something your better half likes, and keep making it! ;)
 
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