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faxdoctor

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Hi all you wine lovers and new wine makers.
I'm a relatively new wine maker and just now getting back into the mix after a few years off.
I have a couple of batches in the primary fermenters. About 7 days on ferment.
Initially, it perked and the I got quite the gurgle from my airlock.
Now, not so much and I still have a week or so before I switch to my carboy.
Is it still fermenting? I read somewhere that if it seems fermentation is stuck to add some champagne yeast.
Help please. Thanks in advance for any advice.
 

Scooter68

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Sounds like you are using a bucket of some sort? If so they just don't seal well at all. The lids on most of those buckets might seal well when intially installed at a factory but afterwards, even the new buckets you buy for fermentation - they really don't do the job. Many of us have gone through the same experience. Try wetting down that sealing ring before you snap the lid back on and I suspect that the bubbling airlock will return, for a day or two until the water dries up.

I don't bother with bucket lids and just use a piece of muslin cloth (Or a towel) tied down on the bucket. Oxygen is not a problem now because the fermentation produces plenty of CO2 to keep out the oxygen.

If you have ever left a 5 gallon bucket of paint partially used but the lid cleaned and snapped back on well - come back in a year and there will be a hard film of dried paint on the surface. Doesn't matter how well you clean that rim, wet the seal etc it's going to leak air.
 

faxdoctor

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Thank you for your reply. I am wondering, though, have I ruined the batch? Can I revive the fermentation process by adding more yeast and sealing the lid as you recommended?
 

Scooter68

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I doubt it. Should be good. As I suggested - wet that seal put it on and I'll bet a bottle of wine that it will bubble away for a while. It's still fermenting but just not crazy wild fermenting. Another thing might be the temp. This time of year lots of folk will see fermentation time stretch out to even a couple of weeks or more. A lot of factors to consider but I doubt that it's stopped unless you had something off when you started it. Event then that can fixed. Have you checked the pH on it? And active ferment will drop the pH significantly so you can't tell much UNLESS that pH is high as in 3.6 or higher. That would suggest that the ferment might have stopped.
 

sour_grapes

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I agree with @Scooter68 that bubbles (or lack thereof) are not a reliable indicator of fermentation.

To determine where you are in the fermentation, you should measure the specific gravity with a hydrometer. You should go by that, not by time, to determine when to rack to your carboys. I rack when my SG is 1.005 or so, but anywhere between, say, 1.000 and 1.015 would be fine.
 

Scooter68

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Along with Sour Grapes guidance I also observe how much foam activity I see when I stir the wine as it approaches 1.000 Even if that foam dissappates quickly that same action when you rack into a carboy could make a mess. So I check both SG and Foam activity. Sometimes you can rack and a little foaming activity will last for a few minutes then die down but you need to be ready just in case.
 

faxdoctor

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Hey, thanks for your advice. It's great to have a forum like this for advice and consent. I am going to measure the SG tomorrow and see if it's closer to placing in carboy than what the directions read. Also going to seal that lid if it's not ready to move just yet.
 

faxdoctor

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I took some of ya'll's advice and measured the SG. When I first measured it during the primary fermentation, they read 1.088 and 1.1, respectively. After 10 days/9 days, both read .994. These are from kits BTW and the directions read to measure on day 14 before stabilizing/degassing. Since both were reading a SG lower than .996 (per instructions), I transferred wine to carboys and degassed also adding the sulfite/sorbate and kieselsol. My instructions read to place airlock, wait 24 hours and proceed to the clearing phase.

Thoughts?
 

Scooter68

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Just one thought - Take those timelines from the kit and ignore them. Go by the actual state of the wine. As you found .994 could be easily considered finished BUT, the real test is to check it for 3 days in a row. If no change and still read .994 - Rack with K-meta and start aging it. I know that many kit instructions will tell you that you can bottle and drink it ins 6 Weeks !!! Yeah, it should be wine and it will be "Drinkable" But if you give it 6 months you are going to see a real difference and in 12 months - THAT's when you start thinking about bottling and drinking it. Depending on the wine variety it might even get much better after 18-24 months. Kit instructions are a place to start but that's it. Time lines they provide are really pointless. You could end up racking an wine that is still fermenting and get a foam fountain overnight - BIG MESS and wasted of wine. OR you might get it right.

Following the SG is the best way to know when it's ready to rack. From the sound of things you are now on the right track.

Here is where opinions will vary. ME, I don't add sorbate until about a week before I bottle so that the sorbate doesn't age out and ruin my wine. (Not real common but it can and does happen from time-to-time.
So folks like to add it right away - i just don't see the point in adding something I don't need until I need it. Also if you aren't going to back-sweeten the wine, then you don't need sorbate, just the K_meta and fining agents. Even the fining agents might not be needed if you age the wine 6 months or more. Why add chemicals you might not even need, until you need them.
 

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