Sanitizing with K Meta for the first time

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Vinoors

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I’ve been making wine for decades with my 90+yr old grandfather. I’m trying to bridge the “old” world with the “new” without straying too far from tradition. One area of interest is Potassium Metabisulphite (or K Meta, as I’ve learned recently). This past weekend, I racked appx 45 gallons from primary to secondary, demijohn after demijohn. It’s a Zin which we started around 10/1/2016 from grapes, not a kit or juice. For the first time, I used K Meta as a sanitizer for the move from primary to secondary. I weighed out 9 oz, mixed it vigorously with a gallon of water and then added another 2 gallons. I’ve read online that it is very common to add ¼ teaspoon to appx 6 gallons of wine every 2 to 3 months to prevent oxidation. This time last year I was using StarSan to sanitize the secondary. My question is the following- given that this is my first time (ever) using K Meta as a sanitizer, and K Meta itself is a preservative, do you think the residue on the glass (I did not rinse) from the K Meta, is enough to alter the flavor profile (i.e. reduce oxidation) since K Meta is a Sanitizer & Preservative as opposed to StarSan which is just a sanitizer? Based on the way we do things, I think our wine typically displays characteristics of an oxidized wine, I'm just wondering if it will be different this year having used K Meta as a sanitizer.
 

salcoco

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the best solution for sanitizer is 3 grams K-Meta and 11 grams citric acid in on gallon of water. Place in a spray bottle. spray any utensil that comes in contact with wine do not rinse. also splash about a quarter cup into a carboy and slosh around all sides and then dump. also use this solution in air lock.

For wine addition to prevent bacterial contamination and oxidization, 1/4 teaspoon per 5 gallon is good choice. use every time you rack but no longer than three month interval.
 

Stressbaby

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It will vary based on how much wine you are making, but even with very small batches, the amount of kmeta residue left after sanitizing doesn't come close to the amount you would add every 3 months as part of a maintenance regimen to prevent contamination and oxidation.

Back of the napkin calculations:
The dose I see for sanitizer is generally 3T/gallon. Let's just say 2ml of the solution gets left on the racking cane as residue. That means you are adding ~0.005tsp of Kmeta. The dose of Kmeta for a 6 gallon batch when used for contamination and oxidation prevention is 50 times higher.
 

Vinoors

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It will vary based on how much wine you are making, but even with very small batches, the amount of kmeta residue left after sanitizing doesn't come close to the amount you would add every 3 months as part of a maintenance regimen to prevent contamination and oxidation.

Back of the napkin calculations:
The dose I see for sanitizer is generally 3T/gallon. Let's just say 2ml of the solution gets left on the racking cane as residue. That means you are adding ~0.005tsp of Kmeta. The dose of Kmeta for a 6 gallon batch when used for contamination and oxidation prevention is 50 times higher.
I see your logic. Similarly, let me know if this math makes sense to you. As you say, let’s assume that the 3oz of k meta per gallon is equivalent to 3 tablespoons of k meta per gallon for my sanitizing solution. Assuming google is giving me the correct conversions- then there are appx. 36 scoops of “1/4 teaspoons” of k meta in my sanitizer. So if I wanted to leave behind one of them, I’d leave behind 1/36 of a gallon, or 0.44 cups of sanitizer per 6 gallons.
 

Vinoors

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Your math may fine (Merlot is clouding the math part of my brain) , but you are over complicating things. 1/4 tsp per 6 gallons is really easy to measure out. Plus you didn't add any extra water. I just pour it into the bottom of my carboy and rack onto it to mix.
I hear you. I'm still on the fence as to whether or not I want to start adding k meta as a preservative, so I'm just trying to approximate how much may be in there after using k meta as a sanitizer. Additionally- we layer a gazillion layers of Saran Wrap over the solid bung after racking, so part of me just doesn't want to undo all of the plastic wrap and re-do it. I know, I know- plastic wrap? Just sticking to how it's been done in the past.
 

Johnd

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I hear you. I'm still on the fence as to whether or not I want to start adding k meta as a preservative, so I'm just trying to approximate how much may be in there after using k meta as a sanitizer. Additionally- we layer a gazillion layers of Saran Wrap over the solid bung after racking, so part of me just doesn't want to undo all of the plastic wrap and re-do it. I know, I know- plastic wrap? Just sticking to how it's been done in the past.
Two big things are the demise of wine, oxidation and bacterial infections, good winemaking practices are your first line of defense against these two occurrences, sulfite is your insurance. Almost all commercial wines contain sulfite.

Sulfite isn't normally detectable in wine until the levels are a lot higher than what is required for a wine with proper pH. If you are concerned about the possibility of tasting sulfite, get a test kit and use the minimum of sulfite to protect your wine based upon its pH, no more, no less, or spin the wheel....
 

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I agree with cmason, easier to just add the kmeta straight away. Sometimes I'll put 1/4tsp in 30ml of water and use 5ml/gallon.

One thing to consider thought is MLF. If you are going to MLF, wait to add the kmeta until that is done.
 
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cmason1957

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If you add kmeta, you can fork that saran wrap stuff all together. I'm not sure what you think that might be doing for you. Kmeta and bung with airlock. And forget about it. You won't be adding enough sulfites to matter and every commercial wine you every bought has more.
 

Vinoors

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At this point, since I've already racked to my secondary. If I want to add 1/4 tsp per 6 gallons, what is the process for adding it? Just drop the powder in and stire? Dissolve in filtered water? Dissolve in warm filtered water? The few times I've used K Meta as a sanitizer, I had a hard time mixing it in cold water.

Secondly, what's the standard size stopper for a 54L demijohn?
 

cmason1957

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I would probably dissolve the 1/2+ tsp (1/4 * 2 + a bit more for 54L) in a bit of warm water, maybe 50 mL or so. I might also just add it and stir, I don't know if it makes much difference.

I did a quick google search and I think your 54L demijohn needs a #11 stopper. I don't have one, so YMMV.
 

Johnd

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At this point, since I've already racked to my secondary. If I want to add 1/4 tsp per 6 gallons, what is the process for adding it? Just drop the powder in and stire? Dissolve in filtered water? Dissolve in warm filtered water? The few times I've used K Meta as a sanitizer, I had a hard time mixing it in cold water.
Since you've already racked, it's pretty easy to just thief out about a half a cup of wine, put the sulfite in and stir it until it is dissolved, should mix in pretty readily. Pour back into your carboy.
 

Vinoors

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So I decided to take the plunge and add the recommended amount of k meta to 2 of the 3 demijohns and a 6.5 carboy. The 1st demijohn I took some out with the auto siphon (just the part that I believe works like a wine thief) mixed it with k meta then put it back. For the other demijohn and carboy, I got lazy and didnt want to deal with spilled wine so I just dropped in the k meta and stirred. See the attached picture- the thing blew up on me when I did this- not sure if that is normal- it was building, foamed up, then subsided. See attached picture- that was during the bubbling up phase. Is that normal?

2BC5FFF0-60A1-488B-A5FC-D81C8B3F1A37.jpg
 

Johnd

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So I decided to take the plunge and add the recommended amount of k meta to 2 of the 3 demijohns and a 6.5 carboy. The 1st demijohn I took some out with the auto siphon (just the part that I believe works like a wine thief) mixed it with k meta then put it back. For the other demijohn and carboy, I got lazy and didnt want to deal with spilled wine so I just dropped in the k meta and stirred. See the attached picture- the thing blew up on me when I did this- not sure if that is normal- it was building, foamed up, then subsided. See attached picture- that was during the bubbling up phase. Is that normal?
Yep, when a wine has co2 still in it, any granulated or powdered additive you put in there provides nucleation sites for the co2 to come out of solution. I always dissolve in wine and add the liquid back.
 

Vinoors

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So 3 months to the day- I racked my wine again, tonight. I tasted it before racking and thought about adding the customary 1/4tsp per 6 gallons, but decided against it. I was not happy with the taste of the wine- it tasted like sulfur then gasoline. I admit, normally our wine is pretty high octane, but the initial smell and taste of sulfur was disappointing which I attribute to having used k meta. Even though I only used 1/2 tsp meta per demijohn (15 gal), I feel like my wine turned out completely different than it normally does at this point because of the addition of k meta. Oddly, I'm not sure if this is normal when using k meta, but the residue in the demijohn consisted of thin crusty chips of sediment. I've never seen this in the many many years of never using k meta. Normally when racking, the sediment in the bottom has always been a soft muddy texture. Does this signify anything? Is it typical when using k meta? Pictures of sediment attached.

IMG_0919.jpg

IMG_0921.jpg
 

Boatboy24

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That is 'wine diamonds' - tartaric acid dropping out of the wine.
 

cmason1957

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What was the temperature in the room where you were aging this. I don't think it had anything to do with you adding sulfites.

How much sulfites have you added so far, in total? I wonder if that smell you got was due to stressed yeast during fermentation?
 

sour_grapes

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I was not happy with the taste of the wine- it tasted like sulfur then gasoline. I admit, normally our wine is pretty high octane, but the initial smell and taste of sulfur was disappointing which I attribute to having used k meta.
When you say it smelled like sulfur -- do you mean like a rotten egg? Or do you mean like a burning match?

The former is likely H2S from stressed yeast. K-meta could smell like the latter.
 

Vinoors

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I'm not certain about the temperature- it's in a basement, and we definitely had some cold nights in New England this winter. The sulfur smell was more of a rotten egg smell as opposed to a burnt match. I'll admit- I didn't know there was such a thing as 'stressed yeast'. Regarding yeast, we have always let the must ferment without the addition of any yeast.

Regarding 'wine diamonds' - I came across a couple articles online that talked about this really only being preferable in white wines. I even saw something that removing tartaric acid from red wine causes it to "lose something". I feel like that's exactly the case- it just tasted like a flat wine without any complexity or nice mouthy feeling, if that makes any sense. The mouth feeling felt more like water than wine.

I'm guessing that in previous years, we've never lost tartaric acid in the wine because we never added potassium metabisulfite to the wine, so there was never any potassium to interact with the tartaric acid and cause it to drop out of the wine.
 
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