So 9 days in...

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ericsmithcpa

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Newb questions follow. Feel free to poke fun. :)

BATCH INFO:
Working on my first 6 gallon batch... (Eclipse Sonoma Pinot Noir). It's currently 9 days into primary fermentation. I've so far followed the instructions exactly. Starting SG was 1.092, temperature has been consistently in the 70 to 73 degree range (right at the low-end of the 68-78 degree recommended range in the kit instructions). It's bubbling about once every 20 seconds, which is a lot slower than it has been.

QUESTION 1a, and 1b: If anyone has any thoughts about the acceptability of a bubble every 20 seconds, or if I should do anything to liven up the fermentation (like raise the temperature? or add more yeast?), please let me know. I checked SG, and it is currently 1.0, and I'm definitely tasting some sugars. I'm hoping that the remaining 5 days will get it totally dry and it won't get stuck (what's the lowest ending SG I should expect? the "give up" point? haha).

QUESTION 2: The next question I have is because I tasted it and (though I have not tasted a wine during fermentation before) it was disappointingly dull. There are no objectionable flavors that I would immediately dislike, but it just tasted like grape juice, with some alcohol mixed in, perhaps a bit more acidic than just regular grape juice, presumably because of the CO2 from fermentation, but otherwise, nothing in the tasting that says "this is supposed to be wine". There's no detectible hint of the sawdust I mixed in, no real complexity of flavor. Is this to be expected at this stage? And if not, is there anything to do to fix it? Maybe I just need to blend it with some commercial Syrah haha. Any thoughts are appreciated. :)

Cheers,
Eric
 

Chuck E

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Sounds like everything is fine. You can take some latitude on the kit timing... 5 days or 6 or 7, let the SG guide you. If you get below 1.000 you are essentially right where you want to be. I had a batch take 4 weeks to go from 1.000 to .996

Yeah, it doesn't always taste great at the end of fermentation. There is a lot of polymerization yet to occur. Best to let Time take its course.
Easier said than done :)


Newb questions follow. Feel free to poke fun. :)

BATCH INFO:
Working on my first 6 gallon batch... (Eclipse Sonoma Pinot Noir). It's currently 9 days into primary fermentation. I've so far followed the instructions exactly. Starting SG was 1.092, temperature has been consistently in the 70 to 73 degree range (right at the low-end of the 68-78 degree recommended range in the kit instructions). It's bubbling about once every 20 seconds, which is a lot slower than it has been.

QUESTION 1a, and 1b: If anyone has any thoughts about the acceptability of a bubble every 20 seconds, or if I should do anything to liven up the fermentation (like raise the temperature? or add more yeast?), please let me know. I checked SG, and it is currently 1.0, and I'm definitely tasting some sugars. I'm hoping that the remaining 5 days will get it totally dry and it won't get stuck (what's the lowest ending SG I should expect? the "give up" point? haha).

QUESTION 2: The next question I have is because I tasted it and (though I have not tasted a wine during fermentation before) it was disappointingly dull. There are no objectionable flavors that I would immediately dislike, but it just tasted like grape juice, with some alcohol mixed in, perhaps a bit more acidic than just regular grape juice, presumably because of the CO2 from fermentation, but otherwise, nothing in the tasting that says "this is supposed to be wine". There's no detectable hint of the sawdust I mixed in, no real complexity of flavor. Is this to be expected at this stage? And if not, is there anything to do to fix it? Maybe I just need to blend it with some commercial Syrah haha. Any thoughts are appreciated. :)

Cheers,
Eric
 

DCTWinemaker

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I would forget the airlock and put a towel over the bucket tied with string to keep out fruit flies, etc. The exchange of oxygen through the cloth keeps the yeast going and the fermentation active. There are plenty of folks on this forum who will tell you the same thing. You can also just lightly place the primary fermentation bucket cover loosely on top. I’ve had excellent results with both. As for tasting, you are typically going to experience a high alcohol, not too great tasting wine. I just racked a CabS off the primary into a carboy and it had that “hot”, high alcohol taste. Aging with oak chips and balancing acid levels and pH as time goes on will hopefully turn it into an enjoyable wine. Even though I’m a newbie as well, I’ve already leaned patience is golden!
 

Chuck E

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One other question; have you been stirring it once a day? The agitation can keep the yeast working.

Sounds like everything is fine. You can take some latitude on the kit timing... 5 days or 6 or 7, let the SG guide you. If you get below 1.000 you are essentially right where you want to be. I had a batch take 4 weeks to go from 1.000 to .996

Yeah, it doesn't always taste great at the end of fermentation. There is a lot of polymerization yet to occur. Best to let Time take its course.
Easier said than done :)
 

ericsmithcpa

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Brilliant! I didn't realize that opening the airlock very often would be good for it, much less stirring. I'll try the stirring today and see what happens and then maybe try a towel over the top. Thanks gents!
 

DoctorCAD

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Bubbles (or lack of) in an airlock mean absolutely nothing.

The only true measure of fermentation activity is dropping SG.
 

tradowsk

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If your SG is already 1.000 you really should NOT exchange the airlock for a towel. During the start of fermentation when the yeast are multiplying like crazy, they need oxygen. But as they start making alcohol, you do not want to add air to the must anymore. Especially with an open fermenter, you would be asking to make vinegar (alcohol + oxygen + acetobacters = vinegar). I usually use an open fermenter with a towel until SG 1.020, after which I rack to secondary and put it under airlock.

My recommendation would be to gently stir the must to try to distribute the yeast and remaining sugar. You won't get any vigorous fermentation at this point and any airlock activity would most likely be off-gassing.

As for the taste, for reds especially, don't expect much initially. There's so much going on in that bucket that the good aromas and flavors are still developing and maturing. Let is rest for a while to degas and calm down, and then have another taste. You'd be amazed what a month can do for wine
 

Johnd

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Although there is still some fermentation in progress, and there’s CO2 in your wine, at 1.00 and lower, you should be looking to get your wine into an environment where you can control / limit exposure to oxygen. For me, that would be a carboy with an airlock, and I’d leave it there til fermentation was complete, evidenced by SG < .998 and unchanged for three straight days.
 

ibglowin

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Remember your making wine, not beer. There is a reason it usually takes 2 years for a decent wine to reach the store shelves.
 

ericsmithcpa

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It fermented down slowly to 0.994 with just stirring daily, then SG stopped changing and I figured it was done. Now it’s in another carboy bulk aging. I was hoping it would get down to 0.992, but no such luck. I have not added sorbate either, so maybe there’s a couple live yeast left that can get it down to 0.992, lol. Not planning to bottle until at at least November.
 

wood1954

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Ive learned its better to leave it in a carboy rather than bottle early. One you wont be tempted to drink it before its ready, 2 it will continue to clear for a lot longer than 2 or 3 months, 3 if it needs minor tweaking you can do some while its still in the carboy. 4 kit taste tends to go away the longer its in a carboy.
 

tradowsk

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If you're not going to backsweeten, then you probably don't need the sorbate. It has a limited life in the wine and can add weird geranium-esque characters if it starts breaking down. It's up to you but I would say most people on this forum don't sorbate fully dry wines. I only use it on sweet fruit wines that will be gone in a year or so.
 

Scooter68

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The difference between .990 and .994 isn't enough to worry about. It's done. Age at least 9-12 months and bottle it.

I would not use sorbate on anything that dry unless I had added sugar after fermentation stopped and raised to that point.
 
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