Sulfites at bottling

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Rakhal

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I would like advice on how to add sulfites just before bottling. I would like to add only the minimal amount to keep it stable for traveling and perhaps aging a few years. I have two 6 gallon carboys of Pinot Noir red wine and two 6 gallon carboys of Pinot Noir rosé. I haven’t added any sulfur through the winemaking process so far and it’s almost ready to bottle. I’m thinking maybe 30 or 40ppm would be enough? Do I just add powder to the carboys or do I dissolve it in water first? About how much should I add? Any advice is much appreciated! Thanks!
 
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1/4 tsp of potassium sulfites added to a 6 gallon carboy is about 50 ppm. I almost always add my sulfites by putting it in an empty carboy, then racking over it. If I didn't want to rack, I would dissolve it in a small amount of wine and then pour it in, followed by a gentle stir.
 

BarrelMonkey

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I would like advice on how to add sulfites just before bottling. I would like to add only the minimal amount to keep it stable for traveling and perhaps aging a few years. I have two 6 gallon carboys of Pinot Noir red wine and two 6 gallon carboys of Pinot Noir rosé. I haven’t added any sulfur through the winemaking process so far and it’s almost ready to bottle. I’m thinking maybe 30 or 40ppm would be enough? Do I just add powder to the carboys or do I dissolve it in water first? About how much should I add? Any advice is much appreciated! Thanks!
30-40ppm sounds about right for pinot noir but it really depends on the pH of your wine among other factors. For a given pH you generally need to add more to whites/roses than reds, but reds typically have higher pH, which increases the need for SO2. Here is one example of different needs for different wines at different pH.

You should dissolve it in water and mix in thoroughly. I normally add during my final racking prior to bottling.
 
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I start the siphon then add the K-meta to the receiving container, and give it a stir half way through and at the end.

Keep in mind that K-meta protects the wine by the free SO2 binding to contaminants, rendering then harmless. Trying to fine tune free SO2 at this point is unlikely to work the way you expect. Since you've added no k-meta up until now, contaminants (O2, etc) are unbound and will consume the free SO2.

Why no k-meta to this point?
 

Rakhal

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30-40ppm sounds about right for pinot noir but it really depends on the pH of your wine among other factors. For a given pH you generally need to add more to whites/roses than reds, but reds typically have higher pH, which increases the need for SO2. Here is one example of different needs for different wines at different pH.

You should dissolve it in water and mix in thoroughly. I normally add during my final racking prior to bottling.
Thanks for the reply! That chart is very helpful!!
 

Rakhal

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I start the siphon then add the K-meta to the receiving container, and give it a stir half way through and at the end.

Keep in mind that K-meta protects the wine by the free SO2 binding to contaminants, rendering then harmless. Trying to fine tune free SO2 at this point is unlikely to work the way you expect. Since you've added no k-meta up until now, contaminants (O2, etc) are unbound and will consume the free SO2.

Why no k-meta to this point?
Thanks for the reply! The reason I normally don’t use sulfites is because I’ve always been very happy with my results without using them so I don’t see the point. Also I’m very interested in tasting what a certain vineyard tastes like and to me that means relying solely on the native yeasts present on those grapes. Killing the native yeasts and inoculating the grapes with a laboratory strain makes the resulting wine less interesting to me. Adding sulfites just before bottling makes sense in that I’m preserving what I’ve already made. I’ll probably add sulfites to half of my wine at bottling and leave the other half alone. That way I can try them side by side as they age and see how they differ.
 
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@Rakhal, not using K-meta prior to fermentation makes sense. The likelihood of getting a natural ferment is far better without it.

However, adding K-meta post-fermentation will eliminate or reduce potential problems. My experience with no-sulfite wines is they have a significantly shorter shelf life, so I add K-meta. While a fair portion of my production is drank within 2 years, enough lasts for 5+ years that it's worth it to me add add it.

Your plan to add K-meta to half the batch is an excellent idea, as you'll see if it makes a difference after 1 to 2 years in the bottle.
 

BarrelMonkey

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@winemaker81 makes a good point about your not having done any SO2 management so far. Do you have a way of testing SO2? If so I would suggest adding an initial amount (say 30ppm) and retesting after a week. That way you can make an informed readjustment prior to bottling. But I do like the 'case and control' approach where you make 2 batches with and without SO2 and evaluate the difference after various periods of time.
 

Nebbiolo020

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I target 50-60ppm for my sulfites at bottling sometimes If I know a wine will last I add as much as 75-100ppm to protect it long term.
 
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@Rakhal Since you do not usually add sulfites, I also like the idea of trying with and without sulfites side by side. I think that I am careful and conservative with kmeta additions, but I am also starting to notice in some of my wines the burnt match smell of kmeta in newly bottled wine. Maybe I am sensitive.

In order to not use kmeta at the beginning of the ferment and allow a natural yeast ferment, a lot of wineries are adding sacrifical tannins at the start. Oak sawdust is one. There are commercial tannin products also
 

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