Finer Wine Kit Sulfites

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BigDaveK

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The "1/4 tsp K-meta for 19-23 liters of wine" has been the rule as long as I've been making wine. My take is that this rule-of-thumb was developed through decades of winemaking. I've yet to find an authoritative source for it -- but it's very wide spread.
Going off on a very brief historical tangent...
Sulfites have been used for centuries to preserve wine. Originally they would burn sulfur (brimstone) inside the casks. Sounds crazy and I don't know who started it, but it worked and caught on. Campden tablets were originally designed for fruit preservation around WW2 because sugar was in short supply. Then it slowly migrated to cider and wine making. Though I find no mention of Campden tablets, sodium or potassium metabisulfite in any of my old recipe books prior to 1970ish. So I guess our use started relatively recently, 50ish years ago.

The "correct" dose is different for red and white wine and depends on pH. That's a tangent for another time...:D
 
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@BigDaveK, I searched again and didn't find anything new on historical use of sulfites, other than Romans burning sulfur candles in barrels. So I searched on "Campden tablets" (Wikipedia has some info) and found this article:


The use of Campden tablets in winemaking appears to have started after WWII, so Campden usage it appears to be ~75 years old.

I went to my bookshelf -- in HE Bravery's Successful Winemaking At Home, published in 1961, Bravery describes making K-meta water and mentions Campden tablets.

In Easy To Make Wine (published 1963) by Mrs. Gennery-Taylor, there is no mention of sulfite. [The first version of this book was titled in England as Easymade Wine and Country Drinks in 1957.] My guess is sulfite was not universal (which is still true).

In Philip M Wagner's Grapes Into Wine, first published in 1933 (I have the 1963 revision) he mentions that sulfur has been used since antiquity, and that burning sulfur works, but it's imprecise. He favors use of K-meta. I have the 60 yo revision, so I can't say what was written pre-WWII.

An article on WineMakerMag says that an understanding of sulfite usage in all stages of winemaking was realized about a century ago, which coincides with the first development of Campden tablets (~1920).


My take is that the "modern" usage of sulfite began in the 1920's, and by the time (1984) I was told to use 1/4 tsp per 19-23 liters, it was so common that no one thought about where the rule came from.

This is interesting -- In Stanley F Anderson's The Art of Making Wine (1970), he recommends sulfiting the must to 120 ppm, using 4.5 tsp (1 oz) in 36 gallons of must. That's 3/4 tsp in 6 US gallons. Wow. Fifteen years later I was told to use 1/3 that amount. I'm not sure what to make of that.

--

Interesting side note -- Mrs. Gennery-Taylor states on page 10, in all caps:

I FIND THAT THE MAIN VIRTUE NEEDED FOR WINEMAKING IS PATIENCE.
 

BigDaveK

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@winemaker81 you're funny. When I said "very brief historical tangent" I wasn't expecting any come back. I should have known.

Personally I think the benefits of using sulfur compounds in wine making was originally dumb luck. The Romans burned sulfur for fumigation, to kill rats on ships, and for assassination. Maybe they were just using it to kill bugs in the wine storage vessels?
 

Rice_Guy

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This is a subject where you will get ten different answers.
* a natural cork “cork” is rated to let 5mg oxygen per year through the closure. As a comparison aluminum caps are rated at less than 0.1 mg oxygen per year. Nomacork has types that are tight but most are electrically etched to mimick natural oxygen leakage.
* a large carboy has a 7/8 opening leaking air. Your ratio of mg leakage per year vs volume is less in a carboy, ,,, or even a three liter magnum.
I trust new solid corks to be tight. I have held a vacuum in glass for close to a year. I do not trust ten year old corks to be tight.
* every time I open a carboy I assume 100% air exchange. On a 750 ml this calculates to enough to saturate the wine with oxygen/ 8mg or so.
An air lock is allowing oxygen to enter and an air lock is letting CO2 escape. Through the first summer/ warm period I look at removing CO2 as advantageous and keep an air lock on. After the first summer I look at the risk of forgetting to check every month as greater so I switch to solid corks.
* for folks making 90 day kits a three month rule makes sense. I wouldn’t open the carboy only for the purpose of adding K meta! ,,, Yes I will open a carboy always adding K meta if it needs to be racked. The wineries I know don’t use a three month rule on adding SO2. ,,,, My best example on when you need to do something is a gallon of Mom’s black raspberry which was sealed with a solid cap for thirty years and had good/ no acetaldehyde flavor.
* how sloppy is your technique, the more air exposure the more meta you should add.
 

sour_grapes

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@winemaker81 you're funny. When I said "very brief historical tangent" I wasn't expecting any come back. I should have known.

Personally I think the benefits of using sulfur compounds in wine making was originally dumb luck. The Romans burned sulfur for fumigation, to kill rats on ships, and for assassination. Maybe they were just using it to kill bugs in the wine storage vessels?

It got into my head and I HAD to look it up. I knew Campden preceded the 70's as it was in Bravery's good. :)

Interesting! I found this in Google books from the Georgia State College of Agriculture from 1913: Circular - Georgia State College of Agriculture, Extension Division
 
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Interesting! I found this in Google books from the Georgia State College of Agriculture from 1913: Circular - Georgia State College of Agriculture, Extension Division
According to Wikipedia, Campden tablets were invented around WWI, or shortly after. Well, it is Wikipedia and we all know how accurate it is! :p

I recall reading something about K-meta being used in the mid-to-late 1800's, but it was a short reference and I didn't bookmark it. Your reference helps me believe my memory on this subject is correct.
 

BigDaveK

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I'm confused. Circular is 1913 but development of Campden tablets at Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire didn't start till 1919.
Very prescient folks at Georgia State.
It's possible that the records of when development started are incorrect.

My 8th grade social studies book listed Nathan Hale as having died in 1776. It also said he was born in 1783, which is absolutely amazing if true. :p
 

Rice_Guy

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use of Campden tablets in winemaking appears to have started after WWII,
I went to my bookshelf -- in HE Bravery's Successful Winemaking At Home, published in 1961, Bravery describes making K-meta water and mentions Campden tablets..
you might go to your shelf and pick up your copy of Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World’s Most Ancient Pleasures; Paul Lukas 2012
Identifying sulfur as an element, and Sulfurous acid, and fermentation as producing alcohol and CO2 is attributed to Lavoisier in the late 1700s. and burning sulfur became practiced in a Portuguese wine region in the 1600s
 

sour_grapes

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I'm confused. Circular is 1913 but development of Campden tablets at Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire didn't start till 1919.
Very prescient folks at Georgia State.

It's possible that the records of when development started are incorrect.

My 8th grade social studies book listed Nathan Hale as having died in 1776. It also said he was born in 1783, which is absolutely amazing if true. :p

Bryan's point is well-taken, but I believe Dave is correct here. I now think the 1913 date refers to start of the series of circulars. The issue I cited was #717. I have since seen a micrograph of their issue #15 from 1915. (Circular - Georgia State College of Agriculture, Extension Division : Georgia State College of Agriculture. Extension Division : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive ). So I think it was a case of my not understanding the citation used.
 

BigDaveK

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It's possible that the records of when development started are incorrect.
It's fun where we go sometimes. One little tangential remark and we're off to the races!🤣

The link below is a brief history of Chipping Campden. On page 9 they mention that in 1919 Bristol University established a research station in an old agricultural building which led to the Campden tablet for food preservation.


Burning sulfur candles was common for a number of centuries but overuse can lead to hydrogen sulfide. The practice was banned for a while because of that..."it abuseth man's nature and afflicteth the drinker."

A decree was issued in Germany in 1487 allowing it's use with strict guidelines.

I love history but I gotta go start my raspberry wines.
 

wineview

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I've grown very fond of the vented/drilled carboy hoods that wrap around the neck of the carboy instead of being inserted into the carboy. They hug the neck tightly and always stay seated regardless of which sanitizer you use, unlike normal bungs.
Are you talking about those orange hoods with two spouts protruding?
 
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you might go to your shelf and pick up your copy of Inventing Wine: A New History of One of the World’s Most Ancient Pleasures; Paul Lukas 2012
Identifying sulfur as an element, and Sulfurous acid, and fermentation as producing alcohol and CO2 is attributed to Lavoisier in the late 1700s. and burning sulfur became practiced in a Portuguese wine region in the 1600s
The book is $10 USD on Amazon for Kindle format.

I don't buy a lot of hardcopy, as I literally have no room to store them. It's handy having 1,000 books on my phone, as there's always something to read, especially when waiting, e.g., doctor's office.
 

leftiesrule

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Are you talking about those orange hoods with two spouts protruding?

Nope! These are what I currently have going now...


I only have 2 of the vented ones so if I'm bulk aging more than 2 carboys I'll start using the rubber ones with the hole for the airlock.

One day I might try the rubber hood with a PET rod in the hole. This apparently has super low oxygen permeability according to this study:

 

StimVino

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I concur that the 1/4 tsp every 3 months is a good rule to follow. Sometimes i give a 1/2 tsp right after mlf for the 1st dose, to get ready for bulk aging. Before i started testing, i was only dosing after fermentation and before bottling. After I started testing, I realized that i was under sulphiting and leaving my wine very susceptible to oxidation. A 1/4 tsp for 6 gal should get you close to 30ppm depending on your acid level.
 
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