Tilt, hydrometer and yeast selection

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JBP

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A woman with two watches...

I have been using a Tilt (wireless hydrometer/thermometer) in addition to my regular hydrometer for awhile now. I quickly figured out that the Tilt's accuracy becomes iffy as the fermentation gets close to finishing - below 1.010, I rely on my hydrometer. So my habit has been to use the Tilt's numbers for OG and trend, then final decisions on hydrometer reading. Which brings me to my current situation. I started a 10L merlot kit with tweaks (shorted water, added zante currants...).
  • OG (Tilt) was 1.116 (24 hours after mixing up/before yeast) - a bit high, but I left it. Pitched BM 4x4.
  • 36+ hours later, fermentation clearly started and I checked SG again - 1.099 (Tilt). I decided to double-check with hydrometer - SG 1.120!!
So now I am unsure of my true OG and I am pretty sure I am pushing the tolerance of BM 4x4. Thoughts on what to do?
  • Nothing - stay the course (adding nutrients at 1/3 sugar depletion)
  • Rehydrate and add a second workhorse yeast (EC1118)
  • Dilute must - add water
  • Other?
 

NorCal

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BM 4x4 is good to 15% abv, you are 17.6% or above. If it were mine, I’d water back (add 15% water to finish wine volume), so it’s not so hot and it finishes.
 

JBP

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Thanks so much - definitely have no desire for a finished product that hot. So 15% of 5 gal = add 0.75 gal water. While I can do the complicated math, curious what shortcut you used (assuming you did)?
 

Tim3

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Your initial SG of 1.116 = 27.2 Brix which is very high. You would probably want to get that down to at least 25 Brix = 14.5% ABV just to keep the yeast happy. Though since it's a kit wine I'm assuming it's meant to end at 13.5% ABV (and has been acid balanced at that number), which means you'd need to reduce your brix to 23.5, or have a gravity reading of 1.10 to not have an overly acidic wine. Assuming all that is correct, it sounds like you shorted your water by 3.2 liters (13.6 cups) from kit instructions which (in my opinion) is a bit much. So what you're really talking about is how low of a PH are you willing to tolerate, and what ABV would you target if you're going to deviate from kit instructions? In my opinion, the minimum PH for an enjoyable red is around 3.45 and maximum ABV without being "hot" is probably 14%. If that's true for you as well then you can get there by adding 2.25 Liters (9.5 cups) water.

The only potential complication you'll make for yourself is that you'll end up with 5.8 Gallons after primary, which means you'll need to maintain multiple carboys for your batch (or risk infection from too much headspace). Hope this helps!
 

JBP

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Excellent detail and description - thank you. I definitely want something 14% or below and have started the corrections. Interesting, my volume is right back up to (maybe slightly over) 6 gal, suggesting that the combination of shorting the water some and adding currants had more combined impact than I expected.

Thanks all.
 
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