Uh oh! I made an error on reading my original SG!

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Ivywoods

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I just started 2 batches of wine 4 days ago. The SG on one was 1.090 and the other was 1.906. The elderberry raspberry is down to 1.046 but when I took another reading of the possum grape wild plum wine the SG now reads 1.24! What the heck? How could that be? It has been fermenting like crazy and even foamed out the top of the bucket on the second night. It is still going strong, but is there any way I can get this to ferment dry? I'm not particularly fond of a syrupy sweet wine! I'm still perplexed. I know I didn't misread my hygrometer by that much!
 

sour_grapes

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I just started 2 batches of wine 4 days ago. The SG on one was 1.090 and the other was 1.906. The elderberry raspberry is down to 1.046 but when I took another reading of the possum grape wild plum wine the SG now reads 1.24! What the heck? How could that be? It has been fermenting like crazy and even foamed out the top of the bucket on the second night. It is still going strong, but is there any way I can get this to ferment dry? I'm not particularly fond of a syrupy sweet wine! I'm still perplexed. I know I didn't misread my hygrometer by that much!
Can you double check your readings? Of the four numbers you typed, two are clearly wrong (viz., 1.906 and 1.24). I suspect a simple typo, but it would be good for us to know the real number.

Here is a link to a helpful video:
 

Ivywoods

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Sour grapes the original should have read 1.096 (mistyped). Today it was much higher at 1.24. OH! I forgot to add that two days ago when I checked it the reading had dropped to 1.064. I'm thinking todays reading was not right. I checked it in the primary bucket, and checked multiple times. When I let go of the hydrometer in the bucket it kept moving around the bucket like a catfish dragging a jug line. Could it be that the bubbles could have been clinging to the hydrometer and the movement kept it more buoyant? I'm perplexed. I do know how to read an hydrometer. Maybe the dreaded broken hydrometer monster has visited me!
 

Ivywoods

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UHG!!! I can't type numbers! 1.124 1.124 I really need to get better at proofreading! Honestly, I do know how to read it! (just a little frustrated with myself AND still perplexed as to how it went up instead of down when it is still fermenting along.
 

Ivywoods

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Ok I just did another reading in the same bucket, same hydrometer. It went down to 1.052 which makes more sense after the 1.064 reading 2 days ago but after I moved it and stuck it in again to watch it move around in there the reading went up over 1.12 again. This must have something to do with CO2 bubbles clinging to the hydrometer or something.
 

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When I have a batch that is foaming away in a strong fermentation I like to take some out with a wine thief and put it in the sampling tube with the hydrometer. Its more stuff to sanitize and clean but I'm sure of what I'm reading.
 

Ivywoods

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A suggestion -- any time you get an odd SG reading, take 2 more. During fermentation, it's a good idea to stir as well to ensure the must is mixed well.

If the reading is below 0.990 or above 1.115, or if a reading is higher than a previous reading, doubt the reading.
I highly doubted this reading but didn't know what the heck caused it!
 

Ivywoods

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When I have a batch that is foaming away in a strong fermentation I like to take some out with a wine thief and put it in the sampling tube with the hydrometer. Its more stuff to sanitize and clean but I'm sure of what I'm reading.
I will definitely be doing that in the future. I was totally puzzled by this reading but I can see what is going on now.
 

winemaker81

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I highly doubted this reading but didn't know what the heck caused it!
My POV is pessimism. If I get an odd reading, I always assume I made a mistake and check again. 🙂

When starting a red wine or any fruit with lots of pulp, I make 3 checks in different parts of the must. If my readings differ by more than a point, I stir, then check again. The drill-mounted stirring rod makes this much easier.

I use a FermTech wine thief, which is wide enough internally to hold a hydrometer. I keep it clean and sanitize before use. Withdraw a sample, drop the hydrometer in, and take the reading. Sometimes I have to spin the thief to dislodge bubbles and/or to get the hydrometer away from the sides. Yeah, that can sometimes be a pain. When done, there is a pin on the bottom of the thief -- press that against the side of the fermenter or the inside of the carboy mouth, and the wine drains back in. This makes drawing the sample easy and it greatly reduces air contact.

Note -- this works great on carboys and barrels, but 4 liter jugs usually have too narrow of a mouth to fit.

Here is one source: Fermtech Wine Thief
 

Khristyjeff

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Since the light isn't real good where I take SG readings, (read that I have bad eyesight), I take pictures of my hydrometer readings. That way I can zoom in to see the numbers and lines better. An added benefit is if I ever have a question about whether I read the scale right, I can check my notes for the date, then go to my time-stamped photo and read it again.
 

Scooter68

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The spin the hydrometer 'trick' is especially helpful in a very active ferment or if there is a lot of pulp in the must.

Now that paper straws (or Some biodegradable facsimile) are coming back, the power of the CO2 bubbles can be easily demonstrated by taking a bottle of soda / pop / coke (depending on you locale's preferred term) them place a paper straw in a freshly opened bottle. In a few seconds the straw will start to rise out of the soda. (This works on plastic straws too but the old waxed paper caught the bubbles better)
While the hydrometer is much heavier than that straw, the CO2 will still exert some lifting power making your reading higher. That's the reason for the spin trick.
 

Ivywoods

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Winemaker81 I usually use a wine thief. Today I just thought sticking the hydrometer in the bucket would be quicker. My only problem with my wine thief is one gallon jugs. It won't fit through the neck. What do you guys use to check the SG in a one gallon jug? I was just pouring out a small enough amount to check, but it seems like it really exposes it to a lot of air that way.
 

winemaker81

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What do you guys use to check the SG in a one gallon jug?
I have to pour the wine into a test jar.

Typically I don't check SG in the jug. When wine first goes into the jug, it's still fermenting and I leave it there until fermentation is done, the gross lees drop and compacts. At that point I rack and check the SG in the racking container. After that I check SG only at rackings, as the SG doesn't change by much, maybe just a point or so.
 

Scooter68

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During fermentation I don't worry much about exposiing the wine to the air. It's got a lot of CO2 in it then so I figure as long as I don't do something silly like leave the cloth off the bucket or fail to airlock the carboy it should be fine for that short time it takes to put it into testing tube.

For grins try watching movie From the Vine and they show wine making (fermenting) in open vats. Just a "little different" from our techiniques. ;)
 

Rembee

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For a 1 gallon jug I use a turkey baster and a graduated cylinder. I place my hydrometer into the cylinder then fill the cylinder using the turkey baster until the hydrometer is floating.
Everything is sanitized before I take the sample with a mixture of 1quart water, 1 tsp of acid blend and 1/2 tsp of potassium metabisulfite mixed up in a spray bottle. I keep the spray bottle on hand for easy sanitizing.
Then when I'm finished taking the SG, I pour the wine back into the gallon jug.
 

Ivywoods

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During fermentation I don't worry much about exposiing the wine to the air. It's got a lot of CO2 in it then so I figure as long as I don't do something silly like leave the cloth off the bucket or fail to airlock the carboy it should be fine for that short time it takes to put it into testing tube.

For grins try watching movie From the Vine and they show wine making (fermenting) in open vats. Just a "little different" from our techiniques. ;)
I don't watch TV and watch very few movies but I will try to remember that one.
 

winemaker81

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During fermentation I don't worry much about exposiing the wine to the air. It's got a lot of CO2 in it then so I figure as long as I don't do something silly like leave the cloth off the bucket or fail to airlock the carboy it should be fine for that short time it takes to put it into testing tube.
I agree! Wine/O2 interaction appears to be a commonly misunderstood topic. We see a lot of beginners terrified that their wine will have air contact.

During and shortly after fermentation, wine is emitting sooooo much CO2 that O2 doesn't really have a chance. This is among the reasons that when using kieselsol/chitosan immediately after manual degassing, I have no fear of leaving the wine in an open bucket (covered by a towel) for 1 hour between adding kieselsol and the chitosan.

After that? When the wine is not emitting a self-protecting amount of CO2, I keep the air contact to a minimum. This is when a good wine thief and top-notch hygiene are critical.
 
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