Understanding the process question

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Shurt1073

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Just to be clear, any wine which ferments down to < .996., and goes through the clearing process 2 weeks - 2 years, can be back sweetened using 1/4 tsp of Potassium Metabisulfite and 3 tsp of postsssium sorbate for a six gallon carboy at bottling to prevent renewed fermentation in the bottle?

I'm reading posts, watching videos and just want to be sure I'm understanding the bottom line. My Island Mist fruit wine kits are designed to follow the directions to obtain a tasteful wine but not much understanding or learning just following directions. I'd like to venture on to other things instead of the kits ... Dragons Blood for instance. I just want to make sure I've got the basics with my above question.

BTW .. thanks in advance. Sorry for probably a pretty basic question.
 

Jovimaple

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Yes, but ...

The purpose of the potassium sorbate is birth control for the yeast. If you bulk age for 9+ months before backsweetening, all the yeastie beasties should be dead by then so the potassium sorbate would not be necessary.

The purpose of potassium metabisulfite (k-meta) is to kill off bad stuff and any live yeast, as well as to protect against oxidation. I add 1/4 tsp k-meta per 5-6 gallons after fermentation is complete, plus every 3 months or so during bulk aging, plus at bottling time. K-meta gets used up as it does its job, and since I don't have the equipment to measure how much is still in the wine, I follow the recommended dosage as I described above.

For quick drinkers like Dragonblood or Skeeter Pee, I do not bulk age long enough for the yeastie beasties to all die off for sure, so I add potassium sorbate before backsweetening. That and the normal dosage of k-meta ensure that fermentation won't restart once the backsweetening occurs.
 

Rice_Guy

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It is smart to add K sorbate to any young wine, as @Jovimaple noted it is birth control.

Once the sugars are consumed the yeast fall out of solution/ poison themselves with alcohol which makes a safe beverage. For me once the wine is nine months old I have been back sweetening safely without sorbate. Warning,, i have done six month old and unexpectedly carbonated the batch.
There is a defect in old sorbate treated wine called “bubble gum” flavor/ sweet/ overpowers fruit aroma/ pleasing so a flavoring in some foods. I try not to use it.
 
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Don't be concerned about asking basic questions. It's far easier for us (experienced winemakers) to set you (all beginners) on a good path than it is to fix problems.

It is generally accepted that if the SG <= 0.998 and remains constant for 3 days, the fermentation is done.

However -- the cutoff for fermentation being complete is not clear cut. Of 100+ batches for which I have detailed records, 87% finished at 0.998 or lower. I had a few stuck fermentations that wouldn't unstick, and oddly enough, a few reds that stopped between 0.999 to 1.002 but didn't taste sweet.

The only absolute truth in winemaking is that there are no absolute truths! ;)
 

Shurt1073

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Don't be concerned about asking basic questions. It's far easier for us (experienced winemakers) to set you (all beginners) on a good path than it is to fix problems.

It is generally accepted that if the SG <= 0.998 and remains constant for 3 days, the fermentation is done.

However -- the cutoff for fermentation being complete is not clear cut. Of 100+ batches for which I have detailed records, 87% finished at 0.998 or lower. I had a few stuck fermentations that wouldn't unstick, and oddly enough, a few reds that stopped between 0.999 to 1.002 but didn't taste sweet.

The only absolute truth in winemaking is that there are no absolute truths! ;)

First let me say thanks to everyone giving advice and encouragement. Pretty sure my two wine coolers fermenting now and the dragons blood at the end of the week would not be tolerable without you guys. Well, "you don't know what you don't know" is sorta true in my case. I thought by taking my raspberry out of the fermenter at 1.006 - 1.008 sg would give me a sweeter wine but that didn't work out. I ended up with sediment in my raspberry bottles after two months like never before and guess it started fermenting again in the bottles. It was a rot row moment! I needed to be a better wine maker ... safer wine maker.

I have plans for the Dragon Blood at the end of this week plus the Vintners Best Concord in late November. 2023 will be a few FWK and stepping outside the fruit wine kit box I've been in for the past few years.

Winemaker81 .... went to our local Costco and found the Wine Advent Calendar for this year. 24 bottles 375 ml and pretty sure we won't like most of them but its a chance to have friends / family over for 1-2 wine tastings and keep the corked bottles for dessert wines. I appreciate that post from you!
 

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went to our local Costco and found the Wine Advent Calendar for this year. 24 bottles 375 ml and pretty sure we won't like most of them but its a chance to have friends / family over for 1-2 wine tastings and keep the corked bottles for dessert wines. I appreciate that post from you!
Cool! I hoped others would find the Advent Calendars useful. The first couple I opened were "ok", but I've found that most have been pretty good. Better than I expected, and at the equivalent price of $8 USD/bottle, that's nice! Plus I'm trying wines from regions I'd not otherwise try.

Don't be quick to denigrate your wines. Everyone starts as a beginner at everything they do, and without an experienced winemaker to guide you, it's difficult. My first wine was a forgettable rhubarb, using a recipe printed in a local newspaper, bread yeast, and fermented in an expended beer. I didn't have hydrometer (and didn't know what one was), had no idea what oxidation is, and bottled in screwcap whiskey bottles. On the plus side, I had no direction in which to go except up!

My best advice to beginners is to listen to advice, and consider why folks do what they do. Why is more important than how, as it helps you make informed decisions.

My second best is to remember that what you did for the last batch isn't what you have to do for the next on. Don't change for change's sake, but keep learning and change when you believe you have a better idea or process.
 

vinny

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Nice post. I would add asking those questions no matter how mundane you think they are. That's how you learn WHAT to change, and when.

Wine is hands down the simplest, and conversely, the MOST complex of all my interests. It is very hard to discern what is in which of those categories when getting started. I've had 'oh no' moments that were nothing, and things I confidently charged through that could have been avoided with a better understanding.

AND... Detailed notes, kit or not I make an entry in my book. The memory is never as clear as we think it will be.
 
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