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OK, here goes my first post to the forum - thanks in advance for everyone's help!

Early Oct 09, I bought 2 5 gallon carboys and filled them with Merlot and Mixed Black respectively. Covered with fermentation lock (gravity air bubbler?) and let them sit until yesterday. I didn't top them off until fermentation stopped - and I saw at least a week of crazy bubbles - so I can assume it's fully fermented. The carboys were always kept in a 65-69 degree area.

After reading many posts, books and articles, I went out today, bought a 3rd carboy, hydrometer, campden tablets, yeast energizer and Red Star Pasteur Champagne.

readings for Merlot via hydrometer = 1.014 and Mixed black 1.000
merlot tasted a little sour and slightly fizzy on my tongue
mixed black tasted less soury, more winey but no fizzy.

I only racked the merlot, added 2 campden tablets and 1 package of the Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast (within 1 hour of each other) to the Merlot as I thought it needed the most help.

I added the yeast energizer to the mixed black after stirring up the sedement and any remaining yeast.

I've moved both carboys to a slighlt warmer place to kickstart the fermentation process as I didn;t think there was any alcohol - because both hydrometer readings were equal to or greater than 1.000.

Did I do the right thing?
 

Wade E

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The problem lies in not knowing what gravity you started with as every wine yeast has its own alv tolerance so if you started with a high sg you might have exceeded it already and adding another wine yeast to a wine that already has a decent abv will just basically kill it as its not acclimated to a high abv. You could make up a yeast starter by getting a packet of strong yeast like Rec Star Premier Cuvee or Lalvin EC 1118 and then rehydrate it following directions on the packet and then add it to a 2 cups of grape juice or Orange juice with some nutrient at a temp of around 76* let it get started really good(about 8 hours) and then add a little under 1 cup of your wine to it. Let that get going good and then add that amount again until its going good again and then do it 1 more time and when thats going good add all this to your wine and that should get it to finish fermenting.
 
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Sorry, but I'm not quite up top speed with the terminology...
alv = alcohol per volume?
high sg = high sugar content?
abv = no clue...

As I just racked and entered the yeast, campden tablets (to merlot) and yeast energizer (to mixed black), should I wait a few days first to see what happens? I'd prefer not to add too much additives to quickly. They might not have enought time to react. I was reading that maybe everything I did should take effect within 3 days (maybe 5?) and I should see something happening.

Also, I'm worried about the 1.000 reading on the mixed black. I was expecting a .992 - .998 reading at least by now. So by intrudicing the energizer, think that might get me to the reading I was expecting (after a few days of re-fermentation)?

And again, since I added the campden tablets and Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast to the merlot within an hour of each other, do you think the campden neutralized the yeast and the yeast won'e work? (also, I added the yeast directly to the carboy instead of mixing w/ water or juice first - so I guess I accidently killed about 50% of the yeast inadvertently right off the bat).

Well, at least I can blame this on my amateur status...
 
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The problem lies in not knowing what gravity you started with as every wine yeast has its own alv tolerance so if you started with a high sg you might have exceeded it already and adding another wine yeast to a wine that already has a decent abv will just basically kill it as its not acclimated to a high abv. You could make up a yeast starter by getting a packet of strong yeast like Rec Star Premier Cuvee or Lalvin EC 1118 and then rehydrate it following directions on the packet and then add it to a 2 cups of grape juice or Orange juice with some nutrient at a temp of around 76* let it get started really good(about 8 hours) and then add a little under 1 cup of your wine to it. Let that get going good and then add that amount again until its going good again and then do it 1 more time and when thats going good add all this to your wine and that should get it to finish fermenting.
Should I wait a few days to see what happens to the stuff I did today? I think I added a lot of additivies and don't want to add to many too quickly.

Do you think that adding the campden tablets and Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast within an hour of each other was too quick? I added the yeast directly to the juice instead of disolving it in water/juice first (which may kill about 50% of the yeast initially).
 

upper

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Should I wait a few days to see what happens to the stuff I did today? I think I added a lot of additivies and don't want to add to many too quickly.

Do you think that adding the campden tablets and Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast within an hour of each other was too quick? I added the yeast directly to the juice instead of disolving it in water/juice first (which may kill about 50% of the yeast initially).
Yes, campden should go in 24 hours before yeast. Were your 2 cups of wine from a bottle or your must............Upper
 

cpfan

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VV:

One of the things that campden (aka potassium meta-bisulfite or K-meta) does is to stun yeast. It is normal to wait 24 hours after adding the campden before pitching yeast. Although two tablets is not a lot, you may have wasted wasted the yeast.

You did not measure the initial sg (because you didn't have a hydrometer), so we can only guess what it might have been. In all likelihood, there is at least 10% alcohol. The hydrometer readings around 1.000 indicate 0% POTENTAL Alcohol, not actual alcohol. You should do some more reading on the scales on a hydrometer.

You did the right thing with the mixed black. The yeast energizer and warmer temp should help the fermentation to finish.

Not sure what to do with the merlot if the ferment doesn't continue.. You might consider the following. Once the Mixed Black is finished (sg constant over 2-3 days), rack it into a clean, sanitized carboy. Rack the Merlot onto the sediment from the Mixed Black. Hopefully the yeast remaining from the MB will go to work on the Merlot.

Steve
 

Wade E

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abv=alc by volume
sg=specific gravity which is read using the hydrometer which you have stated at 1.000 which is Ok and I wouldnt bother doing anything to try and get that any further, its dry, just not as dry as some others. .992 is an sg very rarely ever reached. The fizziness on the tongue is trapped C02 in your wine which can be ridded of by degassing with a sanitized spoon back and forth vigorously, or by getting a drill mounted stirring tool like http://www.finevinewines.com/ProdDetA.asp?PartNumber=15262. For the wine with the sg of 1.014, get the temp up around 75* and stir it up really good and check the gravity again in a few more days to see if it drops more. Like cofan said, its very hard to tell what can be done when you started off with no hydrometer cause if you started with a high gravity then you may have already exceeded most yeast strains alc tolerance.
 
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Wade, Upper and cpfan, you are really helping me out here! Thanks!

Upper - I used 2 bottles of wine to top off the carboys - probably could have used a 3rd as there's still some room left.

After doing some additional research, I also think I might have wasted the yeast - but no worries, I've got another packet.

cpfan - interesting idea with racking the merlot into the sediment of the mixed black. Assuming I should rack the mixed black after any additional fermentation takes place from the energizer. After it is done, do you think I should throw in 2 crushed campden tablets (after being disolved in water/wine juice), then wait 24 hours and then utilize that 2nd packet of yeast?

Wade - I'm betting that the racking might have helped stir up the merlot some to get rid of the fizzy. If it's still fizzy to the tongue after a few days, I'll try the spoon technique.

you guys are good.....
 

Wade E

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cp is right about using the yeast from the wine that finished as that yeast is acclimated to a high abv so racking onto those lees should get her going better then making a starter out of a new yeast. Funny, I just wrote the same idea in another post and should have added it up here in my last post.
 

cpfan

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cpfan - interesting idea with racking the merlot into the sediment of the mixed black. Assuming I should rack the mixed black after any additional fermentation takes place from the energizer. After it is done, do you think I should throw in 2 crushed campden tablets (after being disolved in water/wine juice), then wait 24 hours and then utilize that 2nd packet of yeast?
Personally I don't add K-meta to a wine until I am certain that fermentation is finished. So hide that campden for a while.

Yeast suffers setbacks from being pitched into 'harsh' environments. For yeast, harsh means many things including wet, sulphited, and alcoholic. If, in a couple of weeks, the sg is still above 1.000, then you could create a yeast starter and try that. But I would use the sediment/yeast at the bottom of the Mixed Black before using another packet of yeast.

Steve
 
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So campden tablets do 2 things from what you guys are saying...
1. it disinfects (which is generally used to clean out the carboys prior to introducing the juice to them)
2. it kills wild yeast (which would be used to ensure no more fermentation accidently occurs after I've reached the point where I'm happy with the wine and ready to bottle)

Am I right with those statements?
 

cpfan

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VV:

1. yes, but K-meta is a sanitizer not a clean. You need to clean & sanitize all equipment (not just carboys).

2. actually it stuns all yeasts. It is added pre-yeast to stun wild yeasts, then when a cultured wine yeast is added it does not have to fight an already active wild yeast. However, if the yeast is vigourous, the K-meta will be useless

3. it behaves as anti-oxidant, thus giving a longer shelf life to your finished wine.

Steve
 

upper

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Again V.V. where did the top off wine come from,did it have sulfite added? Upper
 
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upper,

I toped it off with 2 bottles of Robert Mondavi Private Selection Merlot (California 2007). According to the bottle, it says "contains sulfites". I couldn't tell you if it was natural or added by the vintner.
 

upper

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V.V., we are getting real close to the end of my knowlege string,but the sulfites in your top off may inhibit fermintation.More knowlege forthcoming for sure...................Upper
 

surlees

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V.V.,
What you're missing is a good book. One of the best is Techniques in Home Winemaking by Dan Pambianchi. Get it from any local winemaking store or on Amazon.com. There are others, but IMO it's the best.

Fred
 
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I'm reading one from a friend - The way to make wine - how to craft superb table wines at home by Sheridan Warrick. It's pretty good and an easy read (now that I have a clue of what I'm doing). I started reading the book after just thinking all I need is wine and time. So in the beginning, I was a little overwhelmed. Might as well start reading again from the beginning...
 
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Well, it's been over 24 hours and nothing noticeable is happening. I'm itching to do SOMETHING, but I bet the best course of action is just to relax for a couple of days and see if anything happens.

Even though I moved the carboys to a warmer climate, they still feel cool to the touch so I put an electric blanket between the two (not under) and pushed them together. Hopefully that should warmthem up a bit (at the low setting).

By Friday, if nothing is still going on I rack the mixed black to a clean/sanitized carboy and rack the merlot to the lees of the mixed black. Only then, I think I'll be officially finished with the mixed black.

As for the merlot, if nothing is going on for a week after it's racked onto the less of the mixed black, I'll try the yeast starter or maybe correctly introduce the Red Star Champagne yeast.
 

Wade E

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After you get t warmed up stir it up good nd take another sg reading.
 

Green Mountains

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VV,

Heat will do wonders for a fermentation.

Leave them alone for awhile, time is your friend in winemaking.
 

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