What do you consider "gross lees"?

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Mike53154

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I'm looking for a little clarity here. Everything I read says not to let wine sit on the gross lees too long. First, how long is too long? and what counts as gross lees?

I have an elderberry that is three weeks out of the primary and there appears to be about two inches of junk in the bottom of the carboy including some berry skins and seeds that I must have sucked up in the racking cane... I assume this is gross lees and I was thinking I should rack it ASAP.

I have an apple that sat in the carboy for four weeks before I racked it off nearly six inches of lees. It sat for three additional weeks with no clearing at all and then today I looked, and it had cleared! Now there is about 1/4 inch of lees on the bottom. Should I let this go longer or rack it now that it has cleared? I have read that apple doesn't need a lot of aging so do I just wait a few months and bottle or rack it again then wait a few months?

I pulled the straining bags and racked my wild grape to a carboy three weeks ago at SG 1.014 and it still looks like purple ink. There wasn't much for solids in the primary, and now it looks like there is about 1" of lees in the bottom of the carboy... should I rack it now or wait until it clears? Also, the more I read the more I see people talking about aging red grape wines for years. I'm OK I'm trying to,be patient here, so I was thinking about putting it in the cellar for some long bulk aging. Should I rack it first? I also picked up a few medium toast French oak spirals at a local brew shop. I was thiking of adding one... should I be tasting it every few weeks? How do I know when to pull it out?

My beet wine has been racked twice already and has just a dusting on the bottom of the carboy. It's sitting in the cellar now and I was assuming it's good to go for long-term bulk aging. Do I need to rack at some point, or can it sit like this for a year?

Basically, I'm wondering about how much lees is too much for bulk aging and should I be on a set schedule for racking, or do I let the wine tell me?

And thank you all for your comments... I feel like this forum has already upped my wine making game!

I've made many kit wines over the years and to me "gross lees" are the sediment that falls to the bottom of the bucket during primary fermentation. Some kits require you to transfer your must from primary to secondary leaving as much as possible of this "gross" sediment after a week, whereas some kit instructions have you do so after 2 weeks. I recommend no longer than that. 🤷‍♂️
 

ChuckD

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According to this chart, 71b maxes at 14%, so you need to inoculate with another yeast. I'd go with EC-1118 as it will certainly do the job, and 71b has handled most of it.

If the wine is under airlock, let it go another 2 to 4 weeks. EC-1118 will probably finish in a week or so, but that's not a guarantee.
Thanks. I used K-meta so I’ll give it another day then make a yeast starter with the 118. It is under air lock in the new carboy.
 

ChuckD

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So, since I’m restarting fermentation do I need to add oxygen to it? Should I put it back in the primary and stir every day or will it get enough oxygen in the carboy
 
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So, since I’m restarting fermentation do I need to add oxygen to it? Should I put it back in the primary and stir every day or will it get enough oxygen in the carboy
I'd make a starter and let it rest overnight, then add it. My (hopefully) educated guess is that a good starter will kick off the renewed fermentation without having to rack the wine.
 
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I have seen bentonite come up as a pre-ferment addition in several conversations here but all of my books only mention it as a fining agent for post-fermentation clearing. How much do you add if you are putting it in up-front? And is it just for grape wines?
The WE and RJS kits usually come with it as do other more traditional kit makers. The instructions say to stir/dissolve it in some water before adding the concentrate to the must. Based on discussions on this forum I have stopped using it along with the K&C clearing agents and now use the time/rack/bulk age method of clearing my wines. I just looked at a bentonite package that came with one of those kits. It’s 30g. Finer Wines Kits do not use it. However, one of the two FWK whites I’ve done still has some haze in it 6 weeks after pitching And I did use the K&C in it at the end of fermentation.
 

Scooter68

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The thing about Bentonite and the other fining agents is that they are not cure-alls. If your wine is seriously cloudy/hazy the agents may help but time works better along with proper prep - use of pectic enzyme in a timely manner. They are great for polishing up a wine but when I've had a fruit wine with cloudy/hazy issues, the agent helped but did not clear.
 
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I have some pectin enzyme but not sure if I should use it here. It’s not what I would call a serious haze.
Wine is either clear or not-clear. Any haze falls under "not-clear", so you have a problem you may want to address.

I add pectic enzyme when starting a fruit wine, as IME most need it and it is more efficient to eliminate the problem before it occurs. Plus it's supposed to help with fruit breakdown and improve extraction. Grape wines don't typically need it, although I've seen a few clear after an addition of pectic enzyme. Kit wines? I'd be really surprised if a kit wine needed pectic enzyme, but I won't completely rule it out. A haze is more likely protein.

As @Scooter68 suggested, give the wine time -- 2 to 4 weeks may make a change. If not, I'd first suspect a protein haze and treat with bentonite. If that doesn't work, then pectic.
 

Scooter68

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I have some pectin enzyme but not sure if I should use it here. It’s not what I would call a serious haze.
Pectic enzyme is not going to do anything negative to your wine. So it's a no risk option. OR bentonite I've never had any color stripping or flavor lost due to it.
 

gsorrells

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I'm looking for a little clarity here. Everything I read says not to let wine sit on the gross lees too long. First, how long is too long? and what counts as gross lees?

I have an elderberry that is three weeks out of the primary and there appears to be about two inches of junk in the bottom of the carboy including some berry skins and seeds that I must have sucked up in the racking cane... I assume this is gross lees and I was thinking I should rack it ASAP.

I have an apple that sat in the carboy for four weeks before I racked it off nearly six inches of lees. It sat for three additional weeks with no clearing at all and then today I looked, and it had cleared! Now there is about 1/4 inch of lees on the bottom. Should I let this go longer or rack it now that it has cleared? I have read that apple doesn't need a lot of aging so do I just wait a few months and bottle or rack it again then wait a few months?

I pulled the straining bags and racked my wild grape to a carboy three weeks ago at SG 1.014 and it still looks like purple ink. There wasn't much for solids in the primary, and now it looks like there is about 1" of lees in the bottom of the carboy... should I rack it now or wait until it clears? Also, the more I read the more I see people talking about aging red grape wines for years. I'm OK I'm trying to,be patient here, so I was thinking about putting it in the cellar for some long bulk aging. Should I rack it first? I also picked up a few medium toast French oak spirals at a local brew shop. I was thiking of adding one... should I be tasting it every few weeks? How do I know when to pull it out?

My beet wine has been racked twice already and has just a dusting on the bottom of the carboy. It's sitting in the cellar now and I was assuming it's good to go for long-term bulk aging. Do I need to rack at some point, or can it sit like this for a year?

Basically, I'm wondering about how much lees is too much for bulk aging and should I be on a set schedule for racking, or do I let the wine tell me?

And thank you all for your comments... I feel like this forum has already upped my wine making game!
Gross lees is generally defined as all the lees at the bottom of your tank at the end of primary fermentation. Measure the specific gravity to determine when you have achieved dryness. Then rack. It looks like mud. The wine will still throw off some lees but it’s ok to age or keep the wine in the lees. Some wineries even stir the secondary lees back into solution every so often. It produces a “creamer” mouthfeel.
 

Rice_Guy

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The thing about Bentonite and the other fining agents is that they are not cure-alls. If your wine is seriously cloudy/hazy the agents may help but time works better along with proper prep - use of pectic enzyme in a timely manner. They are great for polishing up a wine but when I've had a fruit wine with cloudy/hazy issues, the agent helped but did not clear.
Have you done enough cyser to guess effectiveness?
This summer I wound up bottling 2019 cyser with cloudines, would it take three years? and yes it had pectase
 

ChuckD

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I'd make a starter and let it rest overnight, then add it. My (hopefully) educated guess is that a good starter will kick off the renewed fermentation without having to rack the wine.
So I pulled about a quart out of the carboy to make room, now I’m making a 24hr starter and slowly adding some of the wine to it. Should I also add any yeast nutrient to the carboy or should that not be a problem?

I’ll refrigerate the wine I pulled off and add it back in a few days after fermentation restarts.
 

ChuckD

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Did you previously dose the wine according to package directions? If so, I'd probably add a 1/4 or 1/5 dose to give the yeast a bit of oomph.
I added 6t yeast nutrient according to the recipe when I prepared the must. I’ll kick in another teaspoon when I add the yeast starter tomorrow morning.
 

Scooter68

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Have you done enough cyser to guess effectiveness?
This summer I wound up bottling 2019 cyser with cloudines, would it take three years? and yes it had pectase
I only do fruit wines and time helps but it's not always a guarantee. Had a peach remain hazy after bentonite, pectase etc. I gave up and bottled it hazy at 17 months in. It's all gone now so the haze wasn't an issue for consumption. :b
 

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