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DAB

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Today I discovered a white film on top of my not-quite-full 3 gallon carboy of a Lodi Zen from this past September. Free so2 was measured as 4--too low, I know. However, there were no off odors or tastes. Re-racked to 3-gallon and added one crushed camden tablet. My 15 gallon fermenter also was starting to get a film--40% covered. I skimmed what I could, added four crushed tablets dissolved in tap water into it and toped of both vessels with CO2 to displace as much O2 as possible.

Thoughts?

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Johnd

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Today I discovered a white film on top of my not-quite-full 3 gallon carboy of a Lodi Zen from this past September. Free so2 was measured as 4--too low, I know. However, there were no off odors or tastes. Re-racked to 3-gallon and added one crushed camden tablet. My 15 gallon fermenter also was starting to get a film--40% covered. I skimmed what I could, added four crushed tablets dissolved in tap water into it and toped of both vessels with CO2 to displace as much O2 as possible.

Thoughts?

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Adding sulfite and maintaining proper levels is important, but so it keeping your vessels at the proper level. None of the vessels in your photo are properly filled, though the one in the back is close. Having multiple vessels of varying size is important, so you can keep them full. Below is a photo of my wine from 2018 harvest, topped up and waiting to be loaded into a barrel. Note the 6 gallon carboys, a 3 in the back right, and two 1’s on the right. I added sulfite to these wines for the first time last night, with no ill effects from having none for the last couple months.

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DAB

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Do you fill your carboys with marbles to artificially raise/increase the volume?
 

jgmillr1

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Definitely need to eliminate the head space. Purging with inert gas works as an interim but not nearly as well as having no head space. What's your pH in the wine? Sulfites are much less effective at high pH.
 

DAB

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I don;t know, I didn't measure it recently. Last time I did was at crush and it was 3.64. Guess I need some marbles--is that how head-space elimination it's traditionally dealt with?
 

Johnd

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I don;t know, I didn't measure it recently. Last time I did was at crush and it was 3.64. Guess I need some marbles--is that how head-space elimination it's traditionally dealt with?
You’d need 3-4 gallons of marbles to deal with all of that head space, you need properly sized vessels.
 

DAB

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Agreed, I'll look into getting several more 1 gallon vessels tomorrow. But do you know what that white film is? Has anyone ever seen it before?
 
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CDrew

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Looks like mold. Dermatomyces?

Can you just combine some carboys and top everything up?

That many marbles would be a heroic amount of food grade marbles. 3 pounds of marbles per liter, you need 30 pounds or more! Some Carlo Rossi wine in gallons might be cheaper!
 

Ajmassa

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Forget the marbles! Or you’ll keep losing them by needing to mess with em all the time.
Top everything up as much as you can and then see what the leftover is and then fill smaller sized vessels accordingly.

Also— it sounds like your so2 doses are quite low— especially after finding that white film. If using Camden it’s typically 1 tab per gallon. And your existing so2 levels were essentially zero.
And with headspace bounds up much quicker. 3 gal I woulda gave 6tablets opposed to your 1.
Definitely properly dose so2 and top those bad boys up! The white film is the wine gods telling you to get to work!
 

sour_grapes

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So when you say "top off" you mean use an inexpensive wine similar in style? Like Gallo or Carlo Rossi?
Yeah, that is the general idea. Of course, you could top off with Opus One if you want, but what you suggest is adequate, and what most of us would be inclined to do. Eventually, you will have your own homemade stock on the shelf to select from.
 

Ajmassa

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So when you say "top off" you mean use an inexpensive wine similar in style? Like Gallo or Carlo Rossi?
That’s also when different sized smaller vessels come in handy. Keeping your 5 and 6s filled. And if you have, say 2.5 gallons leftover, you can have x2 1gallon jugs and a couple bottles—- using the bottles to keep your levels up as you rack.
Over the past couple years I’ve accumulated all sizes- 3gal carboys, 5 liter jugs from local shop, 4 liter Carlo Rossi jugs, 1gal jugs from local shop, 1/2 gallon glass jug from a drink sold at the supermarket, 1.5L, 1L, 750 mL, 500 mL (hot sauce bottle), and 375mL. And have used em all.
Each batch from grapes I learn more and more what to anticipate and how to be prepared. And able to use the same wine top up. If I’ve got a half a bottle I’ll use those vaccuvin wine savers. And still sometimes use some cheap wine.
Because in my experience- keeping the vessels properly topped up might be the most important lesson (learned the hard way with mycoderma). Your white film would be on track to similar if not handled accordingly. Good luck.
 

mainshipfred

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With the beginning stages of the wine and the sediment dropping out it's hard to know what size vessels to use. More often then I care to admit I have to double rack to get the wine in the proper size carboy. What makes it worse is a carboys volume is nominal.
 

bstnh1

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With the beginning stages of the wine and the sediment dropping out it's hard to know what size vessels to use. More often then I care to admit I have to double rack to get the wine in the proper size carboy. What makes it worse is a carboys volume is nominal.
Very true! I've racked essentially clear wine to another carboy (Better Bottles), same size, and wound up with more wine than the carboy would hold or enough head space where I needed more than a full bottle to top up. You would think with a molded plastic bottle, they would be identical in size.
 

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