Why does a dosage not ferment?

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bleh7878

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I am looking to make a low ABV wine through the champagne method of in-bottle secondary fermentation. I want to sweeten after disgorgement, but am afraid of causing a "third" fermentation and bottle bomb. All the resources I've looked at simply say "disgorge, add dosage to desired sweetness, and cork". Seems like the sugar would ferment... no? Yeast can live for years dormant, and disgorging certainly doesn't remove 100% of the cells.

It seems like I should keep it cold after adding the dosage, add SO2 with the dosage, maybe some sorbate, check for a nice low pH, and keep my fingers crossed. How is this done commercially?
 

Rice_Guy

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First welcome to WineMakingTalk

Yeast will die off with time in a liquid environment. The death rate is temperature related, ie in a freezer it will be years, at 50F 10C expect two to three years, at room temp expect nine to twelve months, at hot summer 90F one or two months and at the temperature limit for your chosen yeast a day to a week. , , , Folks in the cider world who want a stable beverage will pasteurize at 145F, it might be simpler and safer to follow the cider process.

A low alcohol beverage under 5% is likely to have bacterial infection, this is a variable since lower pH is a preservative as well as free SO2 as well as being anaerobic and even carbonation. The alcohol percentage reduces the need for other and as much of other treatment. What target ABV were you looking at?

Commercial carbonated alcoholic beverages tend to be sterile filtered in the US. There are European models as cider from Burgandy that are not filtered, will have some turbidity. The ones that I have seen have vintage dates as two to four years so a guess is going traditional will require patience.
 
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I'm visualizing 2 process flows to follow. Using @Rice_Guy's advice:
  1. ferment dry
  2. inoculate and add sugar for 2nd ferment
  3. let bottles rest a minimum of 9 months, 12 months is safer
  4. disgorge, backsweeten, top up, and cap
How far below 10% ABV are you considering? Anything below 10% has a reduced shelf life, and your wines could be DOA at or shortly after disgorgement using the above scenario.

Scenario 2:
  1. ferment dry
  2. inoculate and add sugar for 2nd ferment
  3. let bottles rest a minimum of 3 months
  4. disgorge, add K-meta + sorbate, backsweeten, and cap
This sounds good, but it's actually harder to do. You need to determine how much liquid needs to be added back to the wine, and make a batch of lesser volume containing the sugar, sorbate, and K-meta. Divide the volume of your mixture by the number of bottles you expect to get, and after disgorgement, add that amount of the mixture to each bottle. Top up with more wine from your sacrifice bottle, and crown cap.

This takes good planning, but is feasible.
 

bleh7878

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Thanks for the advice! It will be an apple-grape wine with target ABV of around 5%. Thinking more about it, I suppose a heat treatment would be doable after disgorgement and dosage. I've done this before with ciders with good success. I am just not sure how well the bottle would hold up to the heat expansion with 3-4 volumes of carbonation in it at heating. Would that be doable? It would be a 750 mL 29 mm bottle rated to 5.5 volumes with cork and cage.
 

Raptor99

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As far as I know, the champagne method is used to make dry sparking wine. Is there a way to disgorge, then add potassium sorbate, kmeta, and sugar, while not losing the carbonation? I have no idea how that would work. Without stabilizing, any sugar you add will restart fermentation. Maybe your pasturizing method would work.

If you are aiming for a sparkling wine with an ABV of around 5%, how would that be different from a sparkling cider?
 

Rice_Guy

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Thanks for the advice! It will be an apple-grape wine with target ABV of around 5%. Thinking more about it, I suppose a heat treatment would be doable after disgorgement and dosage. I've done this before with ciders with good success. I am just not sure how well the bottle would hold up to the heat expansion with 3-4 volumes of carbonation in it at heating. Would that be doable? It would be a 750 mL 29 mm bottle rated to 5.5 volumes with cork and cage.
Apple by itself should ferment dry to yield 5 to 5.5% ABV
Grape by itself should ferment dry to 10 to 14% ABV.
,,, It will be hard to create a 5% alcohol beverage. French traditional methods involve creating a calcium pectate skin floating on the cider and pulling much of the nutrient out of the beverage. By adding grape into the mix you put tartaric acid in the mix which does not Keeve.
,,, A heavy champaign bottle should survive the pasteurization step. The main risk is cracking by quickly cooling the glass.

,,, Factory methods would take a glycol chilled tank to chill the ferment when it is at 5% ABV leaving several percent residual sugar/ kill the ferment by adding acid to get below pH 2,5/ > clean up the beverage as with bentonite fining agent/ or filtration through several stages of coarse to fine filter/ or spin it in a centrifuge. > A US factory would then sterile filter followed by carbonating with a tank of CO2.
As a personal note I find highly carbonated beverages hard to serve. They really need to be cold or they are messy.

,,, Conceptually a 5% ABV high sugar beverage is hard to produce, especially using tools at home. I could see fermenting in a stainless corny keg and killing the ferment as pasteurizing at target residual sugar. > clean up the lees > bottle. BUT the minute you apply a dosage the work of stopping the ferment would be lost since adding a natural carbonation yeast starts the process up again. ,,,,, I can see a finished 13% ABV beverage with lots of yeast floating in it.

,,, technically you are making a grape/apple cider. Looking at techniques Cider folks have success with is a good place to start.
 
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