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WineXpert Winexpert Pinot Grigio- when exactly to start clarification?

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blackcrk

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Hi, I am in trying my first wine kit and have a question about when to add the metabisulphite, sorbate, and isinglass. I know that the directions say when the sg reaches .996 or less and holds stable for 2 days, but my hydrometer is inaccurate and fairly difficult to read consistently.

I started the wine kit 28 days ago, fermentation temperature has been in the 65-75 degree range. At day 21 I checked th sg and it read 1.002, next check was at day 25 and sg read 1.002 again. I became suspicious of the relatively high but stable value and checked the hydrometer with water and determined that the hydrometer reads over .002 high (i.e. at 60 degrees, the water read a sg of 1.002+).

On day 26, I checked sg again, after really spinning the hydrometer in the vial, my best guess at the sg (with the correction based on the water reading) was 0.998+. This is day 28, and it is clear that the wine is still fermenting. Is the fermentation supposed to be totally completed before starting clarification? Can I monitor when fermentation is complete and start the clarification at that time? Thanks for any insight.
 

cpfan

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First, if it's not in carboy, get it into a carboy now.

Second, which Winexpert brand are you making.

Finally, I haven't made a lot of WE kits but would have expected it to reach .996 or less. Can you contact your retailer about this? or perhaps contact Wnexpert themselves.

Steve
 

blackcrk

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Hi, Thanks for replying.

It's been in a carboy since day 8.

The box says, Vintners Reserve (Worlds Vinyards).

I have been tasting with every sg check (I never return tested wine back to the batch- fear of contamination). Wine sweetness continues to drop, no off flavors.

I'm really not worried about there being something wrong with this batch, my average temp has probably been 68 degrees or less and fermentation rate falls off quickly with temperature. I just don't want to keep testing the wine with the hydrometer if I don't have to. I can tell if the wine is still fermenting very easily (I think). Method 1- a strong flashlight will show small bubbles rising to the surface, Method 2 - even a small amount of bubbles on the surface are a pretty good indicator that fermentation is still going on, Method 3- fairly vigorous shaking of the carboy will release CO2, doing this several times will reduce the amount of CO2 to the point where foaming is pretty minimal- after you get to the minimal foam point, stop, but repeat the next day - if you have lots of foam, fermentation is still going on.


I'm really just trying to learn if there is a non-intrusive (or less-intrusive) means of establishing when the clarification process should strart. I know (think) that every time I open that carboy to test sg, I'm introducing oxygen late in the fermentation process and contacting the wine with equipment, that even though sanitized, has the potential for introducing contamination.
 

cpfan

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I was going to ask about temperature but your original post said 65-75F. I figured that was OK. But now you're saying 68 or less. Cool end of the range so slow ferment is to be expected. But this is REAL SLOW.

BTW, in method 3 you are degassing the wine, not checking for fermentation. ANd Idon't know about methods 1 & 2.

Personally I think that visual signs of fermentation are misleading at best, and probably more like useless.

If this wine was mine, I would get the temperature up, and give it a good stir to get the sediment/yeast into the wine. And contact Winexpert on Monday.

Steve
 

blackcrk

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Hi cpfan,

Thank you for answering. Please see your response to my previous note in bold (hopefully this works) followed by my comments:

I was going to ask about temperature but your original post said 65-75F. I figured that was OK. But now you're saying 68 or less. Cool end of the range so slow ferment is to be expected. But this is REAL SLOW.

Please let me explain about the temperature. It's winter here in VT and I'm fermenting the wine in our kitchen/dining area (a cool part of our warmest area of the house). The temperature of the air where the wine is fermenting ranges from about 65 degrees (at night and when we are away at work) to 75 degrees maximum when we are at home. When you factor in that we are sleeping or away at work most of the time, my guess is that the temp of the fermenting wine averages on the low end (i.e. 68 degrees or slightly less). I ferment beer in the same area and that fermenter has a built in thermometer that indicates that the temp in the fermenter never goes below 65 degrees and goes something above 70 degrees on weekends when we are home all day and the heat is set at a higher level.

BTW, in method 3 you are degassing the wine, not checking for fermentation. ANd Idon't know about methods 1 & 2.

WRT to the fermentation test #3 , my (unproven) theory is that if I degas the wine by shaking the carboy and remove enough gas that I can't get the wine to foam, if the foaming resumes the next day, fermentation is still going on. I suppose that there could be some co2 in the leas that might release into the wine and cause it to foam the next day, but this hasn't been my experiences with nonkit wines that I've made. I don't use the airlock activity as an indicator of fermentation as tempertature changes can cause one to be mislead- I always use vodka instead of water in the airlock in case the fermentation activity is low and the temp drops to the point where outside air is pulled into the carboy through the airlock.

Fermentation test #1 and 2 come mostly from my beermaking experience, and to some extent from my winemaking from concord grapes. Not saying I know they are true, but these are signs I use to determine when to move the carboy to the cold basement for clarification and bottling shortly thereafter.

I don't think my beermaking experience is especially applicable to winemaking because clarification is less important (IMHO) and I add sugar to the beer just before filling bottles to carbonate, so who's to say if fermentation was complete. I've used methods 1 and 2 for determining if fermentation is nearly complete in wine making (not from kits) and it seems to work. But for wines from my own grapes, I don't use bentonite and isinglass to clarify (I just use cold clearing and wait a really long time), so I was just hoping to learn more about other's experience with the winexpert kits at the end of the fermentation process- winexpert directions instruct 0.996 or less and stable over 2 days before starting clarification- I don't trust my hydrometer to be accuarate and I know my fermentation is slow. Also, final sg depends upon alchohol content and remaining sugar, so depending on the starting amount of sugar, I'm thinking that the final sg could vary quite a bit. My thought was that WE asks for a stable reading of SG to insure fermentation is nearly complete.


If this wine was mine, I would get the temperature up, and give it a good stir to get the sediment/yeast into the wine. And contact Winexpert on Monday.

Temperature of wine (actually beer fermenter next to it ) is reading 70 degrees right now. I sanitized my drill driven stirrer and degassed and mixed the sediment in the wine earlier today. Stirred until virtually no foam. Lots of foam now if I shake wine carboy.

I guess I'm finding myself a little confused, based on what I've said, do you think that there is a problem with this winekit? I know I'm fermenting on the low end of the temp range, that's intentional. It has been my experience that fermenting at temps that are too high can cause some really bad flavors. Lower temp fermenting surely slows things down, but I've never had low temps have a negative effect besides slowing things down. That's why I only winemake/brew during the cold weather months.
 

Wade E

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I dont think there is any need to contact W.E. Not all wines ferment down to a specific #. I have done a lot of kits and even with the same kit they will die off at different SG's. Yeast strains, even being the same yeast will end up with variables, one packet may populate more new yeast cells the another for example. Lower temps will surely ferment much slower and towards the end will become almost dormant until warmend up. I have a black currant wine that I thought died off early but not taking any chances I warmed it up and fermentation started happening again which i figured would happen. Get it warmer and give it a stir and either it will finish fermenting or it is done. As for the hydrometer, lots are like this, just make a note of the calibration difference and always adjust like you did, after all its just a pce. of paper rolled up in a glass tube and can be jarred from its position during shipping or just from a rough tap. Like CP said, visual signs of fermentation are very misleading and should never be used. Those little bubbles are most likely just C02 being released at this point. Take a SG reading now, warm it up and double check in a few days. I almost always warm the wine back up when the fermentation gets close to the end so that it will finish, except for that batch of Black Currant as i wasnt feeling to good and didnt want to contaminate my wine.
 

cpfan

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No I don't think there is anything wrong with your kit. Hopefully Winexpert has more experience with your situation than I do.

Steve
 

blackcrk

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Hey guys, thanks for the input. I 'm going to move the carboy to the warmest part of the room to encourage the fermentation to complete. I'll let you know how things turn out!

Regards,

Ed
 

blackcrk

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Just a quick update. I checked with the winexpert folks, and they think that my low average temperature explains everything I'm seeing so far and there is no reason to be concerned at this time. They did point out that the kits are designed to work best in the 65-75 degree range. A very important piece of information that I didn't have (or missed in the directions) is that with the recommended final clarifying process (isinglass), the wine may not clear if the temp is below 64 degrees.

Thanks to all in the group for your time and advice. I'll let you know how things work out!
 

Wade E

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Its always good to read the directions a few times as they do change quite often so even when you hqave a few under your belt they change things up on you.
 

blackcrk

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Hi Everyone,

Just a quick update on my slow to stop pinot grigio fermentation. Things seem to be going well, and I just wanted to thank everyone for all the help and let anyone who is interested know what is going on.

I increased the temperature from an average of about 68 degrees F to more like 72 degrees nearly a week ago and fermentation activity has been decreasing steadily. The SG reading has been unchanged to within my ability to determine it so this morning I decided to start the clarification process. I warmed the room from about 72 degrees to 76 degrees to aid in degasing (per Steve- aka CPFAN's post which mentioned degassing can be difficult below 72 degrees) and gave the carboy several hours to warm up. I sanitized my drill driven stirrer and started the degassing process - this was a learning experience - I started a good circulation clockwise and reversed the drill. I never saw so much foam! Probably lost a cup or 2 due to foaming over the top of the carboy.

It probably took me 10 minutes or more to get the stabilzers in and clear most of the gas- mostly because the drill driven stirrer seemed to be extremely efficient at driving the gas out using the "drive clockwise then reverse" technique. To keep the carboy from foaming over took many repetitions of the process with a very short reverse cycle or else risk foaming over again.

Anyway, that was 13 hours ago. Shortly after the addition of the stabilizers and isinglass, I could see no bubbles on the surface and could tell that the wine was clearing. Tonight the wine has cleared to the point where I can see the leas on the botton of the carboy all the way to the center of the carboy (if I illuminate it with my flashlight). I've clarified quite a few batches of wine (but not with bentonite and isinglass- mostly with cold clarification and a lot of patience). I'm just amazed at how quickly this batch seems to be clearing!

Thanks to you all for your help. I'll be more than happy to keep you updated, as this batch progresses, but don't want to bore those that have been through this beofore. Let me know if there is any interest in continuing the updates.

Ed
 

Wade E

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Dont you just hate the volcano! Just in case there are some new wine makers out there, read the post above and look at the picture I have below! This is what happens when you dont start off slow with the drill! This was my Plum batch a few years ago before I bought my brake bleeder and now the electric vacuum pump.
 

blackcrk

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Yes, I hated the volcano, but would of hated it a lot more if my wife had been home when this happened! I was able to mop everything up and not leave a lot of evidence of the eruption. I would say that I had about the same amount of volcanic action as you did (based on the forensic evidence left on your tile floor) but it was enough to really cover my slate hearth (my thought before degassing - I'm on slate, what's the big deal if it foams over) and overflowed to my hardwood floor. Oh well, live an learn.

Brake bleeder and electric vacuum pump? - sounds like something we should know more about. Does the brake bleeder allow the foam to bleed into a tube instead of all over our floors? And the vaccum pump, does that pump the CO2 off and create a vacuum thus reducing the foaming?

Ed
 

Wade E

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They are both vacuum tools, just that 1 is a hand pump called the Mityvac which will give you some exercise but will not cause the volcano as all you have to do is release the vacuum if you pull to musc and the foam starts rising and immediatley youre saved. They both have overflow containers in case youre not paying attention so there is no worry anyway. The electric pump is what I have now and I can rack, filter, degas and even bottle with it. It costs a little over $100 bucks but well worth it since I have a bad back. You can rack from a carboy on the floor to a carboy on the counter so there is no lifting of carboys. Here is a picture of a brake bleeder which costs about $25 and another of my pump racking over my Peach Ice wine.

 

blackcrk

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Wow, bear with me because I don't always get things right the first time, but I'm thinking that your brake bleeder (manual vacuum pump) and electric vacuum pump totally eliminate the need to stir the wine mechanically- just reduce the pressure at the surface of the wine and the CO2 just bubbles out- if it starts to foam over, just cut the vacuum, and the foaming stops- no introduction of oxygen, eliminates the risk of contamination from the stirrer, etc, etc, etc.

I think I'm very interested - paid almost $30 for my volcano making stirrer! These both sound like a much better idea!

Disclaimer: If this sounds like an advertisement or an infomercial - it really isn't- these things weren't around when I made my first batch of wine 25 years ago! I'm learning a lot more here than I would have ever hoped to- thanks everybody!

Ed
 

Wade E

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You are correct on all the above. Actually the Vacuum pump has been around forever. Hospitals use these and so do morticians to pump all the fluids out of the bodies. My electric pump is called an aspirator pump and can be bought on Ebay, thats where I got mine. If you are going to purchase 1 Id get one of these. Some wine making supply stores have vacuum pumps and they do the same thing but are not the same thing, they need the oil changed and spew oil out of the exhaust vent, These aspirator pumps are oil-less and do not spew out contaminants. Just check with the seller on Ebay as some of them are actually medical supply places and wont sell to you unless you are in the medical profession. If you are truly interested there is 1 on Ebay right now from the same person I bought mine from, Make him an offer instead of Buying now, I go him down to $115 from $149.99 go to Ebay and paste this in the engine.
Aspirator Pump Vacuum Pump Model 6260 Contemporary CPI
 
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cpfan

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Blackcrk:

It doesn't totally remove stirring, but it sure reduces it.

I think that you would still need to stir in any additives (like those included with a wine kit), although the CO2 movement might dissolve or circulate the additives.

Steve
 

Wade E

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I still like the mix stir for adding Bentonite especially and stirring up the batch to get an accurate SG reading in the beginning. With the hand pump I would still use the mix stir a little, with the aspirator pump you wont use that mix stir for ant degassing at all and youll be done in 3 minutes.
 

blackcrk

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Hello all, We're covering quite a bit of territory here (and it's been very educational!) I'm now pondering the benefits of vaccuum pumps for clarifying and degassing. After seriously considering purchasing one, I realized that I was probably getting a little ahead of myself. I haven't even bottled this first batch yet!

So, my next observation/question..... I started clarifying the pinot grigio wine kit 4 days ago. Temperature has been high for my house for winter in Vermont - about 70 degrees on average. I know the kit directions say to wait for 14 days before checking for clarity, and if clear (based on a sample in a wine glass under good light) go ahead and bottle.

But I have to say, this wine appears to be totally clear to me. It looks as clear as water (except fot the slight expected yellow tinge). If this was a wine that I made from my own grapes, I would rack most of the wine from the top to another carboy, and rack the wine near the lees to another small container. I'd let the wine racked from the top sit for a few day and look for the slightest amount of sediment to form- new sediment means not ready to bottle, so wait and possibly rack again.

So my question to you all is this. Does it make sense to wait the entire 14 days to make the check that the directions suggest? Is there something I don't know about that makes the 14 day wait necessary even if the wine is perfectly clear after 4 days? If I had to guess, I would say that if I were a wine kit manufacturer selling to folks who had never made wine before, I would err on the safe side. I.e. variables like temperature, degassing, not leaving enough sediment to mix with the isinglass, etc. etc. are all variables that might slow the clarification process (I'm guessing here - don't really know - these are all things I've been reading about wine kits). Enen if there is a benefit to waiting the additional 10 days, will another racking hurt? I usually bottle my (non-kit) wine when it looks clear, and after the final racking there is no sediment for several days, and no indication of any level of fementation - i.e. a solid bung stays in place for several days.

Once agian, thanks for all of you help!

Ed
 

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