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Yeast after Campden and Potassium Sorbate

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spinnindog

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I'm normally a brewer, but happened upon some excess muscadine grapes and decided to make wine out of it just for giggles. I grabbed some info off the web and started mashing grapes.

I fermented about 3 gallons of must. Transferred the fermented must to a glass carboy and added 1 Campden tablet and about 2 tsp of Potassium Sorbate.

As I was cleaning up, I poured what was left in the racking tube into a glass. The must was fairly tart, and not very sweet. It has some interesting flavors, but I'm not sure I want to drink it as wine. However, I think it might make a cool bubbly.

So, now that I have added the Campden tablet and Potassium Sorbate, what do you think would happen if I added Champagne yeast and a bit of sugar? (I've done some reading on the Champagne method and it sounds pretty easy for just a couple gallons) Will those stabilizers prevent any future fermentation? Do the stabilizers eventually neutralize?

Also, if I wanted to back sweeten, is this going to cause problems with a big fermentation going on in the bottle? I mean, if I back sweeten it, I would assume the Champagne yeast is going to be making a lot of CO2, possibly enough to explode the bottles.

Looking forward to your advice!
 

GreenEnvy22

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The Camden tablet is your sulfite so it makes the wine less hospitable to the yeast. The sorbate prevents the yeast from multiplying.
So if you added more yeast now, likely nothing would happen.
I definitely would not back sweeten and also add yeast. Even with the sorbate in there the risk of bottle bombs is too high.

If you do want to make bubbly also make sure you are using bottles and corks designed for the pressure.
 

meadmaker1

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I think you got ahead of yourself
Back sweetening should be safe, but restarting for fizz will likely not work how you want.
You can get it to restart if you add an already fermenting slurry. But buy the time it clears it will be flat again.
Its out side of my bag of tricks but forced carbonation might be an option.
 

GreenEnvy22

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Yea forced carbonation is safer, but you need more equipment. Coming from the beer world I'm sure spinningdog is familiar with priming in bottle or in bulk just before bottling, but having added that sorbate you've given yourself a headache trying to get that to happen properly. As meadmaker said, if you get an active fermentation going in something else, then add it to your wine, it may be able to ferment whatever sugar you add, or it may just die out. The yeast won't be able to reproduce much if any due to the sorbate. Getting the ratio of sugar right is also hard, assuming fermentation does start up. Too little and you get flat 'bubbly'. Too much and bottles explode.
 

spinnindog

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Thanks for the replies all. I'm not sure why I didn't give it a taste before I neutered it. A chef who doesn't constantly taste their food is destined for mediocrity.

I'm assuming the Campden (sulfite) wears off after a week or so. I added one Campden tablet to the freshly pressed juice and waited 24 hours before adding yeast, so it must not have an indefinite half life.

From what I read, the sorbate doesn't kill yeast, it just stops it from multiplying. So, a decent sized slurry might have enough oomph to do some more fermenting, if slowly.

Tentative plan:
- Keep in mind this is muscadine wine. I'm primarily interested in learning and experimenting. These grapes were never destined for greatness.
- Let the must sit in the carboy for a month to weaken the chemicals
- Boil some sugar water and add to must
- Propagate and pitch a good slurry of Champagne yeast
- Carefully watch the bubbles (try to get timing right to add clarifiers but still have some fermentation going on)
- Bottle it and hope there is still some fermentation going on. Use those heavy duty 16 ounce beer bottles with the metal flip tops. It'll blow the gasket before exploding the bottle.
- Don a welder's mask and leather apron while opening. Hopefully end up with some not-to-cloudy pink bubbly with funky muscadine flavor.

Again, thanks for your responses to my half-baked attempt at wine.

Cheers!
 

meadmaker1

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Have you tried sweetening some a little. It doesn't have to be sweet for a little sugar to blend the flavors together and wake up the fruit a little.
If you intend to restart it you have nothing to loose.
 

spinnindog

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@meadmaker1. I did sweeten the sample. I collected a sample from the siphon while cleaning up - unfortunately after I had already stabilized the must. It was very tart, so I dropped in a bit of sugar and it really brought out the flavors. That's when I decided it wasn't going to be very good as a wine, but that champagne yeast would balance the tartness, and bubbles would give it more range. We tend to reach for bubbly on hot Houston nights by the pool.
 

meadmaker1

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Keep us posted, even if if doesn't turn out well.
I am sceptical, bubbles wont last through clearing.
But nothing ventured nothing gained .
 

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