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Old 01-04-2011, 08:42 PM   #1
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Default Beginner Brewer - question about oxygen

I started my second wine batch, this time from Elderberry (Vintner's Harvest Fruit Bases). According to the instructions, (here), I was supposed to cover the must with a wet cloth, then add the yeast. Well, I think I was not supposed to attach the lid and airlock until day 4 or 5, when you rack the wine, according to the Vitner's instructions. Unfortunately, that wasn't clear to me and I've been keeping a lid and airlock on the must for 4 days now (plus 1 prior to adding yeast). The gravity is around 1.09, but it supposed to be at 1.04 by day 4 or 5.

I am wondering, should I
1) take the lid off and use cheese cloth for a day or two
2) don't worry about it and keep stirring/measuring until it gets to 1.04
3) rack it anyway, even though the gravity is higher than the recipe says
???

Thanks for reading!

John



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Old 01-04-2011, 09:48 PM   #2
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I've always had either a lid or bung over my wines, but I think maybe in the future I'll try for more of an open fermenation. I'd say you're probably on track for a nice fermentation as long as it's still changing gravity. Stirring is probably a good idea and it might be a good idea to whip it a bit with the spoon to get some more oxygen into it.



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Old 01-04-2011, 10:16 PM   #3
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Thanks Hophead, so is that a vote for #2?

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Old 01-06-2011, 03:09 PM   #4
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So, at day 8, this is still at 1.09. Oddly, the airlock is still moving a couple of times a minute. Should I be patient? or follow this guy's recommendations for sluggish fermentation?

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Old 01-06-2011, 04:05 PM   #5
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Well, Jack Keller is the man when it comes to wine so I don't think you could go wrong there. Have you tried stirring it much? What did your gravity start out at? If it started at 1.09 and you've got airlock activity I'm really confused because you have CO2 building up so there must be some fermentation taking place. I'd say stir it up again and then maybe try the towel/cheesecloth to let lots of oxygen in I guess.

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Old 01-06-2011, 05:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hophead75 View Post
Well, Jack Keller is the man when it comes to wine so I don't think you could go wrong there. Have you tried stirring it much? What did your gravity start out at? If it started at 1.09 and you've got airlock activity I'm really confused because you have CO2 building up so there must be some fermentation taking place. I'd say stir it up again and then maybe try the towel/cheesecloth to let lots of oxygen in I guess.
I have stirred it every day - I wash the spoon, then stir the top half in a circle, then reverse the spoon and let the bubbles settle, then return the lid. The starting gravity was 1.116 (meaning it's about 3% alcohol at this point). I was kind of wondering if it needed to breathe. The original instructions weren't clear to me, but in hindsight, I realized it didn't want you putting a lid on it until you racked it. I have had a lid on it since I added the yeast (24 hours in).

I could remove the lid and use cheese cloth for 24-48 hours and see if that helps.

I also used Red Star Pasteur Red, (the recipe just called for "1 packet wine yeast") but perhaps that yeast isn't really for this sweet of a wine.

I also have been keeping it in my basement, which is a few degrees cooler than the rest of the house (~65).
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Old 01-06-2011, 08:41 PM   #7
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Well, if you started off with that high of a gravity I would have used either 2 packets of yeast or made a starter for it, that's a lot of thick chewing for those little yeasts to do. It's going to take them some time to reproduce enough to really put a dent in that large amount of sugars probably, but once they get going they'll be loving it.

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Old 01-06-2011, 10:03 PM   #8
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I'd take the airlock off until fermentation gets rolling. Since you were opening it and stirring, you must have been getting oxygen in there. You might want to move it somewhere warmer until then too. 3% is about what wild yeasts can do, you might also have malolactic fermentation. $0.75 for a yeast packet, maybe you should sulfite the wine (or did you?), make a starter with some of the juice and water, and pitch two packets of yeast that were started.

My $0.02, who just started thinking about making wine a week ago LOL

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Old 01-07-2011, 02:27 AM   #9
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Thanks all. Yeah, I clocked it and it's putting out bubbles about every 12-15 seconds, but still reads 1.09 on the hydrometer. As I stir it, it still produces a lot of gas, so I am a bit flummoxed as to why the gravity isn't changing. I might continue to do what I'm doing until Friday and if it is still at 1.09, follow the JK recommendations for a stuck fermentation. I followed the recipe instructions to a "t", except the very unclear part about when to put a lid on.
Recipe

Quote:
5 gallon elderberry wine recipe
1 96 oz can elderberries
6 cans warm water
12 lbs table sugar
2 tsp Acid (did not have as this was not on the pdf instructions...)
4 tsp Yeast nutrient (used Fermax)
2 1/2 tsp Pectic Enzyme (used liquid 1/4 tsp)
1/2 tsp wine tannin
5 campden tablets
* 1 packet Vitner's Harvest Wine Yeast (used Red Star Pasteur Red)
* 2 1/2 tsp Potassium Sorbate
Process:
Quote:
1. Sanitize (used B Brite)
2,3. Put all ingredients in fermenter (except *) and stir
4. Cover with damp cloth and let sit over night
5. Sprinkle yeast on top of must (I activated as instructed to on the pouch before adding to the must - it didn't say, but at this point I put a lid and airlock on - but I suspect it intended for you to keep using the damp cloth)
6. Next day, stir gently top half of must, don't stir sediment. Repeat daily until SG lowers to 1.04 (4 or 5 days). [This is where I'm stuck]
7. Rack and add fermentation lock (I think this is where I should have added the lid)
8. Rack wine again (3 to 4 weeks) when gravity reads 1.010 to 1.000. Add 1 crushed campden tablet per gallon
9. After wine is clear (2 pr 3 months), stabilize with potassium sorbate to prevent renewed fermentation, sweeten to taste if too dry. Enhance flavor with natural fruit if desired. After stabilizing, add wine conditioner or simple syrup until gravity reaches 1.030 or higher. Bottle.
10. Wine can be consumed or will benefit from aging 6 months to one year.
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Old 01-07-2011, 10:43 PM   #10
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Just making sure...... you didn't add the sorbate yet, did you??



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