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Old 01-07-2007, 01:04 AM   #1
piace
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Default Help--"Floaties in my wWne"

Help.

Background:
2006 was our first attempt at wine-making. We did a "practice run" with Concord grapes picked from my son's backyard. Our second, much larger batch was from Merlot grapes (Lido, CA), purchased through a wine equipment dealer here in the midwest. The less than ideal Concord was bottled on Dec. 24. Surprisingly the wine is very, very good--not too sweet like the stuff you buy, etc., etc. The Merlot won't be finished for months, but we're having a scary problem with the practice Concord that we want to avoid with the Merlot.

The problem:
We've drank 4 bottles of the Concord. It tastes good and is crystal clear. Today I held a bottle of the stored wine to the light and was shocked to see "stuff" floating inside all the bottles of wine. I really struggle with describing it. It is light in color and and looks like masses of solid particles--something like pulp floating in orange juice or crushed up, soggy cornflakes.

We carefully and faithfully sanitized all our equipment everytime we handled or re-racked the wine. We measured acid, etc which remained constant at 65. We sanitized the bottles. At bottling, we added proper amounts of Potassium Sorbate and Campden.

The Questions:
What in the name of "Pete" is this stuff?? Where did it come from? Are the remaining 30 bottles of wine a complete waste? Does it need to be poured down the drain? Is there anything we can do to salvage it?

My Comment:
We can chalk up the possible ruination of the wine to experience if we can figure out what we did wrong. If it can be fixed, we'll certainly fix it. More importantly--the Merlot is on its way to being a fine, high quality wine and we don't want to ruin it too.

My Plea:
Can anyone help?

My Thanks:
My sincere thanks to anyone who can help me understand what is going on and how to fix it, if it can be fixed.

Sincerely,
piace

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Old 01-07-2007, 02:23 PM   #2
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The only thing that comes to mind is that you rushed into bottling. I rack my wines about 3 or 4 times before bulk aging them, then rack them again before bottling. I would add the campden at bottling, but not sorbate unless you were sweetening. If you sorbate, you add campden and sorbate to your carboy, and let it sit a couple of weeks. Then rack and bottle. You probably got some fine sediment from sorbating it and bottling right away.

Again, I don't sorbate as there is no reason to unless I'm backsweetening. You won't want to sorbate your merlot in any case. I think that's the problem, but I can't be 100% sure since I can't visualize it. But, if it tastes good and the wine is clear, don't worry about it. Maybe take a couple of bottles and put them upright for a few days, and don't disturb them and see if your floaties settle.

Lorena

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Old 01-07-2007, 04:50 PM   #3
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Default Thanks on the "Floaties"

Thanks, Lorena

This has been a valuable lesson and I'm glad we messed up on the practice Concord instead of the Merlot. After reading much, along with your learned comment, I am now fairly convinced that you are exactly correct--we rushed the bottling.

Since this batch was Concord, we conditioned the wine, which we won't do at all with the Merlot. The lesson comes through loud and clear though--DON'T BOTTLE until you KNOW the wine is ready to be bottled and has been sufficiently racked to allow microscopic, suspended dead yeast to properly settle.

Everything I had read prior to bottling said, "condition and bottle right away." OOPS. I am now reading things that say --DON'T DO THAT. If you must condition, do so and then wait a minimum of ten days and preferrably 3-4 months before bottling with a couple of racks in between. Otherwise you might wind up with dead yeast deposits in the bottles--Boy that sounds too familiar.

We aren't ready to throw the stuff away. For our first try, the wine tastes too good and is too clear to pitch it quite that fast. We aren't going to engage in any fancy filtration mainly because of the wine's clarity. However, tomorrow we are going to pull the corks on ALL the bottles; strain it back into to carboys (hoping to remove the largest deposits); and let it age and settle more in the carboys. We'll probably rack it two or three more times before we even think about bottling it again. Now we're in the trap of over-handling the wine, but really we don't have a choice at this point. We may not save the wine, but we'll give it a valiant effort.

Thanks again for the advice. You won't be hearing any reports on the Merlot for a long, long time. We'll keep re-racking every 6 weeks or so, and eventually add some French Oak for aging, but we won't even think about bottling until early September or maybe later.

piace

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Old 01-07-2007, 11:11 PM   #4
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Well, I definitely would NOT open the corks and dump it into a carboy. You will oxidize the wine and end up with more problems than just a few floaties. It's fine where it is, just try to careful when you serve it. Set the bottle upright, and leave it for a couple of days or longer if you can. Then open, trying to leave the sediment in the bottle. If it's clear, and tastes good, then it's fine. maybe not for gifts, but certainly for dinner and home use.

This is more of lesson to be learned for next time. Also, if the lees (sediment) is fine, it'll go right through any strainer anyway. Unless you actually own and use a wine filter, I'd leave it alone. Once the wine is oxidized, it's done for.

Lorena

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