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Old 11-27-2012, 06:55 PM   #1
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Default Process Questions

I am currently getting into wine making and have a sauvignon blanc clarifying right now. I bought a kit for that wine, but I didn't follow the instructions because I wanted to do it right (following jack keller stuff). I bought my own sorbate and sulfites, and the only thing I used from the kit was the juice.

Now, the first half of the process seems pretty simple:
1) Ferment in bucket
2) Transfer to carboy at around 1.020
3) Rack to new carboy after 30 days (adding sulfites)
4) Continue to rack every 30 days until clear (adding sulfites every other rack)

The second half of the process is where i am questioning some things. Most of what I have read says to follow something like this:
5) Bulk age for 6-12 months
6) Stabilize with sorbate and sulfites
7) Back sweeten (if desired)
8) Wait a week or two
9) Bottle

However, I am wondering why even bother bulk aging, why not just bottle and let it age there? Either way, by the time it's clear it has already been a few months since the fermentation stopped. Also, do you even need to stabilize? For a dry wine, if you are following good sanitary procedures and not adding more sugar then it shouldn't ferment more. For a sweetened wine, if you add sugar after its no longer dropping lees then there should be no more yeast to ferment any of the sugar you add.

I guess my question boils down to this: Why not bottle immediately after you are satisfied that your wine is no longer dropping any lees, without the extra steps?

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Old 11-27-2012, 07:14 PM   #2
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However, I am wondering why even bother bulk aging, why not just bottle and let it age there? Either way, by the time it's clear it has already been a few months since the fermentation stopped. Also, do you even need to stabilize? For a dry wine, if you are following good sanitary procedures and not adding more sugar then it shouldn't ferment more. For a sweetened wine, if you add sugar after its no longer dropping lees then there should be no more yeast to ferment any of the sugar you add.

I guess my question boils down to this: Why not bottle immediately after you are satisfied that your wine is no longer dropping any lees, without the extra steps?
Bulk aging isn't any better than bottle aging, really, except that it ages more evenly. Once the wine is no longer dropping lees after at least 60 days, it can be bottled.

Sorbate is never necessary when not sweetening. If sweetening, you definitely want to add sorbate. Even if the wine is no longer dropping lees, there are still enough yeast in suspension to start fermentation again when more fermentables are added, unless the yeast is already at the alcohol toxicity for that strain. But that can be 18%+ for some strains, so it's not that common to overcome the yeast for a table wine.
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Old 11-27-2012, 08:22 PM   #3
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With regards to bottling, Jack Keller's website says to choose an interval to do the racking (between 30-60 days) and then bottle when there are no more lees at the end of that interval. Would you say 60 days is a better interval than 30? Or do you rack after 30 until there's no lees and then wait an extra 30 before bottling?

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Old 11-27-2012, 08:57 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by SkiNuke
With regards to bottling, Jack Keller's website says to choose an interval to do the racking (between 30-60 days) and then bottle when there are no more lees at the end of that interval. Would you say 60 days is a better interval than 30? Or do you rack after 30 until there's no lees and then wait an extra 30 before bottling?
I rack usually twice. I rack 30 days or so after in the secondary. I then add metabisulfite. In the next 30 days the rest of the sediment settles out.

From here, the wines that I've done don't produce much more sediment. I just keep the wine topped up and bulk age until I am ready to bottle.
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Old 11-28-2012, 02:43 AM   #5
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You generally want to rack after 45-60 days, or whenever there are lees 1/4" present if before that interval. If there are ANY lees after 60 days, the wine should be racked.

I hope that helps!

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Old 11-28-2012, 12:46 PM   #6
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Quote by the OP..."I didn't follow the instructions because I wanted to do it right..."

You realize that the instructions are there so you DO IT RIGHT!!!!!

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Old 11-28-2012, 03:00 PM   #7
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Quote by the OP..."I didn't follow the instructions because I wanted to do it right..."

You realize that the instructions are there so you DO IT RIGHT!!!!!
I highly doubt most people would agree that wine should be drinkable in 30 days. The instructions in the kit were for that time frame and I wanted to learn the "right way" of doing things so that when I make my peach wine next week, I know what I am doing and don't screw it up. Plus, they wanted me to add the bentonite before fermentation and everything online that I read said never to do that.

And thanks Yooper for the tips, I'll make sure to wait longer for this next racking.
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Old 11-28-2012, 04:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiNuke

I highly doubt most people would agree that wine should be drinkable in 30 days. The instructions in the kit were for that time frame and I wanted to learn the "right way" of doing things so that when I make my peach wine next week, I know what I am doing and don't screw it up. Plus, they wanted me to add the bentonite before fermentation and everything online that I read said never to do that.

And thanks Yooper for the tips, I'll make sure to wait longer for this next racking.
True, wines generally are not drinkable in 30 days. The finings used in the kits speed up the clearing process so you can bottle sooner and free up the carboy for another wine project.

The purpose of bentonite prior to fermentation is to remove unwanted proteins. The fermentation turbulence also circulates the bentonite.
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Old 11-28-2012, 06:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiNuke View Post

I highly doubt most people would agree that wine should be drinkable in 30 days. The instructions in the kit were for that time frame and I wanted to learn the "right way" of doing things so that when I make my peach wine next week, I know what I am doing and don't screw it up. Plus, they wanted me to add the bentonite before fermentation and everything online that I read said never to do that.

And thanks Yooper for the tips, I'll make sure to wait longer for this next racking.
Most kits do not say they are drinkable within thirty days, unless it is a mist style kit. The thirty days is the timeframe that if you follow the kit instructions and use kit ingredients you will have a wine that COULD be bottled if all went well and then allowed to age. I think most kits say in their instructions that you could drink a bottle at end of timeframe but they give a recommendation for aging. The additives at certain times are there for a reason, and loads of research has gone into the formulation of their kits. And IMHO, making wine from your own fruit is nothing like making a kit wine. Kit juice has already been balanced to proper brix, pH, acid level. Kits take the guess work out of it. Many winemakers use bentonite up front, it has many beneficial properties if you use it properly. And Jack Keller is an advocate of adding sorbate plus k-meta even to a dry wine.
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Old 11-29-2012, 12:54 AM   #10
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Whatever...

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