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Old 08-12-2008, 08:23 PM   #1
Aug 2008
Posts: 1

I'm new to the winemaking, though I did a bit a few years back, but if you're giving me advice it would be right to assume I know not very much at all. The situation I would like advice on is that I have put 6 gallons on in 6 demi-johns, using various tinned fruit, as an experiment to see what works well, and one just sugar which I intend to flavour with Vimto or something, as a bit of fun and just to see how it turns out. Everything has gone well and the fermentations are practically over, though a few bubbles are constantly rising and look as though they will do so at that slow rate for a long time.

The problem is that my books tell me it could take quite some time to clear on its own, and need racking now-and-then. But I want to get it bottled and then free-up the jars for more experimentation, and I don't want to have to be racking over and over. I want to bottle it and forget about it.

So what should I do? If I bottle it cloudy it will perhaps leave a sediment which will taint or ruin the wine, and it may keep fermenting, too.

The book says that I could stop the fermentation by adding a campden tablet, and then using a fining gel. This at least would likely have the effect of getting the wines ready for bottling in a short time and then I could just lay them down.

But would the campden tablet affect the wine in a negative way, and also would the fining gel? What do you recommend I do/use to get the wine ready for bottling, and so free-up the demi-johns?

I would welcome any advice. Cheers, etc..etc..

PS/ How do you overcome the problem of racking off the sediment, in which having done so into another demi-john, it needs topping up, and if you do it with a syrup, say quarter pound of sugar to a pint of water, you get another ferment and need to rack again and then need to top up again, etc, etc? If you just use water it will dilute it, and I don't like the idea of that. This seems a real problem which has no answer.

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Old 08-12-2008, 08:49 PM   #2
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Jun 2006
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Finings and sulfites are valuable in wine making, but no substitute for time. You still need to let the yeast finish up the fermentation, and then rack every 30-45 days as long as lees are present. I know you want to free up your fermenters, but it really doesn't work that way. Bottles are for storing finished wine- if you bottle before it's done, not only will you get cloudy and sediment-ridden wine, the corks may blow off and give you wine geysers. Unfortunately, winemaking is not a hobby with shortcuts.

You CAN use finings, of course, on stubborn, hard to clear wines. Usually the key is to discover what is causing the haze. In many fruit wines, it can be a pectin haze. That's why most fruit wine recipes have you add pectic enzyme at the beginning of fermentation- pectic enzyme breaks up those pectins that can cause that haze. Sometimes it's yeast, sometimes it's other things (like pollen) if you've used honey. There are many finings that work in these instances- like sparkeloid, chitosan, SuperKleer, etc.

You understanding of the campden tablet is not quite right (or else your book is totally wrong, which may be). Sulfites do help wines in many ways- preventing oxidation and preserving the wine. However, wine yeasts are not particularly susceptible to campden (in fact, I use it in all my wines) and stopping a fermentation in progress is like stopping a train. You probably won't be able to stop the fermentation, clear the wine, and bottle sucessfully. The best bet is to allow fermentation to finish up, for the wine to clear, then stabilize with a campden/sorbate stabilizer and then sweeten if necessary, and bottle. Even if it were possible to do this, the amount of campden you would need would be a huge dose, and of course the wine would taste like sulfur.

I use campden tablets at every other racking at the amount of 1 per gallon. This helps keep the wine from oxidizing while being racked, or while aging. It keeps the sulfite at about 50 ppm. When I rack into a new carboy, I top up with a similar (usually very cheap!) wine. Sometimes I keep homemade wine in little bottles around, just for topping up. Unless the recipe instructs you to top up with water (to dilute a bit, according to the recipe), top up with a similar commercial wine.
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Old 08-13-2008, 12:32 AM   #3
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Oct 2007
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As YooperBrew mentionned, sulfites and finings (stuff like chitosan) can be very useful for clearing. Another few products are gelatin and sparkaloid, both similar to chitosan.

If you want to try and keep your products as natural as possible, without having to add such things, you could try using cold temperatures. I would simply place one of your demi-johns in the fridge for 2-3 days and verify the clarity of the product afterwards.
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Old 08-13-2008, 09:47 PM   #4
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+ 1 on what Yooper & mrfocus said. You could also rack off the lees & filter through a sterile pad (0.04-0.06 micron), [I]then[I] sulfite at the rate of 1 camden tablet (crushed & mixed) per gallon. There is a catch though: You'll lose some flavour (sometimes a lot) from such a fine filter; and you'll need a pump, gravity feeds just don't have enough pressure to force the wine through the filter media. Also, depending on just how cloudy it is to begin with, you may need to filter a couple times: 1st through a coarse pad & then through a fine pad. The way I see it is: you're kinda stuck with waiting & racking, or spending more money & putting in more work for less flavour in your end product. I like to experiment in 1 gallon glass jugs, that way I can have several going at the same time, they cost me less money, if one turns out to be terrible, I've only lost a few dollars & the time I spent on it. All I have to do is the math to reduce the recipe... And gallon jugs are pretty cheap.

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