a film on the top of my wine, is it bad?

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Nov 1, 2009
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I have some wine that has been in carboys since 2020, and the airlock ran a little dry (I was using vodka). Now there is a film on the top of the wine, see photos.

Is my wine now undrinkable? did it go bad?

I'd rather toss it than poison anyone, myself included. But I'd hate to lose the batches




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Difficult to see. I have here a cider with a nice pellicle, this doesn't look the same. Did you smell it? It might be a mother of vinegar.
If it smells fine, then it will be fine. Bad brews and ferments will not smell fine.
Yup, that's a pellicle! Those streaks on the surface and chalky flakes on the sides of the headspace. Sometimes they looks like broken ice shards, or (woven) carpets. They can take on many forms.

It's likely created by some wild yeast that was in your must or got into the fermenter at some point. It tries to keep other intruders out by "sealing up" the surface.

The pellicles themselves or the microorganism that creates them are harmless, but they may make your wine taste sourish or give it off flavors, sometimes quite acceptable, but often not that nice. You be the judge after tasting some.
Leaving a large headspace like that can be the issue, allowing critters to grow. When aging or fermenting out for longer times, always minimize headspaces, leaving only 1" under the bung as a general guideline.
You be the judge after tasting some.
Thanks, I am going to go ahead and bottle it, and try some tonight. I will give an update when I find out.
also, thanks for the advice on the head space, I knew that could be an issue, but I haven't had a problem in the past. This is the first time in 10 years of making wine that I have had these pelliciles - I think it's because I got lazy over the summer and didn't keep the airlock full.
So, update: I bottled it and when I did I poured off a liter into a decanter and tasted it. At first it had a sour taste, but then immediately the wine shone through. I let it decant over several days and it got better and better. the first top note is still a little on the sour side, like a very mild gose. But it's definitely drinkable and I hope it ages in the bottle too.

thanks for all the help!