Elderflower Wine is too Sweet & Strong, can I fix it before bottling?

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SAM11111

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Hi,

I'm making elderflower wine for the first time and I'll be bottling it in a week or so, but after checking it today it's very sweet and may be very strong if I'm using the correct calculation.

O.G. 0.9 and Gravity today 0.64. My calculation is 0.9 - 0.64 = 0.26 x 131 = 34.06.

Is my calculation correct and can I make the wine less sweet before botting?

It doesn't taste bad, but I'm pretty sure I've buggered it up a bit haha.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Kind regards,
Sam.
 

D the Catastrophist

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Sam,

I'm a little confused by your numbers: did you mean 1.09 SG and 1.064 FG? If so, ABV would be 3.41%.
Online ABV Calc

How long ago did you start the wine? Because with those numbers, I'd say your fermentation isn't even close to done. For example, a dessert wine, which is very sweet, usually is one with an FG above 1.025( which would give an 8.53% abv for your starting figure). You're still way above that, hence why it is sickly-sweet. I like dry wines so tend to aim for 0.97 for FG(which would be a 15.75% abv). Water has an SG of 1.000.

An example of SG of wines from dry to sweet

I would put the idea of bottling on hold right now and leave it in your fermenter. Check the gravity for the next couple days, if it hasn't changed, you may have a stuck fermentation. If that is the case, I would prep a new batch of yeast and add that, see if you can get it jumpstarted. I would suggest K1 as it has a high alcohol tolerance, and works well with fruit wines, and is pretty forgiving on the temperature ranges it tolerates, but others here will be able to chime in on other recommendations as well.

Good luck!
 
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SAM11111

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Sam,

I'm a little confused by your numbers: did you mean 1.09 SG and 1.064 FG? If so, ABV would be 3.41%.
Online ABV Calc

How long ago did you start the wine? Because with those numbers, I'd say your fermentation isn't even close to done. For example, a dessert wine, which is very sweet, usually is one with an FG above 1.025( which would give an 8.53% abv for your starting figure). You're still way above that, hence why it is sickly-sweet. I like dry wines so tend to aim for 0.97 for FG(which would be a 15.75% abv). Water has an SG of 1.000.

An example of SG of wines from dry to sweet

I would put the idea of bottling on hold right now and leave it in your fermenter. Check the gravity for the next couple days, if it hasn't changed, you may have a stuck fermentation. If that is the case, I would prep a new batch of yeast and add that, see if you can get it jumpstarted. I would suggest K1 as it has a high alcohol tolerance, and works well with fruit wines, and is pretty forgiving on the temperature ranges it tolerates, but others here will be able to chime in on other recommendations as well.

Good luck!
Hi D,

Thank you for pointing that out, yes it looks like it's at 3.41 ABV.

I started on 12/06/2022 with 20 litres. I used 5 grams of Youngs All Purpose White Wine Yeast. I added the yeast, yeast nutrient and a little sugar to a glass of warm water and left for ten minutes to allow the yeast to work before adding to my wine.

It took a day or so and then was fermenting pretty vigourously for five days. Then on 20/06/2022 I put it into another bucket and nothing was happening so I assumed it had finished and then yesterday I thought I'd rack it.

I prefer dry wines as well. If my wine is stuck and I can get it fermenting again can I get it to around a FG of 0.97?

The wine may drop below 18 celsius, so I'm going to strap a heater belt around it and try to get it to 22 celsius.

I'm going to take your advice and take some readings over the next few days, if it isn't moving I'll add some more yeast.

Thanks again.

Kind regards,
Sam.
 

D the Catastrophist

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Hi D,

Thank you for pointing that out, yes it looks like it's at 3.41 ABV.

I started on 12/06/2022 with 20 litres. I used 5 grams of Youngs All Purpose White Wine Yeast. I added the yeast, yeast nutrient and a little sugar to a glass of warm water and left for ten minutes to allow the yeast to work before adding to my wine.

It took a day or so and then was fermenting pretty vigourously for five days. Then on 20/06/2022 I put it into another bucket and nothing was happening so I assumed it had finished and then yesterday I thought I'd rack it.

I prefer dry wines as well. If my wine is stuck and I can get it fermenting again can I get it to around a FG of 0.97?

The wine may drop below 18 celsius, so I'm going to strap a heater belt around it and try to get it to 22 celsius.

I'm going to take your advice and take some readings over the next few days, if it isn't moving I'll add some more yeast.

Thanks again.

Kind regards,
Sam.

The good thing is, from what I see, Youngs all purpose is a pretty hardy yeast and can handle higher alcohol so if you have to add more, that shouldn't be an issue.
How often did you stir? I will generally stir morning and night for the first week to ten days(especially critical if you have the actual fruit in the primary as it can create a mat that needs to be punched down or it impeeds air flow for the fermentation), then daily. The visible fermentation will drop off but I noticed that even after it does, when I stir, I can still hear it(Sounds like carbonation from a soda bottle), I can generally tell just by how vigorous the noise is when SG is at or below 1.020.
I would give it a good stir and then keep it between 20-22 c and it may restart on its own, otherwise, you could repitch the yeast, which is the same process you did at the get go, and then mix that in to your must.

You shouldn't have any issues getting it down to .97, it just takes a bit of time with the higher ABV wines. I know alot of places online claim that fermentation only takes a week, but I'm always at about 2-3 weeks when fermenting at around 18 C.

Patience is a virtue with winemaking that I am still learning.

Couple links on stuck fermentation:
How to Fix a Stuck Wine Fermentation.
Troubleshoot a Stuck Fermentation - WineMakerMag.com

Making A Wine Yeast Starter To Restart A Stuck Fermentation - Wine Making and Beer Brewing Blog - Adventures in Homebrewing.
 
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SAM11111

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I was stirring twice a day as well, at 8am and again at 8pm for 7 days.

I checked the reading over the last couple of days and it didn't move, so I added some more Youngs yeast this morning. Before I added the yeast today I noticed that it did seem fizzy as well. Some bubbles were coming to the surface and when I gave it a stir before adding the yeast it looked and sounded fizzy.

I think my main problem is maintaining a steady temperature. I might consider moving it somewhere else.

Thanks a lot for your help again, I really appreciate it.

Kind regards,
Sam.
 

D the Catastrophist

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No worries, sounds like you got it figured out pretty well. One thing I noticed is it's really hard to find temperature ranges on Youngs yeast. The technical specs on their yeasts don't list it, and the general Brewing FAQ just says that 'usually' 18-25C(64.4-77F) is fine.... That seems a pretty tight range to me, especially in the summer as lots of people don't have A/C. I spent alot of time looking at yeast before I tried making my first wine, and Lalvin K1 with it's range of 10-35C(50-95F) seemed like it was something I stood a better chance of not screwing up.
 
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SAM11111

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The website I usually buy stuff from has the Lalvin K1 out of stock, but I'll buy some when they have it back in.

On another website I bought an ale yeast (Fermentis SafAle T-58), but it has an expirary date of March 2021 haha. Is it a silly question to ask if that's usable or should I return it?
 

D the Catastrophist

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The good thing about yeast is its not like they can read the package and know to all drop dead at a given date. Even if a higher percentage is dead, its probably still viable.. If you store it in the fridge, it will preserve its lifespan. When you use it, prep it like you normally do, watch to make sure it foams/shows signs of life. You might just need to use a bit more.
 

MilesBFree

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Great advice from the others. One thing I will add is that you can pull like a half liter out of the fermenter or carboy and after the yeast has started going in the glass of warm water, pour it in the half liter of wine then once that gets going, pour it into the fermenter. But it sounds like you have it handled.
 
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