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First wine/brandy confusion..?

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Ellard8

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Hi for the past couple of months I have been (or thought) I was fermenting a nice ginger wine. It was bubbling away nicely for a couple of months, then it stopped bubbling so I assumed that it had finished fermenting. (we just had nice warm summer and it is in the the shed with 2 others that are still bubbling away)
I only have an alcohol % hydromometer, I have ordered specific gravity one but it hasn't arrived yet.

My confusion is that when my wine stopped bubbling, I added 5 campden tablets as per insructions to "sterilise" the wine, but when I checked back the next day, fermentation had begun again? I tried to check the alcohol % with my hydrometer but it just floats? Like the 0% alcohol is above the line, I use a 100ml thin beaker which i sterizile prior and I also spin the hydrometer. Same story when I place it in wine. Is there a reason for this? Is it really fermentation? I taste the wine its definitely gone from sweet to better.
 

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an proof/trales meter isn't going to work unless it's just water/alcohol mix....to tell the alcohol content at this point, you'd need a refractometer AND a SG hydrometer, and do some calculator work....
 

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Hi for the past couple of months I have been (or thought) I was fermenting a nice ginger wine. It was bubbling away nicely for a couple of months, then it stopped bubbling so I assumed that it had finished fermenting. (we just had nice warm summer and it is in the the shed with 2 others that are still bubbling away)
I only have an alcohol % hydromometer, I have ordered specific gravity one but it hasn't arrived yet.

My confusion is that when my wine stopped bubbling, I added 5 campden tablets as per insructions to "sterilise" the wine, but when I checked back the next day, fermentation had begun again? I tried to check the alcohol % with my hydrometer but it just floats? Like the 0% alcohol is above the line, I use a 100ml thin beaker which i sterizile prior and I also spin the hydrometer. Same story when I place it in wine. Is there a reason for this? Is it really fermentation? I taste the wine its definitely gone from sweet to better.
Campden doesn't stop fermentation; but it does help avoid unwanted microbes as well as work as an anti-oxidant.

Wine airlocks may bubble for many reasons that aren't fermentation, like changes in temperature or barometric pressure. With your hydrometer, it should float. Now, look at the reading at eye level. The alcohol % is the amount of "potential alcohol" in the liquid. Since the sugar has fermented out, the PA should indeed be 0. When you take one at the beginning, you may have 12% PA but as fermentation "eats" the sugar into alcohol, the amount of potential alcohol still remaining will drop, along with the specific gravity.
 
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Ellard8

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Campden doesn't stop fermentation; but it does help avoid unwanted microbes as well as work as an anti-oxidant.

Wine airlocks may bubble for many reasons that aren't fermentation, like changes in temperature or barometric pressure. With your hydrometer, it should float. Now, look at the reading at eye level. The alcohol % is the amount of "potential alcohol" in the liquid. Since the sugar has fermented out, the PA should indeed be 0. When you take one at the beginning, you may have 12% PA but as fermentation "eats" the sugar into alcohol, the amount of potential alcohol still remaining will drop, along with the specific gravity.
Hi! Thanks for your reply!
Yes this is what I was wondering; whether airlocks can bubble for reasons other than fermentation.
What can I do do check whether this is change in temperature or barometric pressure?
Every morning I go into my shed, press the lids down, then by afternoon when I come back into my shed, the lids have risen fully again (with what I assume is CO2)

But I was SURELY under the impression that campden tablets are for stopping fermentation, as sulphur is produced from when mixed with water which is ment to kill yeast?
So how do I now check what is coming out of my airlock is co2? or something else?

I still am unsure why it would of stopped fermentating if it wasn't finished, when it has 2 other buckets right beside it which didnt stop.

So how do now find out when my fermentation is done if I cannot go by the airlock? I have a SG meter on the way.. but obiously dont have a first reading Im really not fussed about knowing the alcohol % as its only my first try..

I just want to know when its done, and how to make it safe to drink AND to bottle, as the guides I have been following are obviously bad if they state that campden tablets are ment to kill yeast and you say they dont, and in my experience they definitely dont, as if i didnt leave it an extra day after adding the campden tablets, I would of bottled it and fermentation would of carried on causing "bottle bombs"

I am now confused in what to do with the wine? Just make it into a brandy?
 
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Ellard8

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an proof/trales meter isn't going to work unless it's just water/alcohol mix....to tell the alcohol content at this point, you'd need a refractometer AND a SG hydrometer, and do some calculator work....
Hi thanks for your reply, I am more interested in knowing why the fermentation stopped, but only started AFTER adding campden tablets, the alcohol % of the wine at this point isn't really something I am interested in, i am just trying to get knolwedge on why fermentation starts up again after it had apperently finished and had campden tablets added. I also have another bucket with the exact same ingredients and they is still going fine... I just dont get why this one stopped and restarted, as if it was down to temperurature surely all of the buckets would of stopped fermentating? It has been really warm in UK this summer anyway
 
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Ellard8

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probably not fermentation, but just off gassing....fermentation produces dissolved co2 in the solution, adding the tablets i think would force it out of solution?
Ahhh! I never heard of this! This could well be it. But if it is this, it has still been bubbling for over week and it hasnt stopped yet, and the tablets surely have dissipated by now? Could the dissolved co2 still be going after a week or so? Or even longer?
 
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Ellard8

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Once you take a hydrometer reading, you will know where you stand. Until then, it's just conjecture and guessing.
Like I said previously; I try to take hydrometer reading and the hydrometer floats, as in If the hydrometer had a negative scale it would be there. Not the positive side. I have some vodka and whiskey which the hydrometer accurate reads the alcohol % fine. So I would surely assume it would be ABOVE 0% alcohol not below 0% alcohol?
 

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ok i can't help it....ethanols specific gravity is only 0.79....water is 1.000 that's a proof/trales hydrometer's gauge is telling you.....sugar is more, alcohol is less....


when sugar is dissolved in water the gravity goes up, when ethanol is dissolved in water the gravity goes down.....i can't explain why your fermenter is bubbling though.....


that's why your proof/trales hydro is in negative land.....it's expecting at least just water so '0', but your wine probably has some risidule sugar left in it....


so in other words a proof trales hydro is deigned to read between 1.000(water), and 0.79(ethanol)


the one i like the best for my beer goes from 1.070(close enough for my 1.060(original gravity), and 1.000(when i know my beer is dry, and ready to keg)...i use a plain form hydro, so the damn thing will tell me what i want to know instead of always showing me every scale i don't care about.....so i use a program to calculate alcohol....


(yeah i know, sorry for the long winded post....i swear, i'll leave now ;))
 
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Ellard8

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ok i can't help it....ethanols specific gravity is only 0.79....water is 1.000 that's a proof/trales hydrometer's gauge is telling you.....sugar is more, alcohol is less....


when sugar is dissolved in water the gravity goes up, when ethanol is dissolved in water the gravity goes down.....i can't explain why your fermenter is bubbling though.....


that's why your proof/trales hydro is in negative land.....it's expecting at least just water so '0', but your wine probably has some risidule sugar left in it....


so in other words a proof trales hydro is deigned to read between 1.000(water), and 0.79(ethanol)


the one i like the best for my beer goes from 1.070(close enough for my 1.060(original gravity), and 1.000(when i know my beer is dry, and ready to keg)...i use a plain form hydro, so the damn thing will tell me what i want to know instead of always showing me every scale i don't care about.....so i use a program to calculate alcohol....


(yeah i know, sorry for the long winded post....i swear, i'll leave now ;))
So if hydrometer floating there is some sugar left, which means fermentation wasn't / isn't finished. Which begs the question how come it stopped in the first place and none the others one did in the same place.
Also, how come it only started fermenting again after adding campden tablets which if are not killing yeast, what do I add to kill yeast instead?
I dont want any bottle bombs!
My Specific gravity meter should be arriving soon, will it be any use checking the specific gravity when it arrives or is it pointless since I didnt have it at start ?
 

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pointless since I didnt have it at start ?
no, as far as i know, most wines finish at 1.000 or less...what they call dry....so it will be very handy....(most of them go down to 0.995 or so) and also you can tell when the ghosts of fermentation past are just farting into your fermenter when the hydro reads the same a few days in a row.....
 

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So if hydrometer floating there is some sugar left, which means fermentation wasn't / isn't finished. Which begs the question how come it stopped in the first place and none the others one did in the same place.
Also, how come it only started fermenting again after adding campden tablets which if are not killing yeast, what do I add to kill yeast instead?
I dont want any bottle bombs!
My Specific gravity meter should be arriving soon, will it be any use checking the specific gravity when it arrives or is it pointless since I didnt have it at start ?
No. Wine will usually stop at .990. Water is at 1.000. Because alcohol is "lighter" (less dense) than water, you will often have a reading below 1.000 for wines and other dry alcoholic beverages.

And yes, check the gravity when you get it to see where it is, to ensure it's finished. Normally the procedure is to take a reading, then another one three days later. If the reading is unchanging, then the wine is finished.

Remember to degas the sample, by stirring it well to knock out the co2, because that will also cause the hydrometer to float high. Once you get the gas out of it, you'll get an accurate reading.
 
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Ellard8

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Thank you both I will update you with the SG reading when it arrives hopefully it is finished and it is just the ghosts farting!
 
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