No Lees Forming in Choke Cherry Wine

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I have a batch of chokecherry wine on the go, and I'm following the recipe on the thread below:

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/threads/wild-chokecherry-wine.121092/

After 2 months, or nearly 2 months, I still couldn't see any lees settling at the base of the carboy. The recipe indicates that I should re-rack once 1/4" of lees fall. So, today, I racked the wine out of the carboy carefully. Hardly any noticeable lees at the bottom at all. Nothing measurable.

So, it's back in it's carboy, but I don't have any faith that the lees are going to drop out. The wine still looked pretty cloudy.

Should I be thinking of adding a fining agent, like Kieselsol/Chitosan?
 

jgmillr1

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Did you end up using EC1118 as Yooper suggests? What is the ambient temperature? What is your current SG? How does it taste? How does it smell?

You are looking for off aromas of fingernail polish remover (ethyl acetate) or vinegar (acetic acid). These indicate oxidation and spoilage are underway, in which case you need to immediately proceed with option #2 below. If you get aromas of bruised apple (acetaldehyde), then option #1 below can resolve it or you can get some PVPP as a fining agent.

I have no experience with chokecherries but I noted that the recipe calls for chaptalizing the sugar 22brix on top of what the fruit and grape concentrates provide for sugar. Even EC1118 has its limits under the best circumstances.

After 2 months, your fermentation probably has gone as far as it is going to. You have 2 paths from here:
(1) If the wine is acceptable to your pallet, dose with sulfites to 75ppm (1 campden/gal) and stick it in the fridge for a couple weeks to aid in settling the yeast in suspension. Then warm to room temp, rack, and proceed with settling on the way to eventually bottling.
(2) Attempt to stimulate the stuck fermentation by making another EC1118 batch at 2 grams per gallon (twice the normal dosing). Start with 1L of water to hydrate the yeast and add 1 L of the wine. The next day double the volume with wine. The next day double the volume again with wine. The next day add the yeast sol'n to the wine. Give it a two more weeks to finish and then proceed with option (1) above to prep towards bottling.

Be careful not to oxidize your wine as you draw samples from it. Top off with inert gas or CO2 or N2 if possible. Until you are done attempting to ferment it, you really can't add a lot of sulfites to the wine. No more than 1/2 campden per gallon (33ppm).
 

madscientist451

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The only thing I can add to the above would be to rack to a plastic better bottle carboy, and place it outside in the cold (if you are in a cold area here in February). Covering the carboy with a large cardboard box to keep the light out is a good practice.
After a few weeks out in the cold, if nothing has settled out, it probably won't.
Its supposed to be homemade wine, if its not clear, don't worry about it. What you are after is a decent taste.
 
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ericfromcowtown
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I used Red Star Premier Blanc. The initial SG was 1.087

It's definitely fully fermented. There hasn't been any activity on the air lock in quite some time.

It's sitting in the dark at 16.1 C / 61 F.

I took a few sips today and it's tasting "raw," but not off. No odd aromas or flavours.

I don't have the means of topping it off with an inert gas. There is more than a bit of head space, though, so oxidation is a risk.
 

jgmillr1

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I used Red Star Premier Blanc. The initial SG was 1.087

It's definitely fully fermented. There hasn't been any activity on the air lock in quite some time.

It's sitting in the dark at 16.1 C / 61 F.

I took a few sips today and it's tasting "raw," but not off. No odd aromas or flavours.

I don't have the means of topping it off with an inert gas. There is more than a bit of head space, though, so oxidation is a risk.
Ok, so good news the wine is yeasty and not spoiling. Looks like a nice recipe blend.

Then I'd suggest you hit it with a campden per gallon (if you haven't already) and proceed with adding fining to continue settling it. The kieselsol/chitosan combo works well. You could also chill it in a spare fridge (if you have the room) which can help settle suspended solids. For me, I filter my wine after settling rather than fining, so I can't offer too many suggestions there.

Oxidation can be mitigated by minimizing head space. Sulfites will help but can't do it all.. If you can't top off with inert gas, you can use a similar wine or water (last resort). Maybe rack it into a smaller container(s) with less head space? This is where it is handy to have a small tank of CO2 lying around to purge carboys or headspace with, though it also represents the equipment creep that leads folks to slowly accrue things for their hobbies! Cheers
 

JimRausch

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For an inert gas, check Amazon for 'Wine saver gas'. It's a mix of CO2, N2 and Argon. Comes in a spray can with a nozzle. Fairly cheap too.
 
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ericfromcowtown
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Thanks for the tip JimRausch.

I did add 3 campden crushed tablets to the wine, and will consider kieselsol/chitosan if it doesn't look like any lees are falling out over the next week or so.
 
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