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First time finishing wine

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 12:09 pm
by Nepenthe
Greetings! :)

I'm excited about the next stage for my wines, and having consulted all the sources I can find, wonder if anyone here might be able to help with my inclarity...

My wines are all now between 4 and 8 months from starting - I've read about all the interesting things that need to happen, but am not sure which order they need to happen in, and whether time needs to elapse between.

All wines were racked 1 month after making, so for the younger ones it is now 3 months after that, the older ones had their second racking about 3 months ago also. The SGs are as low as I want, and all wines look relatively clear, although the apple and blackberry has what I think is a pectin haze.

I think I have to do the following:

Rack - top up with what now? Can I use grape concentrate? One of them definitely needs the body and sweetness.Water for the others?
Add wine finisher to stop it fermenting (potassium sorbate - it says 'swirl for 3 days and add campden tablet at this point' - Does that mean at day 1 or 3? Then does it have to be racked again?)
De-gass - just stir it with a spoon?!
Add finings - just for the one with the pectin haze I guess- Can I do this before racking so I can rack everything off together,or will it cloud the wine up again to stir the finings in before racking off the sediment?
I would like to filter it with a harris vinbrite filter, which I will buy from the interweb if they are useful things to have? I plan to make a lot of wine in the future (LOVE IT!!:)

And then bottle - anything I should know about this too? I have the Berry book, but clearly experience counts for much.

Any ideas on order/ things to beware of, very much appreciated :) Thanks in advance Xxx

Ps, those vinegars I tantrum'd over, a good lesson in flies, and in biding my time for the one that wasnt actually vinegar but just smelt rank, as Mike suggested! Since then, followed advice, and no probs, thank you sufficientish! :)

Re: First time finishing wine

Posted: Sun Mar 24, 2013 6:57 pm
by dave45
pectin haze: AIUI you need to use an enzyme called pectolase to convert the pectin into something fermentable, and allow the wine to clear... shoulda added it at the start as at this stage it might start fermenting again. Adding a campden tablet should stop it but you never know.

de-gassing - add finings and stick a cork in the demijohn and give it a good shake. gently release the cork to see if there is any gas. repeat until you get no more gas. You should now have pure CO2 between the cork and the wine so you don't need to top up with anything to displace the air. leave undisturbed for a few weeks to clear then rack off into clean, sanitised bottles and cork. I presume you have a corking machine and corks?

Filtering tends to be a lot of trouble, and some say it affects the taste... running some clean water through the filter first might help that aspect. Filtering won't help a hazy wine, and if you try filtering a wine that still has suspended solids in it, you will tend to clog the filter and the flow rate will drop to a trickle then a drip. I wouldn't bother unless you are sending the wine to a show or smth. However, it does make a difference - even a wine that looks perfectly clear, when filtered it looks better, and when you look at the filter afterwards you can see what it has removed.

The sequence should be

start - create your "must" from fruit, sugar, grapejuice or whatever
add pectolase if fruit contains pectin
start fermenting at 20C or thereabouts
when finished, rack off, and optionally add a campden tablet or smth to stop it refermenting
rack off again, degass and add finings
rack off into bottles (or filter at this stage if you can be bothered)

Re: First time finishing wine

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 7:11 pm
by Nepenthe
Ah! Thank you Dave :)

That answers all but two of my questions!

Firstly, the Berry book says that finings (I'm thinking Bentonite?) can impair the flavour so best not unless needed - is the common consensus that most wines need it and so it makes senses to do it, as the difference is mostly positive? Would you ever NOT use finings?

Secondly, why rack it again after the campden tablet or similar - and roughly how much time elapses btwn this racking and the next (like days, or months)?

Is it possible to rack, add campden tablet and postassium sorbate, and finings at the same time, wait 3 days or whatever, rack it, and then degass immediately before bottling?

Thank you again

Re: First time finishing wine

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:22 pm
by dave45
If you are prepared to wait a long time you may indeed get away with no finings. I brew mainly from kits and just chuck the sachet in (Kieselsol or somesuch stuff - a clear liquid ) and it certainly speeds up the clearing process.

Between rackings - maybe 7-14 days? Until it looks clear enough (a good torch might help)

Why do it twice? coz sometimes there is a LOT of sludge and it takes two goes. Another tip - if you get a LOT of sludge, pour the reject sludge into a tall thin bottle to settle out again, then add back the clear stuff to the main body of the racked wine later. Pour any reject reject dregs into a dregs bottle and save it all up. Distill it when it has mounted up.... (if its legal where you are!)

Yes I'm sure I've tried doing it all at once with no ill effects. Whatever works for you.. Degassing isn't always necessary, and some professional winemakers leave a bit of CO2 in to add a little zing or spritz to a white wine. (test by sticking your thumb over the end of the bottle and giving it a shake!) However I have found in my limited number of tests that it does seem to be worth degassing.

Re: First time finishing wine

Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:42 pm
by Nepenthe
That's fantastic, thank you so kindly.
Right then... On to the first of the 15... :D Xx

Re: First time finishing wine

Posted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:26 am
by Crickleymal
I must confess I've never degassed a wine and never heard about it until now. Maybe I've missed something in the books I've got. Having said that most of my wines get left after the first and second racking until I can be bothered to bottle them which could be several months down the line.

Re: First time finishing wine

Posted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:19 pm
by dave45
More on gases/degassing..

I have just found out that the professionals use nitrogen or a nitrogen/CO2 mix to displace the air both in processing from tanks etc, and whilst bottling, especially with the "stelvin" metal closures.
Air/oxygen ages/oxidises a wine over time, so these less reactive gases keep it fresher for longer... but the N2/CO2 can suppress the aromatics when you first open a bottle, and thats why you need to let so many wines "breathe" or react with oxygen for a while (hour or so) to get the best out of them.

None of this has any practical use for home winemakers though AFAICS