How Long Is Too Long Before First Racking?
Posted 23 October 2009 - 07:00 PM
I would have expected the bubbling to have stopped by now, but small bubbles are still forming (albeit infrequently), and I am still getting an air bubble passing through the air lock every 30 seconds or so. What I'm wondering is:
- Is it likely that this is still yeast-based primary fermentation - is it normal to have fermentation go on for four weeks at these relatively low fermentation temperatures?
- Could it be spontaneous malolactic fermentation, especially given that the only so2 that could be in there would be from the yeast?
- How long is too long for the wine to be sitting on the fine lees? Even though fermentation isn't complete, I'm a little worries that if I don't rack soon, the lees will begin to rot and spoil my wine - at what point should I really worry about this? Some of the lees from the open fermenter were transferred to the carboy, so there is four week old fine lees in there.
Thanks in advance for your feedback!
Posted 23 October 2009 - 08:30 PM
Posted 25 October 2009 - 06:38 AM
Posted 25 October 2009 - 07:08 AM
Three MONTHS is just about too long on the lees if you sulfited and are not stirring the lees, but because you aren't using sulfites you should rack NOW. It won't hurt the MLF if that is what is going on, although you will see more airlock activity after you rack as CO2 will definitely start coming out.
All in all, you should be okay.
Posted 25 October 2009 - 10:45 AM
I have also been hesitant to handle the wine because of the lack of sulphites - I used EC-1118 yeast, which can make up to 20ppm SO2, and figured that this would provide some degree of protection until I racked, at which time agitating the wine would reduce the SO2 level, necessitating the addition of some META. If this logic makes sense, I would like to hold off on racking until the bubbling stops, be it from yeast fermentation or mlf, so I could sulphite it properly at the first racking without killing the fermentation process.
A couple of other observations that might mean something to you experienced winemakers
- The half gallon bottle that I filled with the excess fermenting juice at the same time as the carboy is now completely still and was sitting next to the carboy the entire time, meaning it was at the same temperature.
- I have been noticing that a significant number of the bubbles coming up in the carboy are also carrying up small bits of residue which rush up and then sink immeditately after the bubbles pop - might this be yeast that is dying, or dead yeast from the lees? Would this give any indication of the type of fermentation that is going on?
In any case, I will do a little testing and report back - I know I could answer almost all of my questions by doing a lot of testing, but as I am new to wine making, I would like to try and develop a little intuition first.
Any additional comments would much appreciated.
Posted 25 October 2009 - 04:00 PM
Posted 30 October 2009 - 07:01 PM
My one gallon jug, which had stopped bubbling some time ago now has a SG of .992 and a pH of 3.76 (i used a ph meter with an accuracy of +/- .02. The wine was almost completely clear
My 5 gallon carboy with the bubbles is at a SG of .993 or .994 and a pH of 3.74. It is cloudy, and fizzy on the tongue.
Does the small difference in sugar and acidity from the same batch of juice imply that the 5 gallon carboy is still fermenting? My sense is that spontaneous MLF is unlikely to be the culprit - I assume it is wise not to induce MLF at these low acidity levels?
I'm going to try stirring up the 5g carboy and let it go for awhile longer before racking, unless anyone out there has another recommendation.
Posted 30 October 2009 - 07:31 PM
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