Friday, October 14, 2011

Day 15 through Day 31

Whew!  It's been a few days of hectic wine making!

I stabilized and fined the control batch on Day 18 and began degassing, SG was at 0.996.  I'm not entirely sure my degassing efforts have succeeded, but more on that later. This batch is going to the schedule on the instructions, with just a day or so deviation.  It does seem to be clearly very nicely, which Winexpert's instructions say it won't do if improperly degassed, but that may not be an absolute.

The Tim batch was the next to receive this treatment, on Day 26, at a SG of 0.996, unsurprisingly. Of course, as noted earlier, this carboy was nearly full, so I had to thief some wine so that I had degassing room.

This too went well, and again, though I'm not sure the wine is fully degassed, it is clearing.

On Day 28, as per Jack's instructions, I checked the specific gravity--it was at 0.996!  I'm so shocked!  At the very least, I have confirmed the consistency of Winexpert's kits.

Day 29 was a very busy day.  Mark, my husband, was very patient as I ran around trying to coordinate all the experiment efforts, as well as deal with some tasks with a couple of other wines I have on the go.  First, the Control batch needed to be racked.  It has cleared fairly substantially, so time to get it off the sediment as per instructions.  I also had to rack a couple of fruit wines, and as per Jack's instructions, mix my bentonite in a blender:

Despite the Winexpert's instructions to add this upfront, I thought I should add this when Jack specified, so I also used his blender method in the instructions.  I will suggest to all of those out there that you proceed carefully with this step--boiling water + a blender is not for the faint of heart.  I also thought it interesting that Jack recommends 1 tbsp of bentonite, whereas the kit had about 1.5 tbsp.

I've been looking forward to Day 30 since I started the experiment, and it did not disappoint.  This is the day when all of the wines get to the stabilization point.  Jack, in particular, has been on the gross lees and oak since Day 1, as the primary and secondary were the same vessel. 

Having said that, I will also state that the experiment has reached it's first major hiccup.  Here are the directions for Day 30 that I followed for the Jack batch:

Using a sanitized hydrometer, again check the specific gravity of the must. Note the specific gravity. If the value has not dropped since Day 28, move on to stabilization.
  • If the specific gravity has dropped since Day 28, reattach the airlock and allow further fermentation. Check the gravity on a daily basis until it remains unchanged for 2 consecutive days.
  • Stabilization and Fining:
    • Add the contents of the bag marked stabilizer or potassium metabisulfite to an empty, sanitized, 6-gallon carboy. If the latter, add 3 teaspoons of potassium sorbate along with the potassium metabisulfite.
    • Rack the wine from its original carboy into the new carboy, leaving the lees behind.
    • Degass the wine by stirring it vigorously for 3 minutes. Wait 15 minutes and stir it again, vigorously, for 3 minutes.
    • If making a white wine, add the bentonite slurry which you prepared on Day 29. If possible, mix the slurry in your blender for about 2 minutes on high just before adding.
    • If making a red wine, add the packet marked Kieselsol from a Wine Art Claro K-C red wine finings package (may not be included).
    • Stir vigorously for 4 minutes.
    • Top up with a similar, dry wine and reattach your airlock.
So SG was unchanged, so I added the kmeta and sorbate to the carboy and racked.  I was expecting a huge mess of lees, as the oak was still in there, but it really wasn't that bad.

Then I degassed as instructed.  It took awhile for the foam to come down to the point that the carboy could accommodate the 1 quart bentonite slurry, but I eventually got it in.  As the fining agent in these kits is a 1 part agent, I added it when the kiesolsol was to be added. Then, as per the instructions, I degassed, albeit slowly as the carboy was pretty full at this point.

That's when all hell broke loose.

Floaties?  What the heck is that?  There were definite "clumps" floating around in my wine, and rising to the top. 

What is going on?  Another view:

Now, I realized that to follow Jack's instructions, I had to deviate from the standard instructions in a big way.  And truthfully, except for the floaties, the wine is really very clear now.  So like all inconveniences, I decided to see if it would go away if I ignored it : "Maybe it will be perfectly fine tomorrow."

Well, it's not:

I really don't want to top it up until I know what's going on, or if I should rack it, or what (?).  If anyone has any input, I welcome it, and hopefully Tim will weigh in as well, as he's designed how these kits work.  But truthfully, right now I have a carboy of wine with strange sludge on top, and I really hope this batch is not destined for the sink drain. A quick smell check gave no off odors.

Also, I'd be interested, given that I really don't think the other two wines are fully degassed, who thinks I should deviate from my original plan of not using my break bleeder on these wines.