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View Full Version : degas - backsweeten - bottling .. is that right ?



shanek17
04-09-2012, 11:37 AM
I have a made a real honey and carob sugar infused batch of 1 gallon apple wine/cider (not sure which one it is, yea thats how much of a newbee I am) and a 1 gal red wine; these are my first batches and I am just wondering about some things as I prepare to degass and bottle them. I added some sorbate and so2 to the red wine last night and this morning the fermentation has stopped! success! and now I am eager to get them into bottles. But I have heard of people letting the wine batch sit and age in the fermenting jug , I think with the air lock on it; why do they do this ? Why not de gas it and get it into the bottles and let it age in there.

Im just trying to get some understanding on how to do this properly. I would like to bottle this wine soon and share with family, and therefore make room for another batch. But im wondering when should I de gas ? should i do the de gassing rite before I bottle? I understand that doing de gassing by hand can be a pain, but these are small 1 gallon jugs so it shouldnt be too hard, and I have a de gas tool to try out in my drill, to SPEED things up haha.

Not trying to complicate this thread here so ill keep this part short and sweet, but I also have some xylitol which is a non fermentable sugar, and i will back sweeten with this, when it is time. But here is my question , when is it time for back sweeting with a non fermentable sugar? I was thinkin that after degassing and just before bottling , that makes sense to me. But this is my first time so I would like any feed back

wayneb
04-09-2012, 11:59 AM
Hi, shanek17! Welcome to "Gotmead!" I took the liberty of deleting your duplicate posting, as it really didn't fit in the "Troubleshooting" category, and we encourage all our members to post a question in only one category - it takes up less "personal" bandwidth that way. By that I mean that if some folks answered you in one area, and others answered you in the other category, then soon following both threads to get the complete story is a bit of a headache for you as well as the mead mentors.

That said, let me now answer your questions.

First, many folks (myself included) like our wines and meads to bulk age before bottling. I do it principally for two reasons. First, even though your freshly finished mead or wine may look clear, it can take weeks to months for all the suspended "stuff" to completely fall out, and I prefer to bottle my beverages only after they have completely clarified. Second, bulk aging allows the entire batch to integrate and mellow in a uniform fashion. If you bottle shortly after fermentation is complete, you may notice slight differences in the product from one bottle vs another. Wine and mead continue to undergo complex organic chemical reactions (albeit more and more slowly as they age) throughout the product life. I prefer to have the bulk of that done and over before I bottle, so that differences between bottles are virtually undetectable.

Degassing on my schedule is also usually unnecessary, since all of the excess CO2 has had plenty of time to come out of solution. But if you do want to degas (say if you really have to get something bottled in a hurry), I prefer to do it by vacuum, using a small hand-held mitivac hand pump, rather than by stirring. Once fermentation is over, I try to keep any exposure to the air to an absolute minimum in order to avoid oxidizing the mead. Vacuum degassing keeps air from being incorporated into the mead, which can happen if you degas by stirring. YMMV, but I've come to like the way that my mitivac works on my meads.

Adding non-fermentables is best done just after degassing, since you will want to taste the effect of the product on your beverage, and to add to taste. CO2 suspended in the solution will slightly lower the pH of it (dissolved carbon dioxide is called carbonic acid, and it is a weak organic acid), and that will somewhat mask the perception of sweetness from whatever you use, whether it is natural sugar or a synthetic sweetener.

Hope this helps! If you have any more questions, please ask! :)

akueck
04-09-2012, 11:59 AM
Hi and Welcome to GotMead!

Depending on how much honey you added, your apple concoction might fall into the "cyser" category, which is an apple mead. If there is not much honey and the alcohol level is low, you could call it a cider. If you've added enough sugar to get the alcohol above about 9%, but you didn't use very much honey, you might call it an apple wine. Ultimately though, you can call it anything you want!

One of the best reasons to let your mead/wine/cider age a little before bottling is to make sure it's truly finished. Even after adding stabilizing chemicals and seeing the bubbles in the airlock stop, you might have some lingering activity for a few days or weeks. It might not be enough for you to notice visually, but it could cause some sediment to form in the bottles and possibly even a pressurized bottle, aka "bottle bomb", which can be dangerous if the pressure causes the bottle to burst.

Another good reason to wait to bottle is clarity. Even if it looks clear, there can be millions of yeast still floating around in there. Bulk aging gives you more time for the yeast and other stuff to drop out, and you'll have a clearer product in the bottle.

Backsweetening is yet another reason to wait to bottle. Young mead/wine usually tastes pretty harsh. If you sweeten and bottle right away, you might find it overly sweet once the harshness mellows and the real flavors come out. By letting it age and develop its flavor profile before sweetening & bottling, you can have a better idea of what it will taste like down the road and adjust the sweetness accordingly.

Edit: shoot, I guess Colorado wins for the simultaneous post ordering. :P

shanek17
04-09-2012, 11:10 PM
you guys are awesome, thanks for the quick and well written posts. and MY BAD for the double posting lol I was hoping to gather a larger audience to my posts, but it wont happen again!

I have to be going now but i will reply to the posts at a later time , peace out; have a good night.

shanek17
04-11-2012, 12:39 AM
yea you 2 make good points about letting them age clarify and degas naturally, that is an ideal way to do it! But this is my first batch and I would like to get them bottled sooner than later; actually I live with 2 other male roomates that like to have parties and pump loud subwoofer music in our small house... so I would like to get these batches done and out of the way, maybe i can find a safer and quieter spot for my next batches lol.

So are there alternatives to safely bottle other than waiting years for them to sit and clarify and stop fermenting? Iv heard that champagne bottles are strong for pressure, are champagne bottles a good idea ? Iv also heard about this cold crashing, to kill off the yeast, which make sense; since everytime i here about wine fermentation , its always said to keep the yeast at a comfortable temperature roughly above 50 F.

I dont expect my wine to be sitting in the bottles long , as my mother has already asked for a bottle and my friends can help me drink the other ones, basically im saying they wont be sitting in the bottles for very long..if that makes a difference? Im not sure how long it takes for pressure to build up in the bottles... damn this bottle bomb thing is so far the hardest part of making wine!!

Chevette Girl
04-11-2012, 12:53 AM
So are there alternatives to safely bottle other than waiting years for them to sit and clarify and stop fermenting? Iv heard that champagne bottles are strong for pressure, are champagne bottles a good idea ? Iv also heard about this cold crashing, to kill off the yeast, which make sense; since everytime i here about wine fermentation , its always said to keep the yeast at a comfortable temperature roughly above 50 F.

I dont expect my wine to be sitting in the bottles long , as my mother has already asked for a bottle and my friends can help me drink the other ones, basically im saying they wont be sitting in the bottles for very long..if that makes a difference? Im not sure how long it takes for pressure to build up in the bottles... damn this bottle bomb thing is so far the hardest part of making wine!!

Sorry but I'm answering your questions out of order :P

Pressure buildup can take days to months. It really depends how vigorous your yeast are, if you backsweeten and don't check it, it could become carbonated as quickly as beer, which is usually a week or three, but if you've only got a little sugar and a few viable yeast cells left it could take months and months... or it might never happen.

Cold crashing doesn't kill yeast, just sort of deactivates it so it drops out of suspension, it's more helpful for clearing the mead than making it stop permanently. To stop it permanently, that's what the stabilizing chemicals are for: sulphites to stun the crap out of it, and sorbates to prevent any yeast that wake up afterwards from being able to breed.

If you make a dry mead and properly degas it over the course of a few days once the SG has dropped to 1.000 or lower and stops moving, you can bottle it without worrying too much about bottle bombs because once you get the CO2 buildup out of the mead, there's no sugar for the yeast to convert into more carbonation. It's only when you have residual sugar that bottle bombs are an issue.

And finally, going back to your original post where you suggest using xylitol to backsweeten, well, that's safe as long as the mead was dry and degassed prior to that. I've used Splenda and also stevia extract successfully, and you don't have to worry much about them because as you say, they're nonfermentable.

akueck
04-11-2012, 01:09 PM
Just to expand, a FG of 1.000 does not mean there is no remaining sugar. The alcohol in the mead makes the "no sugar" gravity lower than 1, usually closer to 0.980. The space left between 1.000 and 0.980 is more than enough to explode your bottles, should the yeast decide to go there. (a SG drop of about 0.002 to 0.003 should be about right for "normal" carbonation, so you can imagine what 0.020 will do.)

If you need to bottle quickly, I have to strongly suggest stabilizing the mead. Sulfite/sorbate is a common and easy to use option. UV or heat pasteurization works but is difficult at home. Sterile filtration works but is difficult everywhere. If you know the mead will be consumed very quickly, you could always use plastic screw-top bottles. They aren't good for aging, but give you lots of warning if the pressure is rising.

skunkboy
04-11-2012, 10:39 PM
If you know the mead will be consumed very quickly, you could always use plastic screw-top bottles. They aren't good for aging, but give you lots of warning if the pressure is rising.

Or cork a couple of bottles, and leave them standing on their bottoms. Don't put wax or a fancy wine bottle shrink wrap on them. They will likely shoot out the cork, and much of the mead, before blowing up. Makes a hell of a bang if the cork hits your heating ducts, not that it has ever happened to me... :)

shanek17
04-11-2012, 11:32 PM
Just to expand, a FG of 1.000 does not mean there is no remaining sugar. The alcohol in the mead makes the "no sugar" gravity lower than 1, usually closer to 0.980. The space left between 1.000 and 0.980 is more than enough to explode your bottles, should the yeast decide to go there. (a SG drop of about 0.002 to 0.003 should be about right for "normal" carbonation, so you can imagine what 0.020 will do.)

If you need to bottle quickly, I have to strongly suggest stabilizing the mead. Sulfite/sorbate is a common and easy to use option. UV or heat pasteurization works but is difficult at home. Sterile filtration works but is difficult everywhere. If you know the mead will be consumed very quickly, you could always use plastic screw-top bottles. They aren't good for aging, but give you lots of warning if the pressure is rising.

yea i had a feeling that a FG of 1.000 does not mean its totally done, iv heard your supposed to wait for a FG of .990 to .995 for it to be safe and ready to bottle. But could you elaborate a bit more about what your saying above; you mention the alcohol in the mead makes the no sugar gravity closer to .980. does this mean the hydrometer isnt accurate for a FG reading?

yes i have tried stabilizing one of the wines and so far so good. But what do you mean about the plastic screw top bottles; how do they give you lots of warnings if their is pressure rising?

______

By the way I tried to make this message as a multi quote and I cannot figure out how to get it too work! I put my question under your first paragraph that you wrote but then when i submmited the reply, it added my question in with what you wrote out. Is this multi quote only for the paying members?

shanek17
04-11-2012, 11:36 PM
Or cork a couple of bottles, and leave them standing on their bottoms. Don't put wax or a fancy wine bottle shrink wrap on them. They will likely shoot out the cork, and much of the mead, before blowing up. Makes a hell of a bang if the cork hits your heating ducts, not that it has ever happened to me... :)

yea thats a great idea! i have a couple corks I could use too, but I dont have those big tools for corking bottles , and its out of my budget rite now. Can i just use a mallet or a hammer to get the corks snug in there ? Im guessing I wont be putting them too tightly in there , since if the pressure is going to pop I want the cork to be the first to give; and maybe then I can experience the cork hitting a heating duct haha

TAKeyser
04-11-2012, 11:48 PM
yea thats a great idea! i have a couple corks I could use too, but I dont have those big tools for corking bottles , and its out of my budget rite now. Can i just use a mallet or a hammer to get the corks snug in there ? Im guessing I wont be putting them too tightly in there , since if the pressure is going to pop I want the cork to be the first to give; and maybe then I can experience the cork hitting a heating duct haha

I'd never use it for a whole batch, but I've done a half dozen bottles or so with a mini-corker before. http://www.midwestsupplies.com/mini-corker.html

Chevette Girl
04-12-2012, 12:00 AM
yea i had a feeling that a FG of 1.000 does not mean its totally done, iv heard your supposed to wait for a FG of .990 to .995 for it to be safe and ready to bottle. But could you elaborate a bit more about what your saying above; you mention the alcohol in the mead makes the no sugar gravity closer to .980. does this mean the hydrometer isnt accurate for a FG reading?

yes i have tried stabilizing one of the wines and so far so good. But what do you mean about the plastic screw top bottles; how do they give you lots of warnings if their is pressure rising?

______

By the way I tried to make this message as a multi quote and I cannot figure out how to get it too work! I put my question under your first paragraph that you wrote but then when i submmited the reply, it added my question in with what you wrote out. Is this multi quote only for the paying members?

Hit the multi-quote button on all the posts you want to use, then the reply button or the quote button on the last one you want to use, it should put them all in the same reply box with appropriate quotes. I think it's supposed to work for non-patrons too.

Science lesson time... water has a SG of 1.000. So when you've converted all the alcohol to sugar, the SG will get below that, but where it ultimately finishes depends on where you started, the more sugar was in there in the first place, the more alcohol can be produced and the lower the SG, which is why I stipulated "below 1.000 and stops moving".

I have my own questions about how accurate calculations based on hydrometer readings are when you're adding alcohol at the same time as removing sugar, I think we get artificially high ABV readings, but I can't substantiate this at the moment so we'll let it go :)

And with respect to screw top bottles (or swing tops, or removeable corks for that matter), you can briefly unseal it (say once a week) and listen for the hiss of gas escaping, which would indicate that there's activity. With a plastic screw-top bottle (pop or soda depending on where you come from:) )you don't even need to unseal it, you just squeeze it, if it feels all firm like a new bottle of Coke, problems, if it's squishy like last week's half-bottle of flat ginger ale, no problems.

akueck
04-12-2012, 12:04 AM
The plastic bottles usually have a little give in them. That is, you can squeeze them a little. If the pressure builds up, the bottle will get harder to squeeze. It's the same feeling as an unopened 2 L of soda vs. after you open it. You can feel the pressure inside the bottle just by holding it. Glass, however, is pretty rigid so you don't get that "extra warning" that a plastic bottle will give you. The other nice thing about plastic is that it tends to fail a little less catastrophically. Glass will shatter into a million pieces if it breaks at all, while plastic will often bulge then "pop" rather than shatter. Depends on the plastic, but the stuff bottles are made of usually fail that way.

As for the alcohol/sugar thing. The hydrometer just measures density. The higher it floats, the more dense the liquid is. It isn't measuring incorrectly, but what you are measuring changes as the fermentation goes along. In the beginning it's just sugar and water. By the end, you have alcohol too. Alcohol is less dense than water with a SG of about 0.790. So if you had exactly half water and half alcohol, your SG would be halfway between water (1.000) and alcohol (0.790) or 0.895. For your hypothetical mead with only about 14% alcohol and no sugar, the SG would be close to 0.971. Anything above that means that something else is in solution. Usually you've got some things that aren't sugar in there too, but the compound most likely present in large-ish quantities is sugar. So if your SG is 1.000, you know that you've got some residual sugar.

Personally the lowest I've had a mead finish was like 0.980 or so, but that one started at only 1.090. Usually if you're starting at 1.100 or higher mead seems to finish out closer to 0.990-1.000 if it goes "totally dry". But again here "dry" means "not very much residual sugar" and not "no residual sugar".