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Thread: Sparking wine - when to rack + bottle

  1. #1

    Default Sparking wine - when to rack + bottle

    Hello

    I've just got into this - I've been wanting to homebrew for ages since inheriting some kit from my late Dad and lockdown's finally meant it could happen. I got a copy of CJJ's Berry's First Steps book and "Brew It Yourself" by Moyle and Hood. A beer from the latter is currently getting very close to ready... very fun already!

    I was also following the Elderflower recipe from the Berry book, though it turns out it's actually with Rowan flowers after some crossed wires! Not knowing that the Berry book has rather high sugar content, I started this one with a SG of 1130! It's using a sparking wine yeast and seems to still be going so we'll see - SG was down to 1015 when I checked a couple of days ago and the wee sample tasted reasonably good.

    Anyway, I let this one ferment in a bucket for a week; I then strained it and it's now been in a demijohn for a little over a week and has about a cm of yeast sediment in the bottom. The Berry book suggests waiting until it's "started to clear" before testing it in a separate jar to see if it's ready for bottling as a sparkling wine, but I'm not clear on what that means! It's started to clear already, but there are clearly fermentation bubbles rising up the jar still so probably well too early yet. Has anyone got any clues as to when I should try it? Is it just a case of waiting until a few days of stable hydrometer readings? And should I rack it into another demijohn any time soon now there's a leathy amount of sediment?

    Thanks for any help!

    Sandy


    Thanks....

  2. #2

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    Only just seen this thread in the active topics bar so apologies for the delay. I've personally never made sparkling wine, but one week in the DJ is quite short I would give it a bit longer still before you rack it off the sediment. Based on the date now I would suggest rack now if you haven't already.

  3. #3

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    Thanks. I didn't see your reply! As it happens I did rack it just about the time of your message (on the 14th) - but I also added a restarter yeast as it had stuck at SG of 1010. It's now just about stopped again at around SG 1000, I guess it won't get any better now so I'm leaving it another 3-4 weeks yet then will bottle it and leave it for a few months to clear there. No doubt it'll be a bit on the sweet side but a good learning experience for the first one!

    As Elderflowers came into proper season I also tried the updated recipe that's on the forum, that one is already down to SG 0990 and starting to clear. Looking forward to that.

  4. #4
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    Your friendly "sparkling wine warning".............

    Sparkling wines are generally made either by using "methode champenoise" or by forced carbonation. So called "sparkling wine yeast" a.k.a. champagne yeast, might not be what you think it is i.e. that the base wine is made using the yeast for the grape strain, while the sparkling/champagne yeast is what's used for the secondary fermentation to actually carbonate the product.

    It's actually quite a palaver to do by hand in the original way i.e. not difficult to do, but the riddling and disgourging can be a faff (can't say about France, but here, many of the moder makers have machinery that manages the riddling stage to get all the yeast down into the neck of the bottle, and another machine that chills the neck of the bottle, removes the cap, washes away the yeast (some like to put a shot of sugar syrup in afterwards), then corks and wires the cork down and foils the bottle etc (disgourging machines do exactly what would have been done by hand, but quicker and more efficiently etc).

    So the "warning" bit is this. ONLY USE BOTTLES DESIGNED FOR SPARKLING WINE/CHAMPAGNE (capitals for emphasis).

    This is because that the kind of pressures involved are too high for beer bottles. Normal wine bottles aren't designed for any pressure. Exploding bottles/bottle bombs are very dangerous as there's not way of knowing when they might blow...........

    As for forced carbonation? it's suggested that this is done in a keg (like a corny keg or similar), because it's a clean environment etc, plus you can apply an appropriate level of pressure (but it often needs to be chilled under pressure as it allows for a higher level of dissolved CO2 into the wine). Obviously some research would need to be done so you know what kit, how much pressure, gas type, chilling, etc etc need to be done.

    Doing it the "CJJ way" may indeed work but by bottling and still fermenting batch that has started to clear will still leave you with some sediment in the bottle, which is unsightly and can also introduce off flavours as the small amount of sediment breaks down by autolysis.........

    Just my tuppence worth.........
    Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

    Some blog ramblings

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