Do you have bubbles in your kit wine?

January 30, 2008 at 8:00 am (Kit Wine, Thoughts, Winemaking, Winemaking Tips) (, , , )

When you have a blog here at WordPress, you can see what searches bring people to your site. Almost every day I get somebody to here who is wondering what to do about bubbles in their wine.

My very first batch of kit wine had the same problem. Let’s assume the wine tastes fine, it hasn’t turned bad, it’s just sort of carbonated. There are a couple of ways this can happen:

Patience – or a lack of it. That very first batch seems to take forever, doesn’t it? I know, I remember that feeling. One problem is trying to force the wine to finish quickly. It won’t. You can raise the temperature to make it ferment quicker, but that’s actually a bad idea. Be patient. If it says to give it 10 days to finish, 15 days isn’t going to hurt the wine, but it might help it. On the other hand, only waiting 8 or 9 days could be the cause of the problem. It needs to finish fermenting.

Residual Sugar – Another possibility is that there was unfermented sugar in the wine when you bottled it. Then over time the yeast slowly digested the remaining sugar. This is why you don’t want to rush the process. If you don’t see any bubbles in the wine, it should be done. Check the specific gravity, if it isn’t around 1.000 or lower, you probably still have sugar in there. You might want to add a package of yeast and see if it can restart the fermentation. I’ve never had this problem, but fermentation can stop if you have too much sugar or it got too cold. If there is too much sugar, the yeast will ferment until they get drunk and die. Most wine yeasts can handle up to around 15%, some will go as high as 17%. After that, they just can’t convert any further. If it’s too cold, the yeast may inactivate. My most recent wines were fermented at around 60 degrees C without any problems.

Stir – You know how it says to add the chemicals and then stir for two minutes? Did you only stir vigorously for one minute? Maybe you stirred half-heartedly. Then you had to add the fining agent and stir vigorously once again. I know, your arm hurts, poor baby. Take a break, come back and stir a little more. I stir in one direction, then once it gets going, reverse. Repeat until you stirred for at least the required time.

Rack – When I make homemade wine, I will rack the wine at least once before bottling, even if it is just to a bottling bucket. I believe the racking process releases a lot of the trapped gas. The kits don’t tell you to do this, and I think most starter equipment kits don’t come with a bottling bucket. It’s funny, I’ve never had a problem with gas in my homemade stuff, only kit wine. I’m not sure why. I’m thinking maybe the bentonite traps some of the gas in the pores of the clay. Maybe the multiple rackings releases the gas.

Sweetened? – Is it possible you sweetened the wine with sugar and didn’t add Potassium Sorbate before bottling. You need a half a teaspoon for every gallon of wine, 1 tablespoon for a 6-gallon batch. If you added sugar thinking the yeast has been left at the bottom of the fermenter, think again.

So you have bubbles in your wine and it’s bottled. Open the wine bottle and decant it to something else, let it sit for a few minutes and pour glasses from the decanter. It will help remove most of the bubbles, but it won’t make it perfect.

Drink it and enjoy it, it’s still delicious wine.

Advertisements

20 Comments

  1. marlene connors said,

    Do you have any advice on the following question .
    Its 18 days ,and my wine is still fermenting .I am going away for a month . Can I leave it for the month to continue fermenting then add the chemicals when I return ? Is this too long a timespan ?
    Thankyou

  2. Scott said,

    I answered Marlene directly, so I got a few answers. Most importantly, her wine has already been racked to a carboy. I was afraid she still had it in the fermenter.

    Wine is fermented in a bucket for the first week because the fermentation is very active. It bubbles so much it can clog an airlock – and that’s not good. So once fermentation has calmed down a bit, we move it to a carboy. It will still continue to ferment for a week or more, depending upon sugar content and temperature. What is most important here is to let the wine finish fermenting. It could take a month if it is going slow, don’t rush it.

    So as long as Marlene has an airlock on, going away for a month isn’t a problem. I did add the suggestion that the carboy be away from direct sunlight and not in a place where the temperature will vary too much.

  3. Chelsea said,

    Our home wine is at a 2.0 hydrometer reading and were 2 months in. It was in a cold spot. Can we still drink it?

  4. Scott said,

    Chelsea,
    I need a whole lot more information before I would take a guess at what has happened. 2.0 is really high even to start a wine. If you have a specific gravity reading that is really that high, your fermentation never even started. There are a few possible causes: bad or old yeast, the must is too cold, or too much sulfites so that even yeast can’t grow.

    If you don’t have mold growing on the juice, you can taste it and see how it tastes. If the cold is the cause, there are two things to do: 1. put it in a warmer place, at least to start the fermentation, and 2. make a starter. If you use a starter, you will know that the yeast is active and there will be so many active cells that even a cold must will start fermenting.

  5. Joe said,

    We trying our luck with our first batch of wine. We let it ferment 15 days, we opened it, scooped off the scuppernongs, strained it through a cheesecloth about 5 times. We added 4 pounds more sugar, closed it back out and pou a balloon over the valve. It has been 5 days, the balloon is not blowing up from any gases released, there are not any bubbles of anykind. We have it in a closet in the house so it is not in the cold air. Could you possibly tell me where we are going wrong. We were thinking of opening back up and adding more yeast. Will appreciate any suggestions.

    • Scott said,

      Sorry I missed your comment, I’m not on here much these days. Here is where I think you may have gone wrong, but I don’t have enough details to be certain.

      First, when making wine, I usually put all of the sugar I’m going to use in when I make the must. The only reason to add sugar later is to make it highly alcoholic, which usually makes for bad tasting wine.

      There are possibly two places you went wrong. When you filtered the wine, you probably removed a lot of the yeast. Now, between the lack of yeast and already existing alcohol content, you can’t get it restarted. If that is the case, make a starter by putting a new packet of yeast in warm water and getting it going. Then take a half a cup of your sugary mixture and add it to the yeast and give a couple of hours to get going. When it does, add another half cup of sugar/wine. The starter should be going full speed at this point, you can now add it to the big batch and it can get it started again.

      A second possible problem is the alcohol content. Different yeasts have different tolerance for alcohol. If your wine reached the maximum level the yeast can tolerate, the yeast will die off. Adding more sugar is not going to fix the problem, the yeast are dead and done. You can add a different yeast that is more alcohol tolerant, ask your local wine shop to suggest one or check them out online.

      Lastly, you shouldn’t need to do what you did. Again, you didn’t give many details, but you should ferment for up to a week in a covered vat or tub, then move to a glass carboy for the rest of the time. Let the wine clear on its own. It takes some patience, but filtering strips flavors and colors and is almost never necessary for homemade wine. Wineries filter because they don’t have the time to allow it to clear on its own.

  6. chris said,

    Hello everyone, I have just started making my own wine, I have been having fun with it, I have been making my wine from Concord grape juice from the bottle, it has been realy good. However I just ran into one problem maybe ? My wine tastes great but it has a smell of a strong gass or something I just cant figure it out? The wine seems to be fine other than that, it seems to happen after I put the Campden tablets in. I was wondering if I can skip that step ? I plan on storing a few bottles till next year to see if the storie is true, it get better with time.
    Thanks for you advice, Chris Tyler, Texas

    • Scott said,

      Chris,
      The problem with the Campden tablets is that you can’t control the dosage. It puts potassium metabisulfite into your wine, which acts to preserve it and counter oxidation. If you put in too much, it will smell and taste funky. You would be better off purchasing potassium metabisulfite in powder form, making a known solution, and then adding the appropriate amount to preserve your wine.

      The smell and taste will lessen over time, but you are better off learning to use the right amount so that it doesn’t overwhelm the wine.

  7. djsp said,

    i have a kit wine which i stirred and stirred for 2 days at the appropriate time even shaking the carboy. i’m at the bottling day and there is still a slight fiz to it. what can i do.

    • Scott said,

      First, just because you reached the number of days on the instructions doesn’t mean it has to be bottled then. I have left wine in a carboy for more than 6 months. As long as the temperature is stable, the bubbler is in place with water in it, and you don’t have it in the sun, there is no rush.

      Another alternative is to call the manufacturer and see what they suggest. My parting thought is that bubbles in the wine seems to only happen to new winemakers, so I guess it’s our lack of patience in the beginning. After a couple of batches, you will be looking at the carboy saying, “I’ll get to it in a month or two.” That’s probably why I have about a dozen carboys.

  8. Inge Powell said,

    Hi, I made a plum wine with a very old recipe, that suggested adding a glass of brandy at the start of fermentation to make it slightly fortified. Its been bubbling away for 14 months!! as it seemed to stop over the last month, i have added campen tablets and bottled it. We opened a bottle and its like a lightly sparkling wine, but tastes fantastic! should I worry about the light fizz as it tastes so good?

    • Scott said,

      You have nothing to fear from fizz. The only danger is that the bottles pop or explode, but it would need a bit more than just a little fizz. I say enjoy it.

  9. Charles said,

    Hi. We had some apple wine fermenting a lot for about 5 days. There was a lot of action in the pail. We left for a few days and the house got cold. When we got back there wasn’t anything happening in the pail. We moved it to a carboy. There are NO bubbles in the carboy. Is there anyway to save this batch or is it ok or should we just bottle it up? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time.

    Charles

    • Scott said,

      How cold is cold? If the fermentation was going well, it has to get pretty cold to stop the fermentation. I don’t know the temperature, but it would probably have to be below 60 degrees, maybe closer to 50 degrees. If there is still sugar in the juice, warming it up to around 68 or 70 degrees and adding another packet of yeast should restart it. If it was going real hard, it could have used up all the sugar and ended or if the alcohol content is too high, it could have killed off the yeast. A recent commenter used an electric heating pad to keep the wine warm when the room was cold. I like that idea.

      Taste it. Is it still sweet? You can test for sugar – there might be an inexpensive test at the drugstore for sugar in urine. I have an old bottle of something called Clinitest. I don’t know if they make it any more.

      If you have a vinometer, use that to test the alcohol content. This is a little glass device, it cost me about $4 a couple of years ago. You put the wine in the top, when it starts dripping out of the bottom, turn it upside down. Capillary action brings the liquid to a level and there are reading that let you read the alcohol content. It is very handy and inexpensive. Most yeast dies out around 16% alcohol, some will go as high as 18%. Either case, that is too much alcohol for good wine.

  10. ernie said,

    if there are bubbles in the bottled wine will it cause it to go bad

    • Scott said,

      Not really. It will be carbonated, which will turn off people drinking the wine. It could also cause your corks to pop or even shatter the bottle because they aren’t designed for pressure.

      On Sun, Jun 2, 2013 at 9:44 PM, Homemade Wine

      • ed said,

        What to do with the bubble?

  11. spiritusursus said,

    My friend used to make homemade wine out of the grapes around his house and the raspberries that grew wild along his driveway. He squoze them in a new white t-shirt and then added sugar & brewers yeast in a five gallon ceramic crock. He covered it with a towel and a heavy wood tabletop, and let it set for a month. It made good, strong, sweet wine. Some other friends worked in a restaurant kitchen, they would take all the bad pieces of fruit that they couldn’t sell, and throw them in a plastic five gallon pickle bucket with a lid. After awhile it turned into some really strong, fizzy wine. It was good, it was sweet, and it got you fucked up quick. I don’t know what kind of yeast they used, but the wine had a high alcohol content, and enough bubbles to be fizzy like champagne, or beer, or sodapop. We got so fucked up off of it that we were trying to pick a fight with the cops. Fucked upper than you get off of Mad Dog, and it didn’t have that nasty cheap wine taste like Mad Dog does. Cheap wine has sulfites in it, maybe that’s why it tastes like shit. Homemade wine gets you fucked upper faster, and without the foul taste. I mean, why do people drink? For the effect. So whatever gets you fucked upper faster is better, right? I never drank alcohol without the intent of getting as drunk as I could as quickly as I could. It would be pointless otherwise. But why does fizzy homemade fruit wine get you so fucked up?

  12. ed said,

    I m making my wine and its too much bubbly. I even transferred it into a bigger container and the condom started to leak out. Thanks

    • Scott said,

      The first 7-10 days, your wine is going through primary fermentation. During that time, there is a lot of activity. If you are using a yeast that tends to be foamy, your wine will have a head of bubbles on top. You should have everything in a fermenter, which is just a large food-grade bucket. You can cover the wine with a towel at this stage, the rapid generation of CO2 will protect the wine from spoilage, the towel keeps the bugs out. If your wine is warm, foaming can be worse. Only after the bubbling starts to slow should you put it into a closed container with an airlock or bubbler.

      On Fri, May 16, 2014 at 2:06 AM, Homemade Wine wrote:

      >

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: