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Chaptalisation Problem

I am in the process of trying to make cream sherry from a
kit by Winexpert. My original gravity was 1.132. In this kit
it calls for chaptalisation when the gravity is below 1.020.

At 1.018 I added the package of sugar as directed. My gravity then increased to 1.030 which was in the range that was suggested. I also stirred the the fermenter for a minute to get the yeast off the bottom and mix the solution as directed by the instructions.

After 7 days I again checked the gravity which read 1.028. 5 days later I checked it again and it read a little higher then 1.026. The is no sign of activity in the fermenter and none in the airlock. The wine is to be racked when the gravity is less then 1.018 but it seems as though it is doing nothing at this point. I have kept the temperature between 71 to 76 degrees during the fermentation.

I would like to know what has happened and why. Also what I can do to correct this problem. I have done wine kits from this company before and never had any problems

I hate to tell you but I had the same thing happen several years ago.I found that you really need to do that sugar addition in two or three small increments. Adding the sugar all at once(like they recommend) overpowers the yeast. At least this is the advice I got when it happened to me. I’ve never tried it since so don’t really know if it would work or not. Good luck. :expressionless:

Okay. I understand.

So how do I get this wine down to less then 1.018 to rack it to secondary and then down to less then 1.010 to stabilize it?

The only thing I can think of is to try repitching using a very high alcohol tolerant yeast. Maybe the guys at NB could help with this. Other than that when I had the problem I just dumped in a fifth of brandy and drank it. Not bad really. Port is supposed to be really sweet anyway. :wink:

Uh oh, I just did that sugar addition on Saturday for the port kit, wondering if I’ll have the same problem. Maybe a new yeast pitch?

I have made 15 or 20 of the Speciale kits and don’t usually have this specific problem, but they can definately be a little sensitive. Just the nature of the wine.

I don’t think the problem is big enough to require repitching. Bringing up the temperature a little bit could help (heating belt). It is not out of the ordinary for these kits to have a longer time frame than the istructions state. I usually wait at least 7-10 days before Chaptalization. Another 7-10 days to rack. Then a good 2-3 weeks before stabilizing.

In your case it does sound like it might be starting to stall, but too early to assume it has stopped completely.

My #1 suggestion would be to go directly to Winexpert with the issue. They should have a specific meathod for rousing the yeast. - They would also have a 1-800 # on their web site where you can usually get pretty good feedback.

I have also had a few specialty wines from them that have finished slightly higher than they should have, but the end result of the wine was still fine.

Again, contact winex. If they can’t fix the problem they will usually replace the kit for you.

Keep an eye on it, but I wouldn’t be too worried about it. I do a lot of these kits and rarely have issues. Just be patient.

I used the Wine Expert Wine Wand with a drill to rouse the yeast so I’m pretty sure that part was done well. I also have a brew belt heating the carboy slightly to make sure it is warm enough so I may end up just fine. I’ll check it after a week and let it go longer if needed. Hopefully the OP can get his sherry to drop those few extra points waiting and I’ll wait and see what happens with my port.

The other issue you will have is with clearing out. It will clear out, but may take way longer than expected. At our store we schedule port and sherry as 10 week wines. And that is with filtration.

I do find that the fining clumps up a lot of crud at the top of the 11.5l carboys as they really are a little small for these formats. For most wines, giving them a good shake can loosen it up and get it to fall out. Again, the small volume of the 11.5 makes this a bit of a pain. We usually filter with the crud still there.

Be carefull if filtering. One of these wines can drive up the preasure on a super jet filter. Not sure I would even try it on a mini-jet. If doing it at home I would probably just rack it several times over several months instead of filtering.

Thanks for the tips, will just plan on not rushing this one as I’ve got no means nor plans to filter. I’ve got it fermenting in a 5 gallon carboy, plan to secondary in a 3 gallon one. Does seem a common piece of advice is to not rush these kits. Haven’t done many but I’ll usually double the recommended time for most steps. When planning to age the wine for a least a year a couple extra months making doesn’t seem like a big deal.

One upside to the speciale kits is that they are very drinkable once you get them in the bottle. No issues with aging long term and they do it quite well. But if you sneek the odd bottle before a full year it will be very smooth.

Well, I have contacted the company and I am waiting for their reply. In
the mean time I am going to raise the temperature slightly to between 75 to 77
degrees and see if this helps before I try to re-pitch any yeast. Hopefully this might
work or the company will reply with a solution.

Keep us posted, please. :cheers:

If you don’t like waiting for a reply here is the Toronto # for Global Vintners.

I don’t think I’m supposed to be giving this out so don’t tell them where you got it.

If they can’t help you directly they should be able to get you in touch with whoever can.

Well, I received a reply from the company last night. To make it easy, I have just copied and pasted it.

Thank you for your contact. Try and warm it up a bit more then 71 d F if
possible. Give the batch a stir today to get the yeast up off the floor of the
vessel into action again. If the gravity does not change in 2 days go ahead
and rack it into the carboy and leave it for a further 10 days in a warm area
and after that time you can go ahead and stabilize it.

Your SG is off by .009 points at this juncture, and the alcohol level is now
in excess of 15% ABV. When you put in the F-pack you will be adding nearly 2000
grams of sugar: there is no way of detecting the difference in SG in the
finished product.

Your batch will not be perceptibly sweeter than it otherwise would be. At
finishing it has over 100 grams of sugar per litre.

The difference you may experience would be like the difference between eating a
spoonful of honey from a gallon jar versus a spoonful of honey from a gallon jar
that also had a tablespoon of sugar dissolved in it. That is, if both of the
honey samples were 15% alcohol."

They also gave me an 800 number to call if I still had questions. I called just to find out what happened and why. I was told basically that the yeast had all but reached its upper limits
of alcohol tolerance. When I added the sugar it over powered the yeast and it just all
but stopped working. They really don’t think re-pitching the yeast would help since the wine
is near 15% now. It was suggested the next time to added the extra sugar in 2 or 3 steps to keep from stressing the yeast.

So there you have it. Short and sweet.

I also thank everyone for your help and advice that you’ve given me.

That is pretty great customer support. Good reminder for me that I should keep port (or sherry or similar) a bit warmer during fermentation and that dosing in the sugar a bit at a time may be a good practice.

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