First wine making..acid blend and camden tabs


I am a first time wine maker and I am in the process of making a Cabernet Sauvignon from raw juice. I added 6 camden tablets to the 6 gallons juice and it is bubbling away. But after testing the acidity I found I was low and added some acid blend ( 40% citric acid, 30% malic acid ,30% tartaric acid ) and 1/2 the sugar needed to get me at 24 brix. Later in my notes I saw tartaric acid is the acid of choice for wine. I think I have more room in the must to add more acid. Will the use of acid blend hurt the cab wine and how long can I delay adding my yeast starter?. The camden tablets I added yesterday are still fizzing away.

Any help would be appreciated,


Tartaric acid is the acid of choice for grape wines, but acid blend works fine too. You don’t need to worry about that.

But something else in your post would worry me. Campden shouldn’t cause the juice to bubble; did you crush them before you added them? It could be that if you did not, then the sulfite in them has not been able to spread through the juice effectively and they are not doing their job. This likely means you have fermentation going on, which is likely due to whatever wild yeast was present on the grape skins. Wild fermentation can yield interesting results, sometimes amazing but more often disappointing. Add your yeast starter as soon as you can to encourage it to outcompete whatever is currently causing the bubbling. Don’t add more campden now.

yes, I did crush the camden tablets all 6 for 6 gallons.Should I wait for the bubbles to stop before adding the yeast? If its a wild yeast how do I remove it.?

I’ve never seen continued fizzing from k-meta. Maybe for a minute or two, but not for an extended period. Like Rebuilt said, it sounds like some wild yeast are active in there. Not much you can do at this point beyond adding your wine yeast and trying to outcompete. Many wine yeasts are “killer” yeasts and will hopefully take care of it for you. I don’t know the mechanism of how they kill other yeast cells, but it might be your best bet at this point.

“Killer yeasts” are named that not because they kill other yeasts, but because they are so hardy in adverse conditions (like the presence of sulfite) and multiply so rapidly that they almost always outcompete other strains. But if the wild yeast has a good enough head start, that might not be good enough. Pitch your yeast starter into the juice immediately. Don’t wait.

Rebuilt, thanks for the clarification. I’ll need to do more research into this, in regards to sour beer bottle dregs many breweries are carbing with wine yeast which causes issues with culturing those dregs. I wouldn’t be surprised if this weren’t a “repeat it enough times, it must be true” phenomenon. :lol:

Hi, I tested the specific gravity my original SG was 1.080 at the time of the camden tablet addition. I later added sugar …1/2 of what was required to get my brix to 24 for a the Cabernet sauvignon. The following day I added pectin enzyme and some yeast nutrient. After two days I still had some fine fizzing and my SG dropped to 1.035. I made a yeast starter with go ferm as suggested but I could only incubate it for 10 mins. before adding it to the must.I also added the rest of the sugar that was in my original calculation for 24 brix. I tasted the must it had a bland grape taste. I plan on taking another SG reading after 24 hrs. Also I have enough yeast and go ferm for a second yeast addition, would this help? Thank you for the replies.

You definitely had an active fermentation happening before you pitched yeast. At this point, I’d wait it out and see what happens. Don’t worry about the flavor - it’s not going to taste great at this point, even without the wild yeast.

Hi Pork chop, thank you for the reply. After my last post I made another yeast starter with go firm after an acid adjustment with tartaric acid. Before adding the yeast I checked my specific gravity it was around 1.025 that was after my second addition of sugar.I checked the acid content I am close for a Cabernent sauvignon one assay method had me .65 and another slightly acidic . I did a litmus paper test that was about 3.1-3.2 ph The original SG was 1.080 before the two calculated sugar additions that should have pushed up the brix to about 24. I tasted the sample week grape flavor and the alcohol was definitely there. Should I attempt a malolactic fermentation after all that has happened?

I really can’t answer that question - hopefully Rebuilt can!

Litmus paper is notoriously inaccurate for pH measurements, so I wouldn’t get too concerned about it, but a pH of 3.1 or 3.2 is pretty low for a Cab. You may have added too much acid. Not much to do about it now, but something to keep in mind for the future. If your pH really is that low, you won’t be able to get a malolactic fermentation going. The bacteria that are used for MF are very finicky, and they simply won’t work under those conditions.

I’d just let it go until the gravity stops dropping, that will be at SG = 0.992 to 0.995. Then give it a week to settle before racking to a new container, leaving the lees behind.

I used to do MF on my red wines, back when I lived in the States and could get good quality grapes. One of the most difficult parts of red wine making, and not something I’d recommend for someone trying their first batch.

The only experience I have with MLF is with a blackberry wine, trying to tame the malic acid. It worked, but now the wine is a complete diacetyl bomb. Butter is great in blackberry cobbler, not so great in wine. I’m thinking about pitching a brett culture to see if it can clean it up.

I only fermented blackberries once, and I don’t remember having a problem with high malic acid or diacetyl, so can’t help you there. What yeast did you use? You might want to try 71B-1122 next time, it consumes a lot of malic acid.

That’s what I used, but it was early on in my wine making career and I was in the try-everything mode. So big mistake, I added Wyeast MLF cultures to it. I should have just rolled with the 71B yeast. But, I got to learn the flavor of diacetyl!

Thank you for all the replies. I will pass on MLF, and rack to a glass carboy degass and set aside for 2 months and repeat again. I would like to do a 3rd racking with oak chips in a hop bag and let it age 2-4months.I have a spare refrigerator in my cellar if needed. I have read adding 1/4 tsp potassium metasulfitle at each racking is needed. But when is the best time to add 1/2 tsp per gallon potassium sorbate to stop unwanted fermentation? I have seen reference when adding to the secondary fermenter and a small amount 1/8 to 6 gallons at bottling.

The racking schedule looks good, every two months is about right. For the oak chips you don’t need to bag them. They’ll eventually drop to the bottom and you can leave them there when you rack again.
1/4 ts sulfite per racking is OK, but probably on the high side (this is 5 or 6 gallons, right?). Campden tablets easier to measure accurately, and for that you would use 1 tablet per gallon every other racking.
If you don’t plan to add sugar to backsweeten (and I can’t imagine you want sweetened Cab), don’t use the sorbate. Sorbate is only needed for sweet wines.

I’ve been reading up on this. This surprises the heck out of me -

Granted, it’s Wikipedia. But it appears to have many reliable references. Need to do more digging now… Maybe there’s a list of yeasts out there within this category!

Thank you for all the help. After the starter yeast was added with nutient the fermentation is now near completion . I took a specific gravity this morning and it was 1.005, by tomorrow I may be able to rack it to my glass carboy. I will skip the MLF step and continue. I purchased 6 gallon bucket of juice. I’ll try to rack it into a 6 gallon glass carboy if enough or use my 5 gallon glass carboy.Thanks Again!!

I’ve been reading up on this. This surprises the heck out of me -

Granted, it’s Wikipedia. But it appears to have many reliable references. Need to do more digging now… Maybe there’s a list of yeasts out there within this category![/quote]
Wow, a surprise to me also. Lots of microbes engage in chemical warfare, but I didn’t think that was how those winemaking strains got their name.
That article does seem strange though, as it states: “The best characterized toxin system is from yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), which was found to spoil brewing of beer.” Last I checked, S. cerevisiae is more commonly referred to as “brewer’s yeast” and is used to ferment beer, not spoil it.

Please let me know what you dig up.