Stabilizing Your Wine Before Bottling
Any wine with residual sweetness - in my opinion - must be stabilized before bottling, or else you run very high risks of re-fermentation, malo-lactic problems and "spritziness" in your bottles. Besides being an unpleasant drinking experience, this will also leave behind dead yeast, off-flavors, and can (very easily) blow out your corks, leaving a mess on your floor. Here are the do's and don't's of stabilizing wine.
The first thing to know is that no additive we will discuss here can safely STOP an active fermentation. Sure, you can dose enough metabisulfite into your wine to kill everything, but you will be drinking pure chemical flavor by that point. Therefore, you MUST wait for a fermentation to end on its own accord before you kill off the yeast and stabilize it.
(The only way to manually stop an active fermentation is to throw the fermenter into a refrigerator and drop the temperature close to freezing. This will shut off the activity, at which point the following procedures can be applied to the liquid in that fermenter - remember, keep the wine cold while stabilizing it, or else it may start re-fermenting BEFORE the stabilizers can take effect... Once the stabilizers have taken effect - about 12 hours - the wine may be warmed u...but this is the hard way to do it. Most people let their fermentations run their course till they are done.)
OK, the fermentation is dead, there is no activity, everything has run its course. The wine is now ready for stabilization.
For a five gallon batch of wine, do the following: In a small drinking glass, put about 1/2 cup of good-tasting water. Add 1/4 teaspoon of potassium metabisulfite AND 3.75 teaspoons of potassium sorbate (also called Sorbistat-K) into that water; stir until fully dissolved. Both powders should dissolve into pure, clear liquid. Gently add this water/liquid into your five gallons of wine and stir gently for about a minute. Re-seal the fermenter and let the wine sit, undisturbed, for 12 hours.
At this point, your wine is ready to be sweetened, or bottled. Add either boiled sugar/water or fruit juice/etc. to your wine to bring back sweetness and flavor to taste. We also stock at Main Street a non-fermentable sugar liquid that can be added directly into your fermenter. Do not over-add sweetness, because you cannot remove it after this point. Add sweetness slowly and taste often. Once the wine has reached the proper sweetness level, according to your personal tastes, it is ready to be aged until crystal clear, or bottled, if the wine is crystal-clear already. WARNING: DO NOT BOTTLE CLOUDY WINE.
See our page of bottling wine for more info, and always feel free to call for more info...