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I'm currently brewing an apple wine. I started it at 1.080, and when that was finished I added another 1.020. Now it has been sitting on it's yeast cake for about one month, and I'm considering if I should add another addition (to max out the yeast and allow for some sweetening) or not.

Is it detrimental to add more sugar now? As in, will the fermentation be weak and stressed? Should I siphon the wine off the cake and add it without the yeast cake? Should I just not mix it after addition, so as not to bring the trub into suspension?

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3 Answers 3

I'm thinking your fermentation is probably just crippling along now.. and adding more sugar may just make them stressed out..and potentially cause off flavors.

But really... I think this really depends on what your goal is here. If you goal is to increase the ABV.. then you can consider adding more sugar. If it did not take off.. and you want more ABV, then you'll have to make a yeast starter and get those yeastie beasties healthy again.

If you goal is to sweeten

Then you will want the fermentation to die out & finish naturally. Then you'll ant to stabilize with potassium sorbate & campden tablets. Given it a day or two.. then backsweeten.

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I would rack the apple wine off of the yeast cake and mix in your sugar and some campden tabs. I wouldn't add it back to the yeast cake. There is plenty of yeast in suspension that will be able to ferment the sugar just fine (that is, until the alcohol levels get too high).

When the alcohol levels do get close to too high the yeast will be stressed so the less yeast cake with loads of dormant/dead yeast to be cannibalized etc., the better.

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adding the campden will inhibit the suspended yeast and no further fermentation will occur. This is a technique often used to stop ABV at a specific level, when carbonation is not desired. IF Max does this, he will effectively sweeten the wine and there will be no additional (significant) alcohol produced. Good suggestion if he is satisfied with the alcohol level and is just wanting to sweeten it. –  drj Oct 12 '11 at 0:18

I'd siphon the wine, add the sugar, then carefully add back to the cake to avoid stirring up the trub as much as possible. I'd certainly let the yeast do their thing for another couple of weeks to avoid over pressuring unless you want a sparkling apple wine, and in that case, I'd bottle in champagne or heavy glass bottles. The ABV is going to be pretty stiff and I'd worry about overpowering the apple flavenoids. You certainly will want to let the wine age a while (at least a year or so) to allow the flavor to develop over the alcohol. I had a similar experience with a pear cider that turned into a pear wine, took about a year and a half for the fruit flavor to recover. Apple is a more robust fruit flavor than pear, but I'd still be concerned.

Keep in mind that the yeast will eventually shut down as the alcohol concentration gets too high for them. So, you may not see any further CO2 generation (seems to be your goal), but I'd really give it some time before bottling.

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What is your rationale for siphoning it off instead of just leaving it? I'm fermenting about 16 l in a 25 l glass carboy, so there's alot of headspace. I'm fairly paranoid about oxidizing at this point :p. If you would return it to the yeast cake, why not just pour/siphon the sugar solution into the carboy (boiled in a small amount of water, so it's more of a syrup)? –  Max Oct 11 '11 at 16:34
    
Wholeheartedly agree about letting it sit for a long time! Probably taste like vodka + cider right now. –  Max Oct 11 '11 at 16:36
    
If you carefully siphon, you should reduce the addition of oxygen, and avoid stirring up the trub when you add it back.. Guess it is a balance thing and on thinking about it, I'd probably just add the sugar (dissolved in some of the wine) to the carboy/keg and allow the sugar to dissipate into the wine, if I didn't think that I could avoid adding oxygen in during siphoning. Just a matter of technique. –  drj Oct 11 '11 at 20:10

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