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Is it possible to decontaminate my wine after some (not too clean) objects fell into it?

I was straining my blackberry/elderberry wine through a straining bag. The brew is about a week old at this stage, and I've added only about a third of the required sugar (the rest to be added today after this step).

I had the bag held over the bucket overnight, held to a pair of chairs by some clothes-pegs that I had taken off the clothes line and allowed to drip into the bucket below.

Unfortunately this morning, while I was removing the straining bag, 4 of the pegs popped off the chairs and fell into the bucket!

These pegs were not only not sterilised but a bit old, dusty and the springs on them a bit rusty - they have been outside for a couple of years, spending some time on the ground, etc. Although I then fished them out with a scalded (though that seemed pointless by now!) spatula, it took me about 1-2 minutes to do this and I feel I have ruined the batch.

Is my batch ruined now? Is there anything that can be done to save it? (I don't want to boil it now as I'm afraid it would kill the yeast and boil away the alcohol, not to mention just ruin the taste anyway). Or am I over-reacting and it might be OK?

5

No don't boil it!

Chances are you are fine at this point. Bacteria just don't hang around lonely old clothespins much. Without knowing what type yeast you pitched, I can't give a solid answer, but if you re-pitch using a strong yeast strain like EC1118, it will surely kill any new bacteria that may have been introduced.

At a week old about 70-80% of the alcohol will have been produced already and alcohol itself is a great sanitizer. Check for off smells and weird floaties for a bit and I think you'll find you're okay.

Something should be said for your brewing practices though... LOL

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I don't think I would boil the wine, I am afraid it would affect the taste negatively.

Any solids (like dust) will either fall to the bottom or float on the surface. In either case, you should be able to get rid of it after racking your wine.

Any bacteria introduced could spoil the wine, but chances are small in my opinion. In any case, infection will progress over the first few next days (it will not spoil the wine in a few minutes), so I would suggest to monitor the wine (smell and taste if for a few days in a row. If the taste doesn't evolve into something bad, you should be fine.

Make sure to sanitize anything that will come in contact with the wine and if you are concerned that too much oxygen will be introduced, you may add some campden (SO2) to protect the wine.

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It may be ok, but most likely not. Check by smell and sight, if it looks OK nd smells OK, taste a little, it may be fine, but it would take a week for you to find out.

I would boil it and add back some new yeast. If you keep a lid on you will not lose much alcohol and yes you will affect the flavour boiling it but it will not be that drastic.

Or ditch it and just start again.

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  • Won't boiling it kill the yeast? – colmde Oct 5 '17 at 23:51
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    Yes, you would need to pitch more yeast, after cool down. – Philippe Oct 6 '17 at 18:49
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First, your wine is going to be fine. Fruit wine and especially grape wine, have several ways to fight infection that beer doesn't. First the acid levels in wine are much higher and that is a natural barrier for the nasty stuff to get going. Second, after a couple of days of fermentation, the alcohol levels are getting higher than beer and is also a natural protection against unwanted bacteria invading.

Once fermentation is done, you'll need to add sulfites to preserve the wine and make sure it doesn't turn to vinegar and that also helps keep the bugs out.

Never boil wine. The pectic enzymes in the fruit will turn it cloudy and also ruin the fruitiness of the wine by driving off aroma esters. You'll end up with a cloudy, and maybe syrupy mess.

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