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I read here that wines can be stabilized by "adding potassium sorbate just before the wine is bottled".

I understand that "just before" in this context means a day or two later. But is it really necessary to bottle quickly after stabilizing with potassium sorbate? Can I not wait a month or two to bottle it? I am trying to understand why this article says "just before", and whether this is truly important or not.

The reason I need to know is that I only have occasional access to the brewery where I am making wines and would prefer to stabilize now, and then bottle in a couple of months.

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Potassium sorbate "stabilizes" a wine by preventing the yeast from reproducing any further. The most common reason to add it is when you're backsweetening, since the addition of more fermentable sugars will cause any remaining yeast to restart the fermentation (with sometimes explosive results). If you do decide to backsweeten, adding potassium sorbate to a wine which still has yeast cells will not prevent additional fermentation, but it will inhibit it. When you add it doesn't matter, as long as its after fermentation has finished.

If you're not backsweetening, there's no need to add potassium sorbate.

Either way, you should add potassium metabisulfate (different than potassium sorbate!) or campden tablets before bottling; it will kill off any unwanted bacteria and help prevent unwanted oxidation.

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  • Thanks, but I'm not sure this answers the specific question. I understand what the purpose of potassium sorbate is, but I am struggling to understand whether (and if so, why) it is important to bottle soon after adding it. My question is whether it matters if I add potassium sorbate and then wait another month before bottling? The article I linked to suggests that it must be bottled quickly after stabilizing, but I don't understand why this would be the case? In your answer you say it doesn't matter when stabilization happens; does this also mean it doesn't matter when bottling then happens? Oct 26 at 20:47
  • Oh, my bad! No, it does not matter when you add the potassium sorbate as long as it's after fermentation has completed, and it does not matter how long after adding potassium sorbate you bottle as long as its evenly distributed throughout the wine. Waiting a month in between is fine; it will just give the wine some time to bulk age.
    – sintken
    Oct 26 at 22:44

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