Anyone have experience dealing with a dead bug floating in their
This is a serious one. Ack. It is left over from primary fermentation.
Three carboys of Pinot Noir going through Malo right now. Not all the
junk was filtered out going into the carboys. A few seeds, a few errant
skins, but nothing serious. Lots of fine lees are at the bottom.
During Malo, I've been stirring the lees a few times per week. And just
now, (thankfully in the smaller, 3-gallon carboy -- NOT the larger 6 or
7 gallon) I spotted an earwig. Dead. Floating. It must have risen to
the top after I stirred the lees.
Anyone have any thoughts? The wine is fully fermented, 14% alcohol etc
-- I'm thinking it should be relatively protected against infection.
But still. An earwig. Floating on top right now.
I'm reminded of worms in tequila... but this is different. We're not
talking 40% alc. wine here.
Well... just don't tell anyone about it.
I found a honey bee in the bottom of a 3 gallon batch of mead a while
back. There wasn't much I could do about it within reason, so I just
left it. I'm bulk aging the batch right now and it seems fine.
Either the earwig introduced an acetobacter that will turn the batch
into vinegar, or quite possibly, it's done no harm. Either way, I
wouldn't worry about it. You might find that it has added some
additional "character" to your wine. Hmmm... you might even start a
trend. People everywhere might start adding earwigs to their must.
How close are you to your next racking?
I would rack it or grab it with a paper towel. When making wine there
is a general term for this, MOG. It stands for material other than
grapes. It's usually dirt, bees, flys, spiders and webs etc. I'm not
saying it's OK to have dead bugs in your wine, just that it might be
less of an issue to the wine than to your psyche...
Don't freak man. No big deal. At least it's not a live bug. That might
be more serious. If you are making wine from fresh grapes you must
expect some alien matter to a certain extent. Better a dead bug than a
chunk of mold of some sort.
Now this is a new thing for me to obsess about. Looking for bugs in my
lees. oh. my. I'm glad I read about this prior to witnessing it. I would
have freaked and asked my wife for advice. Now I can just "get it out"
and move on.
I am doing Google on earwigs, hope I don't see the image. smile.
how about doing the following recipe next time:
Army Worm Wine recipe
Here's the recipe Ray Reigstad created to make army worm wine.
While Reigstad made 11 gallons in two large containers, this recipe
is for one gallon of wine. For more than one gallon, multiply all
ingredients except yeast. The same amount of yeast would be
used in a batch of up to five gallons. Except for the army
worms, of course, most of the ingredients and equipment
are available at wine-making supply stores.
Army Worm Wine
1-1/2 pounds army worms
1 gallon hot water
1-1/2 pounds sugar
1 crushed campden tablet
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient, which comes in powder form
1 teaspoon acid blend, which comes in the form of white granuales
5 drops pectic enzyme
1 packet champagne yeast
Put army worms in a 2-gallon or larger plastic pail. Pour boiling
water over the army worms, which will kill them instantly.
Remove any floating debris like leaves or sticks.
Let the water cool down to warm. Add sugar, campden
tablet, yeast nutrient and acid blend. Stir. The water must
be warm, not hot, so that the chemicals and yeast are not neutralized.
Several hours later, when the water has cooled further, to
room temperature, add the pectic enzyme and champagne
yeast. Do not stir in the yeast; instead sprinkle it on or make yeast
Thanks for your colorful, helpful, and downright funny input on this
one. Yeah, definitely had me a bit worried. But I figured the wine is
pretty much self-cleansing @ 14% alcohol.
Even though MLF is still underway, I'm going to rack this one carboy
(about 3/5 of a 5-gallon, topped up with CO2 from a tank) to a fresh
3-gallon carboy that I just bought today. At the same time, I'm going
to pitch in a little yeast nutrient and a fresh malo culture, as I ran
short the first time and have noticed MLF is going very slow.
I suppose MOG is nothing new. The bug was in there from the very start.
Who knows what else is in the wine, right? Just so long as it was
sulfited at the beginning, I suppose there's nothing to worry about.
"I "sterilized"everything when making wine at home twenty years ago.
Now, at the winery, I seldom attempt to sterilize anything. Here is my
perspective on wine "bugs."
Professional winemakers always wash their receivers, crushers, etc.
before grapes are processed. The pros make sure everything is clean,
but they seldom attempt to "sterilize" their equipment. On the other
hand, the home winemaking literature is filled with statements such as
"...assemble all the winemaking equipment and sterilize everything with
a sulfite solution."
Have you ever wondered why the pros seem so indifferent out
their equipment? On average, a ton of California wine grapes contains
seven pounds of dirt, one mouse nest, 247 bees, 198 wasps, 1,014
earwigs, 1,833 ants, 10,899 leaf hoppers and four pounds of bird
droppings, more or less. Besides the above materials, the waxy coating
on grapes contains a variety of microorganisms.
Freshly crushed, grapes contain several non grape substances and many
microorganisms, so attempting to "sterilize" crush equipment seems a
bit futile. Grape juice is a hostile environment to most microbes
because it has a low pH, high sugar level and high phenolic content.
Alcohol is present after fermentation, so wine is a less hospitable
environment than juice. No human pathogens can multiply in wine. Even
most of the native yeasts on the grape skins expire as the alcohol
accumulates during fermentation. In fact, only a few very special
microorganisms can survive in wine, and because of their special
requirements, most of these microbes cannot survive outside a wine
environment. Unfortunately, vinegar bacteria seem able to survive
almost everywhere, so they are a notable exception.
The yeasts found in wine are primarily Saccharomyces (sugar loving).
Popular wine yeasts such as Montrachet, Epernay II and Pasteur Red are
Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The more alcohol tolerant yeasts such as
Prise de Mousse and Pasteur Champagne are strains of Saccharomyces
bayanus. Only a few other yeasts such as Schizosaccharomyces,
Brettanomyces, Mycoderma and the Flor yeasts grow in wine. These
yeasts are usually considered wine spoilage organisms.
Wine bacteria are mostly limited to two major groups. Lactic acid
bacteria, belonging to the Lactobacillus, Leuconostoc and Pediococcus
genera, convert malic acid into lactic acid. Some lactic bacteria can
also convert sugar directly into acetic acid. Fortunately for
winemakers, lactic bacteria are sensitive to sulfur dioxide, so they
are easy to control.
The second group of wine bacteria is the vinegar bacteria,
(Acetobacter). These microbes convert ethyl alcohol into vinegar. They
are a major source of wine spoilage, and they are not very sensitive to
However, vinegar bacteria require oxygen to convert alcohol into
This is why wine storage containers are always kept full, or the oxygen
content of the gas in the head space must be limited to 0.5% or less.
None of the molds grow directly in wine. Although, molds can grow in
dilute wine solutions, so hoses, tanks, etc. must be washed and drained
carefully to avoid mold contamination.
Now, I think "clean" not "sterile."
Fantastic - thanks for (re?)posting this from Lum!
As a note, my new 3-gallon carboy (which I'll be racking the earwig
carboy of wine into today) is one of those specially-designed plastic
"Better Bottle" carboys. Major selling points are: if you drop them,
glass won't shatter all over the place; and, the inner lining requires
only a light iodophor or sulfite wash - NO scrubbing required.
While *is* advised that red wine not be stored in contact with the
carboy for more than 3 months, I just need another 6 weeks for MLF to
complete. After that, it's back to racking all 16 gallons from the
three vessels into 3 fresh, 5-gallon glass carboys, adding oak, and
letting it go for a few months in the cold garage.
Thanks so much again for all the great advice, everyone. This is one NG
that's worth its weight in gold.
I've posted this on the newsgroup before, but it's time to repeat it...
Until proved otherwise, I'm convinced that MOG is a major contributor
to what we all know as terroir. So why not just have left the earwig?
He's local flavor, and unlikely to drink much more at this point.
I also like the Tequila idea. Hmmm...