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Old 09-12-2012, 06:41 AM   #1
Stressbaby
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Default Beautyberry Wine

This was probably a big mistake, because I likely don't have enough experience to make this successful, and Keller says it can't be done. However, my wife's favorite plant in our yard is the Beautyberry (not C. americana, but Callicarpa dichotoma 'Issai'). And I'm still collecting persimmons, so I thought I'd give this wine a 1 gallon shot.

These berries are not astringent at all. They are very faintly sweet, and they appear to oxidize very quickly (see below). I wonder if C americana behaves differently than this cultivar. Anyway...

I found a recipe in this thread. I'm following it very loosely. Basically, so far:

4# berries
8 pints water
2# sugar

Frozen berries were thawed, squeezed to break them down a bit; poured boiling water over the berries. These berries seem to oxidize very quickly, even while thawing in the bag, and the berries and must quickly turned a dark tea color. Is that expected? OK?

I checked the SG and added another 6oz sugar (total 2# 6oz) to get to 1.090. The pH was high and TA low, so I added 4t acid blend to get TA to 7 and pH to 3.4. Now I have 1t yeast nutrient and 1/2t pectic and will pitch yeast shortly.

Any suggestions from more experienced folks on how to proceed from here?

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Old 09-12-2012, 07:11 AM   #2
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pectic enzyme? i didn't look at the recipe but as im looking here i dont see that listed anywhere. not totally necessary but could help

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Old 09-12-2012, 07:38 AM   #3
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1090 might be high for a delicate berry wine ...

The oxidized color will likely fall out during and post ferment. You'll just have to see how much good color remains.

Please keep us posted on progress. This is not one I've read much about, so it's a great experiment to share the experience with.

Good Luck!

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Old 09-12-2012, 08:43 AM   #4
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Dend78, see above, 1/2t pectic.

BobF, thanks, you may be right about the SG...like I said I'm a beginner...I know just enough to be dangerous! Good to know that the color may fall out. I will take some pics and post progress reports here.

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Old 09-22-2012, 10:22 PM   #5
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Update:
I suspect the sugar was not completely or distributed, because when I made a SG measurement just before pitching the yeast, I got 1.084.
It set down a thick layer of lees and the SG is already down to 0.990 so I racked it and dropped a Campden tablet.
It's clearing already; you can see the color below. I tasted it, it is thin but otherwise not bad. I considered tossing a banana or two in there when I started, I may regret not doing so.

This is not thread-worthy so I'll ask here: my highbush cranberry bushes started dropping berries early like the persimmon. So I tried a batch of highbush cranberry wine. This wine is identical in color to the beautyberry, sort of tea colored. It's new, granted, but taste-wise, it is nasty...gawd-awful...bitter as can be, like the berries. Is that expected? And is this color common, or is it related to an error in winemaking or storage of the fruit?

beautyberry.jpg  
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Old 09-30-2012, 06:20 AM   #6
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My first gallon of beautyberry wine is basically clear. But I think this first batch has two faults:

  • Brown/tea color, probably related to early and rapid oxidation of the berries.
  • Low body

I picked another 5# of berries, they are in the freezer. I did some experiments yesterday with a couple of tablespoons of berries at a time, and determined that if I acidify the water (for example, with lemon juice) AND wait to crush the berries until after they are in the water with the acid, the color is better, less brown, more pink. So I was thinking of decreasing the acid blend, adding juice of one lemon, and then adding these to the water prior to pouring on the fruit.

More berries in this batch should also help with the body, but I think I need either some grape juice concentrate or bananas. These berries are low in sugar, non-astringent, with a very slight taste of mint. Boiled, they make what strongly resembles mint tea.

Questions: Which would be better for adding body to this wine recipe, if I use the juice of one lemon: bananas or grape juice concentrate? Would it be any different if I stay with acid blend instead of lemon juice?
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Old 09-30-2012, 07:38 AM   #7
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Something to consider ... if you have more berries, you could make an fpac (search the forum) to add to the batch you already made.

In fact, you can do this with any fruit/berry juice that compliments the flavor of the wine.

I can't say for sure about the color. A bit of tannin always helps and getting SO2 into the must helps also. You're apparently a pioneer with this particular berry :-)

As far as acidity goes, I'm not sure if lemon juice instead of blend is the best choice. It's pretty safe to go with whichever acid is naturally dominate in the fruit. Test with a TA kit before adding any acid and adjust based on actual acidity.

If this juice turns out to be particularly prone to oxidation, ascorbic acid (vit c) is another option to consider.

Thanks for the update. Please continue to keep us up to date.

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Old 09-30-2012, 03:18 PM   #8
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Thanks Bob. I thought about an f-pac, but as part of the experiments I mentioned above, I tried boiling the fruit as you would with an f-pac. What I got was very tea-like but the color of used motor oil.

I tested the must from the first batch before adding the acid blend, and the pH was off the scale high, the TA was 5.

I just tested and tasted this first batch and the pH now is 3.4 and TA is 8, but again, that is after 4t of acid blend. I have some ascorbic acid...maybe I could sub a teaspoon of ascorbic acid for one teaspoons of acid blend?

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Old 09-30-2012, 06:55 PM   #9
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Ascorbic acid will help with the oxidation problem. I use it when crushing and pressing apples.

BOB

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Old 10-08-2012, 06:25 PM   #10
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I have no idea how it tastes yet, but the color is definitely better in the second batch.

What I did:
As the berries were picked, I washed them twice, very gently, and then gave them a bath in water with a bit of lemon juice. Then they were drained and went into the freezer. With the first batch, I froze/thaw/froze. With this batch I just kept them frozen until literally the water was boiling.

5# beautyberry
8.5 pints water
2 bananas
1 can Welch's grape jc concentrate
850g sugar
4t acid blend
1T lemon jc
1 Campden tab
1/2t pectic
1t yeast nutrient
Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast

Boiled two bananas for 15 min in a cup of water; Bought the remainder of water to a boil, then strained the banana water and added it back to the pot. Added lemon jc and half the acid blend to the water. Poured the water over berries and sugar in the primary. After cooling, added remainder of acid blend and Campden tablet. After 8 hours, added pectic enzyme. After 10 hours, added yeast nutrient and yeast. TA as tartaric was 7, pH was 3.4. It is bubbling away now 12 hours later.

beautyberry2.jpg  
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