A Couple Beginner Questions

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justsipn

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Bottled the rhubarb wine yesterday and that was fun. It turned out to be, what we would call, a semi sweet white wine and the bitter taste went away after we back sweetened it a week ago. It's going to be really interesting to see if it changes (improves) as it ages in the bottle.

Now, it's on to a kit I purchased of Malbec.

It's nice that my first attempt wasn't a total disaster and that is in large part to the great advice I got from here. Thank you all VERY much!!!
 

justsipn

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Hello, I'm new to wine making and am enjoying it so far. Haven't been able to try my first batch, so that might change. :)

I have a couple quick questions. Just a little back ground. I'm making rhubarb wine. I'm starting with that basically because it's what I have and it sounded fun. I found a recipe and video of it on line. I purchased a fairly nice starter kit and got a few pointers from the place I bought the kit from.

My quick description of my process so far was, cutting up 10 lbs of rhubarb last summer and freezing it. Three weeks ago, I sterilized everything and put the rhubarb, sugar and some raspberries in the bucket and left over night. 24 hours later, I squeezed the juice out of the rhubarb and berries while adding some distilled water. I ended up with about 5 gallons of juice in the carboy. I then added the potassium metabisulfite. About 30 minutes later, I added the yeast and put the airlock on.

Over the next 1.5-2 weeks it percolated like crazy. It has since slowed way down. So, I'm assuming that first 1.5-2 weeks was the first fermentation and now I'm in the second fermentation. So, question:
Ok, revisiting this thread. I bottled this wine and we have been pretty happy with the results. So, in the next month or two, I'm going to start my second batch. Remembering some comments here, I understand my process and recipe wasn't exactly what others use. So, I'm planning on tweaking what I did. Last summer, I cut and froze 25 lbs of rhubarb and I have 5 lbs of strawberries. I'm wanting a little more of a robust fruit flavor in this one.

So, my plan is, to use 25 lbs of sugar (it seems like most use about a lb of sugar per lb of rhubarb. But, that sure seems like a lot.) I'll leave that in the primary fermenter for a few days thawing and dissolving the sugar. I'll then squeeze the juice out and add enough water to get to 6 gallons (it will be in a 6 gallon carboy). I'll add Kmeta and wait 24 hours and then add the yeast (EC-1118). After primary fermentation, I'll put in carboy. Rack after 2-3 weeks and then start racking every 3 months adding Kmeta each time. Each time, I'll top off with my previously made rhubarb wine.

When I look on line, I see recipes with added tannins, acids and pectic enzymes...etc. Do most people add all of this? The first time, I didn't have any problems with the acidity or fermentation.

Thoughts? What other tweaks should I do to my original process?
 

winemaker81

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Your sugar seems REALLY high. 2 lbs sugar in 1 gallon water produces ~1.090 in 1 gallon of water.

Is there a reason to not ferment the pulp? I'd think you'd get more flavor from it.

Tannin will give the wine more body, and acid will give the flavor a kick. I add pectic enzyme any time I'm doing fruit -- it's supposed to help break down the fruit to get better extraction, and it prevents pectin haze.
 

Rembee

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That does seem like a lot of sugar. And that's not even taking into account what the sugars from the berries wil bring to the must. Before adding sugar its better to check the SG of the juice that is extracted from the berries. Then you can make SG adjustments with sugar to reach a target point of the ABV.
I agree with @winemaker81 about fermenting on the berry skins. It will bring more flavor, color and aroma to the wine.
 
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justsipn

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Your sugar seems REALLY high. 2 lbs sugar in 1 gallon water produces ~1.090 in 1 gallon of water.

Is there a reason to not ferment the pulp? I'd think you'd get more flavor from it.

Tannin will give the wine more body, and acid will give the flavor a kick. I add pectic enzyme any time I'm doing fruit -- it's supposed to help break down the fruit to get better extraction, and it prevents pectin haze.
Thanks for the reply.

So, maybe go by the final amount of juice? Last time I ended with 5 gallons and used 10 gallons of sugar. So, this time I'm trying for 6 gallons, so maybe 12 lbs of sugar would get me to the 1.090 SG?
 

VinesnBines

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I would add peptic enzyme, tannin and some form of acid (citric or lemon juice) according to the recipe.

Also, ferment with the pulp, either loose or in a mesh bag.

I haven't made a pure rhubarb in many years. I did make a strawberry -rhubarb last Spring that turned out very nice. I only used 2 lbs of rhubarb to 12 lbs of strawberries so I can't give you sugar level advice. Rhubarb does need a lot of sugar so hopefully someone will help you out.
 
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winemaker81

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Yes. If your initial volume is 6 gallons, use 12 lbs sugar. I use hot tap water to dissolve the sugar -- when I started my 2nd runs last October I put the sugar in the fermenter, added a gallon of hot tap water and swirled the fermenter until no more would dissolve . Then added another gallon and repeated. I could have stirred, but with 10 lbs sugar + 1 gallon water in a 32 gallon brute, it was easier to swirl it than reach in with a stirring stick or a drill-mounted rod.

The sugar dissolved so I added the remaining 3 gallons as cool tap water to reduce the temperature, then added the pomace. Since it was a 2nd run the pomace was full of yeast, so I had to ensure the water was cool enough before adding the pomace.

I'm on a well so no chlorine to deal with. If using bottled water, warm the first couple of gallons to 130 F before mixing, as the sugar will dissolve a lot faster.
 

justsipn

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according to the recipe.
That's part of my problem. I'm not really finding a common theme as to how much of various ingredients to add. Thanks for the reply.

My best guess is:

1.25 tsp Blanc soft tannins
Juice from 2 lemons for acid
2-3 tsp pectic enzyms.
 
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winemaker81

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My best guess is:

1.25 tsp Blanc soft tannins
Juice from 2 lemons for acid
2-3 tsp pectic enzyms.
That sounds about right -- IIRC, tannin is typically added 1/4 tsp per gallon.

I might go with a bit more acid -- my last metheglin had the juice and rind of 2 lemons added to a 6 gallon batch. Next one I'll add 3. If rhubarb is acidic, stick with 2. [I washed the lemons, juiced them, and then added the juice and rind pre-fermentation.]

IIRC, pectic enzyme is typically 1/2 to 1 tsp per gallon, so go with 3 tsp.
 

justsipn

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EMERGENCY QUESTION:

So, we started the next batch of rhubarb using a recommended recipe.

22 lbs rhubarb
4 lbs strawberries
12 lbs sugar.
Let sit for 24 hours. Squeezed all juice out of the pulp. Added 3.5 gallons of water to get to 6 gallons.

problem is, starting SG is 1.88. Way more than the 1.09 that it needs to be. What do I do?

I could drain it down to add more water but that’s going to greatly reduce the juice content.

I’m supposed to be adding the Yeast tonight so any quick replies would be appreciated.

Thanks.
 

sour_grapes

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You must be reading the hydrometer incorrectly. 1.88 would be approximately twice as dense as water. And it is not even on scale of your hydrometer, I wager. Not bloody likely.

Watch this and report back:
 

reeflections

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You should have 3 digits after the decimal point. I'm thinking your SG is 1.088 which would be good for about 11% ABV. And you were likely shooting for 1.090. If I'm right, you're good to go!
 
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justsipn

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Oh good Lord.

my wife has decided she likes to be the partner that measures SG. So, she told me what it was and I didn’t recheck.

The SG is 1.088. Not, 1.88.

So, I can honestly blame her for this mistake. At least that’s what I’m saying since she’s not on here.

Thanks.
 
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CDrew

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This is why Brix is way easier to use. No decimal points, intuitive numbers. Sounds like you're good to go. What's the Brix? (Lol)
 

G259

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It's a British thing, I think. They can't use Pounds, it's Kilo's. They call "yards" - meters (or metres or something). And now Brix, what is that anyway? It ends in an 'x' so . . . (kidding!) Oh yeah, they call their money pounds? So is it heavy?
 

G259

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In '76 I was 11, and yes I am old. ~ Grade School.

(Great song though!)
 

Scooter68

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If you can't deal with decimal points, wine making might not be for you. ( I was 27 when that song came out you want to compare "Oldness?" :i
 
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