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Plato

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Back after a long pause in production hahahah

So a buddy of mine and I were talking about how we make our fruit wines. We differ in some places as do many Im sure. However, he was telling me that he uses more fruit and less water in his wines. His thinking is he can get more of the fruit juice this way thus yielding a stronger flavor. Also this method is not diluting the work. It is my understanding that in order to accomplish this you would need a substantial amount of fruit and likely loads of Pectic Enzymes to make sure to get all the juice out of the fruit of choice. Is this correct or is this just waisting money and resources? Here is where I kind of agree with him, we both made a plum wine at roughly the same time. Both finished within a few weeks then we both let them age for most of a year. The final product was definitely different. His had a more robust flavor and color. I would consider it a heavy bodied Plum. Mine was lighter in color and the flavor side by side was very noticeable. My wine was a lighter to med body with a nice pink but not red as his was. Neither were bad but after tasting the heavier body I was considering blending mine as I thought well mines not right. I know, not knowing the exact recipe he used vs mine makes any answer difficult. im not after that really. I know mine I used 20lbs of plum to 5 gallons of wine and used water to make up the difference. I do like the heavier body I think, BUT is it worth using allot more fruit and less water or is there a required lbs of fruit per gallon that will get me the same results still using water? mine would have been 3lbs per gallon making it lighter. I know I can bump up the lbs per gallon and test but I was hoping to not waste allot of money and time and fingers crossed one of you out there can give me some feed back on your own testing.

So have any of you out there found a good lbs to gallons ratio to get good flavor without going overborad and throwing money away on too much fruit? Should I bottle what I have or wait it out and bulk age until I have something to blend it with? Orrrr are there any ways to create a good Flavor Pak to make up the difference in strength of flavor in bottle?
 
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pgentile

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I think the fruit lbs to gallons is going to depend on the fruit involved. Here is a link to a discussion on cherry wine were Scooter68 talks about the ratio threshold. http://www.winemakingtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=56065&page=14

From my short experience making wine, the longer you bulk age the better, but many fruit wines don't have the shelf life of grape wines and don't need to age as long.

I primarily make dry wines, but there are ways to add flavor when back sweetening but others here with more experience would know better.
 

Scooter68

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It all depends on the fruit. Some fruits like elderberry you get great flavor with a lot less fruit. Some, like strawberry, the more the better. Some will present certain challenges if you go 'all fruit no water' - Blueberries come to mind. The acidity will require you to do some adjusting of the must BEFORE you try to ferment your wine.

There is no single universal answer - get ready for the phrase - "It depends" when you ask this question. The strength of the fruit flavor, the source, the seasonal variations, wild vs domestic fruit, etc all affect even within a given fruit. That's what make the difference between a good vintner and a great vintner - the ability to identify the characteristics of the fruit you have available.

Bottom line - You put 8-10 lbs of elderberries in a gallon of wine and you may be making elderberry syrup. Put 8-10 lbs of RIPE peaches or strawberries in a gallon of wine and you certainly will have a very rich flavored wine.
 

Plato

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So would either of you suggest just going ahead and bottling my plum and give it the old college try on the next batch or should I try and create a Flavor pak to bring up the flavor. Again its not bad at all as is, its just not as robust as Id like.
 

salcoco

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bottle enjoy go for it next time. keep good notes and up the qty of fruit each time and judge the final product. if enough fruit available do various fruit/water ratios in parallel and then compare final result. your history will tell you the wine you like.
 

Scooter68

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Perhaps I missed it but I don't see a reference to how old your batch is at this point. If it's only a couple of months old you could start a really heavy new batch and blend the two.

If you existing batch is 6-10 months old I believe I'd go with bottling it now and learn from it. My first peach was just as you described in flavor. I describe it as "light on the palette." It was 4lbs to the gallon. My last batch was 7 lbs per gallon and the current batch underway is 6+lbs per gallon.

Sometimes that light wine goes very well with a meal when you are not looking for the wine to stand on it's own but rather support the main course.
 

Plato

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Oh that's right, the Wine is now 1 year old. Thanks for all the suggestions. Ill bottle it and perhaps do some testing with all the one gallon carboys I have. Scooter, Peach is my nightmare. First batch perfect. Second batch Pectin Haze. lol I learned all about Pectic Enzyme or the lack there of enough. haha.
 

montanaWineGuy

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My last batch of Blueberry wine, I used a lot less then I had before. I was diligent in squeezing and crushing the fermenting fruit daily, during the 5+ days. Not done yet, but all indications are that it will be equal to BB wines of before.
 

BernardSmith

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My sense is that if you plan on adding a significant amount of water then you are choosing to use - what? table sugar? to increase the gravity of the fruit wine? So this will increase the ABV but add not a whit of flavor and then you dilute this fruit syrup with enough water to create a must of enough volume fill your carboy. The alternative is to create a must with enough flavor before you choose to add more sugar to increase the ABV and then choose the volume of your carboy to accommodate the amount of must you have. Bottom line: I would argue, Plato, that you are making a wine in order to fill your carboy - and to some extent "damn the taste", rather than making a wine to please your palate and so "damn the volume".:b And a good example of this is if you were to make a wine from Vintner's Harvest fruit juice. where their recipes suggest that you can make a five gallon batch from one of their cans ... and so make a thin flavored wine or you can make a rich flavored wine if you limit the volume to three gallons.
 
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Scooter68

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The Vintner's Harvest cans that I have used all had a recipe for 3 gallons or 5 gallons. I always do the 3 gallon batch. Much better flavor.

With any recipe you have a specific end quantity in mind. Additionally you can tell after a while how much you will lose to lees and plan for that loss. Increase the fruit quantity, up the ABV and adjust the pH when and as you need to. It's when you start with "just enough" for a batch that watering down will bite you in the backside. Right now I'm about ready to do another racking of a peach wine. I have about 3/4" of lees in a 3 gallon carboy. BUT I also have two 20 oz bottles from that same batch under airlock to use to help top off. I may still need to add a little water but even a cup into a 3 gallon batch isn't going to dilute it because I planned ahead for that loss. After this racking the lees losses should be very minimal.

My contention on this subject is that these losses are no surprise except to the complete newbie. If you adjust ahead of time the water additions will not destroy your wine but in reality bring it in line with your original goals.
 

BernardSmith

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If you adjust ahead of time the water additions will not destroy your wine but in reality bring it in line with your original goals.
But the issue is not really about dilution through topping up. The issue is whether the volume of your batch is the dependent variable - based on the quantity of fruit you have and so the richness of flavor or the volume of your batch is independent of the quantity of fruit and the richness of flavor is always accidental or an afterthought. In my opinion, most recipes assume a very thin flavored wine is your goal and so the rule of thumb is about 3 lbs of fruit /gallon. I tend to think you need something like 8 lbs or more of fruit to extract enough juice - so 3 lbs will be good for a scant 1/2 gallon
 

Scooter68

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I agree - I'm still working out the best 'poundage' per gallon for the fruits I use. Blueberry is one I believe does better with between 6-7 lbs per gallon to avoid severe acid issues. Peaches 6-8 lbs for certain, Black Raspberry great with 4.5 - 5 lbs/gallon. My comments also include that there can be significant seasonal or yearly difference based on the weather and source (Wild vs Domestic berries)

There is no on size fits all BUT if I am going to err - I'm going in heavy as you say.

As you said if you know your fruit then you can work out what is or is not the best process for topping off. For me, I know I'm going to top off with water so I make sure that I allow for that in the lbs per gallon that I use along with knowing what quantity of lees I can expect.
 
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