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Approaching the end of my first batch (an elderberry-cherry)

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kyle5434

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Today I racked my first ever batch of wine off its secondary. It's an elderberry-cherry. I had 10.7 lbs. of frozen and de-stemmed elderberries off the bushes I planted 3 years ago (harvested in September). I probably should have just done a 3-gallon batch with that, but I decided to use some frozen cherries I already had in the freezer - a 4 lb. bag of dark sweet cherries and a 4 lb. bag of a "triple cherry mix" - and did a 6-gallon batch. I started on 12/10 with 12 hours of a potassium metabisulfite soak, then 12 hours of pectic enzyme. Took a hydrometer reading then added 60 oz. of sugar to get to 1.087, started and pitched the yeast (flipped a coin and went with Premier Rouge). I hit 1.02 in 4 days, so I siphoned to the secondary at that time and added 1 oz. of American oak chips.

After primary fermentation started, one thing I realized I had neglected to do was check the pH. So I got a pH meter off of Amazon, and tested it when racking to the secondary. It was way off - 4.4 (bitter on the tongue) - but I was concerned that a dramatic change might shock the yeast, so decided to wait until the secondary was completed.

Holy cow it took a lot of citric acid - in small increments so that I didn't overshoot - to get to 3.4. At least all those iterations (and stirring) also accomplished degassing. ;) After adjusting the pH, I added 1/4 tsp. potassium metabisulfite, waited about 10 minutes, and did the kieselsol/chitosan salvaged from a wine kit I had just ordered that arrived with a leaking juice bag. I'll let it settle for 2-3 weeks and then bottle (because I need the carboy for a kit batch).

At this point the wine tastes a bit "thin" - not as much fruit flavor as I was expecting. Any chance that the fruit will come forward a bit as it ages?
 

FTC Wines

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We make a lot of Elderberry blends, never did one with cherry, sounds great. With only 19 lbs of fruit to 6 gals your wine will be a "little thin". You could try an F Pack, or try a bench trial & see if a little back sweetening helps bring the Fruit flavor out. Roy
 

kyle5434

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Thanks. The fruit notes were more prevalent when the pH was 4.4 (along with the bitterness), but after adjusting the pH the fruit almost completely receded behind the tartness of the citric acid.

I'm not much of a fan of sweeter wines, so I'll take a taste it in a few weeks to see if the fruit is balancing back. If not, I may just dump it and use the carboy and table space for the next batch, and chalk it up to lessons learned.

From what I'd read, the target is generally around 3 lbs of fruit for each gallon. I'm guessing I should increase that next season.
 

garymc

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I blend elderberries with blackberries sometimes and I do a lot of elderberry/muscadine blends. Actually, I should have listed the elderberry second in each one, as I use, maybe 2 gallons of elderberries (10-12 pounds) and 20 or 30 pounds of either of the other fruit. I don't do anything to adjust the acidity since both of the other fruits are highly acidic. I find that the elderberries serve as a buffer to neutralize what would otherwise be an overly acidic must. This is for a 5 gallon batch. I've had a few batches I didn't at all care for at bottling that turned out to be pretty good after a few months to a year in the bottle, so don't give up too soon. I did an aronia (chokeberry) wine once when I thought it was chokecherry (similar looking, similar sounding, way different taste.) I topped the aronia off with a half gallon jar of tart cherry juice in a 6 gallon batch and the whole thing tasted like tart cherry juice. I can't say it ruined the aronia wine, because it's quite good. But I wanted to make a dry aronia and that's not what I got. Aside from it's astringency, which mostly goes away during fermentation, aronia is like elderberries in that it has a mild, mellow taste.
 

Stressbaby

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FWIW, I prefer elderberry at 5#/gallon and last year's elder-black used 28# blackberry and 12# elderberry in a 3 gallon batch.
 

Julie

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I agree with others, you didn't have enough fruit for that large of batch You should make each fruit by itself then blend after fermentation.
 
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