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Backsweetening Strawberry Wine

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So this is my first batch, and I am learning as I go.
I’ve already added potassium metabisulphite, potassium sorbate, kielsol, and chitosan.
Starting SG was 1.05 ending was 0.995

I’ve been tasting my wine as I go, and it just seems very vinegary to me. I just took a sample and backsweetened it with simple syrup & peach moonshine (Ole Smoky), since the abv% is low. It tasted much better.

My concern is, that maybe the wine isn’t good (as in safe to drink) to begin with? I did add black tea for tannins and lemon juice for acidity way back at the beginning. It just has an acidic bite to me still. Did I accidentally make strawberry vinegar? Or is this normal for dry wines. I plan on bottling and aging for 6 months-1 year after it clears.

Also, my wine was a beautiful deep pinky red & it turned bright orange the second I added the K-metabisulphite. Is this normal?

Thanks for the help, I know I’m kind of all over the place with this, but when I’m doing research, everyone seems to have their own specific way of doing things.
 

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sour_grapes

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Welcome to WMT!

A young wine typically tastes sharp, unbalanced, and somewhat sour. I think what you are describing is normal for young, dry wines.

I kinda doubt you actually have produced any vinegar, but it is hard to say without knowing the timeline and storage conditions. I REALLY doubt that there is anything unsafe to consume in there. To make vinegar, you need to have exposed the wine to certain bacteria, and you must have had prolonged exposure to oxygen.

I have not made strawberry wine myself, but I seem to recall others here mentioning that the k-meta bleaches the delicate color.
 

G259

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Wow, hard to believe that is strawberry, looks more like apple!
 

BernardSmith

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Wow, hard to believe that is strawberry, looks more like apple!
Strawberry blonde is not a misnomer... But to fix color rather than allow color to fall out (and by "fix" I don't mean "repair" but fix as in make it stick) a wine needs enough tannin and enough acidity and strawberry wine is notorious for its color simply falling out. Now, you may have added tannins (black tea) and you may have added acidity (lemon juice) but strawberries are poor in both acids and tannins and you may simply not have added enough to ensure that the color was fixed.
 
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I wish I had a picture of the before! It was very pretty. But that’s good to know next time I make a batch.

The color isn’t nearly as important to me as the flavor, and I don’t know how to fix the acidity, since I don’t think I can do malolactic bacteria post K-meta & k-sorbate 🤔
 
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So is it a wait and see game? Do I rack again once it’s cleared & let it age in the carboy or bottle it and then age it?

I was planning on back-sweetening & aging 6 months-1 year. But I was hoping to get to drinkable taste before then

My other thought was blending it with another wine
 

BernardSmith

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Can you measure the TA? The pH is usually less important unless you are talking about an acid that is too strong for the yeast to ferment in or you are taking about how much free SO2 to apply to inhibit oxidation but taste is more about the AMOUNT of acidity rather than the STRENGTH of the acids and that is a measure of TA and not pH. Typically, I think you are looking for a TA of about 6g/L - 6.5g/L (and note g/L is about the volume of acids in solution)
Blending is one way to change the amount of acidity but if the wine is very dry the issue may not be so much the amount of acidity but the lack of sweetness to balance this..
 
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I’m not sure how to measure this, I was using a wine kit but with my own must.
They didn’t include anything to measure TA with
 

BernardSmith

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Your tongue is a good instrument. If it tastes too acidic then it is likely too acidic but I would bench test this and see if you can find the sweet spot (pun intended) for back sweetening. The sugar may balance this sense of acidity (think of how delightful oranges are in ways that lemons are not unless you make lemonade..
 

jgmillr1

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Welcome to WMT! As @BernardSmith already said, measuring the wine's TA is one of the most important pieces of information second to the wine's SG. You can pick up a titration kit here on Amazon for under $20 that will give you a good estimate of your acid. Knowing the amount of acid in the wine helps gauge the amount of back-sweetening you'll need for balance later.

Starting SG was 1.05 ending was 0.995
Your SG was rather low for wine. Next time you can add table sugar to bring up the SG to like 1.08. This will solve your need to add alcohol to it later. Careful though, my personal feeling is that fruit wines are not helped by making the wine overly alcoholic, so I wouldn't go much past 1.08 myself.

My concern is, that maybe the wine isn’t good (as in safe to drink)
The good thing about grape wines is that the pH is (or should be) under 4.0 which means botulism can't grow. You won't ferment anything that will make you sick. That being said, your nose and taste buds will tell you if there is something off with it and whether you want to drink it. I mean that the wine can still oxidize, grow mold or go to vinegar and you probably would not want to drink it in those cases, but you can easily tell that.

Fruit wines are more hit and miss for the pH range (pear can be upwards of 4.6 while cranberry is 2.5) but this is why most recipes call for acid additions/amelioration. Down the road, you may want to buy a hand-held pH meter.

was a beautiful deep pinky red & it turned bright orange the second I added the K-metabisulphite. Is this normal?
Yes, unfortunately this is common for strawberry as well as other rose-style grape wines. The sulfites will bleach the anthocyanin pigments and turn a pink wine orange. One solution I've not tried is to reserve a portion of the original fruit juice in the freezer and mix it back in after fermentation is done and sorbate added. This provides some sweetness, color and additional fruit flavor to the wine. However, you need to ensure it does not ferment and it may affect the wine clarity. I'm sure there are others who have done this on this forum that can provide better specifics if you are interested.
 

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