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MineWine

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Here is a log of sorts of how I am making Blueberry Wine. The recipe is from The Home Winemakers Companion by Gene Spaziani and Ed Halloran. I also see this recipe, or very close to it in other places. There is one main difference between the source recipe and this batch, Frozen Supermarket Blueberries.
I'll update this main post as the wine matures and add a final measurements graph.

Recipe
10-15 lbs of frozen blueberries
10 lbs granulated sugar
5 tsp acid
1-1/4 tsp yeast nutrient
10 drops of pectic enzyme
1-1/4 tsp of grape tannin
1 oz American Oak chips
I pack Red Star Cotes des Blancs yeast
Enough water to make 5 gallons

Day 1
I boiled 2-1/2 gallons of tap water and added 9 lbs sugar to it, dissolving it completely. While the water was boiling I put the 4 packages of semi thawed blueberries and one 1 lb package of mixed berries (for 13 lbs total), as well as the remaining pound of sugar into the fruit bag and into the primary. I poured in the boiling water and stirred until fully thawed. I added remaining cool water to 5-1/4 gallons total to bring the temp down to approx 75f. When cooled I added all the ingredients to add body and flavor to the must, except the yeast.
I added 5 campden tablets, stirred it for 5 minutes and let it sit over night
Readings:
Temp - 72f
SG - 1.105
Acid - 43%

Day 2
Took acid readings using Pheno and still appears low, approx 50%. A proper level would be approx 65% which would mean adding 5 additional tsp of acid mix. This seems like too much to add at a single time. So I add 2-1/2 tsp of acid mix to bring it up approx 7%. I don't want to be too aggressive, there may be undissolved acids, or it may come from the fruit as the pectin breaks it down.
I also add the yeast.

IMG_3793.JPG

Day 3
I use a gallon sanitized jug and from the valve on the primary I fill it twice and pour it over the fruit bag, back into the primary. The bag is floating nicely and smells of CO2 and berries.
SG - 1.098
Acid 62%

Day 4 and 5
Stirred and punched down

Day 6
Still active. Stirred and punched down
Temp - 72f
SG - 1.074
Acid - 63%

Day 7
Stirred and punched down

Day 8
Temp - 71f
SG - 1.065
Acid - 65%

Day 9
Considerable slowing of bubbles
Temp - 70f
SG - 1.063
I removed the bag of fruit and placed in a sanitized bowl, squeezing the juice from it and adding it to the carboy. I rack the primary through the valve and tube into a 6 gallon carboy, adding just over 1/2 gallon of additional water to reduce SG and acid. It's topped with an airlock. I also placed the bottom lees into a separate covered glass measuring vessel for later examination.
SG - 1.056
Acid - 60%
It's barely bubbling, I hope it's not stuck.

IMG_3795.JPG

IMG_3796.JPG Day 10
I left the lee's out in a saran wrap covered glass bowl, it's fizzing fiercely. After a quick look I realize it's a thick mush and toss it out. The carboy is bubbling nicely, and appears very sensitive to light. It's in a dark closet and I use a tactical flashlight to illuminate it. There is an inch of thin, pink foam across the top until I shine the flashlight, which is very bright. The foam breaks and leaves bubbling smooth liquid. When I remove the light the foam again covers the must. This tells me that a dark closet is the best for this yeast. The whole container is active and the airlock bubbles once every 3 seconds.
 
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Scooter68

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Only problem I see is you are way short on blueberries. You might get away with it but most likely the flavor will be very light. Normally I would recommend not less than 5 pounds per gallon and best is about 6 to 6.5 lbs per gallon.
 

GreginND

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The color looks great. The amount of fruit may be fine depending on the depth of flavor. You can be the judge. I think this is going to be good. I do love blueberry wine and the added triple berry will add just that right amount of complexity. Keep us updated!
 

Scooter68

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Trying to understand why you would remove the bag of fruit when the SG is at 1.053. Especially when your fruit quantity is lower than normal - you need to extract every last bit of flavor from the fruit. Blueberry seeds and pulp do not impart any negative qualities to your wine.

Suggest you rethink your process next time around:
1) Increase lbs/gallon to at least 5lb and preferably 6lbs. (Higher with any store bought fruit because it's picked early - before it reaches peak flavor and sugar content)
2) Leave the fruit in the must until the SG has dropped to 1.020 or lower.
3) Don't waste your time taking acid measurements once fermentation has started, the fermentation CO2 will give false readings.
Most often a pH reading (More commonly used than Acid percent) of 3.4-3.6 is rarely a problem with ripe blueberries, in fact overly acid conditions are more common with blueberries than just about any fruit used for wine. Many blueberry wine makers struggle to raise the pH to 3.4 with some reporting initial pH readings of 3.00 or lower.
 
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Stressbaby

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Agree with Scooter, more fruit! Strange acid readings - like Scooter, I've never added any acid to blueberry. Quite the opposite, always adding calcium carbonate to get the acid down.
Keep us posted!
 

MineWine

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I appreciate your info! My main thought is that you rack after a week, or so. The frozen berries will break down pretty fast and probably create flavors to match. I understand it's not even close to dry but I've read where blueberry can sometimes get stuck and after a week it had slowed considerably. I thought on it a couple hours that day and decided to rack to the carboy. The color is very rich and the smell is wonderful so flavor must follow suit. It's impossible to gauge the final product without getting there. If it's light, or fragrant and rich, it's a lesson learned 5 gallons at a time.
 

Scooter68

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Blueberries issue is mostly 'failure to launch.' Once started, unless your conditions were already borderline, things normally roll right along.
One point is that you have a potential for 15.7% ABV and a yeast that's only good up to 14% max under ideal conditions. It may ferment dry but the likelihood is more that your wine will quit fermenting before reaching an SG of 1.000. (At 1.000 your ABV is going to be about 14.3% which is considered high for most berry wines even with lots of flavor. This might work out well since with a higher ABV the flavors can be lost due to the overpowering alcohol, even with back-sweetening.

Key of course is that once the SG stops dropping and holds for 3 days or longer, your fermentation is most likely done.

Racking during fermentation is done based on SG not time. That's the biggest problem for folks who try to follow kit instructions. Fermentation is done when it's done, not when some schedule says so. I've had a fermentation of blueberries finish (SG of .990) in less than 4 days (Starting at an SG of 1.090 ) and I've had other fermentations take 10-14 days.
 
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MineWine

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Racking during fermentation is done based on SG not time. That's the biggest problem for folks who try to follow kit instructions. Fermentation is done when it's done, not when some schedule says so. I've had a fermentation of blueberries finish (SG of .990) in less than 4 days (Starting at an SG of 1.090 ) and I've had other fermentations take 10-14 days.
Thank you for your clarification, it certainly helps a newby like myself. Even with this early racking, I feel the wine has much room for success. It has a known high ABV, as well as 7-1/2 tsp of added acid read at one point as 68% TA combined with left over sugars from yeast traits may yet equal a worthy wine.
 

Scooter68

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My first wines - I just was happy not to have made vinegar.

Key thing is patience, very few things in the normal processes need to be rushed - I like to describe finished Fruit wines this way:

At the end of fermentation - It's wine.
At 4 - 12 months a wine is drinkable
At 12 -24 months a wine in enjoyable
Wines older than 24 months a treasure to be shared with close friends.

I give away a lot of my wine and I make smaller batches (1 or 3 gallons) for two reasons:
1) We don't consume that much wine 1 bottle every two weeks unless we have company
2) I'm 'thrifty' so until I know it's a wine I like - I don't invest much.*

* Just bottled a 1gallon batch Pineapple - Mango wine - NOW I have to find a good source for lots of Mangoes for a 3 gallon batch
 

MineWine

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Day 13 - Still bubbling, tiny little bubbles. Yeast are still sensitive to light, as the tac flashlight affects the foam. The contents of the carboy are in motion. From the bottom to the top it's a maelstrom of activity with the smallest of bubbles making it to the top and leaving a layer of cotton candy. Deep, purplish hue. Wonderful smell from the top of the airlock.

No readings, I just want to let it do it's thing.

I calibrated my pH meter today with 7% and 4% solutions. Twenty minutes and 10 dunks in both containers with a water wash between. I also did a little reading about cold maceration and barrel making. I guess realtors in Napa is next.
 

Scooter68

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Should be checking SG daily now. Fermentation should be finished or close to finished and a unchanging SG is your best indication of that*. Bubbles are of little use now. CO2 will do exactly what you are talking about - for weeks.
Racking into a carboy and under an airlock is your best move unless there is lots of foam. That action will also release a lot of the CO2 you are seeing.

* When the SG does not change for 3 days in a row. Fermentation has stopped. If the SG is above 1.000 but below 1.010 you are probably not going to get it lower without a lot of effort.
 

sour_grapes

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Yeast are still sensitive to light, as the tac flashlight affects the foam.
I doubt the yeast have anything to do with your observations, just the interaction of the intense light and the bubbles. I point this out only to encourage you not to be fooled later into thinking fermentation is happening after it is over, but degassing is still proceeding.
 

MineWine

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Thanks for the information and encouragement.

Day 14/15 -

Measured the SG. I took the reading many times to reduce the affect of bubbles.

Yesterday 1.040
Today 1.037

So, it appears that it's still active. It tastes great, strong, fruity, a bit tart and still a little sweet.
It's still very dark. It's churning but not near as much. I'll be racking in a day or two I suspect.
 

MineWine

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Day 21

Still bubbling slowly. It's still very dark and there is lighter colored debris on the bottom.
It smells great, a bit tart and sweet also.

SG - 1.028

I found an ABV calculator online:
Starting SG of 1.105
Current SG of 1.028
CurrentABV 10.11%
 

Scooter68

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At 1.028 it's going to be very very sweet. Might want to a add a little yeast nutrient or yeast energizer 1/4 to 1/2 tsp.

If you spin the hydrometer as you drop it into the must/testing tube the bubbles won't be a problem. Just don't wait a couple of minutes to read it.
 

MineWine

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At 1.028 it's going to be very very sweet. Might want to a add a little yeast nutrient or yeast energizer 1/4 to 1/2 tsp.

If you spin the hydrometer as you drop it into the must/testing tube the bubbles won't be a problem. Just don't wait a couple of minutes to read it.
These tips are great. When I measure SG I do it several times, washing the hydrometer between and spinning it. I don't want to doctor it any more than I have, I've already been pretty brutal. I'll continue to watch it and post results.

I guess my options are:
  • It reaches dryness
  • It sticks somewhere between 1.028 and 1.000
If it sticks I would rack with campden, degas, let sit 24 hours and then try to restart with same type of yeast. The yeast would be started in wine from the carboy mixed thinly with water and a pinch of sugar, pitched in and then a smidgen of nutrient added.

I appreciate the input
 

Scooter68

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If it stops anywhere below 1.015 - personally I'd just consider it done and let it be what it is. 1.015 - 1.010 would be a sweet wine, 1.005 - off dry and below that dry. ANY of those are not bad for a blueberry wine.

The amount of effort to restart when the SG is so close to finished is significant and as I said I would not try to do that - that's my two cents worth.
 

MineWine

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Well, It's sitting at 1.028. Still bubbling and smells great.

I'll rack in a day or 2 and follow my previous plan to see if I can get it dry, or close to it.

Thanks Scooter68 for your continued suggestions!
 

Scooter68

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Despite it's apparently slow fermentation process I would recommend not racking into a carboy yet. Snap a plastic lid on the bucket (If it's in a bucket) and put an airlock on it.

Common headache that occurs from racking to a carboy too soon is the nefarious Foam Fountain. The racking process re-invigorates the yeast and within a few seconds to a few hours later the foam is flowing through the airlock and all over the place. I've had a couple of close encounters and was able to avoid one by removing the airlock for about 30 minutes but others have reported serious volume losses from those fountains.

The key to this entire hobby is patience - hard for me and always has been one thing I've struggled with but with wine making it's really important if you want the best wine.
 

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