Beginners Blueberry Wine

Discussion in 'Country Fruit Winemaking' started by MineWine, May 10, 2019.

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  1. May 10, 2019 #1

    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.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2019
  2. May 11, 2019 #2

    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.
     
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  3. May 11, 2019 #3

    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!
     
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  4. May 12, 2019 #4

    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.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
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  5. May 12, 2019 #5

    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!
     
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  6. May 12, 2019 #6

    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.
     
  7. May 12, 2019 #7

    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.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2019
  8. May 13, 2019 #8

    MineWine

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    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.
     
  9. May 13, 2019 #9

    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
     
  10. May 14, 2019 at 9:22 PM #10

    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.
     
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  11. May 14, 2019 at 10:54 PM #11

    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.
     
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  12. May 15, 2019 at 1:53 AM #12

    sour_grapes

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    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.
     
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  13. May 16, 2019 at 6:46 PM #13

    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.
     

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