Blueberry Wine experiment

Discussion in 'General Wine Making Forum' started by DAB, Jun 8, 2018.

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  1. Jun 8, 2018 #1

    DAB

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    Okay, tis the season for blueberries. As such, I'm thinking of trying to make some blueberry wine. Perhaps 3-5 gallons--first time. That said, I'm not sure if I should treat the blueberry wine making experience in the same way as you would when making wine from grapes. Or rather, if the process should be treated like something different, something special. With special needs and considerations.

    I'd think blueberries would have a equivalent amount of sugar, perhaps even more, than grapes. Furthermore, I'd think one could add a basic yeast, or even a champagne yeast, and produce a reasonable wine by treating it essentially, like many of the various grape wines.

    Thoughts? Recipes?

    Many thanks,
    Newbie
     
  2. Jun 8, 2018 #2

    pgentile

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    I've done a few blueberry wines. None have been 100% blueberries though. Mainly because they are very acidic and known to be a tough starter and finisher with fermenting. My last couple batches have been 5-7lbs of blueberries per gallon plus 64oz of malbec concentrate for a 5 gls batch. Water and sugar if needed to an SG of 1.090. Many recipes call for welches or grape juice/concentrate, which I used for my early recipes. The reason for mixing with grape juice/concentrate is to bring down the acid. I experimented with blueberry wines transferring from beer making to wine.

    Blueberries make a good wine, I find I'm not crazy about them until they hit about 10-12 months, the wine to me becomes very enjoyable then.

    This summer's blueberry might be my first try at 100% blueberries. Instead of blending with grape juice or concentrate to bring down acid, I'll make a pH adjustment. To make five gallon will probably take over 100lbs of blueberries.

    Any red wine yeast if fine. Champagne yeast will work.
     
  3. Jun 8, 2018 #3

    Johnd

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    You could use some advice from @Runningwolf as he makes lots of straight blueberry wine every year, and probably knows the ins and outs better than most.

    My thoughts. Be prepared to manage low acid, they’re very acidic fruit and can be of low enough pH to cause fermentation issues. I doubt you’ll have the sugar we see in grapes, so be prepared to chaptalize your must. Freeze / thaw cycle will help break the fruit down, as will some pectic enzyme. If you don’t run them through a crusher, you may need to smash them up by hand to express some juice to make your must have liquid to work with. Consider a yeast for fruit or red wine that can help extract color and tannin, K1-V1116, RC212, BM4x4, come to mind. The finished wine takes a while to come around and backsweetening helps bring out the fruity flavors. Hope that helps.
     
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  4. Jun 8, 2018 #4

    Scooter68

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    Never made any blueberry wine that wasn't straight blueberries and the acidity never was a problem for getting the fermentation started. (Not saying that acid may not cause issues but that's not been my experience with my homegrown blueberries.) Blueberries were my first wine to make and that batch worried me because it didn't show much bubbling.

    Sugar will be needed, but I've never found freezing to be needed as blueberries break down easy but the seeds are a real pain to deal with since they go through the mesh bags or get stuck in them. My first blueberry wines were made with Montrachet yeast because that's what came with the fruit wine making starter kit I bought. Since then I've mostly used K1-V1116 with no issues.

    Here's my wine log info on that first batch if that helps at all. Despite several mistakes in the process it went well.
    Very little foaming with this batch.

    5 lbs Blueberries ( Since then I've tried using upt to 8 lbs but have not settled on about 6 - 6.5 lbs per gallon.)
    3 1/cups sugar
    1 tsp Acid Blend (Didn't have electronic tester and I was just following a book recipe - wouldn't add acid now until I test the must)
    1 1/4 tsp Tannin
    Water to bring to 1 gallon volume
    1 tsp Yeast Nutrient

    Starting SG 1.090
    Starting pH 3.9 (Taken by Paper test - NOT reliable)

    PH at 2nd racking 2.85 (Taken by Electronic pH tester) July 31, 2015
    pH at bottling 3.20 on December 8, 2015 Estimated ABV 15 %

    This wine was edgy when bottled this early but I wanted to impress friends we were visiting. Wine tasted 18 months later was super smooth and sweeter than anticipated.

    Hope that helps.
     
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  5. Jun 8, 2018 #5

    Scooter68

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    Here's my 3 gallon recipe for Blueberry. This batch is just about 1 year into aging. It was made from frozen blueberries I had in the freezer (I was cleaning out all the old bags of berries dating back up to 4 or 5 years old.)

    6/16/2017
    16 lbs blueberries
    1 3/4 tsp Pectic Enzyme
    3/4 tsp Yeast Nutrient
    Water to 3 gallons volume
    No Tannin or Acid Blend added
    SG before adding sugar 1.042
    Added 3 Campden tablet crushed and dissolved in warm water

    6/17/2017
    pH 2.98 Taken after overnight treatment with Campden tablets
    Added 5 lbs sugar SG 1.095 (Via Simple Syrup 2:1)
    Total volume with fruit in bag 4 gallons

    6/18/2017
    pH 3.17

    Made Yeast starter with:
    Yeast K1-V1116 1 packet
    Yeast starter made with 1 oz blueberry must 2 oz warm water 1/16 tsp Fermaid K, 1/16 tsp Yeast Nutrient
    Starter was bubbling within 30 minutes
    Room Temp 78f
    3:30PM Stirred in yeast starter and moved to basement with basement temp at 72f.

    6/19/2017 4:00 PM SG 1.088 active ferment in evidence by foam and smell
    6/20/2017 SG 1.036 (Added 1/2 tsp Wine Tannin and 3/4 tsp Yeast Nutrient)
    6/21/2017 SG 1.024 pH 2,.86 !!!!
    6/22/2017 SG .992 (10:00PM)
    Racked to carboy and added Airlock and Campden Tablets

    Saved excess must into quart jar and placed in Fridge to settle. Later used for topping off along with water.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2018
  6. Jun 8, 2018 #6

    Scooter68

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    That seems a bit high on the lbs. I get a full gallon of juice with just 8 lbs of blueberries. My simple syrup brings up the volume so that I am close to 1 gallon when I pull the fruit bag.

    Even with 10 lbs per gallon you should have something around 10 gallons of juice if you start with 100 lbs of blueberries.
     
  7. Jun 8, 2018 #7

    pgentile

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    Thanks good to know,
     
  8. Jun 8, 2018 #8

    DAB

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    Okay, all good info, thank you very much. Scooter, insofar as the Pectic Enzyme is concerned...is there a set formula for exactly how much to add? And, no MLF in blueberries? Also, compared to your first batch, have you tasted this second batch lately to know if you're on the right track? Presumably it will be better then the first batch/recipe...I think try your second recipe...thank you!


    Many thanks for all the info.
    Newbie
     
  9. Jun 8, 2018 #9

    heyyou

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    I made a batch last year however I used 8 pounds of blueberries and 49 oz of puree. The yeast i used was Cote des Blanc. after a variety of racking i had to use some wine to top off my 3 gallon jug. I used the first time about 200 ml of Merlot and the second time about 100 ml Viogner. Once the wine was finished i decided to do some back sweetening. The wine came a beautiful rose color. After sitting for a few months we tried it chilled and then let it come down to room temp. Personally i prefer it in the 60-60 degree range. I have had friends try it and they all ask me if they can have a bottle or when do i plan on making more. I basically followed the recipe from the Sicillain Prince. http://howtomakehomemadewine.biz/2015/09/16/homemade-blueberry-wine-recipe/
     
  10. Jun 8, 2018 #10

    Scooter68

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    Actually I normally follow the bottle recommendations for Pectic Enzyme but there doesn't seem to be any known problems if you over dose the wine with PE. (Within reason I would guess) My Blueberry, Blackberry and Black Raspberry wines have all cleared very quickly so the PE quantity never really came into question. Peach Wine and Apple wine on the other hand are tough and slow to clear, for me at least.

    No MLF for me, at least not done intentionally.

    There was a second 1 gallon batch I made with 8 lbs (or was it a 3rd 1 gallon batch) In any case it was pretty acidic and doesn't have the softer feel on the pallet that the 1st batch did. The 3 gallon batch, is about ready to bottle but I haven't tasted it lately. (Been busy with other things and just racked and ran when I did it.)

    My latest batch, a 1 gallon one, was started in August 2 months after the 3 gallon batch. I used 6oz Orchard brand White Grape Juice concentrate to help raise the SG prior to fermentation. That one is on I need to check on. It is also due to bottle soon (Started August 2107) With blueberry aging seems to be less of a problem bottling early is possible if it clears quickly so bottling this latest batch might happen soon so that I can compare the 3 gallon and it for flavor. I've got about 30 blueberry bushes so I don't have a supply problem if I can keep my wife from bagging and freezing them all.

    I've always back-sweetened the blueberry wines as they seem to need help to bring back the flavor.

    Good Luck on your effort. I'll try to update once I bottle both of these blueberry wine batches.
     
  11. Jun 8, 2018 #11

    Johnd

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    I don't consider a wine to be "straight blueberries" when water is added. My interpretation of the OP's question about "treat(ing) the blueberry wine making experience in the same way as you would when making wine from grapes" was that he'd be considering making his wine without adding water. This is also why I suggested that he seek input from @Runningwolf, who regularly makes large quantities of straight blueberry wine.
     
  12. Jun 8, 2018 #12

    Ajmassa5983

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    Simple misunderstanding here. OP was asking if making blueberry wine ‘should or should not be made in the same way as wine from grapes? Looking for the best way to go about it.

     
  13. Jun 8, 2018 #13

    Scooter68

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    My experience in making Pure Straight Blueberry wine is that adding no water does not necessarily produce as good a wine as adding a moderate amount of water.

    What I call Pure, Straight Blueberry wine is a wine that has no other juice in it like Apple, White Grape or any other fruit. If one goes looking at the commercial wines commonly found in the local liquor stores it's going to hard if not impossible to find a wine labeled as "Blueberry Wine" that doesn't contain a very significant amount of some other juice. In fact most times for such Fruit wines it's actually been my experience to find that the Fruit on the label be it Blueberry, Blackberry or other fruits is usually second or third in the list of contents - meaning it is flavored wine not a pure fruit wine.

    As to adding water making a wine not a "Straight or Pure" wine I would argue that the same could be said of anyone who uses dried fruit as well. It's not unusual for some fruits, on their own, to not contain enough water to produce a wine without the addition of some water. If one wants to argue the point of Pure Straight fruit wine then the addition of sugar as well could be construed as making something other than a Pure Straight wine of any fruit.

    As to the OP question - Short and sweet, Yes Blueberries require a little different approach than wine grapes. Additional sugar and water are needed to balance out the lack of natural sugar as well as the acidity of the blueberries - even if that water is introduced as part of a Simple Syrup to raise the SG. Tannin is another item that most grape wines don't need as they naturally contain it of course.

    My experience in wine making is certainly not as deep as a number of folks on this forum but I believe that some interpretations made from time-to-time border on being hypercritical and non-productive. So if anyone wants to state that adding water means you are making a not making Pure or Straight Fruit 'X' wine, so be it, but: I believe that is an unproductive approach and more than a bit close minded. (What would you call it if a person uses a concentrate but uses an amount of water more or less than the container directions?) Finally I would be interested to find out if anyone has made an Elderberry wine and NOT added any water. From all reports from experienced wine makers that I have seen water is always added to elderberries to avoid an overly tannic wine that overpowers the palate.

    I understand we all have different opinions on what makes a good wine but it seems that there are some who are somewhat quick to question terms, or descriptions when there are solid reasons for alternate understandings. Time and time again I see posts of people making Blueberry wine and reporting pH levels that others felt caused the ferment to fail/not start. My one batch that I did make that was "PURE STRAIGHT Blueberry, (8lbs) was in fact not as good a wine as my batches with lower levels.(5-6lb/gallon) Interestingly I have yet to have a blueberry wine batch fail to start or take an extended period to start even with pH levels ranging from 3.4 down to 2.85. Of course I use only my own home grown blueberries and my batches are relatively small (1 or 3 gallons)

    Just I think we would win more over to home wine making with a little more honey in our talk and a bit less vinegar, which we all know is a 'spoiled' wine.

    Now I've droned on way too long and I have try to deal with a Raccoon who is raiding my blueberry patch - despite my netting - That battle will continue I suspect. I am concerned that he made be in danger of lead poisoning
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2018
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  14. Jun 9, 2018 #14

    Johnd

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    My God man, take a pill and relax, I’ve not assaulted your family, only shared my opinion that a “straight juice” isn’t straight juice if you add water. It’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it.

    Using your terminology, if I ordered “pure, straight, blueberry juice and was sold juice that was watered down, I’d be ticked. If I ordered a straight bourbon on ice, and the bartender put water in it, again, ticked.

    My interpretation. Disagree?? Fine, but I’m far from hypercritical, close minded or unproductive, you don’t need to try to win every disagreement, let alone by calling names and labeling, just disagree, it’s OK, I’ll still respect you in the morning.
     
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  15. Jun 24, 2018 #15

    DAB

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    Well, we're picking the blueberries tomorrow from a place that has 20 different varieties. Any ideas about which of these varieties are, will be best, for the wine making application?

    Many thanks,
    Dab the Newbie
     
  16. Jun 25, 2018 #16

    JuiceMan

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    Fresh blueberries are always the way to go first, however, wild blueberry juice concentrate is the way to go for a year-round, consistent and a more rounded blueberry flavor profile. https://goo.gl/sxKvkb It's only 23 bucks and free shipping.
    [​IMG]
     
  17. Jun 26, 2018 #17

    baron4406

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    I make about 30 gallons of blueberry a year. I usually get my berries from an LHBS and they go for $25 for 30 lbs. This yea I'm gonna make a few batches with a cabernet wine kit. Blueberry also loves heavy oak.
     
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  18. Jul 10, 2018 #18

    DAB

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    Okay, Blueberry wine is well underway...here's the scoop:
    7 gal bucket
    15 lbs of blueberries—frozen and thawed and put in blender
    12 lbs of sugar dissolved in 2 gal water
    Peptic enzyme ½ tsp per gallon
    Yeast nutrient 1 tsp per gallon
    Yeast Energizer ½ tsp per gallon
    Acid Blend 1 tlb per 5 gallons
    Tannins 1/2 tsp per 1 gallon
    Camden Tablets 1 per gallon crushed and dissolved in water
    Added all ingredients to bucket with mesh netting and water to six gallons
    1.105 Gravity (projected ABV approx 12.47)
    24 hours later....

    Added 1 pack of EC 1118 yeast and oxygenated.
    Fermentation began within a couple of hours...now vigorous.

    All looks good!! Fingers crossed all will turn out. I plan to rack in a week or so once fermentation has subsided. The first questions remains, to attempt MLF or not?
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
  19. Jul 10, 2018 #19

    Scooter68

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    Don't see the quantity of blueberries in this recipe.

    Is this a blueberry/grape blend wine ???


    Also your projected ABV is low based on the normal expectation of an ending SG of .995

    Initial SG 1.105 to ending of .995 = 14.44%
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
  20. Jul 10, 2018 #20

    Stressbaby

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    I feel like blueberry needs some sugar (back sweetening). If you plan to do that, and you can't sterile filter, then no MLF since you'll probably have to use sorbate.
     

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