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Raptor99

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I have not measured the SG again, but I'm sure that the fermentation is finished. Since I do bulk aging I am not in a hurry to measure FG.

I have no way to determine the percentage of cocoa butter in different brands of cocoa power. A small amount of cocoa butter is probably a good thing. I think that most dark chocolate contains both cocoa powder and cocoa butter.

I have seen many posts warning about bitterness with chocolate. That's why I was surprised that my 1-month old chocolate cherry wine did not taste bitter. The amount of bitterness probably depends on the exact type and brand of chocolate, type of yeast, etc. I do agree that chocolate needs a bit of sweetness to bring out the flavor, regardless of whether or not it is bitter.
 

Ty520

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Cocoa powder, dutched or regular, is about 75% solids, 25% butter fat. I am not a chemist, but I hypothesize that since cocoa butter's melting point is around 100F, and not water soluble (neither are the solids for that matter - both are naturally hydrophobic), most, if not all, of both the fat and solids will eventually fall out of suspension and get dumped with the rest of the trub.

Now that I think about it, if/when I use chocolate again, I would probably actually heat up the water and add the cocoa as the very first ingredient in order to break down the fat and solids as much as possible.

I know that some cocoa mixes add lecithin to help emulsify - I wonder if it could be used in a chocolate wine or mead

One concern about adding up front would be if yeast would metabolize the fat, and what they would offput as a result that might be unpleasant
 

Rembee

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@Raptor99 just to be clear for my pea noggin lol. You added the 3 oz. of cocoa powder per gal. mixed in a pint of warm water per gal. into the primary before pitching the yeast right?
And if so, it fermented on the chocolate, juice and skins for how long?
 

Raptor99

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@Raptor99 just to be clear for my pea noggin lol. You added the 3 oz. of cocoa powder per gal. mixed in a pint of warm water per gal. into the primary before pitching the yeast right?
And if so, it fermented on the chocolate, juice and skins for how long?
Yes, that is correct. I used 3 oz. (by weight) of cocoa powder for 1 gallon, added to the primary (I use a bucket) before pitching the yeast. It stayed in my primary with the fruit and concentrate until the fermentation seemed about complete, which was 5 days. After that I removed the brew bag with the cherries and racked into the secondary.

I know that some cocoa mixes add lecithin to help emulsify - I wonder if it could be used in a chocolate wine or mead
I used pure cocoa powder, without anything else added. I think that I saw a discussion about lecithin in another post.

One concern about adding up front would be if yeast would metabolize the fat, and what they would offput as a result that might be unpleasant
I don't know if the yeast can metabolize the fat. But as the alcohol level rises, some of the fat will probably bond to some of the oils to keep them in solution.
 

Raptor99

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Dutch process cocoa powder is washed in a alkaline solution to give it a neutral ph. As a result, it has a less acidic and less bitter flavor compared to natural cocoa.it also dissolves more easily in liquid ( that being said, expect plenty of sediment regardless). So if you use yeast nutrients and stabilizers in your mead, i would not be concerned about the further addition of potassium carbonate used in Dutch processing as being some sort of unnatural additive.

Also, cocoa butter is not really what imparts "chocolate" flavor. It's actually the solids - think white chocolate, which is just cocoa butter, versus dark chocolate, which has a high solids content (hence the reason chocolate intensity is measured in % - representing cocoa solids).

That being said, I believe most cocoa powder regardless of brand will have nearly the same solid/fat ratio, and trader Joes is maybe a couple percentage points higher in fat. Otherwise,I imagine if they mess with the ratio too much it could negatively impact recipes.

One thing I'm concerned about in my own chocolate mead is bitterness, and think I'd be even more so with wine. So I think sweetness is probably a necessity when using chocolate to provide balance.
Your comments caused me to do a little research. I studied some cocoa powder labels on Amazon.

1. I realized that I could get a rough estimate of the amount of fat in cocoa powder from the nutrition label. It turns out that Trader Joe's cocoa powder is 10% fat. So is almost every other cocoa powder that I found, including Hershey's. When I have time I might ask Trader Joe's about their claim to have more cocoa butter. I did find a few gourmet cocoa powders that are about 17% fat.

2. Surprisingly (at least to me) the Dutched chocolate powder is usually about 25% fat.

3. The Dutched chocolate has pH 7 vs. pH 5 or 6 for regular cocoa powder. My target pH for wine is around 3.5. Since pH is a logarithmic scale, if regular cocoa powder is around pH 5.5 then my must is 100 times as acidic. I don't think that regular cocoa powder is going to make a measurable difference in the pH.
Here is a reference: What's the Difference Between Dutch Process and Natural Cocoa Powder?

4. My package of roasted cocoa nibs is 50% fat.

5. It turns out that chocolate is not always bitter. Good quality cacao beans roasted properly are not bitter. But poor quality beans that are over-roasted are bitter. See this article by a chocolate sommelier: What makes chocolate bitter? . Like everything else, better quality ingredients made better quality wine (or mead).
 
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Raptor99

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@Rembee I pitched yeast on 12/9 and tasted it at the first racking on 12/14. At that time there was a good blend of cherry and chocolate flavors and a slight bitterness.

I tasted it again at the second racking on 1/10. Here are my comments on that tasting:
Good tart cherry and chocolate aroma
Up front tart cherry, on the back chocolate
Lingering chocolate flavor
Acidity tastes okay
No off flavors or odors

I put the leftovers along with most of the lees in a wine bottle in the fridge to let the sediment settle. On 1/12 I used that to top off my carboy. I let the rest of the leftovers in the wine bottle settle for another day in the fridge. On 1/13 I tasted a few ounces with 1 drop of Stevia to sweeten it. The taste was even better with a little bit of sweetness. The chocolate flavor lingered on my tongue for quite a while. I did not detect any bitterness.

I plan to add part of a vanilla bean to the secondary. I am looking for subtle vanilla notes in the background, but I want the chocolate and cherry to predominate.
 

Raptor99

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I found another article on why cheap chocolate is bitter:

I also discovered that different people have different levels of sensitivity to bitter flavors:

For our purposes, the conclusion is to brew what tastes good to you.
 

Rembee

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@Rembee I pitched yeast on 12/9 and tasted it at the first racking on 12/14. At that time there was a good blend of cherry and chocolate flavors and a slight bitterness.

I tasted it again at the second racking on 1/10. Here are my comments on that tasting:
Good tart cherry and chocolate aroma
Up front tart cherry, on the back chocolate
Lingering chocolate flavor
Acidity tastes okay
No off flavors or odors

I put the leftovers along with most of the lees in a wine bottle in the fridge to let the sediment settle. On 1/12 I used that to top off my carboy. I let the rest of the leftovers in the wine bottle settle for another day in the fridge. On 1/13 I tasted a few ounces with 1 drop of Stevia to sweeten it. The taste was even better with a little bit of sweetness. The chocolate flavor lingered on my tongue for quite a while. I did not detect any bitterness.

I plan to add part of a vanilla bean to the secondary. I am looking for subtle vanilla notes in the background, but I want the chocolate and cherry to predominate.
Very detailed tasting. It's good to write each tested taste down throughout the aging process. To me it's part of the process of what we do and helps one learn the different complexities that a wine can bring. I applaud you for your efforts, very well done!
Do you plan on letting the vanilla bean reside in the finishing of the fermentation for a certain length of time or simply by taste?
 

Raptor99

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Thanks! For my earlier batches my notes are not so detailed. But I have learned the value of detailed notes.

There are too many factors to predict exactly how long the vanilla should remain in the secondary. I will taste is once in a while to determine when the vanilla flavor is strong enough. In the end, taste is the most important factor.
 

hounddawg

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I found another article on why cheap chocolate is bitter:

I also discovered that different people have different levels of sensitivity to bitter flavors:

For our purposes, the conclusion is to brew what tastes good to you.
Agreed, we all suit ourselves,,
Dawg
 

Rembee

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@Raptor99, I wanted to let you know that yesterday 2/13/21, I started a 3 gallon batch of chocolate cherry wine. I pitched the yeast today. I modified the recipe a little as follows;

3 gallon batch.
Day 1
1/2 gallon (4-32 oz bottles) Knudsen just black cherry juice
1/2 gallon (4-32 oz bottles) Kcudsen just tart cherry juice
4 lbs frozen sweet cherries, simmered for 30 mins and skins broken open with a potato smasher.
48 oz sugar / 24 oz water simply syrup
3/4 tsp grape tannin
1/8 tsp Potassium Metabisulfite
16 oz steeped Earl Grey Tea (2 bags)
Zest of 1 orange
Let sit for 12 hours
1 1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
Let sit for 12 hours
_________________________________________

Day 2
Dissolve 9oz Trader Joe's cocoa powder in 1 pint warm cherry juice then add to must
Adjusted SG to 1.100 and ph to 3.50
Add 3 tsp of yeast nutrient
Pitched Lalvin 71B
 
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bade50

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wondering how fermentation is going on your batch? I am wanting to start a cherry chocolate batch asap. I have a case of choc. covered cherries that I'm working on a recipe for 5 gallons on and am taking notes from what everyone else has tried/experienced. I like your batch in that you added cherry juices. But I'm wondering why you added the Earl Grey tea when you also added tannin? I typically dont add both so I'm curious if there is a flavor difference or other reason.
 

Raptor99

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But I'm wondering why you added the Earl Grey tea when you also added tannin? I typically dont add both so I'm curious if there is a flavor difference or other reason.
@Rembee I was curious about that too. I like drinking Earl Grey tea, but I have never tried adding it to a wine.
 

bade50

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@Rembee I was curious about that too. I like drinking Earl Grey tea, but I have never tried adding it to a wine.
I've actually got a couple of small batches of "tea wine" working using some flavored tea mixes that I bought at a bargain price. They have interesting flavor profiles in between primary and secondary. One had dried dates and all kinds of other goodies in the mix, it tastes very nice so far. The other one.....not so much.....lol. But I have read many times about adding tea for the tannins instead of grape tannins. I was just wondering about the addition of both. If either of the tea batches that I have going works out, I'll post the recipes and notes.
 

bade50

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@Rembee I was curious about that too. I like drinking Earl Grey tea, but I have never tried adding it to a wine.
Raptor99 how did your cherry chocolate wine turn out so far? I really want to get this batch started but I sure as heck do want to use the best and most up to date experiences/knowledge/recipes available. This will be close to my most expensive batch at a dollar a box for 6.5 oz of choc covered cherries ( I was waiting for the "after Valentines sale" and it was the best deal I could get for a case of 36....
 

Rembee

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@bade50, my fermentation went well. It fermented faster then I was expecting. It went from an OG of 1.100 to 1.004 in 4 days. I racked it into a 3 gallon carboy yesterday and had enough left for top off to fill a 1 gallon carboy 3/4 full. Both are under an airlock.
I am experimenting with the earl grey for more of a mouth feel. So my wife and I decided to add the tea along with the grape tannin. I'm also hoping it will add some different complexity to the finished wine.
 

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