Cherry wine from 100% cherry concentrate, few questions.

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Ive had this idea for many years but have only recently delved into the world of fermentation and distilling. But an idea with out a plan is doomed to fail and ingredients arent cheap, especially fruit concentrates.
Heres my idea and im hopng for a little help with a plan.
So im wanting to recreate a sweet cherry fortified wine a old friends dad made and gave to me in a trade many years ago.
While researching concentrates i was unhappy to see Vintners and other concentrates contain other juices as fillers. Its tough to find a pure cherry concentrate thats affordable for a large batch but i did. I found a 100% sweet black cherry concentrate that id like to use, it has a brix of 68 with a reconstitute ratio of 3.2:1.

My first question is can i stretch this concentrate to 4:1 by adding a little sugar to raise the SG without losing flavor? Id like to be able to make 5 gallons of wine per gallon of concentrate.

Second question is what red star yeast should i use? I have regular red star and dady but im feeling like this will require a different strain, something geared more towards wine rather than spirits.

Third question is will i need to use a little yeast nutrient and dap or will the concentrate contain enough nutrients on its own?

Forth is about ph. Im currently fermenting a sugar wash with pretty good success so far. I started fermenting with a SG of 1.090 and ph of 6.0 to help ward off a sugar ph crash. So far so good the yeast is happy.
Would it be ok to start my fruit juice ferment at the same ph or should i aim lower?

Im sure ill have a few more questions but thats all i have for now.
Any help with a plan will be greatly appreciated!
 

Rice_Guy

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1) The question should be will cutting the fruit solids make a significant difference? ,,first ,. Some sweet numbers 2018 bing; pH 4.38/ TA 0.73%/ 1.086; 2019 ranier pH 4.53/ TA 0.52%/ 1.106; and some sour numbers, 2019 Supermont pH 3.33/ TA TA 2.19%/ 1.066; 2017 north star; pH 3.32/ TA 1.83/ 1.046; 7x Montmercy concentrate; pH 3.66/ TA 6.74%/ grav over 2.0.
,,, An opinion sweet cherry contains citric acid/ low TA and to me feels weak, ,, tart cherry is dominated by malic acid and has a sharper flavor which works better for producing intense cherry flavor wine. ,,,, I would build the fermentation based on a pH target (your point 4) and the flavor based on a TA target. My guess is you will get more cherry flavor if you put some tart cherry in your mix. A grocery store concentrate could be added at bottling if you use sorbate or to the must if you are increasing the volume, or even at racking to top off. I do not think going to five gallons will be significant flavor difference because it this is a sweet cherry, ,,, both concentrations will feel weak. Another observation sugar is magic, it makes fruit taste and smell more intense, ,,, conclusion for me I frequently put the TA at 1.0% and back sweeten to 1.015. (Do you have pH/ TA numbers on the concentrate?,,, industry likes selling water.)
8617BCBC-26F9-4945-8434-D08FF6898182.jpeg <~ the 7x Montmercy concentrate. Stanton is something I have used on finished ferments to increase flavor
2) I have no opinion about Red Star, this year I used a lot of 71B because I run high solids/ TA over 1% and am working to reduce malic acid and back sweeten less. Last year I used 4x4 for the fruity esthers.
3) I am using yeast nutrient. My current additive is Fermaid O. The reasons are yeast are happy at about half the YAN that they would need with DAP when using an organic nitrogen ,, and organic nitrogen gives a smoother/ longer yeast growth curve. Ten years ago I was adding DAP to my cherry.
4) pH question, the pH is part of the preservative system which makes wines stable for micro and oxidation at 11% alcohol. My target is 3.2 to 3.3, ,,, and I know folks who are happy with 3.5 in fruit wines. If I was doing a distillate alcohol in the 30s or 40s is a preservative and more resistant to oxidation so I could see running high as 5.0.

Welcome to Wine Making Talk, ,,,,, and cherry makes a very nice wine.
 
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Thank you Rice Guy, good info to chew on and is very much appreciated. This will help me develop a plan.
The distributor of the concentrate is Coloma frozen foods out of Michigan. Not sure if you've heard of them. I lived near there years ago and know their farm sources. I'll call them tomorrow and see if i can get some ph/ta numbers on their concentrates. They also make a tart cherry concentrate so maybe ill order a gallon of tart along with the sweet to add at the end.
I plan to fortify this wine to around 18%-20% abv with a neutral spirit and back sweeten if needed.
Im looking to make what i call a good time wine. Something with a kick that doesn't sit around too long, a saturday night special, maybe in a jar 🙃
 

Rice_Guy

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Coloma is a good supplier. If you read posts by @hounddawg which reference Coloma you will find he likes them and he seems to run low dilution rates. Concentrate is an industrial product which factories can buy as 2000 pound shelf stable skids. I would not be surprised if they buy shelf stable concentrate and break them down into gallon size units which then are frozen, ,,,, ie they never run numbers and this is what flavors all US frozen juices.

I am a farmers kid so I have grown trees, not ordered from Coloma.
 
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Coloma is a good supplier. If you read posts by @hounddawg which reference Coloma you will find he likes them and he seems to run low dilution rates. Concentrate is an industrial product which factories can buy as 2000 pound shelf stable skids. I would not be surprised if they buy shelf stable concentrate and break them down into gallon size units which then are frozen, ,,,, ie they never run numbers and this is what flavors all US frozen juices.

I am a farmers kid so I have grown trees, not ordered from Coloma.
When i lived in the area there were cherry an apple orchards as far as the eye could see but that was 15 years ago and unfortunately many were turned into subdivisions. I worked at several of the local processing plants making apple sauce, juice, cider and canning pie fruit which all came from local orchards at the time. I wouldnt be surprised if they were buying shelf stable as you say.
 
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Regarding diluting the concentrate more than the vendor indicates -- for any concentrate this is most likely to make a product with less flavor and body. As @Rice_Guy said, add something other than sugar to stretch it.

A few years back I made an Elderberry from Vintners Best, which is NOT pure Elderberry. I didn't realize until I opened the container, so I went forward with it. It dilutes to 5 US gallons, so I added 1 liter red grape concentrate and diluted to 6 gallons. This wine came out quite good, especially considering the ingredients.

If looking to make a good time wine, Vintners Best is perfectly fine. Red or white grape concentrate will be easier than fresh fruit, and will provide more body. I'd target SG 1.100, then each time the wine gets to 1.000-1.005, add enough sugar to bump the SG by 0.010, e.g., 1.000 ---> 1.010. Keep going until the yeast quits.

Regardless of what yeast you start with, you'll want to add EC-1118, a general yeast with high alcohol tolerance. By step feeding, you'll need less spirits.

A pH of 6 is WAY high for a wine -- Rice_Guy's numbers are in the target range.
 

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I've made at least 4-5 batches of Cherry Wine. Tart Cherry with varying ABVs. For any concentrate I would start with between 2/3 to 3/4s as much water added to start with, otherwise your risk having a watered down wine.
There have been a number of folks who reported that they sweet cherry wines ended up tasting like cough syrup. Personally I have enjoyed eating tart cherries straight from the tree so, while I love sweet cherries I've just always gone with tart cherry wine - BUT my wine batches of 3 gallons are typically done as follows.
3 x 16oz bottles of Tart Cherry concentrate - Each meant to be diluted for 1 gallon of juice.
1 x 16oz bottle of Black Cherry concentrate - also meant to be made into 1 gallon of juice.

I agree with the choice of Coloma concentrate although I've never personally used them. Beware of some of the smaller "Wine Base suppliers" as they, like Vintner's Best do not have a 100% single variety wine base. One company in particular is out of Michigan. There's a long thread on the Country Fruit Winemaking forum on here concerning concentrates that also mentions that company. I personally hated their product. Apparently that company changed owners and it went downhill after that. (Sorry for the digression here.) I've used the bottle concentrates like Rice Guy shows and although they are a bit expensive ranging from a lowest price I paid of $10,.00/16oz concentrate, up to about $15.00 the last time I used them. Don't skimp on the juice, I'm very price conscious but I'd rather be able water it down with some white wine than end up with a week wine or as I delicately put it " A wine that is Light on the palate."

To add sugar I use a 2:1* simple syrup in addition to the water needed to reach 3 gallons. That additional liquid volume from the simple syrup just about offsets the volume lost for lees after fermentation completes.

For a yeast I've always used Lavins ICV-K1-V1116 - ABV limit 18%, "A vigorous and competitive fermenter that, because of its neutral effect on varietal character, is very well suited to fruit wines as well as wines to be made from grapes." It's temperature range is listed as 59-86 °F but I've found that starting at the warmer end is better then at this time of year moving it to a cooler location works fine.

As to pH I'm really surprised at you are considering a ph start at 6.0. I ALWAYS start at a pH of between 3.4 and 3.6 except for blueberry wine which tends to get even more acid when fresh from the bushes. From the start of my wine making 5+ years ago I was taught to use that range of 3.4 -3.6 as the safe and best range. Keeping in mind that initially the only thing between your wine and spoilage is the acidity of the must. If you use concentrates commercially prepared they should be free from bacteria but as soon as that container is cracked open bacteria in the air will be looking to start growing so the must environment should be as hostile to them as possible. That's the primary reason for the lower pH starting point. Once your wine attains a ABV of 9-10% it will also be protected by the alcohol but until then the pH is your only protection from bacteria.

To get to your highest ABV I'd go with step feeding and start with and SG of no more than 1.090, let it get down to about 1.040 - 1.025 then feed it more simple syrup (Cool it when adding to an ongoing ferment)

My best batch of Tart Cherry was wickedly good with and ABV of around 15.5% and a sweetness that only showed up in the finish although the SG as bottled was 1.014 So it would be classed as a dessert wine. Folks seem to either love it or just set down the glass and walk away as it came on strong in flavor and Alcohol.

* 2:1 Simple Syrup is 2 cups white cane sugar in 1 cup boiling water, stirred until dissolved and then added to the mix.
 
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Just to clarify, the 6.0 start ph is for a sugar wash meant for some neutral spirits and not wine. I realize ill need a much lower ph for the wine.
Thank you for the info. Ill definitely use all this advice for this batch. Im still several weeks away from starting this and wanted to get my ducks in a row before i start ordering ingredients.
 

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In addition to the excellent advice above, I will add my $0.02 worth. Last year I made a batch of cherry wine with a mixture of tart cherry concentrate and frozen sweet cherries. Now that it is one year old, I think the flavor would have been better if I had used only tart cherry concentrate.

I have used the tart cherry concentrate from Brownwood Acres / Fruit Fast: Welcome to Brownwood Acres - "Delivering the Power of Fruit" The quality is excellent, and it is 100% tart cherry juice. They are located in Michigan, near where the tart cherries are grown.

A quart of Fruit Fast concentrate is $24.95 (less if you buy more than one). That is significantly cheaper than Colma. Their recommended dilution with water is 1:7, so that would make 2 gallons. At that level, it would cost about $2.50 per bottle of wine. That is very cheap for a decent bottle of wine. In practice I would probably dilute it a little less to make the flavor more intense. Stretching it out would make the cherry flavor too weak for my taste.

I noticed that Colma has free shipping only on tart cherry juice, while Fast Fruit has free shipping on most/all of their juice concentrates. That makes a big difference, especially when ordering only 1 or 2 bottles.
 

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In addition to the excellent advice above, I will add my $0.02 worth. Last year I made a batch of cherry wine with a mixture of tart cherry concentrate and frozen sweet cherries. Now that it is one year old, I think the flavor would have been better if I had used only tart cherry concentrate.

I have used the tart cherry concentrate from Brownwood Acres / Fruit Fast: Welcome to Brownwood Acres - "Delivering the Power of Fruit" The quality is excellent, and it is 100% tart cherry juice. They are located in Michigan, near where the tart cherries are grown.

A quart of Fruit Fast concentrate is $24.95 (less if you buy more than one). That is significantly cheaper than Colma. Their recommended dilution with water is 1:7, so that would make 2 gallons. At that level, it would cost about $2.50 per bottle of wine. That is very cheap for a decent bottle of wine. In practice I would probably dilute it a little less to make the flavor more intense. Stretching it out would make the cherry flavor too weak for my taste.

I noticed that Colma has free shipping only on tart cherry juice, while Fast Fruit has free shipping on most/all of their juice concentrates. That makes a big difference, especially when ordering only 1 or 2 bottles.


So much depends on the batch size. I also tried a batch with a 2 & 2 mix of tart to sweet - Tart dominates and I agree that I prefer the tart cherry flavors over the sweet cherries. I'll keep snagging and eating fresh sweet cherries in season but when it comes to wine, preserves pies, Tart cherry dominates. I've even got a bottle of Aldi's Black Cherry Sparkling water on my desk at the moment. Next time I'll skip that flavor and stay with their "Juicy Peach", and Lemon-lime. It all comes down to personal preference. The only thing I would suggest is perhaps, first time around go with a couple of smaller batches, perhaps 1 - 3 gallons and try difference mixes. All Tart, All Sweet, and a Mix You could do that with 4 bottle if I'm thinking correctly


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So, math isnt my strong suit so let me make sure im not missing something, because i will. Im dislexic and numbers tend to turn tornadic in my head so i appreciate people's patience.
Both concentrates are 68 brix. A typical single strength brix for tart cherrys is 14. Fruit Fresh suggests 1:7 which would be a brix of 9.7 and Coloma suggests 1:5.15 which is 14 brix, a difference of a half gallon on dilution. Did you make your wine using the 1:7 ratio? If so how was the flavor?
According to brix both concentrates are equal at 68 so im going to treat them as equal in my dilution whatever that may be.
If you were to do it again would you shoot for the higher brix and eat the half gallon for more flavor or mix it the same?
I can get a 4 gallon deal from Coloma for $244 + 39 shipping minus a 10% discount for a total of $283.02 to my door where Fruit Fresh for 16qts to my door is $303, a $20 difference which isnt a big deal. Id mix both to the same brix so i dont see any batch advantage though i see Fruit Fresh has a blend of tart cherrys where Coloma is a single type.
Is there any advantage to a blend of tart cherrys as opposed to a single type?
 

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Coloma is a good supplier. If you read posts by @hounddawg which reference Coloma you will find he likes them and he seems to run low dilution rates. Concentrate is an industrial product which factories can buy as 2000 pound shelf stable skids. I would not be surprised if they buy shelf stable concentrate and break them down into gallon size units which then are frozen, ,,,, ie they never run numbers and this is what flavors all US frozen juices.

I am a farmers kid so I have grown trees, not ordered from Coloma.
lol. yup i still have trees, my health is the only reason i don't make from scratch no more, there is nothing better than made from scratch,,,, but my health left me with a dissention to make, now before i had to choose, i made from scratch most everything, and from concentrate ,, i made what did not either grow here or no access, that's why i strayed a little, but 2 almost 3 years ago from scratch i did 200lb apples and 136 pound banana, that was my end to, from scratch. if your body can take it, i say go for scratch, but if your body says that's all folks, then go to concentrates, i had worked out the learning curve by using concentrates to fill in what wasn't from scratch, i used to drive @Rice_Guy , @sour_grapes , and many more crazy figuring out how to make from concentrates,
Dawg
 

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So, math isnt my strong suit so let me make sure im not missing something, because i will. Im dislexic and numbers tend to turn tornadic in my head so i appreciate people's patience.
Both concentrates are 68 brix. A typical single strength brix for tart cherrys is 14. Fruit Fresh suggests 1:7 which would be a brix of 9.7 and Coloma suggests 1:5.15 which is 14 brix, a difference of a half gallon on dilution. Did you make your wine using the 1:7 ratio? If so how was the flavor?
According to brix both concentrates are equal at 68 so im going to treat them as equal in my dilution whatever that may be.
If you were to do it again would you shoot for the higher brix and eat the half gallon for more flavor or mix it the same?
I can get a 4 gallon deal from Coloma for $244 + 39 shipping minus a 10% discount for a total of $283.02 to my door where Fruit Fresh for 16qts to my door is $303, a $20 difference which isnt a big deal. Id mix both to the same brix so i dont see any batch advantage though i see Fruit Fresh has a blend of tart cherrys where Coloma is a single type.
Is there any advantage to a blend of tart cherrys as opposed to a single type?
I'M dyslexic and A,D,D, fruits is a different animal than grapes, you set your SSG to get the ABV you want, come bulk aging time or bottling time
then you back sweeten to your taste, and keep sevrial extra hydrometers close at hand, triple scale
Dawg
 

Raptor99

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@The_Man_With_No_Shoes I don't have any particular reason to promote one company over another. I also don't know the pros and cons of using a blend of Montmorency and Morello tart cherries. The recommended dilution ration seems to vary from one product to another, but I think they are mainly targeting users to drink the juice. For fruit concentrate I wouldn't focus mainly on the brix but rather on the flavor. I will add the necessary sugar to raise the brix anyway. It would be interesting to order some from each company, dilute in various rations, and taste to see if there is a difference. We can adjust the wine chemistry, but ultimately it is about flavor.
 

Rice_Guy

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my approach is not normal to the home winemaker
I price out sugar at eighteen cents per pound in truckload quantity, a significantly cheaper ingredient than concentrate which is about a dollar a pound in truckload quantity.

My goal at home is to put as much flavor in a wine as I can, therefore I focus on the titratable acidity which is readily titrated, ,,, or on the dry solids (flavor material) after all water is evaporated which takes half a day to run in the lab. ,,,, NOT THE BRIX or GRAVITY, ,,, see graphic of several first place wines in contest this year;
A guideline for where to balance TA on wine;
after club contest this year I collected eight first place wines which are the red triangles
View attachment 81200
The sample set "cloud" is primarily commercial wines, with some collected in the vinters club and here on WineMakingTalk
NOTE: TA is one of several quality traits which a first place wine has as absence of flavor defect, appropriate aroma for the variety and clarity , , , etc.
NOTE 2: this is an easy test, if ya'll are interested in your wine ,,, PM me
This leads back to the test results on several cherry juices in post #2 above, a sweet cherry has less TA therefore less flavor. Wine as a beverage is a balance between sweet flavors and acid flavors, ,,, always the named fruit on a product label is easier to smell and taste with more solids,
Factory recipes/ and Jack Keller recipes on the web run as high as they can with water (contributing zero flavor) ,,,, OPINION; if I put the effort into making a wine at home I want to do better than a factory formula therefore the TA usually is near 1%., ,,,,
math isnt my strong suit so let me make sure im not missing something, because i will. Im dislexic and numbers tend to turn tornadic in my head so i appreciate people's patience.
 

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In my little chart you end up with 1/2 bottle (Enough for 1.2 gallon their standard dilution rate.) If you go with Columna then you can toss that guide aside. I just use a standard 4 bottles of 16oz concentrates for 3 gallons using 3 tart and 1 black cherry (sweet of course) You could do a similar thing with Columna if you buy both their tart and sweet cherry concentrate. Note that having just looked at their site the tart and sweet cherry concentrates are different brix and use different dilution rates looks like Sweet Cherry is 3 parts water to 1 part concentrate while the tart looks like 5 parts water to 1 part concentrate. (For their standard drinking mix)
As to brix - I don't use any numbers off the bottles. I go first for the amount I think I need for the flavor. THEN I use simple syrup to raise the starting SG to the point I want to start at. The additional water in the simple syrup is not enough to affect your flavor to any appreciable extent since you start with a lower dilution rate than the maker calls for. That's a little buffer you build int. Now you certainly could hold on to that 1.2 bottle left over for later but flavor boosting has never been needed with my tart cherry wines.

As to the Columna products I'm not well acquainted with the taste of their concentrates but if you are looking at a purchase of 4 gallons - based on their recommended dilution rate for tart cherry that's good for 24 gallon of standard drinking juice. Personally I would drop that down to no more than 20 gallons or maybe lower to like 18. Like I mentioned you can always dilute the finished wine more if needed.
As to mixing varieties I would not worry about that a great deal as most suppliers of tart cherry concentrates seem to be using Montmorency variety cherries but IF Columna mixes theirs's that would all the better.

The brand I've used most often is Cherry Bay and I just saw that Amazon has two 32 oz bottles for $50.00 at standard dilution for theirs that 4 gallons of standard drink mix.

By the way did you have a specific amount of wine to make? That might help us make more accurate suggestions.
 
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@Rapter99 I know you have no reason to promote. You were recommending by price and dilution rates to get the most for the dollar. I was comparing the best actual to my door price i could get from both. Im very appreciative of the Fruit Fresh source. I searched for hours just to find Coloma and didnt find much else of any quality for a decent price or even offering bulk. I see Fruit Fresh has some fruits Coloma doesn't which is also great. Id like to try their wild blueberry.
When it all boiled down if Coloma didnt offer the 10% noob discount the prices were dead even to my door. $20 wont make or break me lol.
As far as brix you are correct there is a range that companies use where 14 for cherry is the average set by US regulators, for whatever thats worth. Like you said to its really all to taste. Anyhow here is a table of US standard average brix values for unconcentrated fruit juices i found. Maybe it will come in handy when shopping for concentrates. I never would've thought this would be under US Customs.
I might change my plan a little and make some from each company. I like your idea of comparing the single cherry and the blend.
So in the end the consensus is tart has more flavor than dark and i can back sweeten later if needed.
You folks are very helpful and give me lots to ponder, thank you.
 

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. . . and the other half to barrel age for a while.
an FYI: with my cherry from fresh fruit I pick up astringent flavors at about 18 months age in the bottle. My best guess is that I am dealing with flavorless short chain tannins that condense to produce astringent flavor molecules. I have not run concentrate which will have had cleaning done so I don’t know if the problem will get you.
 

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Brix levels of fresh fruit can vary widely depending on growing conditions and time of harvest. In this link, cherries can range from 6 to 16 brix: Brix Levels for Common Foods So I don't think that average brix helps us very much. Instead I decide the quantity of fresh fruit or concentrate based on flavor, and then adjust the brix as needed. For me, a concentrate with lower brix but better flavor would be preferable.
 

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