Cherry Wine Low Acidity and Bitterness

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cellular

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Hi All,

I made a 30L batch of cherry wine started on 09/07/20 from a mix of wild cherries, mostly black but with a few red ones as well, pits were left in but removed where possible during the fermentation. 13.2kg Cherries and 8kg sugar and 6 decaf teabags (uk ones) and Montrachet 522 yeast at about 25 degC ended up giving me 24 litres of clear wine after fermentation was complete and lees disposed of.

When fermentation was finished and I was racking off I had a taste and there was a hint of residual sweetness, I'm assuming this was due to fermentation having finished at 14% which is the limit for Montrachet. pH was taken on 19/07/20 at 3.8 with cheapo ph strips. 24ppm KMeta added on 3/10/20. At this point it tasted like cherries!

I bottled a couple of gallons on 05/02/21 to see where we were with it after 6 months and it seems to have changed quite a bit. The sweetness is gone and it so is the acidity, on my cheapo pH strips it reads at 4.4! The distinctive cherry flavour has also gone and has changed to a general fruitiness but overall it tastes much more 'winey' (apologies but no better words come to mind).

This all sounds great like a maltolactic has happened, although if you think something else please say. Problem is I still feel it has a couple of faults, it's a touch bitter, which may be due to the pits and I hope will reduce over time. It's also very dry which seems to accentuate the bitterness, obviously this can be solved via sweetening (i typically just add sucralose) but i'm hesitant to do so until it's a year old as I'd like to keep it dry if possible. The other issue is that it doesn't really taste as much like cherries anymore! While i don't expect to get this back now I'm wondering how to conserve the flavour for future attempts? More acid/different yeast like RC212 that isn't as good at reducing the maltic acid? Or more sulphide additions earlier to restrain the maltolactic?

Do you guys think it would be worthwhile trying to 'fix' the acidity at this stage, I could add some citric or tartaric to get it back to 3.8 easily enough but i'm concerned it might end up regrettable when aged some more? I did drop a couple of crystals of tartaric into a glass i was sampling and tbh i'm not sure it really improved it massively.

Finally I've only added 24ppm sulphide at this stage, and with this low acidity i'm concerned that may not be enough to protect it, would you recommend adding another 50ppm to make sure it doesn't all go down the pan?

All ideas welcome, still learning here..........
 

salcoco

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I think it would be worth while to do some bench trials with about a liter of the wine I would approach first the acidity by adding tartaric acid to get the ph down to about 3.4-3.5 this may return some of the fruit flavor as well. then do some bench trials with sugar syrup to back sweeten a little this will also add to fruit flavor and balance against the bitterness. doing bench trial reduce any risk of ruining the batch and also determing the best approach for wine enhancement. I would also suggest purchase of an ph meter rather than using the strips as they can be unreliable as to accuracy. some economical ph meters are available on amazon.
 

winemanden

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You could also do a trial with a Gelatin solution which might remove some of the bitterness. It may be that the tea added too much tannin.
 

Rice_Guy

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* if you frequently do malo that is possible. If you do not I wouldn’t expect a malo infection in your winery.
* flavor? What water to pounds of fruit, I feel five is minimum six is better. At this point you could add monomer cherry concentrate to build the flavor and color intensity.
* bitter, sugar will hide that flavor note, sucralose has a less natural sweet and I can’t guess how efficient it will be against bitter. ,,, bitter will increase with age/ oxidation so keep the meta high
* pH is best low when you are fermenting, awfully late in the process to change pH
This all sounds great like a maltolactic has happened, although if you think something else please say. Problem is I still feel it has a couple of faults, it's a touch bitter, which may be due to the pits and I hope will reduce over time. It's also very dry which seems to accentuate the bitterness, obviously this can be solved via sweetening (i typically just add sucralose) but i'm hesitant to do so until it's a year old as I'd like to keep it dry if possible. The other issue is that it doesn't really taste as much like cherries anymore! While i don't expect to get this back now I'm wondering how to conserve the flavour for future attempts? More acid/different yeast like RC212 that isn't as good at reducing the maltic acid? Or more sulphide additions earlier to restrain the maltolactic? All ideas welcome, still learning here..........
* do you know the TA the graph below shows two cherry wines in the vinters club compared with one I did (and I do close to 100% cherry juice) Your goal is to balance sweet against TA, roughly on the blue line.
8B2A3DAE-AFE0-4B0C-BDF1-FC7A46653473.jpeg
 
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hounddawg

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your PH needs to be from 3.2 to 3.5, next fruit wines (country wines) need, sugar to bring out your fruit,,, on your country wines (fruits/berries} the flavor is lost with out sugar, some use simple syrup that's 2 cup sugar to 1 cup water, i never use simple sugar, i add my sugar dry and mix till dissolved, any water weakens your wines flavors,, i tend to stay away from sweet cherries, , reason being it's tuff to keep it from having a syrupy flavor, it can be done, but it is hard, tart/sour cherries is the best for making a good cherry wine, when you add your sugars to a tart/sour cherry, then it is easy to get a good cherry wine that is sweet so that it tastes like cherries straight form the tree...
Dawg
 

cellular

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Cheers for the advice everyone. I've just purchased a electronic pH meter (plus cal stuff and I can use the pH strips for cal as well). I'm thinking it's best to go for this approach atm:

crack a bottle, test the pH and adjust it with tartaric acid crystals until I either reach 3.8 or have added 1g of crystals to 700ml of wine (otherwise it will be too noticeable as it's such a late addition). I'm a fan of low acid, dry and tannic wines normally so would rather try it at a higher pH instead of put too much in and regret it.

Bench test this aiming to see what sugar additions are needed to bring out cherry taste and cover bitterness, leaning on the dry side as I hope that age will mellow the bitterness. Find the matched sucralose dose for a similar sweetness. Note it all down. (I kind of prefer dosing with sucralose at bottling stage as it's lower calorie and means I don't have to worry about another fermentation starting in bottle, but can easily serve with sucrose (sugar) instead by just putting a spoonful or two in the decanter)

Crack a bottle of some dry and acidic rhubarb wine I have, and try blending to 3.8 pH. Do you think I need to give it time for a blend to integrate or can you just mix and try straight off?)

Depending on the original measured pH load up the other wine in demijohns with KMeta and if pH is higher than 4 then potentially some acid as well to make sure nothing nasty happens.

Unfortunately I don't know the TA, don't have a measurement kit and I don't think there's a easy cross read from pH. I do have some glycerine and may try a drop of this but would prefer to try to leave the tannins until it's a year old before I do anything drastic.

Fruit/water/sugar amounts all in the original post but I will say that I used a 'triple wash' style of extraction where I fermented on the pulp for 4 days, then drained off to 3/4 fill the 30L fermenter. Then I fermented a second wash on the same pulp for 2 days, and drained off into the same 30L fermenter and fermented a third wash on the same pulp for a day then drained this off to top up the 30L fermenter. This basically meant all the cherry flavour was fully extracted, much more so than on a single fermentation on the pulp. It did taste very strongly of cherry when it was young (but also tasted very rough and young) so I'm surprised this has changed so much.

Thanks again for the advice, has got me thinking what I should be doing with other wines on the brew as well. Will report back (with a pic!)
 

Rice_Guy

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acid blend, if you are weighing into 750 ml, I would be guessing 0.1 gram, , , there are a lot of unknowns as your fruit quality so this could be off.

A 4.4 finished pH sounds like a sweet cherry, humm, , some cherry juice numbers:
2014 northStar pH 3.24 TA 1.72%
2917 NorthStar pH 3.32/ TA 1.83%
2018 Supermont 3.47/ 2.19%
2019 Supermont 3.33/ 1.82%
2019 Ranier pH 4.53/ TA 0.52%
2018 Bing pH 4.38/ TA 0.73%
If it tastes weak/ sweet pH paper must be correct but the number sounds funny

* your rhubarb and cherry wine are both liquids you can mix and taste. Adding acid is a solid so this needs to be mixed to dissolve. Some rhubarb juice numbers.
2018 pH 3.14/ TA 1.62%
2019 pH 3.27/ TA 1.38%
For guessing, any water should be considered transparent (having no effect)
 

ruhbarb76

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your PH needs to be from 3.2 to 3.5, next fruit wines (country wines) need, sugar to bring out your fruit,,, on your country wines (fruits/berries} the flavor is lost with out sugar, some use simple syrup that's 2 cup sugar to 1 cup water, i never use simple sugar, i add my sugar dry and mix till dissolved, any water weakens your wines flavors,, i tend to stay away from sweet cherries, , reason being it's tuff to keep it from having a syrupy flavor, it can be done, but it is hard, tart/sour cherries is the best for making a good cherry wine, when you add your sugars to a tart/sour cherry, then it is easy to get a good cherry wine that is sweet so that it tastes like cherries straight form the tree...
Dawg
 

ruhbarb76

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Dawg, sounds like you could answer this question (perhaps you already did) regarding berry wines. In answering a an earlier post, it was stated: " I always add extra berries, because they make a smoother finish with my high alcohol wine. What transpires to make this so?

Thank you.
 

hounddawg

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Dawg, sounds like you could answer this question (perhaps you already did) regarding berry wines. In answering a an earlier post, it was stated: " I always add extra berries, because they make a smoother finish with my high alcohol wine. What transpires to make this so?

Thank you.
go
Thank you,, country wines,, fruits & berries,, even flowers and vegetables, although i only do fruits and berries, are way less compilated than grapes , at least to me, using real fruits & berries i double to tripe the pound to liquid of which ever recipe you use,,, as for concentrates ,, i mix according to the concentrate then add a extra bottle/can of concentrate, as well you need to sweeten to taste to bring out the flavor, just for instances a blackberry/elderberry, i would use 6 lb. to the gallon ,,, that's 3 lbs. each, then using EC-1118 or K1V-1116, and step feed till it kills out the yeast, at which point i run my FSG to 1.040 and bulk age at very least a year, strawberry i'd go at least 7 lb. per gal. step feed till stopped, the my FSG is 1.030, young it taste like super sweet, but at 1 year bulk aging , it is a well balanced wine, ,, but i taste at day one tasting, over time you will lean by taste, what your mature wine will be, the lighter the berry/fruit the more per pound,,, on banana the lightest flavor on fruits ,,,12 lb. banana per gal. apple juice.. first i lay out till at least 70% black then freeze, i get golden raisins 1 lb. per gal. i chop them up and freeze , on only banana i use great value apple juice as my liquid, it runs about $3 per 3 qt. juice ,,, i have 3 carboys that's a year old, one carboy has 3 sticks cinnamon and 20 grams of allspice in it,
I hope this helps
Skoal
Dawg
 
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Rice_Guy

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, young it taste like super sweet, but at 1 year bulk aging , it is a well balanced wine, ,
In the vinters club zoom meeting one of the members said that “acid decreases over time” (as Titratable acidity drops over a year) I am curious if you have run any numbers over time, ,,, how is the flavor changing from year one to year two? four? six? ...
 

hounddawg

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In the vinters club zoom meeting one of the members said that “acid decreases over time” (as Titratable acidity drops over a year) I am curious if you have run any numbers over time, ,,, how is the flavor changing from year one to year two? four? six? ...
sorry, i do all my country wines as primitive as possible, , i as far as numbers go, I use SG & PH and that's it, years ago i learned from the old times that had nothing to start with, after working across the USA, then i became disabled, so i tried to marry as little as modern as possible, vacuum pump, hydrometer, K-meta, potassium sorbate , yeast and stirring my ust with a drill using a Kraft factory stainless steel 316,,, Manase stirrer , bungs and airlocks,
Dawg
 

ruhbarb76

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Dawg, sounds like you could answer this question (perhaps you already did) regarding berry wines. In answering a an earlier post, it was stated: " I always add extra berries, because they make a smoother finish with my high alcohol wine. What transpires to make this so?

Thank you.
I like your method to run the wine dry*; then add enough sugar to change the FSG 1.040 etc. (is this sugar added before or after racking?).

*In step-feeding dry sugar. At what times and proportions is the dry sugar step-fed?

Thanks!
 

hounddawg

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I like your method to run the wine dry*; then add enough sugar to change the FSG 1.040 etc. (is this sugar added before or after racking?).

*In step-feeding dry sugar. At what times and proportions is the dry sugar step-fed?

Thanks!
the back sweeten i do 3 days before bottling,,, i add potassium sorbate and k-meta first,,, then stir really well using a carboy stirrer ,, then i back sweeten to just below but very close to my taste, using your hydrometer that way in the future you can back sweeten for you FSG then bottle,, as i said strawberry i use FSG of 1.030 , blackberry,, elderberry, blackberry/elderberry 1.040 ,,, and so on

Dawg
 

hounddawg

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Same [email protected]
At what SG do you start adding sugar additions?
i start with a SSG of 1.090 then when close to a SG of 1.000 i step at what i want as a finish, so if my FSG 1,040 then i keep feeding back up to SG 1.040 that way if the alcohol kills my yeast i don't over shoot my FSG ,,, if you start much higher than 1,090 you can stress your yeast,
Dawg,,,
 

hounddawg

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Dawg, sounds like you could answer this question (perhaps you already did) regarding berry wines. In answering a an earlier post, it was stated: " I always add extra berries, because they make a smoother finish with my high alcohol wine. What transpires to make this so?

Thank you.
the more fruit/berry//concentrate you put in your must the more the flavor and the more robust the color,, and on country wines since sugar brings out the flavor to hide the extra alcohol, now pineapple which is a mess to do, from scratch anyway and lemon IE, skeeter pee, i start with 1 bottle lemon juice per 6 gallons water yeast EC-1118 and run up to a SG of 1.040, once dead the yeast i add 5 more bottles lemon juice to that 6 gallons, ferment barrel then rack to carboy,, the extra is for topping off with, come bottling time i pour a fifth of 180 proof PGA into a 6.5 carboy then rack my skeeter pee in to the 6.5 carboy, recheck your FSG you'll need it to be 1.040 add k-meta, stir and bottle after 4 to 6 months it will be so smooth, but it will ambush you , i only drink about 1/4 a glass, one time I missed corking one bottle i found it 30 days later, it was still good, my skeeter pee port i use for sleeping about 1/2 a coffee cup will put you down,, lol
Dawg
 
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Arne

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lol we all have our own tastes as to how we like the sweetness. You might want to slowly bring the sweet up from dry and keep tasting. I like sweet stuff, but bet 1.040 would be way sweeter than I would like. Just try sweetening a test sample and see what your taste buds say. No offence, dawg, but yours would be way to sweet for me. You know everybody has an opinion, probably would like a glass or two of your wine. Know I would, but mine is usually way less sweet. tell you what I don't like tho, the weather is on and they are talking record cold around here, low in the minus teens, high still below zero. Havn't seen that around here for a long long time and hope it is even longer before it happens again. Take care all, ARNE.
 
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