Chokecherry Wine - My First Attempt

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TasunkaWitko

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Hey, Scooter - thanks for the reassurance. It wasn't foaming through the tube, but there were some bubbles, which was confusing. I'd never seen that before, but my guess (hope) is that the campden tablet will take care of everything.

My only worry now is that I'm diluting my wine, but my understanding is that these recipes take into account that there will be some topping off. In the future, I'll be able to top with some chokecherry wine; but for now, it looks like water - hopefully not too much!
 

Arne

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Get some small hose clamps and use with your hose and siphon tubes. Found some that need some kind of hose clamp pliers at Ace hardware and some at Harbor Freight that have thumb screws on them. The H.F. ones come in a kit with a bunch of different sizes, will probably only use one or two of the sizes, the Ace ones are sold seperately for 30 or 40 cents apiece. Don't remember the price for sure. Arne.
 

TasunkaWitko

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Hi, Arne - my dad and I were talking earlier this week and he suggested something similar. I'll have to give it a shot, because that little incident set this project back a few weeks. No worries, though, It seems to be pretty happy, still.

I'll take a look at it in 2 or 3 weeks and see what I have. I am pretty sure I got most of the lees in spite of the troubles, but of course there will probably still be some remaining, plus a little more.
 

Arne

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If you have too much trouble with the lees, take a board and put under one side of the carboy. Let it sit for a couple of weeks and when you rack, rack off the high side of the carboy. You might loose a little more wine, but it is easier to leave most of the lees in the donor carboy. Good luck with it, Arne.
 

TasunkaWitko

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I drew out a tiny sample of this last night - maybe enough to fill a shot glass.

This chokecherry wine is tasting very good, I think - especially for a first attempt. It is like a mouthful of chokecherry, without the astringency. There seems to be just a hint of vanilla in the finish - I have no idea how that happened, but I like it.

It's not perfect, by any means. It seems to have a tiny bit too much acidity, and it might be slightly watered down, due to my last fiasco racking, described above. Also, it is certainly has some developing to do, which time in the bottle will achieve - but I think I'm on a good path, here.

My plan is to let it continue to bulk age, then rack one more time before stabilizing and bottling. After that, I'll try to let it age for a few months, but will probably fail.
 

wineforfun

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Read through your thread and I think you will be just fine. Adding only a half cup of water throughout won't hurt the flavor much. I would also cut down on all the "samplings". :)

You will definitely want to backsweeten to bring out more of the fruit flavor. For me, I usually add 1/2 cup(give or take) sugar per gallon for a semi-sweet fruit wine. Different fruits may take a little less or more, depending on your likes.

In the future, start with a little more than a gallon so when you do your initial racking from primary to secondary, you have extra, ie: a 375ml or 750ml bottle. This extra can be used for topping off after rackings, eliminating the need for water.
 
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TasunkaWitko

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Agreed, D.J.!

Of course, next time, If topping is needed, I'll be able to do so with chokecherry wine, as well.

My samples really have been small, keeping in mind that I want to keep the fermenter filled up to the neck. In one of my earlier photos, the wine in the fermenter goes almost, but not quite to the brim. Racking off the lees and "sampling" ( :) ) have brought that down, but for the most part we're in good shape, I think. I never expected my first attempt to turn out as well as it seems to be going!
 

Arne

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Read through your thread and I think you will be just fine. Adding only a half cup of water throughout won't hurt the flavor much. I would also cut down on all the "samplings". :)

You will definitely want to backsweeten to bring out more of the fruit flavor. For me, I usually add 1/2 cup(give or take) sugar per gallon for a semi-sweet fruit wine. Different fruits may take a little less or more, depending on your likes.

In the future, start with a little more than a gallon so when you do your initial racking from primary to secondary, you have extra, ie: a 375ml or 750ml bottle. This extra can be used for topping off after rackings, eliminating the need for water.

Cut down on the sampling?? Why in the world would you make wine if you didn't sample as you go along. If you make plenty extra, you will have some for sampling, some for topping off, a bit for the angels and in my case some for those darn wine gremlins. At least they use the wine theif and don't tip the carboy over. We gotta get together and do a bit of the sampling one of these days, D.J.. Arne.
 

wineforfun

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Cut down on the sampling?? Why in the world would you make wine if you didn't sample as you go along. If you make plenty extra, you will have some for sampling, some for topping off, a bit for the angels and in my case some for those darn wine gremlins. At least they use the wine theif and don't tip the carboy over. We gotta get together and do a bit of the sampling one of these days, D.J.. Arne.

haha
All excellent points Arne. Yes we do. Now that I am back from vacation, it is time to ramp up production again.
 

TasunkaWitko

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This weekend, I'll most likely rack my chokecherry wine over for the last time before bottling. I'm a little unclear on this step, since I've never done it before, so I have a few questions, if y'all don't mind -

Does anyone have a general, step-by-step "checklist" for this final stage of the wine-making? Should I be cold-crashing and/or stabilizing it now? Or wait a few weeks after this racking before doing so?

The wine seems to have cleared up very nicely on its own, so I don't anticipate the need to add any finings or clearing agents. Should I add a campden tablet one more time before bottling?

I don't plan to back-sweeten, as this wine tastes simply beautiful on its own, even at this relatively young stage. There actually seems to be just a hint of vanilla in there, for reasons I cannot explain, and it is really nice. Has this happened with anyone else?

My dad's batch of wine which he bottled quite a while ago, tastes great when he opens it and pours a glass, but after about 30 minutes the flavor of the wine in the glass deteriorates quite a bit. Is this an oxidation problem? Would a campden tablet at bottling have prevented this, or is there another way to deal with it so that the same doesn't happen to mine?

Thanks for all feedback and advice -

Ron
 

TasunkaWitko

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Update - I received a great reply from Yooper over at the HomeBrewTalk forum, which I will post here in order to add to the chronicle:

There probably are checklists out there, but for me I generally cold stabilize for a month or so before bottling. It's not critical, but I do that before I rack to the bottling bucket so that more sediment doesn't drop out in the bottle in my cellar.

I use campden/sulfite at every other racking to help prevent oxidation, and add more at bottling.

It does sound like oxidation with your dad's wine. I'm not sure why it would happen in 30 minutes, though, unless it was already present and became worse with some sitting in the glass.
 

TasunkaWitko

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I received some additional information from Yooper, which I am posting here so that it is in my records:

If you're not sweetening the wine, I would skip the sorbate. It does have a bit of a protective effect I guess, but I only would use it if I was adding additional fermentables to prevent renewed fermentation. It does impart a taste, although slight, and I prefer to not use it unless necessary.

I was thinking about wine decanting at dinner tonight. Sometimes we decant a big bold wine that may need a bit of time to breathe. It really opens up the wine, but if it's not needed it does detract from the wine. In this case, it sounds like [your dad's] wine was flawed already, but having it sit and interact with oxygen after the pour probably exacerbated it.

Based on this, I will skip the sorbate and go straight to bottling after cold-stabilizing for a few weeks.
 

Stressbaby

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TW,

I will offer my 2 cents here. I agree that you should skip the sorbate if not backsweetening, and you should probably hit it again with Kmeta before bottling. However, if the wine is really clear, you may not need the cold stabilization. The main purpose is to prevent wine diamonds later when the bottle is chilled. You won't have enough tartaric acid in this wine for that to be a problem. I have cold stabilized lots of country wines and those made with acid blend or citric acid never precipitate any crystals. Maybe a fine dusting of sediment, but I'm never really sure if that would have dropped out anyway. It won't hurt anything to cold stab it, but I wouldn't think that it is a critical step.
 

TasunkaWitko

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Well, my #2 son got into my first batch before it was ready, and to cover his tracks, he replaced a full half of it with water....

I thought of killing him, but decided not to; it's just too damn much hassle, although in the end I might have been able to plead temporary insanity. Instead, I started a second batch of wine on 3 October 2016, using a very slightly-modified recipe:

Chokecherry Wine

3 pounds chokecherries
2.5 pounds sugar
1 cup chopped golden raisins (intended to add body to the wine)
1 teaspoon acid blend
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
Scant 1/4 teaspoon tannin
1 crushed Campden tablet
1/2 teaspoon pectic enzyme
1 package Montrachet yeast
7 pints Big Spring Water from Lewistown, Montana

As I mentioned, there are a couple of small differences with this batch, compared to my previous batch. I never used any tannin with the first batch, so I tried it this time, for comparison. The amount of chokecherries and sugar is slightly higher this time, but not by much, simply because that's what I had. My goal was a fruit-forward, strong-ish wine.

This time, the boy stayed out of it, and that makes me happy. Over the months, I racked this off the lees once or twice, then put it away to bulk-age. For a month or so, I told myself to forget about it, and after a while, I did!

Somewhere in that time, I re-filled the air-lock a couple of times, and finally, a month or so ago, I put a 38-mm cap on the fermenter and put it in the refrigerator, hoping that it would pull down any vestigial sediment etc. Normally, one would add a fining agent, but I did not do that at this time, since it didn't seem to need it. There was just the tiniest bit of sediment on the bottom; but otherwise, the wine seemed wonderfully clear and had a beautiful colour.

Last night, I bottled this wine, and I am thinking that I really have something nice. The normal, "proper" procedure would be to add a crushed campden tablet (dissolved in a bit of warm water) and a half-teaspoon of sorbate. I did not do that this time, for my own reasons, but might do so in the future; therefore, I am putting down this procedure so that I won't forget.

Anyway, proceeding with the bottling, I washed and sanitised all equipment, then got down to doing it. It was quite easy, thanks to my mini auto-siphon and bottling wand - in fact, it was even easier than bottling beer. One thing I was eager to try was this handy gadget, which turned out to be very easy to use and made corking a breeze:

http://a.co/9P7ZAVw

The are currently unavailable at Amazon, it seems, but can be found here, also:

http://mastervintner.com/master-vintner-mini-corker/

I was expecting to get 4 bottles from the batch, plus a partial fifth bottle; however, I was happily surprised with 5 full bottles. I had just enough left over for a small sample, and it sure was good. The chokecherry came through very well, and I was quite happy to see that it still had the slight, zippy "spiciness" to that I referred to in my post above.

The bottles of chokecherry wine are currently sitting upright, in the dark, while the pressure equalizes and the corks settle in. In a few days, I will store my wine horizontally and leave it alone for a few weeks while the "bottle shock" wears off. I am guessing that when the time comes to sample it, I'll be quite pleased with it. I plan to see how this wine matures over the next year or so, and am hoping for really nice things.

For now, this second recipe that I made looks to be the one to use. I don't see any need for changing it, but will try to improve my methods and practices a bit in the future, including attempting to use some of the additives that can make a good wine even better. I have enough chokecherries in the freezer to start another batch of wine, and will get it started as soon as I can.
 

TasunkaWitko

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TW,

I will offer my 2 cents here. I agree that you should skip the sorbate if not backsweetening, and you should probably hit it again with Kmeta before bottling. However, if the wine is really clear, you may not need the cold stabilization. The main purpose is to prevent wine diamonds later when the bottle is chilled. You won't have enough tartaric acid in this wine for that to be a problem. I have cold stabilized lots of country wines and those made with acid blend or citric acid never precipitate any crystals. Maybe a fine dusting of sediment, but I'm never really sure if that would have dropped out anyway. It won't hurt anything to cold stab it, but I wouldn't think that it is a critical step.

Hi, SB -

Thanks for this information; I keep going on and off the fence about sorbate etc., so it is good to have some real-life experience to draw upon. I'll see how this one ends up It's kind of funny because my dad made some about the first time I made my first batch. He literally broke all of the "rules," with no additives at all except one campden tablet that I convinced him to use at the beginning of the process, and no special treatment at all...just one racking and then bottling 2 weeks later; yet a year-and-a-half later, his wine tastes really, really good. Sometimes I think we fuss too much over these projects, and should just make the wine - apparently, it will take care of itself, most times....
 

TasunkaWitko

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Here is the label that I created for this wine:

EVfNkkl.jpg
 
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