Cofermenting with blueberries

Discussion in 'General Wine Making Forum' started by RonObvious, May 17, 2018.

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  1. RonObvious

    RonObvious Member

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    Ever have one of those hair-brained ideas that you just can't get out of your head until you run it to ground? Well, mine is co-fermenting cold hardy grapes with wild blueberries. For some reason I even want to try Concord grapes with blueberries, even though I'm aware of the usual caveats about Concord wine. I think it has something to do with my current fascination with the health effects of anthocyanins, which are abundant in both blueberries and Concord. Also, both grow well here in the Northeast, so something about it just feels right.

    I actually did a 1 gallon test batch last fall with about 3 pounds of frozen blueberries and Concord concentrate (added sugar to bring it up to about 21 brix). Fermented open for a few days, as if the blueberries took the place of grape skins in the must. Then racked to secondary and racked again a couple months later. I've not done anything else to it. It's still aging, but tastes decent so far. I think what flaws it has are mostly because it's concentrate. It's a bit thin. I feel like it would be a lot better if I had used grapes or at least fresh juice.

    I can buy fresh Concord juice in the fall, so I'm thinking of getting 6 gallons of it and adding a few pounds of frozen blueberries as I did last year. Has anybody tried something like this? Any tips? I know a more orthodox method would be to ferment them separately and blend later, but the voices inside my head tell me to co-ferment. I guess I'm wondering about the potential benefits of things like enzymes, oak, tannin addition, etc. Anyway, any advice or discussion is appreciated!
     
  2. salcoco

    salcoco Veteran Wine Maker Supporting Member

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    the combination is fine, normal checks for brix, acid, addition of tannin etc are still required.
     
  3. Scooter68

    Scooter68 Still getting started at 26 batches & 2 1./2 years

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    Blueberry taste in your proposed wine will be very very light if even noticeable. So if you are looking for the taste of blueberries that's not going to happen unless you are at a least a 50/50 mix of the two. Concord grapes are very flavorful and will overwhelm your blueberries. If you like the concord flavor great. Not sure how much of the anti-oxidant properties of blueberries will actually make it into your finished wine at any mix but it's worth a shot.
     
  4. RonObvious

    RonObvious Member

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    Thanks guys. I'll be sure to post back if I ever perfect the recipe. Scooter68, I can definitely see your point about the blueberry flavor being hard to notice. I also find that blueberry wine has a flavor that is remarkably similar to a generic red wine, so it might be really hard for the palate to distinguish. Funny thing, we were at a tasting with some friends a few months ago and we were poured a blind sample of what looked like red wine and asked what we thought it was. Now we had done a bit too much tasting and a bit too little spitting by then, if you catch my drift, but regardless - we were all fooled, including me. I was thinking, hmmmm... is this some new hybrid? LOL, it was of course 100% blueberry!

    One thing I've learned already is how dependent anthocyanins are on pH. We had lots of Nonesuch apples on our tree last year so I decided to make a small batch of wine with them. On a lark, I threw in a few cups of frozen blueberries, hoping to make the flavor a little more complex, as I find apple wine to be a bit boring by itself. I was also hoping for a pretty color! I made a pulp of the apples and blueberries and sulfited it overnight. I was really disappointed the following morning to find that pretty blue color had disappeared! The blueberries in the must were sort of pale and sick looking and the color of the juice was pallid as well. I tested the acidity before pitching yeast and found that the pH was way too high (can't remember numbers at the moment). I added acid blend to get the pH down to the mid-3s. An hour later, the pretty color was back! So lesson learned: anthocyanin speciation (or at least pigmentation) is pH dependent. I know blueberries and grapes share a lot of the same antho compounds, just in different proportions, so this probably holds true for grape wine as well.
     

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