critique/inputs for blackberry wine

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wildhair

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I think the ph tester I used is not right. I re-checked it with some ph strips (and some of the other wines) and they all show a ph between 3 & 4. Which is the best you can do with the little strips. I'll have to get a meter made for testing wine. And from what I've read here - probably a SO2 tester as well.
What would be the acidity or ph I should have ?
 

Scooter68

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For most fruit wines a pH number between 3.4 and 3.6 is desired. Variance will occur at times but keeping as close to that range as possible is considered safe. You will see, if you go hunting on some winery sites, wines offered with a pH as low as 3.18, but until you have a lot more experience the above range is a good guideline.

And reading a blackberry wine with ph Strips is virtually impossible. Find an inexpensive pH meter - they range from $20.00 to $40.00 for a good starter. If you want one that does more you will be investing a LOT more money but that depends on your plans and budget. You can even do a titration test with a basic pH meter and to find out how just google that phrase "Titration with pH meter" By the way the key with any pH meter high dollar or low dollar is to check calibration frequently. Buffer solutions are used and even the High Dollar ones need to be check just as often as a $20.00 meter.
 

wildhair

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I wondered about using the strips because of the color of the juice. OK, a ph meter it is. So if it IS too acidic - can I still add the Cal. Carbonate to bring it up or is it too late to correct it now?

Man, I thought this was gonna be a nice little winter hobby - little old man doing some wine making while the snow flies. It's turning into a Chem final! SO2 levels, ph, tartaric acid, malic acid, hydrometer readings - the more I read, the more I learn, the more I learn, the more questions I have & the more I know how much I don't know! LOL
 

Scooter68

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Yes - calcium carbonate will help BUT go slow and give it no more than a half-dose of the amount you figure is need. It's always easier to add a bit more than to have it go to far the other way. Too acid affect taste but too little and the wine can spoil - beyond recovery so just take it slow and give it a couple of days after dosing before testing.
 

wildhair

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I found this on the EC Kraus web site regarding dosage - this look about right?

DOSAGE: For each teaspoon of Calcium Carbonate added to 1 gallon of wine, the total acidity (TA) will lower by .10% tartaric. We recommend determining what the juice`s current TA is with an Acid Testing Kit. Then establish a dosage to be added to the entire batch. If you do not have an Acid Testing Kit then use 1/2 teaspoon of Calcium Carbonate for every gallon of wine. More Calcium Carbonate can be added later if the wine is still too tart.

MAXIMUM DOSAGE: Total dosage should not exceed 3-1/2 teaspoon per each gallon of wine.\


In all the books I read so far, I only found mention of using Calcium Carbonate in a rhubarb recipe on Jack Keller's site. And none mentioned checking the ph in the must.
 

Scooter68

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Books are great but when it comes to actual practical experience there's a lot more information on boards like this one and several others that comes in handy.

One recommendation - Read suggestions, sit back and think if it passes the common sense test and then google a little bit more about it. For example. I've only been making wine since July of 2015. I've read a ton online and googled for questions I had as well. And in all that time I only found out about Reduless, a product for elimination of the "Rotten Egg" smell, a little over a week ago. I'm retired with no pressing things to do other than tend to our property (18 acres) and the two homes on that property. And yet somehow I missed reading about that product until a week ago. So suddenly a really ugly problem that I've had twice now, is suddenly managable with this product.

As you do more of this you will find a variety of opinions and some minor controversy about things we should or shouldn't do - Like Using an airlock on wine during primary fermentation, or soaking, dipping, or not soaking corks in sanitizer before corking bottles. Who's right? Well sometimes there is no right answer and sometimes there's more than one way to get the job done.

Hang in there, and most of all be patient, that's the most import part of learning how to make the best wine.
 

wildhair

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It's like that on most forums. And I've been googling (duckduckgo in my case) and reading what I can to avoid asking overly ignorant Q's on here, I search the forum to see if my Q has already been answered earlier (the way I found this thread). And like everywhere on-line & in person - some folks are helpful, some want to show how much they know, some just want to stick in their $.02, some are amusing, some are amazing - but they ALL have more experience than me. So far - so good! Seems like a lot of nice helpful folks. And since I haven't put a cork in my first bottle yet - I have LOTS to learn. I'm picking up a ph meter tonight and I'll be testing tomorrow. I do appreciate your help & input.
 

Stressbaby

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@wildhair,
When it comes to acid additions (or carbonate/bicarbonate additions for that matter), recall that TA changes are linear and somewhat predictable. pH changes on the other hand are logarithmic and highly variable. Three tsp of acid might move the pH significantly in one batch and hardly move it at all in another, depending on the buffering capacity of the must. And because it is logarithmic, the first tsp won't move the pH the same amount as the third.
Get the pH meter, go slow and test often, you'll figure it out.
 

wildhair

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I think I'll test the batch, then pull off a qt. or 1/2 gal and make corrections in that over the course of the next week. Then, assuming I get the ph it where it should be - I can extrapolate to the remaining batch. I hope. Thanks.
Nothing like an old dog trying to learn new tricks.
 

Scooter68

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@wildhair,
When it comes to acid additions (or carbonate/bicarbonate additions for that matter), recall that TA changes are linear and somewhat predictable. pH changes on the other hand are logarithmic and highly variable. Three tsp of acid might move the pH significantly in one batch and hardly move it at all in another, depending on the buffering capacity of the must. And because it is logarithmic, the first tsp won't move the pH the same amount as the third.
Get the pH meter, go slow and test often, you'll figure it out.
My first TA test with a pH meter was great proof of that. It seemed to take forever for the numbers to shift then it was like a roller coaster starting down that first hill.

Slow and steady and LOTS of patience is how this is all done.
 

Scooter68

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By the way you mentioned that you haven't bottled anything yet. Have you bought bottles or looked into your local recycling center? Those of us operating on the cheap find that with a little experience and timing, you can gather a lot of excellent bottles for no cost other than the time and energy to clean off the lables. Just another 'random' thought. :b
 

wildhair

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I'm a Scot by birth - doing things on the cheap is in my DNA. :h I have been collecting bottles for a while and I have friends saving them for me as well. I have quite a few of the 1.5L as well as the 750 ml and some 325 ml. I did some calculations & think I have enough for what I've got brewing. I'll know for sure in another month or so.
I've been looking/reading on how to get the darn labels off easier. I've read a couple tips, I'll try them on the next batch. I've been soaking them in a 5 gal bucket w/ sodium carbonate (washing soda). And I took a 3" putty knife to the grinder and ground it to a curve that matched the bottle, then ground an edge on it. Works pretty well at removing labels and glue.
 

Scooter68

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Sounds like you have some pretty solid plans for saving on the hobby. By the way, hang on to those 375ml bottles they are 1) Not that common around here and 2) EXPENSIVE to buy if you wanted to use them for gift bottles. I make small batches mostly 1-4 gallons at most and I'd love to use the 375ml for gifts, but the price to buy them is way more than standard bottles so.... I'm really choosey about who I give my wine too. :ft


As far as the labels I just use hot water, time and then a cheap single edge scraper. I'm starting to get picky - if the label glue won't come off easy - that bottle can go back to the recycling center. Of course I have fun looking for matching bottles. (5 per gallon) And I've found that my light colored wines have to be put in clear bottles not those bluish or greenish glass ones. So bottle hunting takes me a little time.

Good luck on this batch.
 

wildhair

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Got the ph meter, got it calibrated - blackberry is 3.27 and my rhubarb reads 3.02. Didn't check the cranberry. Will begin adjustments w/ calcium carbonate later in the weekend.
Couple Q's - when testing different wines - do you rinse the meter between use and put in the buffer solution between each sample? Or can you rinse in warm tap water, dip it sterilizer and go to the next sample?

How long does it typically have to sit in the sample for the reading to be "final"? Mine wanted to bounce (the hundreths #) between 3.26, 3.27, 3.28, 3.27, etc. for 5 minutes or so. Or ~ once it stabilizes on the tenths - is that "accurate enough"?

How long after adding Calcium Carbonate should I wait to re-test?
 

Stressbaby

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Got the ph meter, got it calibrated - blackberry is 3.27 and my rhubarb reads 3.02. Didn't check the cranberry. Will begin adjustments w/ calcium carbonate later in the weekend.
Couple Q's - when testing different wines - do you rinse the meter between use and put in the buffer solution between each sample? Or can you rinse in warm tap water, dip it sterilizer and go to the next sample?

How long does it typically have to sit in the sample for the reading to be "final"? Mine wanted to bounce (the hundreths #) between 3.26, 3.27, 3.28, 3.27, etc. for 5 minutes or so. Or ~ once it stabilizes on the tenths - is that "accurate enough"?

How long after adding Calcium Carbonate should I wait to re-test?
I'm not sure I'd mess with the blackberry. You may be able to balance that one out by backsweetening it.
 

Johnd

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Got the ph meter, got it calibrated - blackberry is 3.27 and my rhubarb reads 3.02. Didn't check the cranberry. Will begin adjustments w/ calcium carbonate later in the weekend.
Couple Q's - when testing different wines - do you rinse the meter between use and put in the buffer solution between each sample? Or can you rinse in warm tap water, dip it sterilizer and go to the next sample?

How long does it typically have to sit in the sample for the reading to be "final"? Mine wanted to bounce (the hundreths #) between 3.26, 3.27, 3.28, 3.27, etc. for 5 minutes or so. Or ~ once it stabilizes on the tenths - is that "accurate enough"?

How long after adding Calcium Carbonate should I wait to re-test?
Between testings, I rinse with DI water and pat dry.

After 10 or so seconds, when it making those little bounces, call it 3.27, plenty close enough.

I measure soon after mixing in calcium carbonate, just to see, but normally wait til the next day before calling it done and making additional changes.
 

Scooter68

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QUOTE: "After 10 or so seconds, when it making those little bounces, call it 3.27, plenty close enough."

Except those like me who really really really want it below 3.XX and just have to keep tapping the meter, swishing the juice. :D And of course as soon as I write a number it will drop one more thousandth.

AGREE - With all assessments by the above more experienced heads.

For me I put it out rinse lightly with distilled water and let it set in my distilled water cup until the next measurement (not more than 2-10 mins normally) Dry before storing OH and of course turn it off as soon as I pull it out of the sample.
 

Tnuscan

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QUOTE: "After 10 or so seconds, when it making those little bounces, call it 3.27, plenty close enough."

Except those like me who really really really want it below 3.XX and just have to keep tapping the meter, swishing the juice. :D And of course as soon as I write a number it will drop one more thousandth.

AGREE - With all assessments by the above more experienced heads.

For me I put it out rinse lightly with distilled water and let it set in my distilled water cup until the next measurement (not more than 2-10 mins normally) Dry before storing OH and of course turn it off as soon as I pull it out of the sample.
I never put my pH meter away dry, I always keep it slightly submerged in a storage solution.
 

wildhair

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The wine making store owner told me to make sure the little cap on the electrode is kept with solution in it - specifically said - "don't let it dry out" after you take it out of the package. So I won't. ........probably.
So the blackberry is close enough at 3.27. And since the rhubarb is done (or almost done) fermenting - 3.02 is acceptable ph, too?

He also told me as a "general rule of thumb" -
Must should be 2.9 - 3.9 ph
Final ph - 3.0-3.3 for whites and 3.3 - 3.5 for reds.

Thanks again. I should have some strawberries and rhubarb left over from jam making today. Gotta make some wine from that!
 

Scooter68

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Fruit wines as a general rule folks shoot for a finish somewhere between 3.4 to 3.6 BUT as with most things about wine making, some people see it differently. My recipe book that came with my Starter kit from Master Vintner had that as a guide for all fruit wines other than grapes.


As to the must, a lot depends on the fruit and how much acid it may release/generated during fermentation. So with blueberries you can start at 3.6 and at the end of fermentation have a reading of 2.98 as I had on my last batch. (It was 8lbs of berries so I think next time I'll go for about 6 to 6 1/2 lbs.) Blueberries just get very acidic.

As to the pH meter - follow the manufacturers instructions - assuming it has guidance. Mine did not but it hasn't stopped working or drifted off badly in the 18 months I've had it. I do store mine dry and capped.
 
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