Dry-semi dry wine from Van sweet cherries

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Miško Ajkula

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I don't know if this question is on right place, or if it was asked before (I couldn't find it), but I would like to get advices from you guys.

I would like to make, as subject says, dry or semi dry wine from those sweet Van cherries. I would prefer to make it as similar as possible to traditional grape wines. With a lot of body, but with nice cherry aroma and flavors.

My plan is to crush cherries, add yeast and additives, when primary fermentation is complete to separate must from wine, wait that fermentation is complete and put in container. I would like to avoid too strong fermentation in order to preserve more aroma, so I would try to keep container in room with temperature of 15-16C.

It is important to say that I am not any expert and I don't have too much experience, so any advice is welcome.

Things that I would like to hear from you are this:

1. What yeast do you recommend and why
2. After how many days to separate must from wine
3. How much alcohol can I expect
4. Is there enough acid in those cherries and should I add some
5. Should I remove seeds from cherries before crushing
6. How long it should age for proper serious wine taste.
7. Is it smart to age it with oak cubes

That's it for now.
 

Rice_Guy

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your goal is to make a grape like wine, ,, for comparison
3. How much alcohol can I expect
4. Is there enough acid in those cherries and should I add some
5. Should I remove seeds from cherries before crushing
3; alcohol is related to sugar, the target for grape is roughly 1.090 gravity (sugar density). The sweet cherries I have looked at are close, a tree a few blocks away was 1.109 last year however commercial fruit tends to be 1.085, good but it wouldn’t hurt to add 3% sugar. The key is measure gravity to check how ripe your fruit is.
Many fruit wines are done by adding three or four parts water. I use 100% juice since I have trees. I would consider any cherry with more than one to one water/fruit thin. Note added water needs 1.090 sugar (30%) and pH 3.3 acid to keep the alcohol and flavor up.
Acid, grape is tartaric at about 0.6%. The sweet cherry I have juiced is citric acid at 0.5 to 0.7% so ripe fruit probably is low. The other part of acid is pH, as a fruit wine I try for pH 3.2 to 3.5, the sweets seem to be 4.3 to 4.5. so yes you should add acid to lower the pH. If you have a meter aim for less than 3.5 pH otherwise try a teaspoon per gallon, I would add tartaric acid not acid blend.
5; seeds contain cyanide which is toxic. Seeds should be removed not crushed! The other option is to gently press the pulp which I do and not crush seeds. The decision is it’s lots of work and what tools do you have?
1. What yeast do you recommend and why
7. Is it smart to age it with oak cubes
you want a wine yeast that tolerates 14% alcohol and is low SO2, I used a lot of BM 4x4 but most yeast will work. ,,, what is available?
Oak is a personal preference, do you like the flavor? Most fruit wines are not oaked which tends to mask fruity flavor.
2. After how many days to separate must from wine
6. How long it should age for proper serious wine taste.
primary I usually filter solids at five days, aiming for a gravity of 1.020 to 1.010 while there is active gas production.
My wines are fairly natural (without chitosan/ bentonite/ etc) so nine months to a year. I like to empty the carboy before next harvest.
Not asked; racking and meta. I try to rack three to four times to minimize air and meta additions. For an easy to clear cherry you need pectase enzyme in the primary. However cloudy wine tastes good too. Most fruit wines are sweetened (enhances fruity aroma) which requires sorbate to stop refermentation of a young wine, as a dry 1.000 or less you don’t need sorbate.

Yes I am giving the whys of how to make cherry like a dry grape. A lot of the recipe decision goes back to how ripe the fruit is.
 

Miško Ajkula

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You covered even things that I would ask in later stage :)

I would like to make it natural as possible, with minimum additives. Only additives that I am planning to use are enzymes, yeast, yeast food and preservation E224.

Cherry is in my backyard, so if weather allows, I will pick them properly ripe. Therefore I think there is no need for extra sugar. I want to know what it can make without any sugar.

Also I will skip adding water as well. I don't care about quantity that I will get, only important thing for me is quality. Anyway this time I will start with one barrel of 100l, with 70% filled up maximum, that is no more than 70kg, probably less, so it is not some big quantity.

Which tools I have, you asked? - I have good will and my two hands :)

That means if seeds will not affect flavor in bad way, than I would prefer not to remove them.

Regarding the acids and ph. I have ph meter for water, is it good for wine as well?

Oak I mention because in proper aged grape wine it give special note. Most of people say that with aging oak flavor integrates well with wine and balance that strong flavor from fresh wine. So maybe It is good idea to separate and age one part of wine for 2-3 years with few oak cubes. It looks like good idea to me, but maybe I am wrong, that is why I am asking people like you, that already have experience with this matter.

I will use enzyme before fermentation , but nothing later, for clearing.

If I decide to sweeten it, then it will be natural honey. But I will wait to see what I got, before I put anything extra.

That lead me to another question :

How much time needs to pass until wine starts to get it's final taste? I mean, when can you feel the taste and aroma that will not continue changing dramatically?
 

Rice_Guy

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I would like to make it natural as possible, with minimum additives. Only additives that I am planning to use are enzymes, yeast, yeast food and preservation E224.
* Cherry is in my backyard, so if weather allows, I will pick them properly ripe. Therefore I think there is no need for extra sugar. I want to know what it can make without any sugar.
Which tools I have, you asked? - I have good will and my two hands :)
* That means if seeds will not affect flavor in bad way, than I would prefer not to remove them.
Regarding the acids and ph. I have ph meter for water, is it good for wine as well?
* If I decide to sweeten it, then it will be natural honey. But I will wait to see what I got, before I put anything extra.
* How much time needs to pass until wine starts to get it's final taste? I mean, when can you feel the taste and aroma that will not continue changing dramatically?
* the number one basic tool for wine is a hydrometer for the purpose of monitoring the fermentation. The pH meter for water will also work on other materials as wine and cheese. In the food industry we are concerned about breaking glass, but that is about it related to pH probes.
* have you tasted a sweet cherry wine? If you can find a sweet cherry sample it, in industry this is called sampling the competition. My opinion on sweet cherry wine is that the taste is flat and it is improved with malic acid, ,,, the acid found in sour cherries. It also is better with tartaric. If you can’t find sweet cherry wine the next best is to rinse your mouth with a toothpaste containing pyrophosphate then taste the fruit, ,,,it will hide much of the sweet flavor which yeast consume.
* I like honey. As a back sweetening agent it adds bulk, is safer for refermentation BUT has proteins which give cloudiness.
* time? one needs to remove most of the CO2 and yeast for the flavor to stabilize. Kit folks mechanically degas and do three month wines. Without degassing six months is pretty good, BUT a cool 15C basement makes this longer and a warm 22C bed room speeds it up. The other issue on time is how long is it good? With sour cherries that are not pitted I am noting alight astringent note at 18 months so I call mine a two year shelf life product. Wine Making Talk has suggested I can extend the shelf life by pulling the pits out, ,,, ie using a clean juice, ,,, and that is how I will run next time. ,,, This is an argument putting in for the effort to remove seeds. ,,, My guess is my astringent flavor is an oxidation product of something in cherries, ,,, I have not tasted this flavor in any commercial cherry I have tried.
* I have planted Van cherry but it has never produced a crop. I am making assumptions based on sweet cherries I have tested. GOOD LUCK on the project
 

Miško Ajkula

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I have never tried sweet cherry wine, that's why I want to make it, so I can try it. I actually never heard about it before I got idea of making one and researched on Google. It seamed possible to me considering cherries have good amount of sugar and are available to me. I will also make strong spirit, distilating the must.

I will try to make everything nice and sterilized, to avoid any bacterial contamination and then make anaerobic fermentation. This will help to avoid astringent flavor, together with vinobran conservation for healthy aging.

Van cherry tree needs pollinator, so if your tree doesn't have good pollinator near by in time of flowering, that can be a reason why you don't get fruits.
 

Khristyjeff

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Hi MA and welcome.
If you don't have a recipe for sweet cherry wine, I just purchased a book off of Amazon for under $10 that was recommended on this site. It's called Mary's Recipes by Jerry Uthemann; it covers basics of winemaking and has many recipes for grape, fruit, and "other" wines including a Sweet Cherry Wine. He does mention removing the pits and also makes the point that the finished wine benefits if the cherries were frozen first, then thawed. Good luck!
 

Neb Farmer

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I have a decent crop of Van cherries this year that I have been thinking about using to make a 'cherry-cello' ( same as limoncello but with cherries, of course) , but I hadn't thought about trying to make wine with them. Maybe I should! I'll get the refractometer out and see just where the cherries are in terms of brix level.
 

Miško Ajkula

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Thank you Khristyjeff, I like to experiment and to try different things. For me is more important to understand the process of things that I am doing, than just to follow recipes.

Neb farmer, I will check with hydrometer and will update here.

I am thinking to introduce bacterial culture in must, that are fermenting sugar into lactic acid. That will increase acidity that, all of you say, sweet cherries are lacking.
 

Rice_Guy

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You are likely to have the beverage spoil if it is a bacterial fermentation! Alcohol produced by yeast acts as a preservative ! The resulting beverage should have storage at 4C or lower and will last like a beer.

Thank you Khristyjeff, I like to experiment and to try different things. For me is more important to understand the process of things that I am doing, than just to follow recipes.

Neb farmer, I will check with hydrometer and will update here.

I am thinking to introduce bacterial culture in must, that are fermenting sugar into lactic acid. That will increase acidity that, all of you say, sweet cherries are lacking.
 

Miško Ajkula

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Not for complete fermentation, only partially to increase acidity. Those bacterias are active only above 16C, below that they don't do anything, so when moment is good, cool down must and when yeast finish with all sugar, those bacterias have no food and cannot reproduce and spoil the wine.

This is only a theory...
 

Miško Ajkula

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Thank you Neb,

If I could get 17-18 Brix than I will not add any sugar. Considering that I can choose when to harvest and that I have no quantity target, I think that should be no problem to achieve. The only thing is that this year is unusually cold and is raining these days, so that will affect fruits.

For me all wine recipes are the same, just depending on your fruit and what you want to achieve, you just have to tweak some things. When you know what is happening in that process and why, then you can understand what you have to do to achieve your target.

Right now I am at the beginning of the process. 🙂
 
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