Elderberry wine too sour

Discussion in 'Country Fruit Winemaking' started by Matti, Dec 8, 2018.

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  1. Dec 8, 2018 #1

    Matti

    Matti

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    So, making my first elderberry wine, I think I added too much tartaric acid and am thinking about what to do now.

    This is the recipe:

    7.7 kg elderberries (17 lbs)
    12 liters water (3.2 gal)
    Sugar up to 24.4 Brix.
    Pectic enzyme
    Cold soaked at about 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit) for three days

    When measuring TA at this time it was about 3.2.
    Added 48 grams of tartaric acid.
    Waited a day and measured TA to 4.2.
    Added 43 grams of tartaric acid to reach a TA of 6.

    Fermented the must, pressed berries after 8 days.

    This was one week ago, now the TA is 8.4 and the fermented must tastes too sour. I am using an acid testing titration kit, and since the color is dark red to begin with I dilute with two parts water and then take the result times three. I am now thinking that the first measurements might have been a bit off.

    So, what should I do?

    1. Just wait and see if it gets better with time? This is really early after fermentation.
    2. Add malolactic bacteria? (This wouldn't work on the tartaric acid, but maybe there was malic acid in the berries.)
    3. Add some Potassium Bicarbonate?
    4. Something else?

    Would be grateful for any help.

    /matti
     
  2. Dec 8, 2018 #2

    cmason1957

    cmason1957

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    I don't think elderberries are high in malic acid, so I doubt that doing an MLF will make much difference. Did you also do a ph test, as well as a TA test?? I find that getting the PH to the correct level is more important than trying to hit some magical perfect tasting TA.
     
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  3. Dec 8, 2018 #3

    Stressbaby

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    I agree with cmason, not to much to gain from MLF. FWIW, looking back at my elderberry wine, they have gotten 10-15g/gal acid, mostly tartaric. So yeah, you probably overshot.

    The first thing I would do is nothing. It may settle down. Later, potassium bicarb is a consideration, but I'd look seriously at trying to balance this wine by backsweetening. Sugar may make this wine really pop with flavor. I made an elderberry port last year with 3.6% RS and more acid and it's frankly better than any other elderberry wine I've ever made.

    Specifically, here's what I would do:
    Split this wine into 2 1-gallon carboys with the third gallon divided up into smaller containers for bench trials.
    From one of the smaller containers, bench trial 25g, 50g, 75g per gallon of sugar addition. When you find one you like, walk away and come back later and taste it again. And again. Go with the one you like the third time.
    If you don't like any of the options, create some others in-between or higher.
    If those are no good, try the KHCO3.
    When you're happy with it, treat the other containers similarly. Don't forget to use KMS and sorbate before bottling if you back-sweeten.
     
  4. Dec 8, 2018 #4

    Scooter68

    Scooter68

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    I agree -from my limited understanding I normally go for a safe pH number and then check taste. Haven't had any issues yet with blueberry, blackberry, black raspberry and black currant.
     
  5. Dec 8, 2018 #5

    Country

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    I don’t know about the TA, but I do know that adding sugar to elderberry wine results in a cough syrup taste to me. I would be very careful with sweetening. I bet it will turn out just fine in time. Cheers
     
  6. Dec 9, 2018 #6

    Matti

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    Thank you for your suggestions.
    I only have pH strips and no meeter, and since this is dark red and colors the strips, I haven't been able to measure pH.
    Do you think cold stabilization would drop out any meaningful amount of tartaric acid? Maybe I should try that first. And if this isn't enough, try Potassium Bicarbonate? And as a last resort, do some back sweetening?

    /m
     
  7. Dec 9, 2018 #7

    Stressbaby

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    Cold stabilizing is worth a try. At worst, nothing happens and you've lost a little time. I've not been super thrilled with the results when I've used KHCO3. It's not a magic bullet - can leave a saline or chemical sort of taste. If you are shooting for TA of 6, then IIRC you are at the limit of KHCO3 in terms of how far you can push the TA down.

    I have to disagree about a cough syrup taste. I think back-sweetening elderberry is pretty common. I sent a dry elderberry to KC Cellarmasters Wine Classic. and I got back comments like "kudos for sending a dry elderberry," leading me to think most people back-sweeten.
     
  8. Dec 10, 2018 #8

    Scooter68

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    Best reason in the world to ditch the pH strips and invest in a pH meter. You CAN get a decent one for under $100.00. AND a pH meter is very easy to use for TA testing as well.
     
  9. Dec 12, 2018 #9

    ceeaton

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    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
  10. Dec 12, 2018 #10

    Matti

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    Yes, with a pH meter I probably wouldn't have made the mistake of adding too much acid in the first place. Never made a wine this dark before. I really didn't understand that a wine could color both the pH-strips and the TA test-solution like this. At least I managed to extract a lot of color from the elderberries! We'll see if Santa agrees about the meter.
     
  11. Dec 12, 2018 #11

    Scooter68

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    Let me correct my earlier post.

    A pH meter is EASIER* to use for TA testing AND when you start the test, before you add that first drop of sodium hydroxide solution, you will have your pH reading. Two results with one test action.

    1) Numbers are easier to see than a color change especially for those who might be color blind.
    2) You only need one chemical to do the test - no 'kit' required.
     

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