First batch finishing troubles

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Aug 27, 2009
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I have reach the end of the process of making my first batch. It is a cherry vinter's harvest wine base. I did the whole primary bucket fermentation and then when my sg reached .990 I racked it to the carboy where it has been sitting (there is some lees on the bottom but not too much i think) for around a month or two.

I just opened it up for the first time since then to give it a try and well it does taste all that good. I can't really describe what is wrong with it as I am not really a wine connoisseur. My mother (I am a 21 year old college student and not a minor) says it tastes like cooking wine to her.

Does anybody know anything I can do to fix this?

I had hoped to give this wine as Christmas presents to a few family members but I'm not sure that is an option any longer.
Well, I'm not an expert, but I need to see your recipe, starting SG, etc.

I don't think Vintners harvest concentrates are the best of quality from what i hear.
Which recipe on the can did you use. If you like dry wine then this will have to sit for around 8 months before it will be any good. If you like sweeter wine or just want to shorten the time before drinking then sweeten it up as it will bring the flavor back. If you made the 5 gallon batch then it will be short on flavor also so you may want to add some flavor also by making your own flavpr pack. You could do this by getting some fruit of the type of wine you made and add just a touch of water and simmer this on the stove top to extract all the juices out of the fruit or you could get a syrup in a store that will add flavor and both will add som e sweetness but the syrup will add more. Just add a simple syrup will also bring out some flavor and make it a sooner drinker. I guaranty that this wne will become good in time though no matter what you do. Wine is not something that usually tastes good as soon as its made!!!!!!!!!! It needs time to come around especially whe you start with a higher SG, What was your starting sg?
The exact recipe is in my dorm room right now, I am home for Christmas so I cannot say exactly what the recipe was. I pretty much used the recipe on the back of the can though.

Unfortunately I did not get a truly fantastic reading on the starting sg either but it was somewhere in the ball park of 1.00 give or take a bit.

I have not back sweetened it yet though so that may help but I guess it has a sort of "sherry" taste to it that would be nice to take out.
Fairly new to this stuff myself beyond, but something you said kind of struck a chord about something I had read a while back. I'm going to be the first to raise my hand to no expertise in the subject yet, so I may be completely off base on this one. If any of the other members think so, please shout out. Constructive criticism - or as I prefer to call it "gentle corrections" are not only tolerated but sought out. :)

You said your mother mentioned the fact that it tasted like cooking wine, and that's what rang that chime in my head. In surfing around, trying to find new and interesting recipes, I ran across one which gave some pretty good directions and ended up with the caveat "now, if your wine has a vinegar taste, congratulations. Somewhere along the way you managed to drop the ball in your sanitation. You've just made vinegar, so check your sanitation procedures a little closer next time."

I don't know if this applies in your case or not, but it might be something to look at.
The "Sherry" quality you mention is associated with acetaldehyde which is generally produced by oxidation. If you exposed the wine to too much oxygen, or left too much headspace in the carboy, or didn't add the appropriate amount of SO2 early enough, you may have allowed the wine to oxidize. Unfortunately, if it has gone far enough, there may be no hope of salvation. However, I wouldn't jump the gun on it... give it time and continue on with your winemaking plan and see what happens. Since you're a novice, seek out someone with more winetasting experience to try to diagnose the problem... sensory judgments are a little difficult to make via the internet!!!
All wines prosuce small amounts of a vinegar taste which comes from the actual fermentation process. There are 2 recipes on the can, 1 is a 3 gallon recipe and the thinner bodied 1 is a 5 gallon recipe, which 1 did yiu make. Also you state that the starting sg was somewhere around 1.000. Im guessing this is type O as the concentrate itself has a high starting gravity then that.
After back sweetening a glass we have a bit more hope for this being a reasonable gift again.

To back sweeten the whole batch how much sugar should I add per gallon?

and do I need to add more SO2 or something to prevent re-fermentation?

Sorry I misread my hydrometer just now it was 1.140 but I had some issues with temperature at the time and the reading was not very accurate unfortunately. I used the 5 gallon recipe and I may have had a lot of head space as I own a 6 gallon carboy.
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You are still having trouble with the readings! Im guessing you mean 1.014 now. To sweeten your wine you will want to add 1/4 tsp of sulfite if you havnnt and potassium sorbate to prevent refermentation in the bottles. Just follow the instructions on the bottle of sorbate to use the recommended amount. The 5 gallon recipe will usually come out weak in flavor and body (which it states on the recipe) As far as adding simple syrup thats a matter of taste so really cant help you much there. I would make up a gallon of it though and whatever you dont use store in a sealed container in the fridge for the next batch.

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