First Batch Noob, Asking the Obvious (Wild Fruit)

Discussion in 'Beginners Wine Making Forum' started by E Riehle, Jan 6, 2019.

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  1. Jan 6, 2019 #1

    E Riehle

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    Hey all. I started a chokecherry batch a few days ago, had a few issues that were handled in the Introductions Forum, but I don't want to post all my trials and tribulations there, so I'm asking my standard dumb questions here where the topic belongs...;)

    My first SG was, uh....high, 1.150. So I was mentored into a lighter but more voluminous batch, and achieved an SG of 1.092--Great, right? OK, so I added more of the initial additives to compensate for additional juice and water, including another Campden tablet, which begs my next question: Instead of waiting a day for the sulfate to dissipate I added the yeast right away. Now I'm not sure whether I have killed a bunch of yeast in the process and maybe need to add more...?

    Yes, fermentation did begin, as there is a constant, very light fizzing emanating from the must, but no foam, not a bubble. My SG 24 hours later is 1.080 and the fizzing, though still occurring, is lighter. I should remain pleased, yes? Optimistic, right? Yeast is Red Star Montrachet.

    To those who helped me out in the Introduction Forum, thanks a heap!

    My ultimate goal is to come back to this thread a year or two from now and laugh myself silly.
     
  2. Jan 6, 2019 #2

    ThreeSheetsToTheWind

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    Relax, if your sg is going down, all's good. Visible activity is just an interesting bonus.
     
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  3. Jan 7, 2019 #3

    Scooter68

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    Sound like fermentation is ongoing. Normally I can tell by the smell. (I do my wine making in an adjacent unoccupied guest house - So when I open the door and walk in - I can pretty quickly tell if I have active fermentation.

    One thing is that Montrachet yeast can be fickle. Suggest you read up on it's nutrient needs and behavior. If the yeast doesn't get what it wants or too much of some things, it can go 'rogue' on you. Not a really common thing but something to be aware of.
     
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  4. Jan 7, 2019 #4

    E Riehle

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    Please elaborate on "rogue". I just went down and checked the must and found a half inch of foam on top.
     
  5. Jan 7, 2019 #5

    Scooter68

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    If your nutrient level is to low Montrachet has a history of producing excessive H2S or if the grapes were dusted with sulfur and too much remains on the grapes going into fermentation. There are some who recommend step feeding of nutrient and others just make certain that there is enough nutrient in the must at the git-go. search for - Montrachet H2S problems

    Here is one link to issues: http://www.gencowinemakers.com/docs/Hydrogen Sulfide in Fermentations.pdf
     
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  6. Jan 7, 2019 #6

    E Riehle

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    Well, there was a foam incident, looked like it might make a mess, so I snapped the lid on and attached the lock. This is as bad as it got:

    20190107_071110.jpg

    Cleaned it up this morning and now have nominal bubbling commenced.

    Amazing though--this stuff smells AND TASTES just like bubblegum. I'll take a reading a little later on....
     
  7. Jan 8, 2019 #7

    E Riehle

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    9 am this morning, the airlock appears to have stopped (or is working imperceptibly), a slight fizzing continues though. SG is at 1.009 and the flavor is already very dry (to me, but I'm a merlot drinker, whadda I know?).

    I know you folks are rolling your eyes and chuckling your morning coffee through your noses, but I am giddy that my first batch is coming along so well. I have a 6.5 gallon fermentor that I'm dyin' to fill...
     
  8. Jan 8, 2019 #8

    Scooter68

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    NEVER trust an airlock on a bucket with a plastic lid. Those lids rarely seal correctly. I've tried them many times. You can remove that plastic lid and wet down the gasket around the lid and replace it and THEN you might see some bubbling for a few hours. Really that lid is more trouble than a help. Replace it with a clean old towel or cloth (I prefer thin cloth like a sheet or old pillowcase. Tie that down around the edges and it will even suppress some excess foam if and when that occurs.

    If you have the clear signs of fermentation, dropping SG, bubbling/foam, and the clear presence of a yeasty smell - that's good enough. The first, dropping SG is the clearest and most trustworthy proof of fermentation. The other two are actually just side products although I call the last one, the smell, a benefit.
     
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  9. Jan 8, 2019 #9

    E Riehle

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    Well, this bucket lid you'd love: it came without a gasket. So I already understood the likelihood that the seal wasn't going to be airtight. But the audible fizzing was a delight to hear. Being as I'm into day 3 I'm thinking that my primary ferment is on the wane anyhow, and the first siphon is another day or two away. I guess the hydrometer will tell, eh?
     
  10. Jan 8, 2019 #10

    ThreeSheetsToTheWind

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    Lol I love your enthusiasm! Congrats on your success so far and keep us updated!

    I'm regretting now being too "busy" last fall to pick chokecherries. And the rhubarb... oh, the rhubarb I've wasted!!! Had my first taste of rhubarb wine recently, I won't waste another stalk.
     
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  11. Jan 8, 2019 #11

    E Riehle

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    Our season was so good for wild fruit last year that I picked some 40 quarts of chokecherry and I swear I left half of them on the trees! I usually get 20 quarts in what I called a "good year".

    The rhubarb? Yup, wasted our share as well. No more of that!
     
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  12. Jan 10, 2019 #12

    E Riehle

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    My must read at .998 this morning, and the stuff tastes like a very dry merlot with a finish hint not unlike classic Bazooka Joe bubblegum. Tummy got very warm from just a sip, I like.

    I'm thinking first rack this afternoon. SG was 1.002 yesterday afternoon, it can secondary the rest of the way in a carboy, yes?
     
  13. Jan 11, 2019 #13

    ThreeSheetsToTheWind

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    Absolutely. I will sometimes transfer to the carboy earlier, as long as the activity has subsided enough that I'm confident it won't blow through my airlock and make a mess.

    I need to try this again this year, pure juice. Mine was not at all what you describe lol. Did you do any acid testing?
     
  14. Jan 11, 2019 #14

    Stressbaby

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    Someone touched on it earlier, but I didn't see a follow up...most of us have abandoned Montrachet. It's need nutrient-wise and when it doesn't get want it wants it tends to produce H2S aromas. There are more reliable yeasts.
     
  15. Jan 11, 2019 #15

    E Riehle

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    Good to know, thanks. And no, no adverse acidity that I can taste, and no, I did no acid test. I will say that this fruit was originally prepped for jam, which means washed/stockpot/water just to cover/simmer approx. a half hour/sieve juice/discard skin & pits. It was then frozen for some 4 months...It is really dry, and I'm going to take a lot of time deciding whether to sweeten or not. It has a "sophisticated nose"...:d

    I purchased an "add your own fruit" kit that included the Montrachet. Red Star had apparently changed it's name to Premier Classique, and I got no clue if that's all they changed because this is my first batch of wine. I did read a little bit on it, to make sure it was good for a chokecherry homebrew, which it apparently is. not that I would know from what's normal, but this batch seemed to not waste any time fermenting and it tastes pretty darn good. I'll definitely take your advice and do more diligence in my future endeavors...Do you have a standard go-to for astringent fruit ferments like chokecherry and rhubarb? That is, at least for the present, all I'm interested in...
     
  16. Jan 17, 2019 at 8:36 PM #16

    E Riehle

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    I've been letting the first rack settle, it looked great, wound up with one & a half gallons, so far...

    It was "clear" last night, just a ring of bubbles and the airlock would burp every few minutes, then about 12 hours later I find this--

    20190117_142725.jpg

    That thin white "cloud" appeared. Am I screwed or is this ok? I have a half gallon plastic juice bottle full with no cloudy film....Temp is 72.
     
  17. Jan 17, 2019 at 11:01 PM #17

    E Riehle

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    Mmm, I left out the smell....it's got a dull urine-like oder, not overpowering but definitely covering any aroma of wine.

    I'm afraid to taste the stuff....
     
  18. Jan 18, 2019 at 12:22 AM #18

    ThreeSheetsToTheWind

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    Never seen that before. I wouldn't panic just yet, I've never seen anything bad take over this soon after a good vigorous fermentation like you had.

    If you followed good sanitation practices I'd bet all is good, not sure about the urine smell though...
     
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  19. Jan 18, 2019 at 12:33 AM #19

    ThreeSheetsToTheWind

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    It just dawned on me that you might be using new equipment. Could it be an oily residue that was inside the carboy and didn't come out during whatever cleaning procedure you used?

    I've also read that plums sometimes have a natural wax coating and some wash it off prior to fermentation , but haven't seen this myself so I'm not sure what that looks like. Cherries and plums are related, might be worth looking into.
     
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  20. Jan 18, 2019 at 6:43 PM #20

    E Riehle

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    Yeah, new equipment. I went ahead and racked the wine back into the 2 gallon pail (the slightest jarring had that film drop right back into the wine), washed everything twice, sanitized everything repeatedly as I went, filtered the wine through a 10X folded cheesecloth soaked in metabisulfate solution and added an 8th teaspoon to the wine, racked it back into newly cleaned and obsessively sanitized containers. The smell was still there, but so faint I had to strain my nose to get it. I topped the main carboy to within an inch of the top and replaced the bubbler, though I'm 99+% positive that ferment activity had stopped: the hydrometer is still reading at .998, so I know that there's still alchohol. I'm ordering an acid kit this next week, any recommendations?

    My "top-off" bottle has been set in the fridge. It's a little over 3/4 full, and in an hour or so I intend to do a tasting with it...
     

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