General Principles

Discussion in 'Country Fruit Winemaking' started by iridium, Aug 18, 2018.

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  1. iridium

    iridium Supporting Members Supporting Member

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    So my freezer is filling up with various fruit that I am looking to turn into wine. I have in the past looked for threads on specific types of fruit to read what recommendations everyone has for that fruit. However, I don't know that I want a "recipe" for each type of fruit and would rather continue my growth as a winemaker in general.

    The question is what general principles should always be followed. I have thought of the following:

    1. More actual fruit will lead to fuller fruit taste (with only a couple of exceptions)
    2. pH needs to be low but should stay around 3.2-3.6 (broadly speaking)
    3. The set up for primary should ensure that the fruit has a chance to breakdown before adding yeast, so adding pectic enzyme is important and helps in the clearing process.
    4. Primary fermentation needs to be actively monitored and I should take daily SG and pH readings as well as squeeze fruit or stir must as appropriate.
    5. Primary fermentation is done when three consecutive days of SG reading are the same and generally below 1.000.
    6. Sanitize, Sanitize, Sanitize.
    7. Generally speaking the longer the aging process the better. Patience, patience, patience.
    8. Ensure that k-meta is added every three months.
    9. Add potassium sorbate within a few days of back sweetening the wine. Back sweetening is recommended to bring more fruit flavor forward.
    10. Back sweeten to taste.

    Are there other general principles that are good to know?

    Thank you,
    iridium
     
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  2. salcoco

    salcoco Veteran Wine Maker Supporting Member

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    ph during fermentation does not have any real meaning. carbon dioxide converted to carbolic acid will give you erroneous results. best to wait until wine is stable and clear before taking any valid measurements of acid or ph.

    Do bench trials for any additive . adding acid , or for sweetening.
     
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  3. Scooter68

    Scooter68 Old Enough to know better but....

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    Think you got it right with Salcoco tip as well. The pH measurements that matter are before fermentation starts and after it is completely finished and ready to start aging. Then you can probably expect to be somewhat lower than the start. A wine with a high pH (Above 3.6) is more prone to spoilage. Lower than 3.2 and you need to check the taste to make sure the acidity isn't overwhelming. That too will change as it ages.

    As to one basic recipe fits all..... sort of. Some fruit needs or is better with more tannin added some don't need it. BUT your taste buds will tell you or learn to tell you. And you have it correct on the amount of fruit per gallon. You'll learn more as you go. AND sometimes less fruit can provide a lighter taste that may actually appeal to some people. Not faded out taste but not Smack you upside the head taste.

    Number 6 is still my struggle and I see it every month on here to. So add one more thing. - 11. Find another hobby to keep you distracted while the wine ages OR keep making wine so you don't have time to worry about if 9 months aging is good enough or not.

    OK let's make it an even dozen - 12. Document EVERYTHING. And tag your carboys too. Some fruit wines will look almost identical. A tag can tell you just at a glance when you last racked it and where you are in your processes. Keep a book of course as well noting your observations. In just a couple of years you might even read an old note and give yourself a chuckle or gasp!
     
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  4. NorCal

    NorCal Super Moderator Super Moderator

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    I’d add a 0. Get the absolute best fruit you can get.

    The ‘ol saying: you can make bad wine from good fruit, but you can’t make good wine from bad fruit.
     
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  5. joeswine

    joeswine joeswine

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    You have all the process down , try not to over think things , enjoy the thought process and have fun.
     
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  6. Venatorscribe

    Venatorscribe bucket chemist

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    I like your note 11). Very important. Mine is bonsai trees. I was doing some styling the other day and started to wonder why it is that I have two hobbies that require infinite patience. The trouble is I really like both of them. It's not like I am overly relaxed.
     
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  7. iridium

    iridium Supporting Members Supporting Member

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    This is great feedback. Thank you. I have a young child at home so I am lucky to get a few hours every once in awhile for this hobby so that helps with the patience. I will definitely document and label so I know which is which. I would also add continue to contribute and add to this forum as it is a great place to build knowledge.
     
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  8. Scooter68

    Scooter68 Old Enough to know better but....

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    At the risk of offending some folks (IF they still read these forums) I find it sort of amusing with some new people how impatient they are and it only takes one or two postings from them to tell they thought they found a cheap FAST way to make something to get drunk with. "How many days before I drink, I mean bottle this stuff?" "IF I double the sugar will it have twice as much Alcohol?"
    Really, it is funny to read some folks posts. There are those honest new folks searching for help and we all help but some people.... when they get the response they are NOT expecting, they stop posting period.
     
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  9. Ajmassa5983

    Ajmassa5983 Member Supporting Member

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    And I’ll 3rd the ph checking during primary. For grape wines, once yeast is pitched, I’m not checking ph again until a few weeks later. After AF, MLF. I imagine it’s similar for fruit wine.
    Regarding #11 , johnd’s quote I like to use is fitting here.
    “Buy more carboys, make more wine. Overwhelm yourself to the point where your wine ages simply because you don’t have the time. Procrastinators- this is your hobby!”
     
  10. Johnd

    Johnd Large Member Supporting Member

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    Funny, bonsai has been a hobby for me since ‘96. In the midst of my full blown days, had over 100 trees, now I just have one huge Japanese Black Pine that I love working with. Another great hobby!
     
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  11. winemaker81

    winemaker81 Junior Member

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    I have an agree and a disagree.

    #1. The first book I purchased on wine making was by H E Bravery. It is, without a doubt, the worst book on winemaking in existance. More fruit is better. Peach wine should taste like peaches. :)

    #4. There is no need to check SG and pH daily.

    I punch the cap down daily, and use a clean paper towel soaked in kmeta water to wipe down the primary above the soon-to-be-wine. This eliminates an opportunity for bad things to grow.

    SG is checked on day 4, and I base further checks on the progress. If the wine is fermenting fast (had a few finish in 4 days) I check it daily. If not, maybe every second or third day. I do some kits in mid-winter (well, what is considered winter in central NC) and fermentation may take several weeks in my cellar. If I see evidence of fermentation, I may not check SG during the first week.

    A professional winemaker I knew used the term "benign neglect". He was of the opinion (and his wines reflected it) that wine did its own thing and winemakers need to monitor the process and act upon intervals.I touch wine as seldom as possible.
     
  12. sour_grapes

    sour_grapes Victim of the Invasion of the Avatar Snatchers

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    I think you are doing it wrong! :) :) :)
     
  13. Johnd

    Johnd Large Member Supporting Member

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    Not true my friend, bonsai come in many sizes, and I’ve always preferred the large ones. A 30” Black Pine that’s over 100 years old with a 6” trunk and 12” base is quite the specimen! It is pretty hard to move around, though......
     
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  14. Scooter68

    Scooter68 Old Enough to know better but....

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    Iridium - I think you are on track. Keep in mind that with wine making there are many paths to a great wine. As you read more on here you will find that there are different views on the "best way" to do almost everything. There also a wide variety of products that folks swear by, and a few that some folks may swear at, having had a bad experience.
    Your General Principles certainly a great start and you will probably add to them on your own as you go. Find what works best for you and when you have a problem - This is the place to come for answers. Be prepared for a couple of things:
    1) Some folks invest a lot of money, and time in this hobby, some not so much. How much you spend does not dictate the quality of your wine - The quality of the time you spend does.
    2) When you ask a question - be prepared for a variety of answers. And don't lean only on this site. There are many excellent sources of information out there.
     
  15. Stressbaby

    Stressbaby Just a Member Supporting Member

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    I agree with @winemaker81 and disagree with the OP on #4.
    No need to check SG daily for many wines.
     
  16. meadmaker1

    meadmaker1 Member Supporting Member

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    Im not sure how to add it to your list but your comment on not using a bunch of recipes, suggests some sort of standard program.
    For example i use the same yeast neutreants, k meta rather than campden tabs, pectic enzymes, bentonite, ect.
    I stagger feed and my list goes on
    My point is i have a routine, that changes very little batch to bach.
    The line item missing from a generic how to, might include adjusting for veriety.
    Different fruits lack different minerals, vitamins, tannins, acids, ect. And need different yeast neutreants, acid adjustments and yeast selections to balance it.
    My recipe hunting is for fruit volume and result comment vs my expectation.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2018
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  17. iridium

    iridium Supporting Members Supporting Member

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    That is a very good point meadmaker. I will admit I am still new to this journey and have a lot to learn about tannins, nutrients and various fruit.
     
  18. Scooter68

    Scooter68 Old Enough to know better but....

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    Yes meadmaker you hit that on the head,
    Each fruit or group of fruits has it own set of unique properties.

    Blueberry = Lots of acid and usually needs a little back-sweetening to bring out flavor
    Peach = Very thick Must when using high qty of fruit per gallon. Use LOTS of pectic enzyme
    Apple = Use LOTS of pectic enzyme. Best when using both sweet and tart apples in a batch.
    Watermelon = Spoils fast even during a ferment. Requires special care.

    And just to start a little controversy. :f1

    Not ALL fruit is better with a max amount of fruit. (The all fruit, no water principle does not work with all fruit.)

    And I'm sure others can contribute a lot from their own experiences.
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2018
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