Hello again and more questions

Discussion in 'Beginners Wine Making Forum' started by James1955, Dec 2, 2019.

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  1. Dec 2, 2019 #1

    James1955

    James1955

    James1955

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    Ok newbie here and I'm doing things wrong. Follows is what I've done. Decided to let things age before I went farther and glad I did.

    First batch was a Merlot kit purchased from Midwest. Started 01-26-19 with OG of 1.095. Bottled 03-18-19 with SG of 0.996. Had my first bottle a couple weeks ago and not impressed.

    Second batch was grape made from concentrate started 03-19-19 with OG of 1.099. Bottled 05-19-19 with SG of 0.898. Again first taste a couple weeks ago and won't say nasty but damn.

    Third batch was pineapple/orange made from concentrate started 03-23-19 with OG of 1.120. Bottled 04-13-19 with SG of 0.990. Haven't tried it yet but given my luck this far not expecting much.

    Forth batch started on 03-29-19 was Apelwien with OG of 1.072. Bottled 04-23-19 with SG of 0.994. This was made with brown sugar and sucked. Made from bottled juice.

    Fifth batch another grape from concentrate started on 04-08-19 with OG of 1.100. Bottled on 05-02-19 with SG of 0.992 as yet untried.

    Sixth batch was another Apfelwein started on 04-16-19 with OG of 1.996. Bottled on 05-02-19 with SG of 0.998. This was made with corn sugar. NASTY. Made with bottled juice.

    Seventh batch was another Apelwein started on 04-23-19 with OG of 1.060. Bottled on 05-19-19 with SG of 0.998 as yet untried. Made with bottled juice.

    Eighth batch was hard lemonade started on 04-28-19 with OG of 1.100. Bottled on 06-01-19 with SG of 0.992. Took a few drinks of this a couple months ago and disgusting dumped it all down the drain. I mean terrible. Made from concentrate.

    Ninth batch was hard limeaide started on 05-27-19 with a OG of 1.098. Bottled on 07-14-19 with a SG of 1.005. Have drank a couple bottles and I can tolerate the taste but damn it makes me do stupid things. Made from concentrate.

    Tenth batch was strawberry made from frozen berries on 07-01-19 with OG of 1.115. Just racked it for the 3rd time yesterday 12-01-19 and backed sweetened it with 2 1/2 oz of wine conditioner. Of course I tasted it before addig the sweetener and not impressed.

    Last batch was peach made from the best peaches I could find at the store which was pretty sad tasting to begin with. Started on 07-11-19 with OG of 1.094. Racked it from the secondary fermenter yesterday 12-01-19 with SG at0.990 and it will more work.

    Ok here is the thing. Other than my first attempt which was the purchased kit I have used EC-1118 yeast but none of them have the flavor of the juice/fruit it was made from. Actually they all taste about the same.

    Where and how may times did I screw up. I realize much more information is probably going to be needed to help but I'm tired of pecking away at the keyboard for now.

    HELP
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
  2. Dec 2, 2019 #2

    Rocky

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    Wow, those are some amazing ABV figures. Unless you mistyped the data, your second batch from grape concentrate would be about 26% (which would be a super strong port wine). In general, your problem could be just that, the alcohol content. High alcohol content overcomes the taste of the fruit.

    You could try the following:

    1. Give the Merlot from the kit a year or so in the bottle, i.e. open one on 3-18-20 and try it. You may be pleasantly surprised.
    2. Be sure that any juice or concentrate you are using does not contain anything other than juice and water. Most store bought concentrates have additives.
    3. Sweetening the wines might help. As a bench test, pour equal amounts of wine in several glasses and add varying amounts of simple syrup (2 parts sugar dissolved in 1 part water over low heat) to see if the taste improves. If you find a ratio that works for you, add that ratio to your wine. Be sure to add Sorbate before adding the simple syrup to your finished wine to prevent re-fermentation. It is not necessary to add sorbate to the test glasses.
    4. On batch 10, Did you try the Strawberry wine after adding the wine conditioner? That is essentially a sweetener and should have improved the taste. I hope you added sorbate before adding the conditioner.
     
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  3. Dec 2, 2019 #3

    James1955

    James1955

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    Hello and thanks for the reply. No not misprints but I'm not 100% sure I'm using the hydrometer correctly but thought so. And yes they are dang strong. The hard limeaid was killer strong. I think I used juice as good as I could get without chemicals but failed to record the brand names. And yes I tasted batch 10 strawberry before and after the sweetener and adding it did make it better to drink but tastes nothing like strawberry and the peach didn't have a peach taste either but haven't added anything to it yet. I used a packaged liquid sweetener and didn't think sorbate was needed? I'm mostly a beer and brandy drinker so I'm really just stumbling. Figured it would be easier to make wine than beer but......
     
  4. Dec 2, 2019 #4

    James1955

    James1955

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    Maybe I need to study up on hydrometers more?
     
  5. Dec 2, 2019 #5

    Johnd

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    Spend a little money and get a decent quality kit, learn the process, when you're making good wine from kits, then you can delve into creating your own fruit wines. Try something like the WinExpert Stags Leap Merlot, very affordable from LabelPeelers (add it to your cart to see the REAL price).

    When doing fruit wines, it's all about having the proper quantities of fruit, back sweetening properly to prevent refermentation, dealing with the pH and TA, and giving the wine some time to develop. You might want to try the Dragons Blood recipe off of this site and double the amount of fruit you use, it's a very descriptive recipe from @dangerdave and produces and very nice early drinking wine.
     
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  6. Dec 2, 2019 #6

    Scooter68

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    1) No fruit wine is going to have the strength of flavor that the original juice had with maybe one or two exceptions (Tart Cherry comes to mind) Most all fruit wines will require a little back-sweetening to bring out the flavor.
    2) The ratio of fruit (lbs of Raw fruit/gallon) is a key controller of the flavor but again see 1 above. With most fruits the less water you add the better so fruit per gallon in most cases should be somewhere between 5-8 lbs per gallon.
    3) The more alcohol in the wine, the less flavor you will perceive - fact of life - the alcohol burn covers up the fruit. Because of that going to high ABV numbers will wash out a lot of flavor unless you sweeten it back up quite a bit - turning it into a dessert wine.
    4) Using store bought juices is a difficult road to travel. Especially if those juices are mixes - example would be a Blackberry Labeled bottle that in reality is actually mostly Apple, White Grape, and Pear juice. In those instances the Blackberry juice content may be less than 25%
    5) When using concentrates such as frozen Concord Grape juice, you need to use a lot less water to get to a good flavor. Typically I would look at using say 4 cans of juice concentrated to get the volume that you would normally get from 3 cans based on their instructions.

    Finally keep in mind that unless you step-feed a wine must, very few yeasts will reach over about 17-18% ABV under ideal conditions. So your Hydrometer readings HAVE to be checked carefully. I cannot imagine you could obtain a reading of 1.996 without literally boiling the mix. Any batch with an initial SG reading over 1.100* would result in a pretty stout wine that would bury many fruit flavors.

    * If your initial SG was 1.100 and it ferments to .990 you would have an ABV of 14.4% and that's pretty much in the dessert wine category - without back-sweetening, most folks would NOT enjoy the wine.
     
  7. Dec 3, 2019 #7

    Rice_Guy

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    Welcome to WMT James! You have infinite optimism (that it will work). I like that, , and trying will lead you to become a great winemaker.

    My biggest learning in making wine came when I made the assumption that my fruit win had no SO2 and therefore add the maximum metabisulphite at each racking. Oxidized ethyl alcohol (acetaldehyde) is detectable around 50ppm, significantly lower than a lot of other flavorable compounds.
    As said earlier sugar is magic, sugar can take a peach wine with the aroma of ‘green peach early in summer’ and change it to the aroma of ‘August fully ripe peaches’.
    It helps to have names for “tasted like yuck” ex if a lemon tasted too acidic you can fix it by adding sugar. I learn a lot by going to a Vinters club. There are shining examples like Cleveland where the bottle is sampled by members and a round robin where each person tells the wine maker what he tasted and how it might be fixed. A second way to get names for what is there is to take a bottle to your local winemaking toy store and asking the owner for what do you taste what should you do? , , , or enter a bottle in a club contest, , , or host your own taste panels with a few neighbors.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2019
  8. Dec 3, 2019 #8

    James1955

    James1955

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    Thanks for the reply and you're right I suppose I do need to define what I'm tasting. Next time I try some I'll see if I can identify any particular flavors. I probably drank to much Boone's Farm back in the 70's and that corrupted my taste buds.
     
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  9. Dec 3, 2019 #9

    Chuck E

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    Roger that, on the Boone's Farm. :h
     
  10. Dec 3, 2019 #10

    NorCal

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    I've only tried fruit (other than grapes) only a few times and frankly, I found it quite challenging to make a nice wine. With big red wine, a lot of flaws and lack of balance is masked by strong flavors or oak. The fruit wines I have made are thin and delicate and require a careful balance of alcohol, acidity and perhaps sweetness to make it the best wine it can be. For a fruit wine, I would shoot for under 12% abv and really work on how to get the most flavor out of the fruit and into the wine, as well as experimenting with back sweetening.
     
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  11. Dec 3, 2019 #11

    mainshipfred

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    I have 10 gallons of peach wine I made from 120 lbs of perfectly overripe peaches and 2 gallons of water. I brought the brix up from 21 to 27 with 3 gallons of Chardonnay concentrate and I have to say by itself with the high alcohol it really doesn't taste very good. I still have to final my bench trials but a little water really brings out the bouquet and fruit flavor and a little back sweetening improved it nicely. Not quite sure why I've been putting off the bench trials but with the 2019 reds soon completing MLF I will need to make floor space for the in the cooler.
     
  12. Dec 4, 2019 #12

    Scooter68

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    I guess with fruit wines there are so many aspects to the flavors compared to grape wines. And I'm just think of the "common" fruits often used:
    Apple
    Peach
    Plum
    Strawberry
    Berries (Black, Blue, Raspberries, Elderberry)
    Mango
    Cherry
    (Citrus varieties Pineapple, Lemon etc)

    So the world of Fruit wines can become very confusing I guess when you're trying to identify and draw out or preserve all the characteristics and that's without getting into things like Beet and veggie categories.

    On the upside, Folks so rarely get to have the non-grape wines that it's harder for them to judge them and identify 'flaws' in them.
     
  13. Dec 4, 2019 #13

    Mismost

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    I've made several Affelwines and they all taste nasty for at least a year and then they become a nice white wine with little to no apple flavor.

    Time is part of your problem you are not using enough of it.... Time is a fabulous ingredient.

    I also suspect you don't really like dry wines...neither did I at first...but they grow on you! In the mean time try a glass of your nasty wine with just a small splash of Sprite...gets a lot better because it's a little sweeter now
     
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  14. Dec 4, 2019 #14

    James1955

    James1955

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    Yes I'm not sure I like dry wines. I'll try the sprite and let the apelwien age longer. Thanks for the help.
     
  15. Dec 4, 2019 #15

    Rice_Guy

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    The start of a good fruit wine is what is the TA (Titratable Acidity) with the guideline of if TA is 0.5% you don’t have to sweeten but if it is at 1.0% you need to back sweeten to 1.015 (a rhubarb) or even 1.025 (a cranberry)
    The key for a clean (safe) ferment is pH, I like 3.2 to 3.3 which is usually described as a “crisp flavor“

    Having formulated “natural rules” foods I do a lot of blends as peach-rhurbarb, or the current squash/cranberry/orange, , , where what is lacking in one ingredient is supplied by the other ingredients. Useful building block ingredients provide aroma, TA, tannin (antioxidant and depth of flavor), depth of flavor as bitter notes or even heat
    Totally agree with @NorCal, grapes are a lot easier, , , the building blocks already exist in the crop and if the must is good one doesn’t have to balance the building blocks to make great wine.

    Good wine is hedonic, , , and what does the wife/neighbors like?
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2019
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  16. Dec 8, 2019 at 11:44 AM #16

    jgmann67

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    Two things stood out after reading the descriptions of your ten batches: they all taste basically the same; and, you bottle in 8 weeks.

    I don’t know if anyone mentioned this possibility but you may not have properly degassed your wines completed. Given you’re using the same basic technique and they’re all coming out basically the same, this is where you might focus.

    Grab a bottle and pour a glass or two. Put your thumb over the opening and give your bottle a vigorous shaking (like a hefty 1-2-3 kind of a shake). If you have foam and pressure (a good poof when you remove your thumb), this is a good sign that you got gas.

    Test the theory further. Give your wine another vigorous shaking and let it sit (in the fridge if it’s a white wine) for a couple hours. Then, taste it. Is it markedly better? If so - you definitely got gas.

    One of the most common errors in winemaking is making wine on our timetable and not the wine’s. Before bottling, taste your wine. If it doesn’t taste substantially like you want it to, it’s not ready.

    Kit manufacturers say 8 weeks from dropping yeast to bottling. But, 9 times out of 10, you wind up with gassy, cloudy dreck that you wouldn’t serve to an ex-wife (Or, in your case, 10 batches of the stuff).

    If your wine is (as I suspect) full of CO2, you have a few options. You can leave it and hope it gets better over time (unlikely); you can shake-degas you wine as you go; or you can pour the wine back into a carboy, properly degas your wine and rebottle (use new corks btw).

    In the future:

    * don’t be afraid to let your wine age in the carboy for 6-12 months (or longer).

    * never bottle a wine that isn’t perfectly clear, completely degassed and doesn’t taste like it should.

    * research ways to improve your wines to taste like you want them to - look at different yeasts, oaks, tannins and homemade fpacs.

    You get mad props for diving in with 10 batches all at once. Now we just have to find a way to make it so you don’t want to pour them all out.
     
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  17. Dec 8, 2019 at 12:17 PM #17

    James1955

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    Thanks for your reply and I will check it out later today. Jim
     
  18. Dec 8, 2019 at 3:51 PM #18

    winemaker81

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    I have a few thoughts to add:

    1. The wine will never be better than the ingredients. When starting with commercial juice (fresh, frozen, or concentrate) you have a limit on the quality of result. This doesn't mean you can't get something pleasing, but you're not gonna compete with most commercial wines.

    2. Scooter's comments are spot on.

    3. Jim's comments on CO2 are also spot on. I concur with unbottling, degassing, and clearing if you find you have dissolved CO2. A problem not mentioned is that the residual CO2 can blow your corks. I had a batch that started pushing corks out and the only solution was to unbottle. Fortunately I caught it before losing any wine, plus I didn't have to clean up the mess.

    4. Target 1.080 for the SG. In general that produces a wine of good but not over powering strength.

    5. Stirring, as directed by kit instructions, works wonders in expelling CO2. I tried that with my current grape wines and they cleared quickly. I'm not going to bottle until next summer, but it's nice having essentially nothing more than a dusting of sediment in the carboy.

    6. If you don't like dry wines, plan on back-sweetening everything. I recommend taking a gallon and start adding sugar syrup, an ounce or two a time, keeping track of how much you add and taste after every addition. When you think it needs just a bit more, stop. Figure out the amount of syrup to sweeten the entire batch. Add sorbate or you'll get a renewed fermentation.

    A note on kit wines -- if you buy decent quality kits and follow the instructions exactly (allowing for fermentation being a natural process that may vary from the instruction guidelines), you can bottle successfully in the time frame indicated in the instructions. However, nothing says you have to bottle "on time" and a delay in bottling hurts nothing.
     
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  19. Dec 8, 2019 at 9:55 PM #19

    James1955

    James1955

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    jgmann67
    I checked it this afternoon and as you suspected very fizzy. Did as you suggested and put it back in the fridge after shaking it a few times releasing some of the fizz and will taste again.
     
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