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JDRAutoworks

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First off let me say this forum is great. I've been reading for a while and learning even more. I have some questions about my first batch. I am making a watermelon/strawberry wine and this is the recipe I've been following.

* 1 large watermelon
* 2-3 lb fresh or frozen strawberries
* juice and zest of 1 lemon
* 2 lbs granulated sugar
* 1 tsp pectic enzyme
* 1 crushed Campden tablet
* 1 tsp yeast nutrient
* wine yeast

Extract and measure the juice of 1 large watermelon, placing 3 quarts in primary and the rest in a covered bottle in the refrigerator. Trim stems off strawberries, chop coarsely, mix in thinly grated rind of lemon, and tie inside nylon straining bag. In primary, squeeze strawberries and leave bag in juice. Add sugar, lemon juice and yeast nutrient and stir well to dissolve. Add crushed Campden tablet, cover primary and wait 12 hours. Stir in pectic enzyme, recover and wait another 12 hours. Add wine yeast and recover, stirring daily for 7 days. Squeeze strawberries gently to extract juice and discard pulp. Pour liquid into secondary and fit airlock. After fermentation dies down (5-7 days) top up with reserved watermelon juice in refrigerator. Ferment 30 days and rack into clean secondary, topping up with water or watermelon juice (only if fresh). Refit airlock and set aside until crystal clear. Rack into bottles and age 3-6 months. [Author's recipe]


I started this batch 3 days ago in the primary. I did exactly as the recipe says. I ended up using 2 fresh off the vine watermelons and juiced them to get 12 cups of juice. Then using a combination of frozen and fresh strawberries got 3 cups of juice. I ended up having to add one cup of water to get my 16 cup total.

Then before adding the Lavlin 1116 yeast I checked the SG to get my sugar level right. I ended up adding approximately 2 lbs of sugar to obtain 1.105 SG or 14% potential alcohol. The fermentation died down quite a bit on the night of the 2nd day. I messed up and did not check the SG I just added 3 table spoons of sugar and it took back off.

This morning (3rd. day) is seemed to of died down quite a bit again so I checked the SG and got a reading of 1.003. So in my mind this tells me that the reason it died down so much is most of the sugar is 'burned' up. So I added more sugar and brought the SG up to 1.010 and it has seemed to pick back up again.

Now to the questions... Did I go about this right? Next question is I've been stirring the must twice a day, can you 'over stir' the must? Now I've never smelled wine must 'cooking' but it doesn't smell right to me it almost smells spoiled, is this normal? Last but not least the recipe calls for 5-7 days in the primary then into the secondary and fit with a airlock. Should I lock it sooner with the speed of the fermentation I think I am seeing?

Also let me add the must has been between 72*F and 78*F pretty consistently.

Thanks for any help,
Jerry
 

JDRAutoworks

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Small update... It's been a few hours now since I checked the SG and added the sugar. It is not 'cooking' hardly at all. I am kind of lost at this point. Should I let it stay in the primary for a few more days?

Thanks again,
Jerry
 

Tom

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1st you want a starting gravity of 1.085 for fruit wines. Any more the alcohol will take over the fruit. I am at a loss why you kept adding sugar. 1.003 is almost finished and close to dry. Can you explain why sugar was added? Everything seems to be ok except high starting gravity and adding sugar. The yeast may also have quit because of the high alcohol.
Temp plays a part in fermentation the higher it is the faster the fermentation.
 

JDRAutoworks

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1st you want a starting gravity of 1.085 for fruit wines. Any more the alcohol will take over the fruit. I am at a loss why you kept adding sugar. 1.003 is almost finished and close to dry. Can you explain why sugar was added? Everything seems to be ok except high starting gravity and adding sugar. The yeast may also have quit because of the high alcohol.
Temp plays a part in fermentation the higher it is the faster the fermentation.
The reason for starting at the higher and adding sugar was due to a cousin of mine who makes 'old school' wine. He said that I add the amount of sugar to the desired amount of alcohol. I thought 14% sounded good so that is how I cam to that. Don't know if it is right or not but.... I also read in my recipe that a start of 1.095 SG is a good starting point for a sweeter wine (that is what I was trying for). As far as adding the sugar that is we suggested to do. He was thinking that it had ran 'low' on sugar and more sugar would jump start the fermentation again. As for the yeast Lalvin says the 1116 strain is tolerant up to 18% alcohol so I would think that the yeast should sill be good.

I have been thinking that 3 days is a bit too soon to air lock into the secondary as everything I've read says atleast 5 days.

With all of that said I am open to opinions as I have very, very much to learn in this new venture of mine.

Thanks for the help,
Jerry
 
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smurfe

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Welcome aboard. Up until you added that sugar back you was doing everything right and everything looked like it was doing what it was supposed to. You obtain your starting gravity and add yeast. It ferments. You know it is fermenting because the SG drops. Less sugar equals more alcohol. You let the SG drop until it drops no more. When you have 3-4 consecutive days with no change in SG fermentation is normally considered done. And yes, at the temps you fermented at it can happen in 3-4 days.

I prefer to ferment my wines to 0.995 or so which is considered a dry wine and stabilize and the back sweeten with a simple sugar solution. This allows you to get the sweetness to taste and you don't risk the chance of re-fermentation in the bottle. Also, most "old school" recipes call for a higher alcohol content. The problem with this is that the alcohol (ethanol) will over power the fruit flavor and aroma. Some fruits can handle it, some can't. I feel that strawberry can not. On the other hand, I feel watermelon can to an extent. When you try to keep you ABV around 12% or less the flavor and aroma of the fruit is very forward and the wine is quite enjoyable to drink.

You might let this batch go for a while to see what you get but I am thinking this batch is going to be a wash. If you decide to start over come back and make a post in this thread and we can give you some step by step advice or tips. It is really an easy process. We will teach you the right way as opposed to the "old school" way to make an enjoyable fruit wine. Once again, welcome aboard and I look forward to reading your posts.
 

Wade E

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When a yeast says it is good up to it doesnt necessarily mean it will get there, some will die off sooner and some will actually go a little beyond. This wine is going to have to be aged for at least a year because of the very high alc and may not even be that good after that. Strawberry and watermelon are 2 fruits of many which can be easily masked by higher abv's and you went very high with all the sugar plus the high starting gravity to begin with. You have obviosly outdone the yeast starin and it will not ferment anymore due to this. At this point you should add potassium metabisulfite (k-meta and also known as campden tablets) along with potassium sorbte and sweetening would help this batch bring back some flavor. An f-pac would really bring this wine back to life so look in the search engine here for f-pac if you like a wine with a good flavor.
 

JDRAutoworks

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Thanks guys a million!!!

I've done a bunch of reading but nothing beats actually doing it hands on. I now understand what I did wrong and it makes sense. I do have the sorbte and campden and tonight I will add both if it is advised.

Should I add it now in the primary and let it sit in the primary any longer or should I airlock it in the secondary?

Thanks guys and gals,
Jerry
 

Wade E

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You should only add the k-meta and sorbate if the wine is surely done fermenting and that can be checked by taking an sg reading a few days in a row and make sure the sg is stable and not dropping, if it is still dropping a little then wait till it does stop.
 

JDRAutoworks

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You should only add the k-meta and sorbate if the wine is surely done fermenting and that can be checked by taking an sg reading a few days in a row and make sure the sg is stable and not dropping, if it is still dropping a little then wait till it does stop.

Ok I see....LOL... Bit slow I guess on the learning curve. Again that makes sense. I'll check the SG lets say twice a day for the next two days.

Now just for S&G's can you stir your must/primary too much?

Thanks,
Jerry
 

Wade E

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Once fermentation is done you only want to stir it o degas your wine or to mix in sulfites and sorbate, fining agents or a sweetener otherwise stirring can introduce 02 which is harmful to your wine especially if there is not much S02(sulfite) present. You dont need to check your sg twice a day, once is sufficient and if its still moving a little give it a few days and then check again as the less 02 you introduce into your wine the better.
 

St Allie

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I see your questions are being answered already.

So it's just a hello and welcome to the forum,

Allie
 

Nubz

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i can assure you that you did the right thing coming here :)
welcome
 

JDRAutoworks

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Ok.... Today is day 5 (a few hours shy of being the sixth day). I saw in my that the sediment had separated from the liquid and only a slight fizz could be heard. I took a SG reading and got 0.998.

So I decided to make the transfer into the secondary and lock it. I used the good ole' mouth powered siphon and needless to say I got a decent taste of my wine. Let's just say I hope a few months in the secondary it 'fills' out a bit. Worst case I got something to get the buds from work drunk on....:D

It's been locked into the secondary for about 3 hours now and no sign of bubbles in the air lock. Is it normal for it to quit working when first transfered? I've read a bit on racking shock and thinking that this is what has happened.

One more for you guys... The recipe did not specify how long to leave in the secondary. It only stated a 30 day re-racking for clarity so how long do you guys and gals think till bottle time or is there a right way to tell?


Thanks,
Jerry
 

Tom

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Ck the gravity in 5-7 days. If you get .990 then its done. Time to add K-Meta and Sorbate.
Taste.
If it needs more flavor than add a f-pac and backsweeten then add clearing agents.
Fruit wines talke a while to clear so, you may need to rack a few times more
 

Wade E

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Yes, it will settle down typically for awhile after racking then generally start back up but you are very close to being done fermenting so that might be it. You can leave it in carboy for years if you want to but wil have to add sulfite about every 3 months to protect it from oxidation. Just keep racking when you accumulate about 1" of sediment.
 

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