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How to sweeten and cut the alcohol content?

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LukeM

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I have been making strawberry wine and it has been going good (or so I thought LOL). I added potassium metabisulfite when it slowed fermentation to a bubble a minute and barely any bubbles (around 1.000-0.980 SG (hard to read at that time)) and let it sit for the last 3 days to settle some. I decided to rack it into the glass carboy and wanted to taste it. I think I just made strawberry moonshine! It had a sharp bite of alcohol to it with this tasting, it wasn't very sweet either. Can anyone give me some recommendations on how to sweeten it up some at this time? How could I cut the alcohol content some too? Would you recommend adding some 100% strawberry juice to get this accomplished? Thank you in advance!
 

dralarms

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It is dry and needs to be backsweetened. Strawberry is a very good wine and it just sounds like stabilizing and adding either some strawberry juice or some sugar and let it age. I've found that if you sweeten it young when it ages it will most likely be too sweet.
 

LukeM

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It is dry and needs to be backsweetened. Strawberry is a very good wine and it just sounds like stabilizing and adding either some strawberry juice or some sugar and let it age. I've found that if you sweeten it young when it ages it will most likely be too sweet.
Sounds good, thank you for the quick reply! What would be a better option for the "backsweetening", regular sugar or the strawberry juice? I think the juice would help lower (or cut) the alcohol content, or would this start more fermentation?
 

dralarms

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To answer that need a little more info.what was the starting sg?
 

LukeM

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To answer that need a little more info.what was the starting sg?
With this being my first time of making any wine I did not think to take a starting point, but in my other thread we were able to come to an estimate of 1.090-1.1000.
 

Scooter68

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Give it time - lots of it. As dralarms says trying back-sweeten now is not the best approach. First of all it's a very young and immature wine and they tend to be too sharp and bite the tongue. Based on your rough estimates the ABV isn't that high at all only a little over 13% (13.13% based on 1.100 to 1.000 starting and ending SGs)

Also you idea of sweetening with Strawberry juice may work out great - just not yet. Give it at least 4-6 months before you consider back-sweetening and bottling.* That gives you plenty of time to start some other wine batches.


* I bottled my first wine batch at 4 months drank the first bottle at 5 - it was ok but a year later it was GREAT.

Number one Skill to successful wine making - Patience! Just like the Cheet-iz adds when it's Not Ready. [ame]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH5BPB5067w[/ame]
 
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dralarms

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With this being my first time of making any wine I did not think to take a starting point, but in my other thread we were able to come to an estimate of 1.090-1.1000.
Ok, with that I'll tell you what I'd do.

First stabilize the with with potassium sorbate and the backsweeten to 1.008 to 1.010 and then I'd leave it in the carboy for 30 to 60 days and taste again. That will give it time to clear and for the strawberry to come forward. Then you can decide if it need a little more sugar.

In the future I'd log everything, how much fruit, how much water, any additives, yeast type (yes that matters) and starting sg. The you can have a starting point to help in figuring out what step if any to take next.

I suspect that in 30 to 60 days you will find that your wine is much better than it is right now.

It takes some time for the fruit to come back after fermentation.
 

dralarms

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Scooter is right ,time and patience is your friend when it comes to wine making. The only difference is I don't wait 6 months to adjust my wine. Patience is an acquired skill that I have not mastered yet.
 

LukeM

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Thank you guys! I will let it clear for another 30-60 days and give it a try then, if I think it needs to be sweetened or cut at that time then I will add the juice. I appreciate the help!
 

Julie

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The only other thing I would like to add it start depending on your hydrometer. Do not assume anything by how fast or slow it is bubbling. The hydrometer will let you know exactly what is going on and don't try to stop a fermentation. Let it go until it is around .996 - .994 or lower. Trying to stop fermentation will possibly give you bottle bombs. Good Luck.
 

Johnd

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To answer that need a little more info.what was the starting sg?
I believe that this is the same wine we were helping out with in this thread: http://www.winemakingtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=57188

He didn't get any good SG readings prior to fermentation, but I ran some calcs that were predicting a pretty high octane wine.

At this stage of the game, strawberry juice to both sweeten and reduce the ABV seems like a good plan. Of course, appropriate dosing of sulfite and sorbate are in order.........
 

LukeM

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I believe that this is the same wine we were helping out with in this thread: http://www.winemakingtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=57188

He didn't get any good SG readings prior to fermentation, but I ran some calcs that were predicting a pretty high octane wine.

At this stage of the game, strawberry juice to both sweeten and reduce the ABV seems like a good plan. Of course, appropriate dosing of sulfite and sorbate are in order.........
Lol yep that would be my thread. Thank you for the help!
 

Scooter68

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In terms of adjusting .... I monitor and adjust pH levels at any time during the aging don't wait to do that. To high a pH number mean your wine may be subject to spoilage. It takes bot sufficient Alcohol AND enough acid in the wine to preserve it.

Sweetness can wait.

Other items like oaking (via wood chips, spirals etc) can be done anytime during aging but best done at first to permit complete infusion of flavor and removal of chips and debris before bottling time.
 

LukeM

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Ok, I have some more questions. How do you know when to bottle the wine? How clear will strawberry wine get? I am constantly watching my wine (kind of find enjoyment from watching it clear day by day) and have tasted it a few times (It's still sharp as hell but has an AWESOME after taste). I don't want to bottle too soon and was wondering how to tell when you can bottle. I know it's not bubbling anymore from the airlock and it does have a layer of sediment on the bottom. It is a deep red that is not quite transparent but I think its starting to clear some.

20170712_125756.jpg

20170712_125858.jpg
 

Scooter68

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Looks like it's less than a month old. I would not consider bottling for at least 7-8 months from now if everything falls into place. The wine should be perfectly clear before bottling. You can polish it off with a filter at the end just before bottling and you can speed clearing along with various additives BUT many additives can take more than just sediment out of your wine. (Color, flavor, and aromas)

You can't rush it, it takes time to clear, de-gass, and round out the flavor. Give it not less than 7-8 months before committing to bottling it. I've rushed to bottle and been lucky and not so lucky. After you bottle you have pretty much locked the wine in several ways. It can age and round out the taste but you can't sweeten or adjust acidity and if it hasn't fully de-gassed you could end up with bottle bombs.
 

Redbird1

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Even a bottle of wine that was never degassed would not cause a bottle bomb from the residual gas. It might push the cork out, but that's about it. It would require fermentation starting up again while in the bottle to cause enough pressure to cause it to explode, but even then I imagine it would just push the cork out before it would reach that high of a pressure in the bottle if stored in a corked bottle.

Beer and any other drink in airtight bottles (crown tops, swing tops, champagne bottles, etc.) with residual sugar that was not stabilized with sorbate/Kmeta (or run through a very fine filter) are another story.
 

drainsurgeon

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Even a bottle of wine that was never degassed would not cause a bottle bomb from the residual gas. It might push the cork out, but that's about it. It would require fermentation starting up again while in the bottle to cause enough pressure to cause it to explode, but even then I imagine it would just push the cork out before it would reach that high of a pressure in the bottle if stored in a corked bottle.

Beer and any other drink in airtight bottles (crown tops, swing tops, champagne bottles, etc.) with residual sugar that was not stabilized with sorbate/Kmeta (or run through a very fine filter) are another story.
I think bottle bombs are just a figure of speech here. I could be wrong, but I think bottles actually exploding are rare unless you strapped down the cork like champagne.

Making sure that the ferment is done and stabilizing with kmeta AND sorbate is the best way to avoid the.....:se
 

Scooter68

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Bottle bombs do occur, they may not be really common but I've read several reports of it happening. Not all bottles can handle the pressure. Cork size can have an impact too. The concern is IF that occurs the blast is able to wipe out other bottles as well. Many years ago our family had it happen with a batch of root beer - our first and last batch. We were eating supper and heard a muffled Boom! Dad went out to check and found most of our "New Root Beer" destroyed by sympathetic explosions. In that case it was Capped bottles but again corks are not always the weakest link in the 'system.' Some folks use the larger corks and with the new thinner bottles the pressure can do a number on glass.
 

Redbird1

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Beer, soda, cider, etc. in capped bottles is MUCH more susceptible to bottle bombs. Most have a small, but healthy, colony of yeast in the bottle in order to carb it. They also have residual sugar that is not able to be converted by the normal yeast, but is available to converted by bacteria from an infection. That is a big contributor to bottle bombs. One of the other major factors is when the product does not complete primary fermentation, which is sometimes more difficult to detect since final gravity varies by recipe, mash temp, etc. and not the standard 0.99X number from winemaking.

Dry wines have no residual sugar, so the risk of bottle bombs from those wines is zero. Those that are backsweetened should be treated with sorbate and Kmeta. The same goes for wines that don't go dry. Also, wine in general is much less likely to develop infections due to higher alcohol and different chemistry. Those measures should mitigate all potential risk factors. For those wines that are intended to be sparkling, they should have a measured amount of sugar added and be bottled in champagne bottles with the appropriate corks and wine cages.

It would take a very particular set of circumstances and poor winemaking practice in order to get a bottle bomb from wine. I can only find three examples online in a quick Google search. One was in a sulfite free wine, which goes along with what is described above. Another was in a wine that was high in residual sugar, into which several packets of champagne yeast were pitched, but with no further observed fermentation, although was later sent through a 0.5 micron filter. The third was a Youtube video from a wine that had fruit added (and I'm assuming was not treated properly afterwards).

I doubt a single poster on here has had a wine bottle bomb or personally knows someone that has.
 
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drainsurgeon

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Thanks Redbird, and I agree that bombs are very rare. Making any kind of sparkling beverage is a different animal however. You are dancing with the devil in my opinion. I've read on how to make champagne and how carefully you have to measure yeast and sugar addition and then having to blow the lees off and refill the bottle. It just sounds like its too messy and too risky also.

I love the sound of explosions like on the 4th. Just not in my basement. :)
 

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