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My experience so far. . .

Wine Making Talk

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Bodenski

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This post is probably of little interest to anyone but me, but I'm bored and feel like writing!

First off, I am an immediate gratification kind of person. I don't like to bake cheesecake, since you have to wait until the next day to eat it. I wouldn't have even gotten into home fermenting, but I have 2 brothers and a brother in law that keep posting their brew projects on Facebook. Since I'm not much of a beer drinker, I decided to make some apple cider from store-bought juice.

My first country wine was made by adding a gallon of apple juice to the lees from my first racking of the cider. I thought "I'll add some fruit to this, it will be awesome!" I put a cup or two of the lees along with a half pound of defrosted frozen triple berry mix into a gallon glass jug, and topped it off with apple juice. I posted a picture on Facebook, and one of my friends told me what was going to happen. I quickly learned my first mistake in wine making!

Luckily I had it sitting in an unused shower in my basement. Once I finished cleaning up the mess the next morning (and taking all of the fruit out of the bottle) I let it go. But I was intrigued by making wine, so I decided it was time to read more, and try something else.

Next up was a blackberry port recipe I saw on Jack Keller's website. Now I've never had port, but it sounded interesting. So I bought a bucket for fermenting in (learned from previous mistake) and bought a bunch of frozen blackberries from Walmart. Following his recipe, I transferred to secondary after only two days, since the SG had dropped low enough. (I think this was mistake two. I really should have let the fruit sit in longer to help make sure I got maximum flavor extraction from it.) This has now been racked several times, and I've tasted a little bit along the way. I had not been impressed with the taste. But this last weekend I stabilized it and added the grape juice concentrate the recipe calls for. Wow, what a difference! It's sweet, but not obnoxiously so. I also added some oak chips to it, but I couldn't taste the oak when I tasted it. (I want to get some spirals, but this time I just used some chips from the local HBS.) This will get bottled in 2-3 weeks, and I'll have to see how patient I can be to keep from popping them open too early. I like it already, and if it gets better with time that will be awesome!

Since I realized after starting that that I was going to be impatient, I decided to brew a Dragonblood next. That was started around halloween, and I only have 1 beer-bottle sized bottles left. TBH I should have let this age a little more, but I wanted to show it off during Thanksgiving and Christmas. That was a mistake, especially at Thanksgiving I think. It needed more time, but wasn't bad.

Since then, I've also done a cranberry wine and a blueberry wine. The blueberry was frozen blueberries from Walmart. (Cranberries are also store-bought). The cranberry one I think will be great. The blueberry one I have more concerns about. My brother used to work in the micro lab at a Coors brewery. He thought he smelled something off in the blueberry wine when I racked it while he was visiting. He's had much more experience looking for spoilers than I have, and I couldn't tell what he was smelling. I'll keep plugging away, but I'll have to see how that one ends up. It's another Jack Keller recipe, and I'm supposed to add 1 cup grape concentrate at the end. (It's his full-bodied semi-sec recipe.) I haven't added the concentrate yet, so I can't tell the full flavor profile right now. I'll add that in a month, and bottle a month after that.

The last fruit wine I made was a cran-apple wine. I used the skins leftover from the cranberry wine, along with another pound of cranberries. This isn't nearly as red as I had hopped for, and the cranberries are noticeable but not quite forward enough for me. I tried to see if I could find frozen cranberry concentrate in the local store to help bring that more forward in the final version, but I haven't found any in the couple of stores I looked at close to here. I'll look again when it's aged a few more months. If I wanted to make a real cran-apple wine, I should have started with more fresh cranberries. Another lesson learned I think.

On top of the country wines, I've done one 1-gallon kit of Pinot Noir, and made a batch of JOAM. (I can taste the pith too much in that. I hope that decreases with aging.) I've also got another 3 gallons of apple cider aging, and I plan on waiting longer before drinking these. This summer I hope to hit the local farmers markets and get some wines going from local fresh fruits. Not knowing what fruit wines I'll like best I plan on experimenting some.

Only other upcoming brew project is I want to get a bucket of juice to make a bigger batch of wine. I am thinking about the chilean juice buckets. (Oh, and I want to make a gallon of apple cyser.)

Sorry for boring the 2 or 3 of you that are still reading this. :h I hope to keep something aging at all times, and right now I have two empty gallon jugs. I hope to not go above three empty jugs, so I better start finding my next recipe!
 

Scooter68

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Wine making teaches discipline and rewards patience.
Exactly, in wine making patience is essential. Without it you might as well just open a can of juice, leave it on the counter for a couple of days and drink it. It's been a hard road for me to learn but the best thing has been getting distracted by other things going on and realizing that it's been two weeks since I even looked at that carboy.
 

Boatboy24

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Sounds like you've been bitten by the bug. Here in NoVa, there are plenty of peaches to be had in summer. They make some pretty good wine.
 

wineforfun

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Funny thing is you saying you are "instant gratification", yet you make wine and won't bake.

I got into making biscotti (among MANY other things), as of late, due to just what you say you are into. With the baking of biscotti, I can eat it the next day, unlike wine, where I have to wait months.

Still a nice read. Looks like you have learned from mistakes and are progressing right along.
 

Bodenski

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Funny thing is you saying you are "instant gratification", yet you make wine and won't bake.
I actually cook/bake quite a bit. And I even (grudgingly) make cheesecake, but I hate the 24 hour waiting. (My wife and I are on the Atkins diet, and we make it with splenda instead of sugar and without a crust in cupcake tins. It works well and is more or less on the diet in the later stages.)

I love to grill, as there is a lot of immediate gratification in that. And as some comedian (I can't remember) once said, "Men only like to cook when danger is involved."
 

wineforfun

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Gotcha, wasn't following the "instant gratification".
 

Mismost

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while reading your adventure I kept thinking, he will try a kit, now he will try a kit, OK, now he will try a kit...you surprised me, you didn't try a kit.

stand closer to the wall, it is easier to bang your head that way!:h

try a kit!
 

Bodenski

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while reading your adventure I kept thinking, he will try a kit, now he will try a kit, OK, now he will try a kit...you surprised me, you didn't try a kit.

stand closer to the wall, it is easier to bang your head that way!:h

try a kit!
My Pinot Noir was a kit. And I might go the kit route for my next "real" wine. My LHBS doesn't have kits for country wine, and I was more interested in those for some reason. I think because I thought my wife would be more into those. (She's not much of a wine drinker.)

I have coworkers that make wine and it's always from a kit. I bet it's more consistent than what I make, but I'm still having fun!

(And as an aside, I used to travel a lot for work. We had a standard bit of paperwork we used to travel with. One was a "portable forehead impact zone" you could hang on any wall to show you where to bang your head!)
 

Scooter68

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Sounds like you've been bitten by the bug. Here in NoVa, there are plenty of peaches to be had in summer. They make some pretty good wine.
Oh YEAH ! Peach is one of my favorites. My 3rd batch is aging now. Picked up 36lbs for $15.00 last summer from a local roadside stand. Bought their 'overripe' peaches. Plan on making a habit of that. Overripe just means they have reached their highest sugar content and are ready to ferment. Cut off any mold and leave the bruised spots and soft spots - nothing wrong there. In the end I had:
4lbs of pits and very few bad spots
4 lbs saved for smoothies
28 lbs into 4 gallons of wine.
 
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