Newbie brewing Strawberry Wine

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winemaker81

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Your wine is progressing in a totally normal fashion. As long as you maintain the good hygiene you have been practicing, you will have a successful conclusion.

We record hydrometer readings with 3 digits to the right of the decimal, so you are correct.

At this point the yeast is very active and that yeasty smell is normal. If you don't smell yeast, then you have a problem. Once fermentation completes and the wine clears, the yeast smell dissipates. Your wine is going to change steadily over the next 3 months, and will continue to change (at a slower rate) over the year after that.

Strawberry wine does not retain that beautiful color it starts with. Keep in mind that your wine is cloudy because of solids, and once it clears the appearance will change. You are also looking at it in bulk, where it looks darker -- when (in the future) in a glass, it will look different.

There are things that can be done to adjust the color after fermentation is complete, but don't worry about that for several months.
 
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Thank you, that's a huge relief. I definitely want to do some colour adjustment later if I can...I knew it wasn't going to stay that deep strawberry pink but I wasn't expecting it to be so drastically different after just a couple days. It really is a volatile process!
 

winemaker81

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It really is a volatile process!
The first month is a series of almost continuous chemical changes. After that the changes slow down, but you will experience changes throughout the lifespan of the wine.

Re-read my post #13 in this thread. That will guide you up to your second racking. Add 1 Campden (crushed to powder) for every 4 liters of wine, each time you rack and at bottling.

I assume you're using a pair of 4 liter jugs for bulk storage? Keep excess wine in smaller containers with minimal headspace. I keep a collection of 125 ml, 150 ml, 200 ml, and 375ml bottles for storing the excess. they are mostly screwcaps, which are not ideal for long term storage, but work fine for topup wine. Screw the caps on tightly.

Watch the wine for 3 to 4 weeks after the second racking. If you get more than a dusting of sediment, rack again. Then let the wine set for 3 months. Add another Campden for every 4 liters, every 3 months. You may have to withdraw a sample to be able to gently stir the Campden in, then replace the sample.

If the wine is clear, you can bottle after the last 3 month period. While I'd normally suggest aging it another 3 months, it's your first batch and you want to taste the fruits of your labor!!! Everyone's first batch goes much quicker than you'd think.

Taste the wine at each racking -- this teaches you directly about how wine ages. Once you bottle it, write down your impressions each time you open a bottle, and put a bottle away for at least a year. After you open that last bottle, read your notes from first to last.

Regarding color -- fruit wines benefit from at least a bit of backsweetening as it brings out the fruit flavor. You will need to add potassium sorbate and Campden before sweetening, to prevent a renewed fermentation. You can sweeten with a dark colored juice, such as cherry juice, which may brighten the color. Using a juice will affect the flavor, but small amounts should not change it much.

Other folks might have better suggestions for color enhancing.
 

Scooter68

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Many of us ended up with a flat spot on our foreheads when we discovered all of our 'mistakes' and less than best methods in our first batches. Unless you have watched others make wine or have an on scene coach you are going to slip up here and there. As mentioned wine is pretty forgiving and down the road you can look back and see how far you have progress and litterally enjoy the "fruits" of your labor even more.
 
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Hey guys, quick question, I needed to order some potassium sorbate (the original recipe didn't call for it) and I saw this red grape concentrate so I grabbed some. I remembered it being listed in other threads and thought it might do the trick for backsweetening and possibly some colour correction. When I read the back of the bottle though it said it should be used prior to fermentation. Can it be used to backsweeten still or should I just put it away until I make other wine?
 

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winemaker81

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Can it be used to backsweeten still or should I just put it away until I make other wine?
I expect the concentrate will contain grape solids, so you'd have to clear the wine again. Save it for your next project.

A few years back I made Elderberry from a concentrate which was designed to reconstitute to 19 liters. Since I need topup wine (bulk aging in 19 liter carboy), I added 1 liter grape concentrate and 2 liters water to extend, and the final result is pleasing,.


FYI -- the Vintner’s Best brand is not pure juice -- it contains apple and pear juice, which I did not realize until after I started the wine. Regardless, I was pleased with the result.

Moral of the story: read the label FIRST, not last ....
 
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Sadly it was purchased online and I didnt get to see the back label until I got it lol. It's ok, I'll use it in the blackberry wine I plan to do next. I did flirt with the idea of throwing it in now as I am still in the thick of primary fermentation, purely as a colour boost (and just sweeten later,) but that's probably a terrible idea haha

I guess I'll backsweeten with simple syrup then. Not sure how best to tweak the colour tho, most of the suggestions I've seen floating around are things I can't seem to find here in the UK and people seem vehemently opposed to food colouring though no one's really said why or what would happen to the wine. 🤷‍♀️ I might have to live with this washed out salmon colour. I know you don't do it till bottling and that's obviously a ways off but I like to have a clear plan...even if I tweak it a hundred times along the way lol
 

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the quick answer is yes you could, it is like cooking. ,, note! however 250 ml of concentrate in a four liter batch is 6.25%, your wine could turn into red grape with hints of strawberry. As a light blush I try to be at 0.5% or possibly 1% added colour and run it through the fermentation. I am today trying to undo tannin flavor from crab apple which has become magnified now that all the sugar has been fermented away.
and I saw this red grape concentrate so I grabbed some. I remembered it being listed in other threads and thought it might do the trick for backsweetening and possibly some colour correction. When I read the back of the bottle though it said it should be used prior to fermentation. Can it be used to backsweeten still or should I just put it away until I make other wine?
If looking at grocery store product, I have taken mixed berry frozen juice concentrate for tweaking a finished wine flavor/ color or apple concentrate for a cider.
 
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Oh gosh I was going to add like 50ml max, not the whole 250ml, I just want the colour boost really, I'd rather precision sweeten with simple syrup, and I don't want to mess with the strawberry flavour.

I did see some strawberry concentrate on Amazon but it had lot of other stuff in it I was not keen on. I dunno. We can't get frozen juice concentrate here like you do in North America, which always struck me as odd. (I am Canadian expat). They sell it in bottles on the shelf instead and call it squash but it's not the same, it's got a ton of additives and artificial flavour etc.
 

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people seem vehemently opposed to food colouring though no one's really said why or what would happen to the wine.
Food coloring will give the wine an artificial look, way too bright to be natural. Backsweetening with sugar and accepting the color are good choices.

I agree with @Rice_Guy, using the grape concentrate on a small batch may strongly alter the flavor of the wine, so be cautious. However, if you save the concentrate for use in Blackberry, it should produce a nice increase in body.

Planning ahead is a great idea! We get a lot of questions from folks who are in the middle of something when they realize they have a problem -- it's much easier to guide than to fix.
 

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Not sure that there will be any problem using the concentrate. The label suggests that this product is for country wines presumably to add body and additional complexity of flavor and missing nutrients and while it may require additional time for clearing that would also apply if you were back sweetening with honey and some other sources of sweetness. But I would imagine that the grape concentrate is going to change the flavor profile of your wine. If that is what you want, fine and good but you may want to add a simple syrup (volume to be determined by bench testing) and that would not change the flavor of your wine as much as bring any fruit flavors forward.
 
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Yeah. I think I will just back sweeten with a little simple syrup when the time comes and leave the colour alone. It's just a bit disappointing, I was hoping the colour would stay nearer to what I first had, but then, maybe it will darken a little once it's cleared and had time to age. 🤷‍♀️
it's much easier to guide than to fix.
This is so true. I hate being caught out by the unexpected and having to panic-fix things.
 

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@Cherry Puffling Try not to be stressed and panic, I know that's hard in itself. This is all experimentation and once you have bought the equipment, it's just ingredients, you can try again until you find what works.
You have several months before your wine has settled and aged enough to be at all concerned, so you have a little experiment time and time to look in shops. You may not even need anything at all. Depending on the grocery store chain, I have access to several juices that would work for color, not just sold as concentrates. RW Knudsen is a brand here in the USA, they have "Just Tart Cherry" "Just Black Cherry" "Just Blackcurrant" and others. Aldi has an "Antioxidant Power" juice that might work, several juices in it, but all purplish, higher sugar blend. Ikea sells their own brands of Lingonberry, Blueberry, etc concentrates, those might be perfect for this as well.
Try adding a bit at a time into water with a dropper, and see how much it would take to get closer to the color you expected from the strawberry. Adding some of the Ikea concentrates or Aldi juice might get closer to the sugar you need to heighten strawberry flavor too.
 

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well said
@Cherry Puffling Try not to be stressed and panic, , , have several months before your wine has settled and aged enough to be at all concerned, so you have a little experiment time and time to look in shops. You may not even need anything at all. Depending on the grocery store chain, I have access to several juices that would work for color,
Try adding a bit at a time into water with a dropper, and see how much it would take to get closer to the color you expected from the strawberry. Adding some of the Ikea concentrates or Aldi juice might get closer to the sugar you need to heighten strawberry flavor too.
a trick of the trade, I tasted a gold medal fruit wine at state fair which was back sweetened with a grocery store syrup, judges only found the trick after the wine was awarded. I would have tested the dropper of juice/ syrup in a white wine base
 

Jovimaple

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I have a batch of @dangerdave 's Sweet Strawberry Tart DB in primary right now. He added strawberry daiquiri/margarita mix after fermentation was complete. He also added some sugar, too, according to the recipe. Since he won the contest, I am following his instructions to jazz up the strawberry and the color like he did!

Link to the original post:
 

Scooter68

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True confession time... I make a smoked salsa now and then and I did try a couple of drops of green food coloring in a 4 pint recipe. Yup, it took on a slightly unnatural color. (My Smoked salsa is tomatillos, onions and peppers grilled over hickory chips then mixed with more sweet peppers (various colors) so the salsa I tinted was a light green with flecks of black and red from the grill and red peppers. ) Moral of the story, go natural and let the color come naturally OR use natural colors like Deep red Cherry flesh to add a little color. Just be aware that a light flavor wine can easily be influenced by other fruits. I used 20 cherries in a one gallon batch or peach wine. Very little perception of color change and fortunately no flavor change.

That all being said do as you have been doing - ask questions and experiment a little too. As long as the predominant responses are not NO NO NO! Then experimenting is part of the fun of wine making.
 
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Hey guys! This morning's reading was right between 1.000 and 0.995 so I racked off into my demijohns. I probably should have done it yesterday but I was unwell. Anyway, that abv reading, is that the final gravity? Or is the final measured only after fermentation is totally complete? or is it after backsweetening etc, right before bottling? There has been very little activity, and I did not stop what little fermentation is ongoing with campden and whatnot, I just racked into demijohns, I'm planning to let it hang out in the demijohns for 7-14 days ish as winemaker81 suggested in post #13.
 

winemaker81

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Anyway, that abv reading, is that the final gravity?
The Final Gravity will be when fermentation is 100% done. Check it again in a week or 2 -- most of the time the FG will between 0.990 and 0.996. I've had some stubborn ones that never got below 1.000, but that's an exception, not a rule.

FG is when fermentation is done. I'm not sure what to call the SG after backsweetening -- oddly enough, that question has not been asked that I can recall.

FYI -- ABV is Alcohol By Volume. You can calculate that using the OG and FG. Unfortunately there is no single equation that calculates ABV -- the equation varies depending on the final answer, so once you know the range in which the ABV lies, you choose the equation that fits that range to get a more accurate answer.

Without lab testing, I don't believe you can get a 100% accurate answer, but for home winemakers, within +/- 0.5% is typically close enough.

This site has an ABV calculator. There is another site that lists 5 equations with descriptions about each, but I cannot find my bookmark ...

 
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