Newbie brewing Strawberry Wine

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Jovimaple

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I would check the S.G. the next time you rack and call that the final. It might get a bit lower than now. You can check the S.G. after you back sweeten, but that's just more for you to know how sweet it ended up. The starting and final gravities are for measuring the ABV and knowing when the fermentation is finished.
 
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Aye, I know the calculation, just wasn't sure the when of it. The recipe I followed said to use this reading but that didn't seem right to me, as it's still active. No very active mind you, and I don't imagine it will change by a whole lot but I like to be as precise as I can. I'll use the reading I take when I introduce the campden and potassium sorbate. When should I do that by the way? At the next racking in a couple weeks?

I also picked up some finings to help clear it. When is the best time to use it? I am trying to build a timeline of what comes next

I can't thank you guys enough for all the patience and support! You are all so lovely!! 🥰
 

winemaker81

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I'll use the reading I take when I introduce the campden and potassium sorbate.
Once fermentation is 100% complete, you can stir to degas. With cleansed/sanitized spoon, stir vigorously for 5 minutes, changing directions every 20 seconds. If you think you will continue winemaking, purchase a drill-mounted stirring rod -- mine works very well for mixing and degassing, and is a labor saver.

You can add the fining agent after the degassing. If you use kieselsol/chitosan, add the kieselsol and stir well, wait an hour, then add the chitosan and stir well. Rack into your secondary containers. Note - directions vary from 5 minutes and 24 hours in between adding the kieselsol & chitosan. I've been doing 1 hour and it works fine.

Note - adding fining agents to a wine that has not been degassed doesn't work. The CO2 holds sediment in suspension.

Many folks use time for degassing & clearing -- leave the wine long enough and it will degas, and most will clear.

Currently I degas all wines as the wine clears faster with the CO2 reduced. Sometimes I use a fining agent, sometimes not. Currently for red wines that I'm aging a year, I don't. Fruit wines (next time I make one) I probably will.

Add the sorbate + K-meta just before you backsweeten. I do it just before bottling, while some folks wait a week in between. I've heard reports of sediment dropping after backsweetening, but I've never had it happen.
 

sour_grapes

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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 ...

Here is a thorough explanation:
FermCalc Alcohol & Solids Content Calculations

But, for @Cherry Puffling 's use, I would just use the simplest: ABV = (OG - FG)*131.
 

Scooter68

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I've always used this site. Very simple to use: Alcohol By Volume ABV Calculator | Brewer's Friend

I'll play with the numbers sometimes to see if it quits at say 1.000 what will my ABV be then and just to keep tabs on the progress.
Strawberry wine should probably be aged at least 3-6 months to take that sharp new wine age off of it. Longer is better but Strawberry is sort of a white wine class and they are generally not aged as long.

Remember also that any additions you make once the final racking is done can lower the ABV unless you are toppiing off with another wine of the same or higher ABV.

As to taking an SG after back sweetening - I normally do it just to see where it lands. There are some general lines of thought as to how to name a wine as a "Dry," "Off-Dry," "Semi-Sweet," & "Sweet" but in reality what you perceive as dry, sweet etc is purely a personal thing. A strong wine like a blackberry or tart cherry might be perceived as off-dry or semi-sweet with a significantly higher SG than a white wine.* And the ABV will also play into how sweet a wine tastes to some degree. So keeping tabs on the SG after back-sweetening is nice to do for personal reference but that's about all. (I still do it to keep my records on how much I will probably backsweeten a wine.)

* I had a Tart Cherry wine with an ABV of 15% and the SG after back-Sweetening was 1.014 and you really didn't get any sweetness until the finish because of the strength of the Tart Cherries and the ABV.
 

winemaker81

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@Scooter68 raises a great point -- backsweetening and perception. The winemaker's perception of sweetness directly affects the result of backsweetening. Fruit type, ABV, and acid all affect this.

I do not have a pre-determined target when backsweetening. I go totally by taste and use an iterative process to get to the final point. Like Scooter68, I check SG afterward simply as part of my normal record keeping process. My method is as unscientific as is possible.

Note that my method of backsweetening has risks -- I sweeten the entire batch iteratively and stop when I hit my desired result. This is risky -- once sugar is added to a batch it's REALLY hard to remove ... don't mess up as it's unfixable.

I'm a dry red drinker and my version of "sweet" is bone dry by many standards, and grape wines are rarely backsweetened. Most of my batches are at least 5 gallons, so I add sugar in 1/4 cup increments. When I get to the point where the wine needs just a bit more, I stop.

My 2018 Mead (Metheglin) took 3/4 cup sugar with an ending SG of 1.003. When my son & I sweetened it, we poured a large glass of the dry mead as a control and then added 1/4 cup sugar to the batch, stirring very well with a drill-mounted stirring rod. After each addition we took a sample and taste tested. After the 3rd addition he commented that it needed just a bit more sugar, and was surprised when I said, "Ok, we're done."

A year later we popped a cork and he agreed, the mead was perfect -- for us. [His tastes are very similar to my own.]

@Cherry Puffling, when you're ready to backsweeten, go easy on the sugar. You're making a smaller batch (8 liters) so start with less sugar and add in small increments.

If you are unsure, stop. Taste test again in a month to see if it's right. If so, bottle; if not continue the process.

There is no formula for backsweetening. It's one of those things that has to be done seat-of-the-pant. Go slow and listen to your tastebuds.
 

mikewatkins727

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Here is my method for backsweetening. The figures used are for a 1 gallon (128 oz) batch, use the same procedure to upscale for larger batches. I use a 2:1 simple sugar solution. Draw 1 cup (8 oz) of wine. Add 5ml of simple sugar using a syringe to the sample, stir and taste. Keep adding 5 ml of simple sugar until taste is right. I follow @winemaker81 mehod and STOP when it needs a bit more. If it took four, 5 ml shots to sweeten 8 oz, then 15 cup X 4 X 5 mls = 300 ml of simple sugar needs to be added for sweetening. (Note: there are 16 - 8 oz cups in a gallon. You already sweetened one so you only have to sweeten 15 more.)
 

winemaker81

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One caution with Mike's method -- the more samples tasted, the smaller the volume of the remaining sample. The amount of sugar can be miscalculated because of this and too much sugar added. I know this, as I did it! ;)

Once the amount of sweetening has been determined, I suggest drawing another sample, sweetening it to the determined level, and double-checking it. It's like with carpentry, measure twice, cut one ...
 

winemaker81

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@winemaker81 : I draw only one 8 oz sample, adding sugar to it.
My response is -- in hindsight -- confusing. Let me explain better.

Draw an 8 oz sample, add sugar, taste. The overall volume of the sample is reduced by the amount of wine tasted. Repeat this several times and the wine / sugar ratio is altered so the actual wine volume is less. For example:

round 1 - 8.0 oz wine, 5 ml sugar, 1/2 oz removed to taste
round 2 - 7.5 oz wine, total 10 ml sugar, 1/2 oz removed to taste
round 3 - 7.0 oz wine, total 15 ml sugar, 1/2 oz removed to taste
round 4 - 6.5 oz wine, total 20 ml sugar, 1/2 oz removed to taste
round 5 - 6.0 oz wine, total 25 mi sugar, 1/2 oz removed to taste

The problem is that by round 5, the calculation is to add 25 ml to 8 oz of wine, while the taste test is adding to ~6 oz wine. This is not exact as the amount of sugar is reduced by each tasted sample, but it illustrates the situation.

This should produce a less-sweet wine, but somehow I managed to mess up the calculation once and over-sweetened. Nope, no clue what I did other than having a problem performing simple multiplication. :p

Are you doing something different?
 

Scooter68

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The above comments to get a correct sweetness simply point out that the process requries a little thought. I normally have a standard amount I start with and my taste sampling is very small, less than 1/4 oz but it could still affect the out come.
 

mikewatkins727

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My response is -- in hindsight -- confusing. Let me explain better.

Draw an 8 oz sample, add sugar, taste. The overall volume of the sample is reduced by the amount of wine tasted. Repeat this several times and the wine / sugar ratio is altered so the actual wine volume is less. For example:

round 1 - 8.0 oz wine, 5 ml sugar, 1/2 oz removed to taste
round 2 - 7.5 oz wine, total 10 ml sugar, 1/2 oz removed to taste
round 3 - 7.0 oz wine, total 15 ml sugar, 1/2 oz removed to taste
round 4 - 6.5 oz wine, total 20 ml sugar, 1/2 oz removed to taste
round 5 - 6.0 oz wine, total 25 mi sugar, 1/2 oz removed to taste

The problem is that by round 5, the calculation is to add 25 ml to 8 oz of wine, while the taste test is adding to ~6 oz wine. This is not exact as the amount of sugar is reduced by each tasted sample, but it illustrates the situation.

This should produce a less-sweet wine, but somehow I managed to mess up the calculation once and over-sweetened. Nope, no clue what I did other than having a problem performing simple multiplication. :p

Are you doing something different?
Apparently so. I never account for 1/2 oz being removed. It is more of "I stick my tongue in the sauce" to get an idea of sweetness. Also, I stop short of thinking it is sweet enough, like you, if it could use a little bit more . . . stop. After all, setting for a period of time the sweetness changes.
 
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No, not confusing at all, no worries. I'm still processing everything but it all makes sense. Sorry for my lack of reply, I meant to before now, I've been a bit distracted here with life / jam making / photography / football (soccer) etc. I had a ton of fresh strawberries for the jam and couldn't resist grabbing a shot with the demijohns before I proccessed them earlier. My first ever wine, one for the scrapbook 😁

View attachment Strawberry Wine Demijohns.jpg

When it comes to backsweetening I planned to do what Mike said, really, draw a cup, add the simple syrup in tiny 5ml increments until it is nearly sweet enough and just needs a smidge more as you said, then calculate how much I need to do the whole batch, less a cup. 😁
 
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winemaker81

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WOW! That photo is amazingly beautiful. It would make a great wine label:

2022 cherry puffling.png

You can put your name, bottling date, etc. on the label -- this one is a moment's inspiration when I saw the open space on the right jug.
 
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Thank you 😃 I've already designed a label though haha (I'm obsessed)

Hey how do you make the image visible on the post like that, instead of an attachment?
 

winemaker81

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There is a thread for posting labels -- when yours is finalized, post it.


The one I posted is just a sample. Your photo struck me, so I quickly opened it with Avery Design & Print, and added the text. I like using photos as backgrounds, a relatively new development for me.

I sometimes design labels WAY ahead of time, as the mood strikes me. In the picture below, I used the current version of the label for my 2020 2nd run wine -- the background is a picture @NorCal posted of his vineyard -- he graciously gave me permission to use it. I faded the picture using Paint.Net so the text is visible on top. Your picture has open spaces with homogeneous colors, so text can be placed without altering the photo.


To include a photo, click the Attach Files button to load the file. Place the pointer inside your message where you want the picture to appear, then click Full Image.

A lot of photos are really big, so I use Paint.Net to reduce the image size, when necessary. This also cuts file size so they load faster.


2021-06-22_15-21-42.png
 
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I don't have that on my tablet, I'll have to try on my laptop later ☺ EDIT: Nope. Don't have that option there either haha, it's ok.

I like your label! We are moving to Italy, hopefully next spring, covid permitting, so I based mine around a fanciful logo I came up with for if I should start a fruit wine and artisan preserves empire 😂🤣😂🤣😂 it's good fun to plan ahead.
 
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Hey guys.

Quick update on the Strawberry Wine: It looks great, the colour is improving a lot as it starts to clear! 1 week to go before I degas, use finings and rack.

But now I have other fish to fry. Tomorrow I have 8 kilos of frozen blackberries coming. The wine recipe I used for the Strawberry works for any berry, so I am going to use the same quantities though I'll be amending my procedure based on advice here. I do have one slight concern though....

Ok maybe not slight. I am doubling the batch. The recipe calls for 4kg berries, 3kg sugar, 8 liters of water. Now, with the strawberry the must alone (without the fruit pulp) had a volume of 10 litres give or take. But I am doubling the blackberry batch and using 8kg/6kg/16l, so I can extrapolate that I will have a volume of 20 liters...which is what my primary fermenter is, 20l. But thats 20l *without* the fruit pulp and bag, which I intended to leave in for the duration of the primary fermentation this time. Theres like 2-3 inches between the 20l line and the top of the bucket but I'm now scared that there is not going to be enough room in the bucket. I only have one fruit bag and don't want to split the batch into two buckets, so I was wondering, If I had to, could I withhold some of the water until the fruit bag comes out, then add it? Not much, just like two liters. Or do you reckon I'll have just enough room to squeeze and stir etc everyday? 🤔
 
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