Oh No! I think I messed up

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Sep 8, 2020
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Hey everyone!

I have come to the realization after re-reading through this Forum... that I may have messed up, and hopefully I didn't make vinegar or worse...... poison :eek: eek (this is me being dramatic, I don't think I really made poison... maybe just some yucky wine)

So I started a Loganberry Wine in August, with a fruit kit I bought from Amazon https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0130RICU4/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I followed the blackberry/raspberry recipe (without experimenting first) from the Recipe book provided by the kit. What I followed:
-I have color coordinated my notes-
teal: meaning I don't think what I did was wrong it was just a little different from the recipe
burgundy: oh dear I think I made a mistake

3 lb Loganberries
1 lb Raspberries
7pts Water
2 1/4lb Sugar
1/2 tsp Acid Blend
1/2 tsp Pectic Enzyme
1 tsp Nutrient
1 Campden, crush
1 pkg Wine Yeast

Pick berries when they are fully ripened but not moldy..... I used cleaned frozen berries I had on hand... 1. wash and drain the berries using nylon straining bag , mash and strain out juice into primary fermentor, keeping all pulp in the straining bag, tie top and place in primary. (since I was using frozen berries I used the water and made it hot to pour over the berries before I did the squishing part) 2. Stir in all other ingredients EXCEPT yeast. Cover primary 3. after 24 hrs., add yeast. cover primary. 4. stir daily, check hydrometer reading and press pulp lightly to aid extractions (mistake #1 I didn't have a hydrometer and did not check the reading... and have not since then, I thought I could just go by time??) 5. When ferment reaches S.G. 1.030 - about 5 days - strain juice from bag. Syphon wine off sediment into glass secondary. Attach airlock (Mistake #2 I read on one thread that you should add a crushed campden tablet every time you move wine off sediment) 6. When ferment is complete - S.G. has dropped to 1.000 / about 3 weeks - syphon off sediment into clean secondary reattach lock (combo mistake 1 & 2). 7. To aid in clearing syphon again in 2 months and again if necessary before bottling (this is where I am at) (mistake #3 I have a lot of head space and I have read on here people topping with water or a "neutral" wine similar to what you are making, I did not do that. Nor do I know what to top mine with... is air bad?) I thought I was going to bottle here ?? but now I am questioning everything

Mistake #4 tasting.. was I supposed to taste each time I should have measured the hydrometer reading? It smelled yeasty/ a little funky did I do something wrong?

Help please :slp

I have attached the only picture I have right now I can take more later


***the other 3 carboys are different/ recipes/ experiments..... (furthest left: Loganberry, with orange zest, chai tea packets, and a touch of honey for some floral notes. Center: Apple with Loganberry following a apple wine recipe. Halfie in the back: Frankenstein Monster of the 2)
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Hi Miss_ Monst3r, Strongly agree with saloco. And if you are planning to follow a recipe then you will need an hydrometer. Wine making is not engineering, and although you are in the driving seat yeast is a living organism and it behaves differently in different temperatures, in different sugars, in different concentrations of sugar, in different solutions with different nutrients (and indeed, different strains of yeast rehydrated differently) - In short there are lots and lots of variables... so you want to be able to measure precisely what is happening and you can do that with an hydrometer. That said, the creator of the recipe may have had fruit and sugars that had enough sugar to produce a starting gravity of - say 1.090 but you don't know whether your starting gravity might be 1.090 or 1.060 or 1.120 so treating the time it might take the yeast to reach milestones discussed by the author of the recipe as somehow independent of all the possibly different factors is a "recipe" for disappointment. You really need to know what YOUR yeast are doing and not imagine that they are behaving in precisely the same way that the recipe suggests the author's yeast behaved.
One last thought - it is almost impossible to imagine that you would produce anything toxic when you make a wine. If you are fermenting edible fruits, flowers or vegetables that is not possible.
“or worse yet poison” , , , wine is a preservative system, there are several barriers that we have to select yeast, the first is pH. As a general point if industry is processing liquids below pH 4.0 pathogens can not grow. Yes we can grow a culture that has a disgusting flavor BUT it won’t kill you!
as Bernard says it is very unlikely that anything toxic would happen
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Never fear my friends! I now have a hydrometer.... but is it too late because I didn't take a measurement when I first put the sugar/ yeast in? I also got a Brix Refractometer, would that help because I didn't take an initial measurement?
Well in the scheme of things alcoholic beverages are a range of products. You will not know if you are producing a wine or a beer or a port. For the purpose of government taxes paid by commercial organizations we need to know, but as long as you stay below 200 gallons per year no taxes.
A refractometer is a good tool in the vineyard since it can test as little as one berry. It also works on a pail of juice but once alcohol starts the calibration is off ,,,,, so don’t bother.

The hygrometer is the standard in the wine industry, cheap and quite reliable. A hygrometer is also affected by the alcohol content but we live with it/ learn to accept .990 as the target for dry. That said it too is affected by fermentation, the CO2 bubbles will make it float high,,, but it is cheap so again we do readings to monitor a fermentation.
a refractometer is accurate at the beginning of fermentation. however increase in alcohol refract light differently so it has an error. a spreadsheet available here - ValleyVintner Main Page will correct the reading and allow you to monitor the fermentation. one drop of liquid is easier to monitor fermentation
I agree with everyone else, plus...
  1. Freezing berries is good. It helps extract the juice.
  2. Pouring hot water (not boiling) over the berries is good. It helps to set the colour.
  3. As indicated by others, time is not a good indicator of progress. Glad you now have a hydrometer. BTW, what is your current reading? Other than helping troubleshoot problems, your starting SG is only really important to help determine how much alcohol is being made, but your current SG helps you know how close the fermentation is to being complete.
  4. Campden (potassium metabisulfite, affectionately known here as k-meta) should only be added before and after fermentation, never during. When you read about adding it every time you rack (transfer to another vessel), it is specific to the aging process, after fermentation is complete. Adding it during fermentation will stun the yeast, and may cause it to stall, but often will just slow it down.
  5. After fermentation is complete (SG is below 1.000 AND the same for 3 consecutive days) is when you typically add k-meta for the first time since the dose you may have used before adding the yeast. This is where you claim to be now, but we’re not sure since you haven’t been able to check your SG.
  6. Oxygen is always bad for the fruit, just like leaving a sliced apple on the counter, it starts to turn brown (oxidize/rot). However, in the beginning, during active fermentation, it’s good for the yeast. As the fermentation slows, it becomes more important to minimize contact with oxygen by reducing the headspace and adding an air lock. The 3 jugs in the front are perfect. The one in the back is bad, it’s only half full. Too much space, really, to top off with anything, it really needs a smaller container, or containers.
  7. IMHO, tasting (and smelling) at every step is important. Of course it tastes yeasty at first — because there’s yeast in it. As it progresses, it changes. Take notes. Learn what it tastes like at each stage. Then you’ll know for future batches when things are going wrong.
  8. Don’t bottle until it’s clear. This won’t happen until fermentation is complete (that one in the middle looks like it’s still fermenting), and the wine has degassed. This can be helped along by various methods, as can the clearing, but many people just let nature take its course (6-18 months). Stirring and/or applying vacuum can help degas, and fining agents can help clear. It all depends on how patient you are and whether you want to add more chemicals.
  9. Other than not being able to check your SG, I wouldn’t say you’ve done anything wrong, and everything looks really good. Your “Frankenstein Monster” in the back needs some attention, and you’re quite a ways away from the 2 Loganberries being clear enough to bottle, but have patience. It’s hard to tell from the picture how clear the one on the right is.

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