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One More Try with Welch's Grape Juice Wine

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Hi all,

I've already made two batches of Welch's Grape Juice wine and both turned our undrinkable.
Plenty of alcohol, but it tasted like cardboard -- wet cardboard, both times. I'll try it one more time after hearing all your suggestions. Here's the recipe I've used in the past.

1.5 gal Welch's 100% grape juice (without preservatives)
3/4 lb sugar
1.5 tsp yeast nutrient
1.5 tsp acid blend
1/2 tsp tannin
1 packet Lalvin K1V-1116 yeast

Add grape juice and sugar and stir till dissolved.
Add yeast nutrient, acid blend, and tannin, stirring well
Take hydrometer reading (1.076 SG)
Add yeast
Allow to ferment in open air (covered with towel)
When fermentation is complete (2 days or so), rack into carboys
Rack again in 3 days
Rack again in 3 weeks
Rack again in 3 months

Taste was awful at each stage of fermentation.

What am I doing wrong?

Thanks
 

sour_grapes

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Kind of a long shot here: Wet cardboard is the usual descriptor for a wine flaw known as "cork taint." It is caused by a molecule called TCA that we humans can perceive in incredibly minute quantities. A certain bacterium and chlorine must be present to produce TCA, but this usually enters the picture through the cork or a barrel. Do you use chlorine products in your wine area?
 

VinesnBines

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I’ve made a number of Welches wine as well as using other concentrate and juices. I only clean with PBW and sanitize with Star San. My SG is usually higher but that shouldn’t make it undrinkable. Have you made any other wines?
Another note; two days is a super fast ferment.
 

CrystalBrewer

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Hey I'm new to the hobby. I was curious as to why you would take a reading if it's always the same juice and amount of sugar added? Wouldn't it always be close enough to the exact same reading? Maybe I am just lazy, but it seems pointless to me. Am I wrong?
 

VinesnBines

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Juice can vary in sweetness. If you are using a commercial juice like Welches, you are right that the SG will be similar every time and may be close enough for you. If you don't want to bother, that's your choice. It does help when you get a primary that doesn't look like it is fermenting, you have a stuck fermentation or no fermentation at all. Too high an SG will prevent the yeast from starting.
 
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Kind of a long shot here: Wet cardboard is the usual descriptor for a wine flaw known as "cork taint." It is caused by a molecule called TCA that we humans can perceive in incredibly minute quantities. A certain bacterium and chlorine must be present to produce TCA, but this usually enters the picture through the cork or a barrel. Do you use chlorine products in your wine area?
Well, this is interesting. I can't be the cork issue, because the taste is present before corking. In fact, I've never corked any of this stuff because it's not drinkable. But the chlorine? Well my wife wipes down the kitchen counters will chlorine wipes fairly often. Could something like that cause a problem? I really doubt that's the issue because I don't get that taste with other wines that I've tried -- it's only the Welsh's grape juice.
 
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I’ve made a number of Welches wine as well as using other concentrate and juices. I only clean with PBW and sanitize with Star San. My SG is usually higher but that shouldn’t make it undrinkable. Have you made any other wines?
Another note; two days is a super fast ferment.
I initially clean with dawn soap, then rinse heavily before using 5 star PBW. That's all I do. I recently bought 1 step instead, but have not used it yet. Should I be doing more?

I have made other wines. None of them had this taste. I've had other problems with them though -- mainly H2S issues, but that's another subject.
 
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Juice can vary in sweetness. If you are using a commercial juice like Welches, you are right that the SG will be similar every time and may be close enough for you. If you don't want to bother, that's your choice. It does help when you get a primary that doesn't look like it is fermenting, you have a stuck fermentation or no fermentation at all. Too high an SG will prevent the yeast from starting.
I take the SG readings simply to get into the practice and habit
 

franc1969

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I don't know the answer about 'wet cardboard' taste, but I'd ditch the Dawn on anything that wine or must touches. I only use that on wool. On food contact surfaces it takes forever to remove the smell.
It could depend on when you have tried the wine, and how long it has aged. I tried making Welchs wine as practice, and something to blend with various fruit juices. Frankly, fermentation went well, practice of how to use my equipment went well, the wine itself sucked so badly I can't even say. I knew from reading here that it could take a good while to age into drinkable form- it was over a year before that, and it's fine now. Don't necessarily give up if you simply haven't given the wine some time. Concord apparently needs it, but I bet it depends on the yeast used. I did use grape concentrate , not sugar.
I did not follow a racking schedule like this though, it was (and all my rackings are) a bit more lax. Fermentation til done in about a week (I am usually at 65-67F, so always on the slow side). Rack after 3 or so days of the same SG when wine has settled a bit, earlier if there is fruit. Rack maybe a month later if there are lots of lees. Ignore for a couple of months.
 

NorCal

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My first ferment was from Welches. It was undrinkable. I think it takes some pretty good skills to make a reasonably good wine from Welches. My hat is off to those who can make a good Welches wine and I’m sure there are some really good ones.

EAD874CF-C206-4E3C-BAFF-5B49C570CB7D.jpeg
 

VinesnBines

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NorCal and franc1969 have it nailed, I think. Welches and Concord in general can be nasty; they need work, time, blending. If you make other wines you like, forget the Welches Concord. Try some other juices or fruits.
 

winemaker81

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@NorCal, your picture is just so wrong! I laughed out loud.

I made wine from Welch's frozen concentrate 3 times. None of the batches fermented out, all stuck around 1.015, but all were drinkable. I won't call them "wine", but the guys drinking did not complain! I used frozen concentrate, which is different from the current juice. Also, this was in the 80's, so it's likely the preservatives were different.

@montebello-wino, just because only 1 wine got the taint, it doesn't mean that the chlorine wipes are not the problem. It may be that you got unlucky with only 1 batch. As others suggested, keep the chlorine products out of your wine making area, and use only cleaning products designed for wine making. I like OneStep, although the others mentioned are equally good.

If your kitchen is your wine making area? That makes things a LOT tougher. I suggest you change from the chlorine wipes.
 

MHSKIBUM

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Hi all,

I've already made two batches of Welch's Grape Juice wine and both turned our undrinkable.
Plenty of alcohol, but it tasted like cardboard -- wet cardboard, both times. I'll try it one more time after hearing all your suggestions. Here's the recipe I've used in the past.

1.5 gal Welch's 100% grape juice (without preservatives)
3/4 lb sugar
1.5 tsp yeast nutrient
1.5 tsp acid blend
1/2 tsp tannin
1 packet Lalvin K1V-1116 yeast

Add grape juice and sugar and stir till dissolved.
Add yeast nutrient, acid blend, and tannin, stirring well
Take hydrometer reading (1.076 SG)
Add yeast
Allow to ferment in open air (covered with towel)
When fermentation is complete (2 days or so), rack into carboys
Rack again in 3 days
Rack again in 3 weeks
Rack again in 3 months

Taste was awful at each stage of fermentation.

What am I doing wrong?

Thanks
I'd guess that you're using grape juice that was never intended by Welch's to be made into wine. If it were wine quality juice, Welch's would sell it as juice for winemaking and charge a higher price.
Welch's uses concord grapes for its juice. Concord (labrusca) grapes are used to make jam or the cheap, sweet wines that for hundreds of years gave North America a reputation as a place unable to produce a quality wine.
Welch's, apparently, is investigating uses of its grapes for wine but unless it is going forward with more traditional fine wine varietals, the "wine" juice it offers will be highly engineered.
I found the following article that tells the story of the American wine industry's transformation to respectability. Much of the story is based on waving goodbye to labrusca grapes. The Rise Of American Wine | AMERICAN HERITAGE
 
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winemaker81

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Commercial juices are never intended for wine making. That doesn't mean it can't be done ... as so many have proved. I used to be amazed at the things people have successfully fermented.

Concord can be made into good quality wine, IF the grapes are grown for wine making. North Carolina produces a lot of Muscadine wine of high quality, which like Concord are native American grapes, and have a similar "grapey" taste. Growing the grapes with the intention of making wine makes the difference.

EDIT: Eastern NC wineries are going gonzo selling Muscadine. New wineries are cropping up. This contrasts with wineries in the western part of the state that are growing hybrids and Vinifera. Raleigh is a dividing line -- east and south the hybrids are tough to grow and Vinifera impossible. West and north of Raleigh the change in local climate reverses that.

The crowds at the eastern/southern wineries illustrate the range of palates. Some of the wineries care about having a good reputation beyond the region, e.g., Biltmore Estates. Others just care that folks are buying their wine. It's an interesting mix.
 
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Snafflebit

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Check the label if the juice is bottled from concentrate. Many of them contain sodium erythorbate.
 

winemaker81

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I had to look up sodium erythorbate. Interesting that is works something like sorbate to prevent a renewed fermentation. Yeah, if that's on the ingredient, good luck getting a ferment going!
 

Gerry Congleton

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I met a winemaker many years ago (70's) in Kalamazoo, MI. He gave me a real story about his using grape juice to make wine (he was proud of). He said his handle was "The Purple Thumb".
I post this to see if there is a possibility that someone else may have met him.
 
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