Please help: Cloudy dark and liquor- like wine issue.

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Copper

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I am having an issue with my wine. First off it's way too strong (doesn't even taste like wine. It would be ok if it were strong and fruity or strong and sweet), perhaps a bit vinegary. To me it's vodka-like but muddy looking. My husband and a freind think it tastes vinegary. It also has almost microscopic floaties. It's very cloudy. The wine store told me I may have over- fermented and that it was still ok to drink. But it tastes so terrible. I really want to save this wine because I put a lot of work into it from hand picking my grapes to brewing 4 full gallons. I already (I believe) wasted one as all I could do was put it in a sealed pot since I'd already broke the airlocked seal and I panickly added boiled water with sugar and now it tastes like watered down vodka. I tried to bottle it but couldn't get the floaties out/get it clear and now the one gallon bottle is flat. I've tried siphoning and cheese cloth and not siphoning straight from the bottom of the jug. But after a big mess and doing so over and over again, I just can't filter it out. The wine store also told me that maybe I didn't let it set long enough to settle fully? They really didn't know much about wine- making though. I also worry about the flavor. I really don't want all the time and money I put into it to go to waste, so I'm waiting to try again on bottling until I have more of an idea of what to do. It was brewed in a dark (ideal temperature) closet with no air getting into it for about, and it's been fermenting since September 6th. So this makes no sense to me. But it is also my first go at wine making. I was hoping to give this wine out as Christmas gifts, but I'm not so sure about that now. Is this something that can be saved? In the event that I didn't explain this well enough, I have posted pictures below to show you what it looks like. The first batch was just plain grape. Thanks for any help you can provide.
 

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Johnd

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It's really hard to figure out what went astray, if anything, without a lot more details. Consider the following VERY general process to make wine and maybe you can pinpoint where you may have gotten off path:

Pick, crush and destem grapes (separate juice from skins if it's a white wine) and put into a fermenting container, air space is OK at this stage

Add yeast and ferment until the sugar is nearly gone, as indicated by a hydrometer reading of 1.010 or less, press the wine from the skins if it's a red, normally takes less than a week at room temps of 70 - 75 F

Move wine to a new vessel with little to no airspace and an airlock to allow for CO2 to escape, and no air to enter, leave until hydrometer reads .998 or less for 3 consecutive days

Rack wine off of sediment 3 days later, leaving behind any sediment, and add sulfite, allow very little air space

Rack periodically as wine clears and sediment accumulates, adding appropriate amount of sulfite every 3 months

Just a guess here, but if your wine has been in either of those two glass containers in the photos with that much air space since September 6th, the wine is either oxidized or has turned to vinegar, or both.
 

salcoco

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assuming you have more than one gallon purchase some Super-Kleer K.C. this is a two part clearing agent. just follow instructions. if wine clear then do some bench trials to correct the taste. make a syrup with two cups sugar and one cup hot water. mix in a blender. let it cool. take 1/4 samples of your wine. add a 1/4 tsp to first, twice this amount to second, three times to third etc. do taste test identify the best tasting and then calculate the amount of sugar syrup to add to larger batch.
 

Copper

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It's really hard to figure out what went astray, if anything, without a lot more details. Consider the following VERY general process to make wine and maybe you can pinpoint where you may have gotten off path:

Pick, crush and destem grapes (separate juice from skins if it's a white wine) and put into a fermenting container, air space is OK at this stage

Add yeast and ferment until the sugar is nearly gone, as indicated by a hydrometer reading of 1.010 or less, press the wine from the skins if it's a red, normally takes less than a week at room temps of 70 - 75 F

Move wine to a new vessel with little to no airspace and an airlock to allow for CO2 to escape, and no air to enter, leave until hydrometer reads .998 or less for 3 consecutive days

Rack wine off of sediment 3 days later, leaving behind any sediment, and add sulfite, allow very little air space

Rack periodically as wine clears and sediment accumulates, adding appropriate amount of sulfite every 3 months

Just a guess here, but if your wine has been in either of those two glass containers in the photos with that much air space since September 6th, the wine is either oxidized or has turned to vinegar, or both.
My recipe didn't call for waiting for the yeast to ferment before moving to a new airtight vessel. I went straight to the new vessel. No those aren't what I fermented in. I poured it in there the day I had planned on bottling. Those are just to show how dark and cloudy it is. Those are from the batch that is ruined now. Is this fixable? Thanks for your help.
 

Copper

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assuming you have more than one gallon purchase some Super-Kleer K.C. this is a two part clearing agent. just follow instructions. if wine clear then do some bench trials to correct the taste. make a syrup with two cups sugar and one cup hot water. mix in a blender. let it cool. take 1/4 samples of your wine. add a 1/4 tsp to first, twice this amount to second, three times to third etc. do taste test identify the best tasting and then calculate the amount of sugar syrup to add to larger batch.
Each gallon is in a separate container. I have 3 gallon containers left. The other probably has too much air in it now and will have to be pitched. 1/4 of the whole 3 gallon batch or 1/4 of each gallon? I don't think they sale that locally but maybe I can order online. So this will clear it and sweeten it? Thanks.
 

Scooter68

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Thanks for re-posting this to the forum (Rather than a PM to me) . As you can see there are plenty of folks who can help - We all just need a bit more information to give the best answers.
 

VictorV

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That brownish color could be caused by severe oxidation. If it tastes really bad at this point it's
unlikely you'll be able to save it.
 

Chuck E

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I am having an issue with my wine. It was brewed in a dark (ideal temperature) closet with no air getting into it for about, and it's been fermenting since September 6th. So this makes no sense to me. But it is also my first go at wine making. I was hoping to give this wine out as Christmas gifts, but I'm not so sure about that now. Is this something that can be saved? In the event that I didn't explain this well enough, I have posted pictures below to show you what it looks like. The first batch was just plain grape. Thanks for any help you can provide.
If you started fermenting on 9/6/19 it should have been finished by the end of the month. Did you ferment it in a bucket or in the 1 gal. jugs? If you did it in the jugs, did you have airlocks or bubblers on the jugs? You should have seen some settling out by now. If you have left the jugs exposed to the air since you began fermentation, you may have some oxidation, which will account for the brownish hue.

You probably need more time to have a Christmas wine. The bottles I am giving as gifts were started in the fall of 2018
 
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bshef

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Were the grapes white or red? Did you press off the juice and start fermentation in jugs? What do the other jugs look like?
I recall an earlier post (9/13) where you were asking about stopping fermentation. In the post you said you were using balloons instead of air locks. What happened between that post and now?
When we get the answers we might be able to help. In the meantime I’d suggest not to dump anything but leave it all alone for several weeks and see what happens.
 

Chuck E

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Were the grapes white or red? Did you press off the juice and start fermentation in jugs? What do the other jugs look like?
I recall an earlier post (9/13) where you were asking about stopping fermentation. In the post you said you were using balloons instead of air locks. What happened between that post and now?
When we get the answers we might be able to help. In the meantime I’d suggest not to dump anything but leave it all alone for several weeks and see what happens.
Good catch @bshef I missed that earlier string of posts.
 

Rice_Guy

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Expanding on @Johnd; When you start a primary fermentor you have very low yeast population, yeast need air to reproduce therefore we let air touch the juice in this stage.

Yeast switches to alcohol production when the air is excluded so we rack it to a jug with little head space and balloon , , or air lock. Yeast is “breathing” which releases carbon dioxide. Yeast and grape solids are heavier than water so they settle out with gravity over time.

We rack to a clean jug to get rid of solids. Wine reacts with air making vinegar and oxidized ethyl alcohol so we work to keep oxygen out. Commercial wine is about a year to several years in the winery.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
If you missed the yeast make baby yeast with oxygen exposure you probably have a mixed fermentation with yeast and bacteria. This would go along with friends smelling a vinegar odor.
Once my mom fermented peach, with vinegar flavor after a year. Being a farm wife, , or a child of the depression mom transformed it into a very good tasting salad dressing.
 

Copper

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Thanks for re-posting this to the forum (Rather than a PM to me) . As you can see there are plenty of folks who can help - We all just need a bit more information to give the best answers.
YEs that was an accident. Sorry I'm a newbie. I thought I was posting in a forum beforehand and didn't mean to inbox anyone. lol
 

Copper

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I'm going to try and answer everyone's questions here. Thanks for the help.

I used red grapes fresh picked. I boiled them with sugar and mashed them as if making a jam and strained out the juice leaving out any stems or skins.

It was bottled in jugs but the recipe called for no racking until ready. Just put in jugs and let ferment for 90 days and then siphon into bottles to consume. I did, however pre-start my yeast in a cup of water to get it activated before adding the yeast to the bottle.

I used the large punching balloons with rubber bands around the bottom instead of airlocks. But they were secured very tightly. They blew up which shows the yeast is working and actually never fully deflated. I read on a lot of the balloon tutorials to poke a hole in the balloons before they inflate from the beginning. But I didn't want any air in the alcohol.

I could never figure out the hydrometer that I bought and am pretty certain it was broken as it would not take a reading despite multiple attempts but opted not to waste my money buying a new one as there is only one store nearby that sales them and I was afraid the new one wouldn't work either.

There was plenty of settlement in the bottom of the jug I attempted to bottle. But the floaties were still there.

I used the required amount of sugar and yeast. I'm not sure where I

I have been waiting and have not touched the other three jugs yet. I am thinking maybe if I put them on a counter up high (and cover them to keep it dark) and wait a couple of days to bottle instead of bringing them straight into my kitchen and bottling, maybe it will settle more/ not get shaken up at all.

Is superclear a sulfite? I'm a little confused by the directions listed above, but like they said, it does come with instructions. Maybe I'll order some online. They don't sale it at my local store.

Thanks agian.
 

stickman

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Did the juice become red during the cooking process? If it was red and now it is brown, then it lost color due to low tannin from removal of the skins and seeds etc., or possibly due to oxidation. Most of the time it isn't recommended to heat grapes before fermentation, though heating them can cause a pectin haze, but if heating is done quickly, it shouldn't cause the juice from red grapes to turn brown. When heating grapes, you need to get up to, and pass, 140F fairly quickly, otherwise oxidation due to natural enzymes (which are active below 140F) will happen fast, especially if there were some damaged grapes in the mix. You may need pectic enzyme to help clarify the wine at this point, but that may only solve one part of the problem if oxidation has already occurred. Without enough tannin, there may also be a protein haze that is usually eliminated with bentonite or other recommended fining agent.
 

1d10t

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I could never figure out the hydrometer that I bought and am pretty certain it was broken as it would not take a reading despite multiple attempts but opted not to waste my money buying a new one as there is only one store nearby that sales them and I was afraid the new one wouldn't work either.
Could you post a picture of your hydrometer in a tube of water?
 

Chuck E

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I used red grapes fresh picked. I boiled them with sugar and mashed them as if making a jam and strained out the juice leaving out any stems or skins.

I could never figure out the hydrometer that I bought and am pretty certain it was broken as it would not take a reading despite multiple attempts but opted not to waste my money buying a new one as there is only one store nearby that sales them and I was afraid the new one wouldn't work either.

There was plenty of settlement in the bottom of the jug I attempted to bottle. But the floaties were still there.

I have been waiting and have not touched the other three jugs yet. I am thinking maybe if I put them on a counter up high (and cover them to keep it dark) and wait a couple of days to bottle instead of bringing them straight into my kitchen and bottling, maybe it will settle more/ not get shaken up at all.

Is superclear a sulfite? I'm a little confused by the directions listed above, but like they said, it does come with instructions. Maybe I'll order some online. They don't sale it at my local store.

Thanks again.
Boiling the grapes is not recommended. By leaving out the skins, you will get a lighter colored wine. Leave the skins in next time.

Sediment and floaters are expected, nothing to worry about. Letting the other jugs sit quietly to settle is a good practice. I would wait at least 6 months to bottle, but I know you wanted this wine for gifts. More time will be better (tell your people to not drink it for several months).

SuperKleer is a clearing agent. Potassium MetaBiSulfite is the sulfite. Use the SuperKleer if you can't afford to wait several months for it to clear on its own. Use a tiny bit (1/8 of a teaspoon) of Sulfite in the jugs a few days before bottling.
 

Copper

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Were the grapes white or red? Did you press off the juice and start fermentation in jugs? What do the other jugs look like?
I recall an earlier post (9/13) where you were asking about stopping fermentation. In the post you said you were using balloons instead of air locks. What happened between that post and now?
When we get the answers we might be able to help. In the meantime I’d suggest not to dump anything but leave it all alone for several weeks and see what happens.
The grapes were red. I used gulligan jugs (like what you'd use in a beer store on the tap).. I didn't end up stopping fermentation as it was mentioned once it reaches a normal temp after removing from refrigeration, it could restart in the bottles.
 
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Copper

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Boiling the grapes is not recommended. By leaving out the skins, you will get a lighter colored wine. Leave the skins in next time.

Sediment and floaters are expected, nothing to worry about. Letting the other jugs sit quietly to settle is a good practice. I would wait at least 6 months to bottle, but I know you wanted this wine for gifts. More time will be better (tell your people to not drink it for several months).

SuperKleer is a clearing agent. Potassium MetaBiSulfite is the sulfite. Use the SuperKleer if you can't afford to wait several months for it to clear on its own. Use a tiny bit (1/8 of a teaspoon) of Sulfite in the jugs a few days before bottling.
Thank you.
 

Copper

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So my question now is which is best? Pectin enzyme, superkleer, or sulfite? I've had all 3 suggested in this post to seemingly do the same thing. Thanks for all of your help in trying to save my wine. A lot of effort went into harvesting, researching, and mashing grapes etc. I'm hoping to save it! <3
 

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