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plum wine problem

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eric

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hi everyone my name is eric. i am in the process of making my first batch of plum wine. i am following stu's formula for prize winning plum wine. it is a 20 gallon batch. i started with 1.11 which i see as maybe too high for plum wine. once the hydrometer read 1.01 i filtered into 5 gallon carboys where it has been for a littlle over a week now. i am in denver and the air is cold and the carboys are in the garage. the fermenting seems to have been stalled and it is now starting to discolor and clear out from the top gradually to the bottom. i had a little left over from the filtering proces, about 1/3 gallon. so i put it in a gallon jug and put it in the fridge. after several days it cleared and the sediment was at the bottom. i sampled it and it was still sweet and fruity but obviously a little drier. all in all good. i decided to take a sample of each one of the carboys and it tastes mainly like alcohol. it seems to have lost all fruit flavor. i am hoping that this can be corrected but i fear for the worst. i understand that i can sweeten if needed but i am hoping that the fruit flavor will come back. can anyone give me some advice as to what is going on or what i can do?
 

St Allie

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hello eric and welcome to the forum,

You have gone a wee bit high on the alcohol there for a fruit wine.. normally we suggest between 1.080 and 1.095.What that does though, is it masks the flavour and then all you can taste is the alcohol.

after stabilising ( sorbate and sulphite additions)

To get the flavour back you will need to sweeten it a little again, you can make an fpac .. which would be reduced plums, water and sugar ( if you have saved any plums in the freezer?).. or you can make a simple syrup which is 2 parts sugar to one part water. This will help dilute the alcohol down to a better level and replace some of the fruit flavour, sweeten to just under what your tastebuds prefer .. as it will sweeten slightly more with cellaring.

Allie
 

Tom

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You have a VERY high alcohol wine. Fruit wines should be in the 1.085 starting gravity range.
How many pounds of fruit you use?
keeping it in a cold garage will slow the fermentation. You say you "racked" it @ 1.010 was that just before you put it in a cold garage?
Give us the recipe! and step by step what you did
 

eric

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i started with 85lbs ripe plums. fermented in 30 gallon bucket until it read 1.01 and then i filtered it into carboys where ithas been for little over week. everything has been done in garage where it has been quite cool. the little bit leftover that i put in the fridge tasted nice and sweet so i am just confused as to why it would taste different from what i sampled from the carboys. it still needs to clear more. probably 1/4 of the way cleared. if i am to sweeten more would i be safe to use sweet n low? i am worried to create more fermentation with regular grain sugar. also will the plum flavor be salvaged or is that lost?
 

eric

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is there a chance that what i am sampling will regain some of the fruit flavor and sweeten more in the next couple months? i am thinking that it may also just be concentrated at the top of the carboys and has not yet mixed all the way.
 

Wade E

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Okay. By putting the small amount in the fridge you took the temp down below where the yeast can ferment leaving that wine with residual sugar and it didnt ferment the rest of the way down like the rest did and thats why you have more alc in the rest hiding all the good fruit flavor. What you need to do is add 1/4 tsp of sulfite per every 5 -6 gallons and you also need to add potassium sorbate which will stabilize your wine and not let it ferment anymore even if you add more sugar. After adding both of those you can then sweeten your wine without it fermenting again. Sweetening it will bring out the fruit some but it will need more time for the fruit to really come forward and the abv to mellow into the wine, probably 6-8 months.
 

eric

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thanks for the tip. what kind of sulfite should i use? also, how much potassium sorbate per 5gallon carboy? should i do this soon? i was also told that i should filter off the lees so that any additional flavor changes would stop. is this correct?
 

Wade E

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You dont have to filter a wine. Proper rackings will do this itself. I rack when it gets about 3/4" deep. Potassium Metabisulfite (K-meta) which is also campden tablets is the sulfite I use but Sodium Metabisulfite (Na-meta) can also be be campden tablets. For Potassium Sorbate just follow the directions from the manufacturer but it is usually 1/2 tsp per gallon. You should also add more sulfite after every 3 months of being in the vessel without fermentation. I would add both sulfite and sorbate after fermentation is done and dont add sorbate without the sulfite. Sorbate is only added once!
 

Tom

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ALSO;
Sweetening wine .. DO NOT use sweet n low.
You need to make simple syrup which is 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. Boil water and add sugar heat till clear using a whisk. .
for 20 gallons I would use 8 quarts of sugar to 4 quarts of water. If you have it in 4 carboys add 1 quart of simple syrup to each 5-6 gallons. OR to YOUR taste.
 

eric

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so to follow your advice i should stabilize with sulfite and sorbate.. can i do this asap? also, how long do i wait until i can sweeten once i stabilize?
 

Tom

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If your wine is DRY (= .990) then you can stabilize. That is adding K-meta AND sorbate. Once added at proper amounts you can sweeten after you know the fining's are well dispersed / dissolved. you can also add clearing agents to clear faster. Then start aging..... Rack as needed.
Don't forget to DEGAS!
 
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St Allie

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If your wine is already dropping out sediment and clearing.. the fermentation sounds done., check your SG doesn't change over a 3 day period..( less than 1.000) you can rack it off the sediment that has dropped out already if you want or just Hit it with sulfite and sorbate, stir it up well to help degas it..

you can sweeten it straight away after sorbate and sulfite additions.. or do it in the morning. You're basically good to go onto clearing the wine, then bulk storing if you wish to.. or bottle when really bright and clear.

Allie.
 
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Wade E

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I always stabilize once fermentation has stopped and I check that by taking a gravity reading 3 days in a row to make sure it is not still dropping. You can sweeten right after stabilizing the wine but then you should wait at least a week afterwards to make sure it doesnt start to ferment cause it can happen on very rare occurances. Dehassing a wine by stirring crap out of it is also recommended to get rid of C02 trapped in the wine from fermentation and by doing this it will help the wine to clear much faster.
 

eric

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also, can i just dump the sulfite and sorbate on the surface or does it need to be stirred down? i was going to rack in a couple weeks. is it ok for me to pour the correct amount of simple syrup in the bottom of the carboys and siphon on top of it so that it mixes without stirring too much?
 

Tom

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also, can i just dump the sulfite and sorbate on the surface or does it need to be stirred down?
NO it should be dissolved in either wine or water then added and stirred.i was going to rack in a couple weeks. is it ok for me to pour the correct amount of simple syrup in the bottom of the carboys and siphon on top of it so that it mixes without stirring too much? YES no problem
Rack now on top ot the k-meta and sulfite mix well, then add the simple syrup
Make sure it's degassed!
 

St Allie

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Degassing is when you give the wine a really good stir.

Do it when you add the sorbate and sulphite. 5 to 10 minutes. watch for foaming.

Sterilise a long handled spoon and stir in one direction and then the other to help the C02 escape from the wine.. some wines need longer stirring than others, then put it back under airlock.

If you are planning to bulk age your wine under airlock for a couple of months, any lingering gases should dissipate.

Allie
 

eric

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so... i degassed the wine and stabilized it. i will probably add the simple syrup soon when i rack. the cold weather has probably been an ally the last couple days by stopping the fermenting. i've documented everything since the start for these types of issues so that i dont make this mistake again with plum wine. i just really really hope that the simple syrup will help the fruit flavor make a comeback. i plan on having the wine in the carboys for at least 3 more months and probably rack twice more.
 

Luc

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I hate to spoil the fun guys, but...........

You are using 85 pounds for 20 gallon and in my book
that is way to low for making a fruity plum wine.

I make plum wine every year, and this year again 120 liter (about 35 gallon).
For this amount I used 200 kilo plums (being about 440 pounds).

I just watered it down a bit with simple syrup (1 kilo sugar on 1 liter water) to bring down acidity a bit and sugar up. I did not add more as 10% water this way. My plum wine has a very strong flavor and even takes oak well.

So I truly believe you used a far to high fruit/water ratio to get a fruity wine.

And now something really becomes clear to me.
This is of course why everyone is so determined to make f-packs. You are using a way to low amount of fruit for making a decent wine.

Luc
 
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If you have it in 4 carboys add 1 quart of simple syrup to each 5-6 gallons. OR to YOUR taste.
tom> we use much less sugar than this for most of our wines. 1 quart = 940 ml and we typically use about 500 ml of the syrup. but the "to your taste" is always a good idea. everyone will make wines different. that is a good thing! many fruit wines can be good both semi-dry>sweet, but takes more time and experience to get a good semi-dry than the sweet. real hard to make a dry fruit wine.

I hate to spoil the fun guys, but...........

You are using 85 pounds for 20 gallon and in my book
that is way to low for making a fruity plum wine.

I make plum wine every year, and this year again 120 liter (about 35 gallon).
For this amount I used 200 kilo plums (being about 440 pounds).

And now something really becomes clear to me.
This is of course why everyone is so determined to make f-packs. You are using a way to low amount of fruit for making a decent wine.

Luc
agreed luc. it's not abnormal for us to use 5+ lbs/gal of fruit in our wines. the only wines we don't use more lbs/gal are the berry and pecan.
 
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