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Preparing to Bottle Blackberry

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adambb2

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Hey guys this is my first thread since I believe I am close to bottling time for my 6 gallon batch of Blackberry wine which will be my first fruit wine. I made a good amount of beginner mistakes that I have learned from for the next go around lol.

I used a modified version of the 'Victory Blackberry' recipe in the Joy Of Home Winemaking book. I should have kept better records of what I did at what times but I think I initially used 21.4 pounds of frozen blackberries and 3 pounds of frozen blueberries (both of which had been picked from beside my house a year or two ago), 5.6 gallons boiled water with 13.5 lb sugar?, Lalvin EC-1118 yeast, 3 tsp pectic enzyme, 4 tsp acid blend?, 6 tsp yeast nutrient, 3 tsp yeast energizer, 6 campden tablets? This is what I had scribbled on a piece of paper I found *facepalm*

I let it sit for a day and a half or two before pitching the yeast into to two separate primary buckets on May 24, 2016. The fermentation took an extra day or so to start (I think because I had left the primaries sealed after adding the campden tablets..) May 30th I racked to a carboy and topped up w/ half a gallon water and added 2 campden tablets (wish I would have used wine or juice..) The hydrometer measured between 12 and 13% alcohol and the wine was completely dry. In early August I racked into to buckets and cleaned the carboy out then racked back into the 6 gallon carboy, I left behind enough gunk/sediment that I had to use about a whole Cabernet Sauvignon Bota Box (which is about 4 standard bottles) to top up the carboy. I think I added two campden tablets again. I sampled the wine at this point and it tasted like a pretty standard dry red wine, could not really taste the blackberries. Maybe sweetening part of the batch would be a good idea to bring out the fruit flavor?

I need advice on where to go from here before bottling. The wine has been in the carboy for a little over 7 months now. My 3 main concerns are the sulfite levels, acidity, and degassing and the time frame and order of testing this stuff before bottling. I ordered a CHEMetrics Titrets sulfite test but just read it is recommended for white wines.. I have a cheap Rozway Digital PH meter. Should I rack it, top up, then degass, test and adjust sulfite with the Titret's kit shoot for 50ppm, then test pH and adjust for like 3.4?, and bottle in that order all in the same day? Will I need to wait a month after degassing to bottle, could it cause more sediment to fall out? Will this sulfite test be useless, should I just add a campden tablet per gallon prior to bottling and call it a day? How do I avoid oxidation during degassing whitch a drill whip, is it necessary to add sulfite when I degass? Sorry for the long post and all the questions! Any advice is welcome!
 

Johnd

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Maybe sweetening part of the batch would be a good idea to bring out the fruit flavor?

I need advice on where to go from here before bottling. The wine has been in the carboy for a little over 7 months now. My 3 main concerns are the sulfite levels, acidity, and degassing and the time frame and order of testing this stuff before bottling. Will I need to wait a month after degassing to bottle, could it cause more sediment to fall out? Will this sulfite test be useless, should I just add a campden tablet per gallon prior to bottling and call it a day? How do I avoid oxidation during degassing whitch a drill whip, is it necessary to add sulfite when I degass? Sorry for the long post and all the questions! Any advice is welcome!
1. Crush and dissolve 1 tablet per gallon in a cup of your wine, pour into an empty, sanitized carboy. Leaving the sediment, rack your wine, allowing it to splash into the target carboy. This will help with degassing and get your sulfites to a level where you don't need to test. It will also aid in guarding against oxidation. If your wine is 7 months old, you probably don't have much, if any, CO2 left anyway. Your sediment should be all but gone by now as well.

2. Take a little sample and check pH and write it down. If it's between 3.2 and 3.6, forget about it for now. Taste the sample. Add a little pinch of sugar to the sample and mix it in, taste it again. After adding sugar pinches a few times in small doses, decide if it is tasting better and better. If it is, plan to sweeten the wine.

3. Remove some wine from the carboy to make room for sugar. To sweeten, add potassium sorbate as recommended on the package to prevent refermentation, mix it in well and let it sit for a while. Add a half pound of sugar, taste. Keep adding sugar in half pound increments until it's almost as sweet and fruity as the sample you liked, stop a little short, it will get sweeter and fruitier as it sits in the bottle.

4. When you have the sweetness you desire (a little short!) make sure your carboy is topped up and airlocked and let it sit a couple of weeks to make sure that you don't have a renewed fermentation, then bottle it.
 

adambb2

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Thanks for the reply! when you say to let it splash should I simply set the end of the tube at the top of the carboy when racking rather then letting it set at the bottom?
 

Johnd

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Thanks for the reply! when you say to let it splash should I simply set the end of the tube at the top of the carboy when racking rather then letting it set at the bottom?
Yes, but be careful!!!!!!!! I can tell you from personal experience that as soon as you look away or become disinterested, that hose will be out of the mouth of the carboy immediately, spewing wine everywhere you wish it wouldn't.

You can buy little plastic clips that attach to the mouth of the carboy and hold the hose in place, a very good investment of a dollar.....................I don't rack without one firmly in place.
 

Scooter68

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The key to avoid problems with bottled wine is not to rush it. Once you have the clarity of the wine you want:
1) THEN do your Campden and Sorbate additions to stabilize.
2) Wait at least 2-3 days after stabilizing. (A week is even better)
3) Do your backsweetening to bring back the Black and Blueberry flavors. The should come back with just a little bit of sweetening. Use a Simple Syrup solution (2 parts sugar to 1 part Hot water, then cool it)I normally work with 1 cup of wine to determine how much Simple Syrup I need.
3) After back-sweetening wait another week to see if you have any more sediment to drop out. Check the pH then if you want, it should be in the 3.4-3.6 range.
4) Ready to bottle.
 

barbiek

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Haha I actually just got one of those clips, I've spilled plenty of wine in my house since starting this.. my carpet has the stains to prove it lol
I use easy clean cleanser to wash my equipment it brings out the wine spots
out of the carpet if used right after it gets on carpet or oxyclean will work too! Don't know if it works on dried stains but I know when I wipe up the carpet with easy clean when cleaning my utensils it takes all the stains out of the carpet where you can't even tell there was ever a spill! Used with scrub brush I bet you could get rid of the stains! Try it:ib
 

Stressbaby

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Good advice above. Degassing can cause more sediment to fall out, but depending on your temp, after 7 months you may be degassed pretty well already.
You have underdosed the Campden, which as @Johnd points out is generally 1 tab/gallon, usually every 3-4 months, so if I were you I'd get that in right away.
As far as acid goes, blackberries are pretty acidic (malic) and you have also added acid blend. I'd be a little surprised if you had to add any more. But keep us posted on the pH, I'm interested.

Nice first post by the way - even though you might wish you had kept better records, you included the important stuff in the post.
 

adambb2

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Thanks for the replies! I will update yall on everything, I plan on trying to get all this done tomorrow. Btw I believe my wine probably stays at room temp, around 70 degrees. I keep the carboy on blankets so it isn't on the cold wood floor.
 

adambb2

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I splash racked last night and added the campden tablets then bottled. I thought my ph meter was messed up at first because it would initially read 3.55 and then slowly tick down to around 3.05 before it would kind of stop ticking down. It would literally take about about 2 or 3 minutes before it really steadied at a number and even then it would still be more slowly ticking down? The taste wasn't bad but I could tell it was acidic. I just went ahead and bottled because it didnt bother me too much and I know its difficult to change the ph at this point. I guess I just learned a lesson to fix the acid in the must before pitching the yeast. Its weird that this recipe calls for acid blend. Seems like after reading threads last night a lot of people warn that blackberries have high acid.
 

Scooter68

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One point to remember for the future - ALL natural fruit and especially wild berries/fruit can vary from one year to the next. Of course when the fruit is picked will make a huge difference. Blackberries are a little tricky to pick since they turn black well before they are ready. Not being a born and raised country boy, I like Black Raspberries any blueberries, THOSE I can tell when ripe.
The point is depending on when the fruit is picked can dramatically affect both acidity and sugar content (sweetness to the tongue).

Fruit like peaches are simple. You want to buy the fruit just before it turns bad - Like the fruit stands bruised and 'overripe' fruit. So depending on where you source your fruit and what fruit you go with, the 'game' is to find the most ripe fruit or source that will use/pick the ripest fruit to increase the sugar content and decrease the acidity.
 

garymc

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There are 3 ways to deal with high acidity that I know of. Somebody will probably chime in with more:
1. Balance acidity with sweetness. Backsweeten in other words.
2. Add potassium bicarbonate or calcium bicarbonate to neutralize the acid to some extent.
3. Add water or a low acid juice or wine. This also dilutes the alcohol, flavor, mouthfeel, etc. if you do it on the tail end. Low acid juice in the must at the beginning resolves the dilution problem. I use elderberries to tame the acidity of my muscadine and blackberry wines because I know they're acidic.
So, next time, I would suggest some combination of #1 and #3.
 

Stressbaby

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I splash racked last night and added the campden tablets then bottled. I thought my ph meter was messed up at first because it would initially read 3.55 and then slowly tick down to around 3.05 before it would kind of stop ticking down. It would literally take about about 2 or 3 minutes before it really steadied at a number and even then it would still be more slowly ticking down? The taste wasn't bad but I could tell it was acidic. I just went ahead and bottled because it didnt bother me too much and I know its difficult to change the ph at this point. I guess I just learned a lesson to fix the acid in the must before pitching the yeast. Its weird that this recipe calls for acid blend. Seems like after reading threads last night a lot of people warn that blackberries have high acid.
So you are probably at 3.05. That is not as low as the straight juice blackberries I have made, all of which were under 3.00.

There are 3 ways to deal with high acidity that I know of. Somebody will probably chime in with more:
1. Balance acidity with sweetness. Backsweeten in other words.
2. Add potassium bicarbonate or calcium bicarbonate to neutralize the acid to some extent.
3. Add water or a low acid juice or wine. This also dilutes the alcohol, flavor, mouthfeel, etc. if you do it on the tail end. Low acid juice in the must at the beginning resolves the dilution problem. I use elderberries to tame the acidity of my muscadine and blackberry wines because I know they're acidic.
So, next time, I would suggest some combination of #1 and #3.
And there is MLF, but it's probably not a great option for this wine.

A couple of other tricks to consider for taming for harsh/acidic blackberry:
  • glycerin - adds a bit of sweetness and body
  • vanilla - on the order of 1/4-1/2 tsp/gallon. One drop in 100ml sample will tell you if it helps.
 
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