Rhubarb Question

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CortneyD

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I made my first batch of rhubarb wine with the Terry Garey recipe in her book in May 2021.
1 gallon water
2½ lbs. of sugar
3 lbs. rhubarb stalks, the redder the better, fresh or frozen
1 6 oz. can frozen white grape juice
no acid blend
1/8 tsp. tannin
1 tsp. yeast nutrient
1 Campden tablet, crushed (optional)
½ tsp. pectic enzyme
1 packet champagne or Montrachet yeast (I used Red Star Premier Cuvee)

We are drinking it now and I cannot believe how much the flavor profile has changed from bottling (Nov '21) to the first bottle we opened (May '22) to the one we opened last night (June '22). I was told this recipe wouldn't age particularly well so it would be best to drink within 6 month-1 year.

Is it normal for wines to change so much in that relatively short amount of time? The rhubarb flavor was really, really subtle when we bottled it (did not back sweeten, fermented it dry) and its been chilling out in a rack in our basement. The rhubarb flavor was only slightly more pronounced in May when it drank like a crisp, dry rose- I was REALLY happy with that bottle. The bottle last night was like POW! RHUBARB! TART! Its almost too much.

If it keeps going at this rate I'm a bit nervous about what its going to taste like in July. I'm also a bit nervous about the second batch we made with 20% more rhubarb since the initial flavor was so mild... thoughts?
 

FlamingoEmporium

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Don’t wait for July. :ib Get drinking while the drinking is good.

i was with you until the frozen grape juice concentrate. I’m not sure but I think that might be taking over the flavor. I might have done a little more sugar and rhubarb and H 2 0

but I’m not an expert yet.
 

CortneyD

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I honestly can't taste anything remotely grapey with this, my understanding was that it was for mouth-feel and body. Right now the top 3 flavors are rhubarb, rhubarb, and rhubarb!

I agree that we should get to drinking it- I'm just amazed that there was such a shift in flavor and intensity in one month of bottle aging!?!
 
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@CortneyD, wine goes through a lot of changes in the first year, and lighter wines age faster, so your results are normal.

The "let wine age" mantra is not an absolute thing. Every wine is different and needs to be consumed in its own time. It sounds like your rhubarb is at it's time.

OR? Maybe this is a plateau in its evolution. I'd set aside 2 bottles, opening one in 3 months and another in 6 months. The wine may decline and be trash, but it may change in a way you don't expect. This is an educational opportunity for yourself. If you try this, report back with your results.
 

Rice_Guy

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* it is normal for flavor impressions to differ based on what was eaten prior to the testing. There is flavor burn out in tasting which is why tasting rooms will start one with the dry and the move to sweeter wines. If you sample the same bottle at several hours in 24 hours you WILL get different impressions. One of my recent examples was a flight of ciders at a luncheon, sitting down I picked out the good and poor. After eating the salad which had salt on it the impression of the poor balance improved.
* does it smell like rhubarb? It probably is a winner if it is easily identified.
* shelf life is related to oxygen exposure. The main risk is acetaldehyde (oxidized ethyl alcohol) this will produce a burn in the back of the throat sensation. I formulate some wines with matching long lasting flavors as white grape blended with apricot to hide the oxidation. Rhubarb also has sharp flavor notes so I wonder if part of your reaction is from not using enough meta.
* Most rhubarb recipes off the web are thin. Mine is 1005 juice which means that to balance acid it winds up sweetened to 1.017 or so. A lot of the trick is how to back sweeten.

We are drinking it now and I cannot believe how much the flavor profile has changed from bottling (Nov '21) to the first bottle we opened (May '22) to the one we opened last night (June '22). I was told this recipe wouldn't age particularly well . .. . second batch we made with 20% more rhubarb since the initial flavor was so mild... thoughts?
 

CortneyD

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@CortneyD, wine goes through a lot of changes in the first year, and lighter wines age faster, so your results are normal.

The "let wine age" mantra is not an absolute thing. Every wine is different and needs to be consumed in its own time. It sounds like your rhubarb is at it's time.

OR? Maybe this is a plateau in its evolution. I'd set aside 2 bottles, opening one in 3 months and another in 6 months. The wine may decline and be trash, but it may change in a way you don't expect. This is an educational opportunity for yourself. If you try this, report back with your results.
Thank you! Its been my plan to space out the tastings with this first batch and make notes so that I have a benchmark for future batches so I will do just that! I have 3 more bottles to work through so I ought to be able to get a good idea of its progression over the next half a year or so.
 

CortneyD

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* it is normal for flavor impressions to differ based on what was eaten prior to the testing. There is flavor burn out in tasting which is why tasting rooms will start one with the dry and the move to sweeter wines. If you sample the same bottle at several hours in 24 hours you WILL get different impressions. One of my recent examples was a flight of ciders at a luncheon, sitting down I picked out the good and poor. After eating the salad which had salt on it the impression of the poor balance improved.
* does it smell like rhubarb? It probably is a winner if it is easily identified.
* shelf life is related to oxygen exposure. The main risk is acetaldehyde (oxidized ethyl alcohol) this will produce a burn in the back of the throat sensation. I formulate some wines with matching long lasting flavors as white grape blended with apricot to hide the oxidation. Rhubarb also has sharp flavor notes so I wonder if part of your reaction is from not using enough meta.
* Most rhubarb recipes off the web are thin. Mine is 1005 juice which means that to balance acid it winds up sweetened to 1.017 or so. A lot of the trick is how to back sweeten.
I think I will back sweeten the next batch a little, given how this one is aging. I didn't get that back-of-the-throat burn you mentioned, just punchy and tart rhubarb in a way that surprised me given the past tasting notes on it. It definitely smells like rhubarb and now, at 8 months post bottling is more rhubarb forward in flavor than it ever has been. I didn't dislike it, but it could use a bit of sugar to offset the acid. I was just really surprised at how different it had become in just a month. Thanks for all the advice!
 

BigDaveK

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Thanks for the thumbs up on that recipe!
I have the book, now I just need my rhubarb to ripen.

I gave up trying to find concentrate so I just substitute raisins: 4oz concentrate = 1/2 lb raisins I believe.
 

Rice_Guy

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A guess on my part is that the acid actually decreases with age. I have seen three or four references that suggest acids react and the TA decreases since looking at retained bottles of my rhubarb over several years of age
A few guesses on shelf life
* yes it can be free of defect but it will have changed, ex my mom’s 1978 black raspberry carboy was low on acid taste/ balance when I started using her stuff in 2001. i have seen with my rhubarb that the total measured acid decreases when I go back and measure TA on five year old wine. I am guessing that acid combines with alcohol producing esters over time. So to have a balanced ten year old wine you will need th start with high acid.
View attachment 83383
* the bottle needs the high oxygen barrier synthetic corks/ and in your case Dawg keep using them.
* the wine needs to run high on free SO2 when you bottle, target at least 50 ppm and possibly 75 ppm at bottling
* the white wine should have the maximum dosage of a low flavor tannin added. ,,, Another effect I see with black raspberry is that mine starts with “normal“ fruit taste > at 12 to 18 months it is obviously astringent/ which I guess to be small size tannins complexing into larger flavored tannins > the tannins continue complexing into larger non-flavored tannins/ ie mom’s twenty year old raspberry didn’t have astringent flavors.
* there is some work at AWRI with oxygen scavengers built into screw metal caps, ,,, or the nitrogen flushing, ,,, or vacuum corking > with the goal of reducing the normal bottle shock/ oxidation when the wine is bottled

. I didn't dislike it, but it could use a bit of sugar to offset the acid. I was just really surprised at how different it had become in just a month.
 
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@CortneyD, I missed that you didn't backsweeten. Fruit wines benefit from even a small amount of backsweetening, as it brings out the fruit aroma and flavors, and many fruits are stringent without the backsweetening.

Try adding a tiny amount of sugar to a glass -- it may make far you difference than you expect.
 

VinesnBines

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Thanks for the thumbs up on that recipe!
I have the book, now I just need my rhubarb to ripen.

I gave up trying to find concentrate so I just substitute raisins: 4oz concentrate = 1/2 lb raisins I believe.
To remedy the lack of frozen grape concentrate, you can sub bottled juice, just adjust the water in the recipe. Be sure the juice is not sorbated. To test, I add yeast to about pint of juice with a teaspoon of sugar. If the yeast starts to foam well, the juice does not contain sorbate. Another thing i have done is buy a super cheap wine kit and use some of the concentrate in the recipe. I forget the math but it worked nicely for a grapefruit juice/grape batch I made this past winter. I mixed store grapefruit juice with a cheap Sav Blanc kit. It really has the grapefruit flavor.
 

BigDaveK

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To remedy the lack of frozen grape concentrate, you can sub bottled juice, just adjust the water in the recipe. Be sure the juice is not sorbated. To test, I add yeast to about pint of juice with a teaspoon of sugar. If the yeast starts to foam well, the juice does not contain sorbate. Another thing i have done is buy a super cheap wine kit and use some of the concentrate in the recipe. I forget the math but it worked nicely for a grapefruit juice/grape batch I made this past winter. I mixed store grapefruit juice with a cheap Sav Blanc kit. It really has the grapefruit flavor.
Raisins are easy for me only because I do the big box Costco organic.
However....
You have a bunch of GREAT ideas. I'm always willing to try something different. Thanks!
 
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