Second attempt at wine, very confused.

Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum

Help Support Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum:

Aerocycle

Junior
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
I've searched the topic but do not understand what is happening.

I'm making a plum wine now, I have 30 lbs of pitted plums, frozen, thawed, topped with 3 gallons of boiling water with 10 lbs sugar dissolved. This is so far going like my first wine (blackberry) that the fruit is in a sack, I add sugar and water and all the little addatives, get out the hydrometer, and the SG is way over 1.100. ( between 1.120 and 1.150). The thing is I'm following jack kellers recipe that says 6lbs of fruit/gal, I'm just under, but between his two recipes you can use as little as 9lbs sugar to 20 lbs sugar in 6 gallon batch. I'm at 10 lbs and my readings are high. Everywhere I read on this forum says to add the ingredients and check SG to be close to 1.090. In my blackberry wine I added water to correct it, but after its completely fermented, using a vinometer it's only 10abv, based on SG it should be 14%abv.

So I'm unsure how to move forward. I haven't added the as much sugar to my plum must as I'm supposed to per the recipe, but with all the fruit in there I'm at the 6 gallon mark, I don't want to add any more water. Is there a lot of water that comes out of the fruit? What am I missing here? I'm trying to just slap this together by a recipe, but the SG is not adding up?
 
Last edited:

Smok1

Senior Member
Joined
May 8, 2017
Messages
550
Reaction score
215
I ussually juice my fruit, then check my sg before adding any sugar, then i add sugar until i get to 1.080, you can add up to 1.1 or even a bit more depending how you like it, but i wouldnt advise dumping 10lbs of sugar into your fruit just because a recipe tells you too, you need to use your own tools, use recipes as guidlines, the recipe doesnt know what the brix of your fruit is, the plums in there recipe may have been underripe and had less sugar than your ripe plums, or the plums in the recipe could be of a different varietal, always check your sg before adding sugar. If your sg is too high now id consider buying a plum concentrate and adding that along with water to bring the sg down to something managable, not many yeast strains can handle much over 1.1sg, also i find with fruit wines its better to be closer to 1.080, ( i make alot of fruit wine,cherry, apple, peach, apricot, blueberry, strawberry, rhubarb, anything over 1.080 gets hot and needs alot of time to smooth out) if your sg is 1.12 thats not the end of the world, use a high alchohal tolerance yeast like ec-1118 and youll be fine.
 

Ajmassa

just a guy
Joined
Oct 25, 2016
Messages
4,299
Reaction score
4,803
Location
S. Jersey/Philadelphia area
As an outsider looking in, I'd say only use the recipe as a starting point. And also do not use the vinometer. They are nowhere near accurate. Your SG levels will be all you'll need and you can trust it. Don't worry, I also wasted money on a vinometer before as well!
Your plums might have more sugar in em than typical. If you want 6 gal
Finished product you'll need to more than that to start. The fruit solids take up volume, and you'll also be dropping out lots of sediment along the process- lowering your overall volume of wine. Many people make slightly more on purpose.
For instance, you fermenter may be over the 7 gallon mark after water added to get your SG under 1.100. After fermenting and racking into a carboy, losing some volume from the fruit and all the sediment, you could have maybe 1 gallon extra. Put this in a separate jug. More sediment will be dropping out in a few months when you rack next. And your carboy and jug will be much lower. Top up the carboy with the wine from the jug. If you still have, say 2 bottles worth extra, just put that in bottles or whatever sized container works.
In the end you may end up 6 gal of finished product without needing to top up with water at all. Especially if you can be a sloppy racker, and lose good wine because you stir up the sediment when you get near the bottom, that extra "topping" jug comes in handy.
 
Last edited:

Aerocycle

Junior
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
Is it really important to mash the plums? I pitted them and cut them into quarters, then froze them. I figured they would break down during fermentation, but maybe it sounds like I should mash them to get out the juice? During the 24hr campden tablet soaking (before ading yeast) it seems the fruit really broke down, maybe due to pectic enzyme?

I guses I better add some water in the morning to lower the SG though that puts me over 6 gallons in the bucket. My yeast can go up to 15% abv

This process is different then brewing beer. I find it difficult in theory to get a good SG reading if the fruit isn't broken down, but also the fruit remnants take up space (skins and such), and not really much water is added, (3 gallons water in a 6 gallon batch? The rest is fruit!)
 

Julie

Super Moderator
Staff member
Super Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Dec 4, 2009
Messages
12,055
Reaction score
1,776
Recipes should never be followed to the letter. They are there for guidance only. The amount of sugar you need will depend on the hydrometer reading before adding sugar. Once you take a reading, then add the amount of sugar you would need to reach the desired hydrometer reading. Also, I would watch on how much water I would add. Some fruit need no water at all.
 

dralarms

Overboard as usual
Joined
Jul 15, 2012
Messages
3,739
Reaction score
1,501
I agree, water should not be added unless it's a "heavy" fruit. Plums are borderline. Also you have to take into consideration that the fruit has not broke down yet and therefore you may be measuring mostly water and sugar.

I always freeze my fruit, then as I'm adding it to my fermenting bucket I add plenty of pectic enzyme to aid in the breaking down of the fruit. Then to protect the fruit from browning I place a bowl of kmeta in the top of the must, it helps to protect the fruit while not adding any directly to the must. Once the fruit is breaking down good (gets to room temp) I take a refractometer reading and add sugar accordingly.

I am in no means an expert, just telling how I handle my process.
 

Aerocycle

Junior
Joined
Aug 16, 2017
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
Thank for your responses, it really helps.

I have the 6 gallons split into two buckets now, overnight probably due to the fruit beginning to break down the SG is close to 1.110, that I can live with. But I see what your saying about adding sugar based on the fruit. I don't understand why so many recipes and books don't mention it. They all say basically add so much sugar.

I'm going to go with it because I used the vinters v--21 yeast on the black berry wine and it tastes great for being new wine. According to SG (1.110og) the blackberry wine is a 14.5, according to the vinometer it's a 10%abv. So hopefully the plum wine does well too on that strain too.

Maybe dosing up on pectic enzyme in just fruit/water for 12 hours is a good idea, then adjusting sugar? I did freeze all the fruit bty.

Thanks!
 

davemo

Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2012
Messages
30
Reaction score
8
Hmmm i am going to suggest a couple things a beginner might misunderstand.Ok first are you taking your hydrometer reading very soon after adding the sugar? Sugar must be fully dissolved i.e. no granules on bottom when you stir it to get an accurate reading. I might also suggest STRONGLY you download a little program for calculating various wine making components called fermcalc its free here is a link http://web2.airmail.net/sgross/fermcalc/ i would get the stand alone calc if you can.. So here is my procedure for making fruit wine of any kind. I use 5 to 6 pounds per gallon , place my fruit in a straining sack, place the sack in the fermenter bucket and add enuff water that the liquid level comes to 5.5 gallons, then add pectic enzyme and k meta(campdem tab) and let the fermenter sit overnight, or round 12 hrs. I then take a hydro reading directly in the bucket, its not perfect but gives a ballpark figure for how much sugar i need to add to reach my OG. Granted not all of the sugar has been extracted from the fruit but after 12 hrs with pectic enzyme it should b well on its way.I then use fermcalc to calculate the sugar addition and procedd with the yeast and aeration. BTW i love vintners harvest yeast for wine . On my Elder Black i use the R56 strain and it works VERY WELL. By the way i run you original specs thru fermcalc. With 3 gallons of water and 10 pounds of sugar(not including the sugar from the plums) the OG should be app 1.1222 . So to get a OG of 1.090 with 3 gallons of water (no Plums) you should add around 7 pounds sugar. Hope this helps
 
Top