Ugh. Blueberry wine at 2.9 PH

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jofinneg

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This full-bodied blueberry was my first fruit wine and I made every effort to make it perfect.
Unfortunately, newbie that I am, I mistakenly thought that fermentation would raise the PH, but it instead dropped it a few points.
My starting PH was in the 3.2-3.3 range and after fermentation and a three-week extended maceration, I ended up at 2.9. I now have 3 gallons of a very, very tart wine.
We really do not like sweet wines, but I understand I will need to back-sweeten to some degree.

Other than back-sweetening to mask the acidity, I think Potassium Carb is my only option to actually reduce acidity. Is that correct?
I don't want to risk ruining it even further by adding too much, but what would you consider a 'safe' target PH to try for when adding Potassium Carbonate?

BTW, I also have a kit Syrah that ended at 3.7-3.8 PH (rather high, I think). Would I be crazy to create a blueberry/syrah blend?

Thanks for your help.
 

Tim3

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Fermentation does raise PH, but the carbon dioxide messes with the PH meter. If you’re confident with your starting ph level of 3.2’ish I’d venture to guess that your PH is just fine and around 3.3 to 3.4, like a white wine. Also be thoughtful to the fact that, immediately after fermentation, wines taste terrible. You’d do yourself a favor and only taste to determine individual aspects like tannin levels, but not flavor! Do not add calcium carbonate unless there are literally no other options and it’s otherwise undrinkable. But you won’t know that for at least 6 months after aging, longer if you’re putting it through malolactic fermentation.
 
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We really do not like sweet wines, but I understand I will need to back-sweeten to some degree.
...
BTW, I also have a kit Syrah that ended at 3.7-3.8 PH (rather high, I think). Would I be crazy to create a blueberry/syrah blend?
What terminal specific gravity did it end up at?

An acidic blueberry wine is not a bad thing. You will find that a very small amount of sugar solution added will bring out the blueberry flavor (use fermcalc or another calculator to help figure out how much to add). Just add half of what you think you need, you can always add more, hard to take too much you have added away. I've been really reducing the amount of back sweetening sugar I add since my wife is starting (argh) to come to the "dry side". Just make sure you add some sorbate and wait a week or two before you back sweeten or it might start fermenting again.

No reason you can't take some of your blueberry and experiment by adding say a gallon of syrah. You won't know how good it can taste unless you try. It's your wine, up to you what you do with it! Just take notes so you can recreate it if you find something you like.

Hope that helps!
 

jofinneg

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What terminal specific gravity did it end up at?

Gravity actually ended up lower than I've seen in my 4 kits prior - above the last tick on my hydrometer, so a bit less than .990. I used Lalvin 71-B and started a little high at 1.094, so it could have a bit of bite to it.

Fermentation does raise PH, but the carbon dioxide messes with the PH meter. If you’re confident with your starting ph level of 3.2’ish I’d venture to guess that your PH is just fine and around 3.3 to 3.4, like a white wine.

Ah, thanks for the tip - if it's the CO2 messing with the sensor, that would be a relief. I transferred to the carboy, but never de-gassed it before testing the PH, so I hope you're right.
I hadn't planned on it, but I just read that blueberries have some malic acid, so I might give mlf a shot as well.
 
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Scooter68

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I "cut my teeth" with blueberry wine in this hobby and it's an annual ferment that I do.

First, 2.9 is not a horrible outcome AND it will probably rise on it's own once its fully de-gassed. Your starting pH was right in the ball park that most see with blueberries. I've actually had one batch start off at 2.9 and it finished very nicely. (10 batches so far in 6 years)
Adding K-Carb would be a last resort and done very very slowly. I've seen commercial bottled wines clearly marked with a pH of 3.18 so you aren't far below that really.
Remember that once fermentation is over, changes are to be made carefully. You certainly do not want to raise that pH very much. Even 3.4 would be higher than I would try to get to from where you are at. If you push it to anything a shade over 3.00 I'd stop there and let it age at least 9=-12 months in bulk. Remember bottling earlier means you've locked in the sweetness acidity any other characteristics pretty much were they were at bottling time.

Back sweetening for blueberry is pretty much standard for most folks as it takes a little to bring out the full flavor, even in a 100% juice source wine (Zero water added.) That said you don't have to make it "sweet." Just go slowly with your additions and you will see that even a very slight addition of a simple syrup will bring out the flavor. Most of my wines end up in the 1.004-1.008 range which is typically considered Off-dry.
As far as de-gassing - that wine is going to be much MUCH better after at least 9 months aging and in that time it should fully de-gas on it's own with no intervention on your part. That's the great thing about aging is that it cures a lot of issues that are typical right after fermentation.
Good luck on that batch and your future ones.
 
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jofinneg

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I "cut my teeth" with blueberry wine in this hobby and it's an annual ferment that I do.

First, 2.9 is not a horrible outcome AND it will probably rise on it's own once its fully de-gassed. Your starting pH was right in the ball park that most see with blueberries. I've actually had one batch start off at 2.9 and it finished very nicely. (10 batches so far in 6 years)
Adding K-Carb would be a last resort and done very very slowly. I've seen commercial bottled wines clearly marked with a pH of 3.18 so you aren't far below that really.
Remember that once fermentation is over, changes are to be made carefully. You certainly do not want to raise that pH very much. Even 3.4 would be higher than I would try to get to from where you are at. If you push it to anything a shade over 3.00 I'd stop there and let it age at least 9=-12 months in bulk. Remember bottling earlier means you've locked in the sweetness acidity any other characteristics pretty much were they were at bottling time.

Back sweetening for blueberry is pretty much standard for most folks as it takes a little to bring out the full flavor, even in a 100% juice source wine (Zero water added.) That said you don't have to make it "sweet." Just go slowly with your additions and you will see that even a very slight addition of a simple syrup will bring out the flavor. Most of my wines end up in the 1.004-1.008 range which is typically considered Off-dry.
As far as de-gassing - that wine is going to be much MUCH better after at least 9 months aging and in that time it should fully de-gas on it's own with no intervention on your part. That's the great thing about aging is that it cures a lot of issues that are typical right after fermentation.
Good luck on that batch and your future ones.

I appreciate your feedback and experience with blueberry. I'm going to let it age for 6-9 months before I even think about making any changes to PH or sweetness, but I look forward to seeing if that PH ticks up a bit. Though the acidity was definitely dominant in the initial sips, I think I really nailed the tannin and body on this one, so hopefully time will mellow it out. Thanks again!

When did you start this wine?

Pitched the yeast starter on 9/26 and fermentation was pretty much done by 10/3. I did an EM with grape skins I had left over from a kit, and did my first racking on 10/25.
 

Khristyjeff

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Here's our recent blueberry experience I hope you find helpful. It would suggest that your plan to wait 6-9 months is a good one.
I started a Blueberry from pure juice from Walker's Juice on 3/7/21. Brix 21, acid 0.87 and SG 1.0875. This wine tasted tart even when we bottled, although had lessoned somewhat by then. pH readings ranged from 2.97-3.00 throughout.
So, we back sweetened (to SG of 1.010) and bottled shy of 5 months later. Waited to drink until the 7+ month mark. At that point we enjoyed it a lot. Off dry, no longer tart, but tasted very much like blueberries.
 
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My latest blueberry was backsweetened to 1.002 and it is full of flavor, just not much sugar. I've done them as high as 1.010 and they are just too sweet for me and my wife. Pick a number and try it. If it's too sweet, next time go lower, not sweet enough, go higher. It's your wine, do as you please with it!
 

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Quote: "Though the acidity was definitely dominant in the initial sips, ....."

Remember that CO2 will also have a bite to it at first, of course it will dissipate over time.
 
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I appreciate your feedback and experience with blueberry. I'm going to let it age for 6-9 months before I even think about making any changes to PH or sweetness, but I look forward to seeing if that PH ticks up a bit. Though the acidity was definitely dominant in the initial sips, I think I really nailed the tannin and body on this one, so hopefully time will mellow it out. Thanks again!



Pitched the yeast starter on 9/26 and fermentation was pretty much done by 10/3. I did an EM with grape skins I had left over from a kit, and did my first racking on 10/25.
Wait, what? You had leftover grape skins from a kit you didn't use? While this thread is very interesting, and I've learned a few things, this statement blew me away. Pray tell why you didn't use them?

Lastly, sounds like you.are onto some nice experimentation.
 

jofinneg

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Wait, what? You had leftover grape skins from a kit you didn't use? ...Pray tell why you didn't use them?

It was a skin pack from a Finer Wine kit Bordeaux. I decided to use just half the pack of skins and add some additional powdered oak tannin.
The goal for the blueberry was to have it full-bodied with nice tannin and then to age it for 18 months minimum.

And a good update from the original concern. After letting it settle for a couple weeks, this morning I took a sample, agitated out the CO2, and the PH is now reading a very acceptable 3.4. Hooray! It's still very sharp and hot, but I feel much better about where it's headed. I also added some toasted french oak and will continue to check on it.

Thanks everyone!
 
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@Mekpdue, one reason for use (or not) of skin packs is the desired "heaviness" of the wine. I started a FWK Barbera in August with no skin packs, as I wanted a full flavored but lighter bodied red for quicker drinking. This one will bulk age in a carboy for ~6 months, and I'll start drinking it when it seems right, which may be 3 to 6 months later.

Saturday I started a triple batch -- FWK Forte Syrah, Petite Sirah, & Merlot kits in one batch. I'm using the 2 skin packs + grape seed pack per kit (total of 6 skins + 3 seeds), and added an extraction enzyme to get as much color and body as I can. When fermentation completes I'm going to put all 6 packs in my press and get as much as I can from them. This one is the opposite of my Barbera -- this one is intended to be a heavy duty wine that will spend a year in the barrel, and may need a year beyond that to really be drinkable.

The styles of wines we can make is vast.
 
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It was a skin pack from a Finer Wine kit Bordeaux. I decided to use just half the pack of skins and add some additional powdered oak tannin.
The goal for the blueberry was to have it full-bodied with nice tannin and then to age it for 18 months minimum.

And a good update from the original concern. After letting it settle for a couple weeks, this morning I took a sample, agitated out the CO2, and the PH is now reading a very acceptable 3.4. Hooray! It's still very sharp and hot, but I feel much better about where it's headed. I also added some toasted french oak and will continue to check on it.

Thanks everyone!
Ahhh, I will have to remember this for future batches. Thanks. Also, glad to hear your wine is coming around.
 

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