Unorthodox Blueberry Wine Recipe and Procedure- Thoughts?

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m_kluch

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Met a couple on the 4th of July that brought over a homemade bottle of blueberry wine to the party. Got to talking and this is what they told me about their recipe and procedure.
Ingredients list
9lb frozen wild blueberries
12.5lb sugar
Water
1 packet Red Star Premier Classique
1 packet Red Star Premier Cuvée
Procedure
Dump all berries into 6 gallon carboy and wait till next day.
Dissolve all sugar in boiling water, dump onto berries, fill carboy just below the shoulder and wait until next day.
Dump both packets of yeast in, swirl and attach airlock.
Swirl daily during fermentation.
After 6 months to one year, rack into bottles.

Now that is as simple as I could imagine a wine making procedure to be. No hydrometer, no pH-ing, no extra additives, no yeast food, no racking, no topping off carboy after fermentation completes, no removing fruit or yeast, no degassing. It’s like the least involved process of making wine ever.
The couple said that they have made this wine using this procedure five times and they get the same result every time.
Now for my thoughts of the wine. It was very sweet like a dessert wine and had a dark rich color. The flavor was full rich blueberry. It was a little carbonated. I liked it very much as I prefer a medium to sweet wine. As far as alcohol content, either it was on the weaker side or all of that flavor and sugar masked it very well. I did’t get to have enough of it to figure out the alc. content on my own.
Id like to hear y’all’s comments on some things like the two different yeasts, not topping off, leaving on the lees for one year etc…seems like most of the procedure is what an average wine maker would never do but yet the wine turns out great every time.
 
Many people make homemade things. let them make things their way. but if you really want to make a commercially viable product not just homebrew, I'd use a more precise recipe.

Mascerating the berries I'd use raw sugar not syrup. if mashing the berries first, then simple syrup is good.
pectin enzyme really helps. adding tannins would be nice. black tea leaves, or processed tannins help give mouth feel. oak or using something to help smooth it.

carbonation probably because residual sugar got reactivated when bottled. either they didn't ferment dry or back sweetened too much. adding kmeta and sorbate really helps. very necessary.

I'd use a fermentation bucket rather than put fruit in a carboy. really messy clean up. racking only once after 6 months is not enough. I'd rack about 3 times. after primary, 1 month in carboy rack then rest 2 to 6 months.

find a real recipe from more reliable and accurate winemakers


not sure why use 2 yeasts. if want different qualities, then make two batches and then blend after fermentation and clearing.
 
carbonation probably because residual sugar got reactivated when bottled. either they didn't ferment dry or back sweetened too much. adding kmeta and sorbate really helps. very necessary.

not sure why use 2 yeasts. if want different qualities, then make two batches and then blend after fermentation and clearing.
They do not back sweeten. My thought was that their fermentation does not go to completion and like you said some fermentation happens in bottle after they bottle out the wine. Perhaps that’s why they use two yeast packets as well. To try and get their fermentation a little further since they don’t add yeast food or introduce oxygen during fermentation.
I think that they don’t really understand the steps wine makers take and what each step does or why it’s done. They probably just follow this recipe that an old timer gave them and that’s it.
 
If I go through great grandfather’s recipes they read like this. It works.
This is 1.5 pound fruit per gallon. Kinda thin
No meta after fermentation, therefore it will have a short shelf life.
I was very surprised on how much flavor and color the wine had with only 9lb of wild blueberries. I was thinking probably due to the berries being in for so long and also the sweetness of the wine.
I feel like recreating their recipe on a 1 gallon scale alongside another batch made with my own technique using additives, adjusting sugar and pH, racking multiple times yadee yada… and comparing the finished product. I love doing comparisons of any kind.
 
seems like most of the procedure is what an average wine maker would never do but yet the wine turns out great every time.

The Challenger shuttle disaster had the same mentality. Because it worked a few times is not proof it’s a good practice.

Totally agree with the responses that have been given. Winemakers do things for a reason, we can explain why we do it, and also what might happen if we didn’t do it that way.
 
Many people make homemade things. let them make things their way. but if you really want to make a commercially viable product not just homebrew, I'd use a more precise recipe.

Mascerating the berries I'd use raw sugar not syrup. if mashing the berries first, then simple syrup is good.
pectin enzyme really helps. adding tannins would be nice. black tea leaves, or processed tannins help give mouth feel. oak or using something to help smooth it.

carbonation probably because residual sugar got reactivated when bottled. either they didn't ferment dry or back sweetened too much. adding kmeta and sorbate really helps. very necessary.

I'd use a fermentation bucket rather than put fruit in a carboy. really messy clean up. racking only once after 6 months is not enough. I'd rack about 3 times. after primary, 1 month in carboy rack then rest 2 to 6 months.

find a real recipe from more reliable and accurate winemakers


not sure why use 2 yeasts. if want different qualities, then make two batches and then blend after fermentation and clearing.
 
This is good advice.
I make 20-30 gallons of blueberry/honeyberry wine each year and follow accepted winemaking practices.
ABV- 12.8%, bone dry. FT Rouge at start of fermentation as well as pectic enzyme. In a food grade Brute . Rack into carboys when it hits .996. Rack again in 2-3 months. OK to bottle in about 9 months.
 
UPDATE!!!
I started an experiment based on the original post. I made two (well actually three batches but the third was not relevant to the original experiment) batches of wild blueberry wine. One in a way that I thought would make the best tasting and looking wine, using more modern and accepted practices. The other in a more hands-off, easy, primitive way close to what was explained in post #1. The goal was to see which method produced a better tasting, smelling and looking wine. I kept the yeast, water, fruit and sugar volumes the same for both batches. I wanted both batches to ferment dry so i opted to add nutrients to the primitive batch. Even though this is straying away from the original recipe in post #1, I didn't want the sweetness nor the abv of the finished product to be variables in the taste testing later on.
Recipe #1 - My (try hard) way
11/20/23 - Dump 2lb frozen wild blueberries into bucket. Add 1/2t pectic enzyme and 2lb sugar and mix it up.
11/21/23 - Add 3.5L boiled water and stir. After cooled, S.G.=1.076 and pH=3.80. Added 1t Fermax nutrient, 1t DAP, 1/2t wine tannin. Pitched 1/2 packet of Red Star Classique yeast.
Punched down/mushed berries daily during primary.
11/27/23 - S.G at 1.010. Transferred to 4L with airlock to finish fermenting.
12/26/23 - Racked to 1 gallon, added 1 campden tablet.

Recipe #2 - Easy/hands off way
11/20/23 - Dumped 2lb frozen wild blueberries into 5L carboy.
11/21/23 - Dissolved 2lb sugar in 3.5L boiling water, dumped onto berries and swirled well. After cooling S.G.=1.076 and pH=3.85. Added 1t Fermax nutrient and 1t DAP. Pitched 1/2 packet of Red Star Classique yeast.
Swirled lightly every other day to keep floating fruit wet.

Observations so far:
Recipe #2 took about the same number of days to finish fermenting as recipe #1 and is still in its' original 5L carboy from day 1. Recipe #1 was racked twice now and is in a 1 gallon carboy. It did not need any topping off to reach proper volume.
Recipe #2 is quite a bit darker in color and clearer than #1 even though I added pectic enzyme and punched down/mushed the berries everyday of fermentation on #1. I guess leaving on the fruit for six days is not enough time to extract all color from the fruit.

I'm debating on whether I should add sparkolloid to recipe #1 to get it to clear up some more. It is very hazy with no visible particles floating so I don't think that time alone will do anything to clear it up. It has looked the same for the last four weeks.
I plan to wait another month before sorbating, sweetening, bottling and tasting.

Here's what they both look like as of today in different lighting to show color and clarity. Recipe #1 on the right and recipe #2 in the middle. The wine in the pictures looks a little lighter in color than in actuality.
IMG_1736.jpegIMG_1735.jpegIMG_1733.jpeg
 
... I wanted both batches to ferment dry so i opted to add nutrients to the primitive batch. …
A FYI; low nutrient ferments usually go dry like supplemented ferments. The risk is that yeast canibalize their parents producing bitter sulfur compounds. (reductive flavors). I always add nutrient, currently the favorite is organic nitrogen with two staged doses.
 
Just joining this party, albeit a bit late. I see the original recipe called for "water". Trouble is that water does not suggest a volume. That they fermented in a 6 gallon carboy tells you diddly squat about the total volume of must they fermented. Could it have been 2 gallons (OK 12.5 lbs of sugar is a bit too much for most yeast to even begin to ferment) Could it have been 3 gallons? 4? 5? 6? Did they give you any idea how many bottles they got from this recipe? Did they divulge the total amount of water they used?
I am gonna ignore the sugar content of the blueberries and just view the 12.5 lbs of sugar as the total fermentables.
12.5 * .045 = .5625 if 6 gallons; .5625 /6 = .0937 or a potential ABV of 12% and the yeast would have handled that so the wine would have been dry.
if 5 gallons , .5625/5 = .1125 or a PABV of about 15% , Classique's tolerance is 15% but Cuvee is said to handle 18%
if 4 gallons .5625/4 =.140 or PABV of 18.4% so both yeast's will be knocked out the park but the wine wouldn't be very sweet and it's possible that the Cuvee might have survived
If 3 gallons .5625/3= .181 or a PABV of 24.5% and that is way beyond the capability of yeast
 
Just joining this party, albeit a bit late. I see the original recipe called for "water". Trouble is that water does not suggest a volume. That they fermented in a 6 gallon carboy tells you diddly squat about the total volume of must they fermented. Could it have been 2 gallons (OK 12.5 lbs of sugar is a bit too much for most yeast to even begin to ferment) Could it have been 3 gallons? 4? 5? 6? Did they give you any idea how many bottles they got from this recipe? Did they divulge the total amount of water they used?
I am gonna ignore the sugar content of the blueberries and just view the 12.5 lbs of sugar as the total fermentables.
12.5 * .045 = .5625 if 6 gallons; .5625 /6 = .0937 or a potential ABV of 12% and the yeast would have handled that so the wine would have been dry.
if 5 gallons , .5625/5 = .1125 or a PABV of about 15% , Classique's tolerance is 15% but Cuvee is said to handle 18%
if 4 gallons .5625/4 =.140 or PABV of 18.4% so both yeast's will be knocked out the park but the wine wouldn't be very sweet and it's possible that the Cuvee might have survived
If 3 gallons .5625/3= .181 or a PABV of 24.5% and that is way beyond the capability of yeast
She said they fill the 6 gallon carboy just below the shoulder so I'm estimating about 4 gallons of water if you account for the space the berries take up.
Also, the sweetness level tasted about 1.030 to me.....Its possible that the yeast did not ferment to its full capacity. I highly doubt that they aerated the must at any point. Don't know the temperature at which they fermented at either.
 
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She said they fill the 6 gallon carboy just below the shoulder so I'm estimating about 4 gallons of water if you account for the space the berries take up.
Also, the sweetness level tasted about 1.030 to me.....Its possible that the yeast did not ferment to its full capacity. I highly doubt that they aerated the must at any point. Don't know the temperature at which they fermented at either.

So all other things being equal, 30 points of sugar would reduce the ABV by about 4% and so the berry wine would be around 14% . If there was no added nutrients, the wine could have stalled at 14% and if they bottled, the wine over time could have restarted spontaneously so there could be carbonation and sweetness. I am assuming the restart would again stall.
 
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