Watermelon/Strawberry Wine terrible smell

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Aug 12, 2010
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Hello. I have searched the net and this site for my specific issue and didn't really find what I was looking for so here goes. I have a batch of Watermelon/Strawberry going now following this recipe. My difference is I adjusted for 5 gal instead of 1.

* 1 large watermelon
* 2-3 lb fresh or frozen strawberries
* juice and zest of 1 lemon
* 2 lbs granulated sugar
* 1 tsp pectic enzyme
* 1 crushed Campden tablet
* 1 tsp yeast nutrient
* wine yeast

Extract and measure the juice of 1 large watermelon, placing 3 quarts in primary and the rest in a covered bottle in the refrigerator. Trim stems off strawberries, chop coarsely, mix in thinly grated rind of lemon, and tie inside nylon straining bag. In primary, squeeze strawberries and leave bag in juice. Add sugar, lemon juice and yeast nutrient and stir well to dissolve. Add crushed Campden tablet, cover primary and wait 12 hours. Stir in pectic enzyme, recover and wait another 12 hours. Add wine yeast and recover, stirring daily for 7 days. Squeeze strawberries gently to extract juice and discard pulp. Pour liquid into secondary and fit airlock. After fermentation dies down (5-7 days) top up with reserved watermelon juice in refrigerator. Ferment 30 days and rack into clean secondary, topping up with water or watermelon juice (only if fresh). Refit airlock and set aside until crystal clear. Rack into bottles and age 3-6 months.

I have followed this precisely with multiples of 5 on everything but my yeast. I rehydrated my yeast as prescribed, fed it sugar to get it going while I was steralizing and preparing my ingredients and then topped it up with some watermelon juice, refrigrated for the 24 hours to complete the 12 hr incremental steps above. The day after adding the yeast I did my daily stir and the yeast was working hard and the fermentation was bubbling and doing perfect. My starting SG was 1.105 btw.. About the 3rd day we started noticing an odd odor that I figured was just due to the yeast. It seemed to get stronger daily. I don't really know how to describe the odor except to say that its like a fruity, rotten fruit and yeasty smell like I have never smelled before. I first thought it was the watermelon juice and now think it may be the strawberries mixed with the lemon zest. At any rate, today (day 5) I checked SG and was at .999. I racked off into a glass carboy. I added a 1/2 lb of shredded raisins to the carboy before racking. Many recipes that I have read suggest this for flavor and color so I am trying it. I have seen posts here suggesting that the smell will go away over time. I know this process will take a long time and the mix will be racked many times before it is clear and I will be ready to bottle. My worry is that I am wasting my time babying a rotten batch. Another question I can't seem to find an answer to is if there is some fruit rot, can it hurt you if you drink it.

There is a lot of sediment already settling out after only 4 hours and my plan is to rack again Saturday or maybe Friday and top up with watermelon juice. From there I just plan to rack weekly until clear if the general consensus is that my batch will be good.

Any help, thoughts and ideas will be appreciated.

If it hasn't gone brown or some other color you are most likely smelling fermentation. However watermelon can go bad quick but if everything fermented out you'll have a pretty strong wine. What yeast did you use?

Don't top it off with water. Do an F-pac there is a sticky int he fruit wine section about them. Your best bet is to taste the wine, it won't taste good but your tongue can taste a mold flavor or vinegar flavor better then your nose.

Racking every week is pretty aggressive and you'll loose a lot of wine that way. I'd give it 3-4 weeks minimum for the first racking unless you get over and inch or so of sediment. After that rack in may be 3 months to top up sulfites.

Wine gets stinky when it's doing it's thing stir it often and most of that will go away. Things like yeast nutrient and energizer help prevent deficiencies that might cause off smells..
Julie has often talked about this odor with with watermelon. Her advice is do not dump it! The wine is not drinkable for about a year and the smell does go away.
from personal experience, and i'm a newbie, my peach smelled absoloutely horrendous...and yes, the smell did finally go away:)
Watermelon is a tricky one that can go bad quick but stick to the books and wait. Give it a year or more and don't pitch it. I can't tell you what Julie said it smelled like. :):):)
Thanks for the replies. It has not turned brown. It is a pinkish color at this point and really looks nasty now the raisins have started floating to the top :). I will stick with it as advised.

I used Lalvin 71B-1122 and yeast nutrient. I will rack as advised and I did find the FPac post and instructions. I am pretty sure I can guess what Julie said it smells like. I have never smelled anything like this before and I really think the strawberries are making the smell worse. I am going to try vinegar this evening but an all night bleach soak didn't phase the smell in the food grade plastic fermenting bucket I used.

I know with moonshine there are components that can kill you if drank due to a bad distillation. With wine, is that not true..

Thanks for the help..
Be careful of the vinegar. Keep it away from your wine. I know vinegar in the making can ruin your wine. Bacteria. Not sure if once vinegar is finished if it could still have the same effect.
Ok I'm on my iPhone o I am going to make this short don't worry about the smell it will pretty
much take a whole year before it goes away
Didn't think about the vinegar getting into the plastic and effecting future batches. Hmmm. Maybe someone will have experience with this to know for sure. Thanks for the heads up on that.

OK, Julie. Appreciate it. I will proceed on and see what happens.

Thanks all.
Didn't think about the vinegar getting into the plastic and effecting future batches. Hmmm. Maybe someone will have experience with this to know for sure. Thanks for the heads up on that.

OK, Julie. Appreciate it. I will proceed on and see what happens.

Thanks all.

What I was referring to was the airborn bacteria that may contaminate your wine. I have a friend who makes wine and vinegar. He'll do the vinegar in the attic where it's warm and do his wine in the cellar.

Keeping them far apart. But I don't know if after vinegar is finished if there is still that same chance.
Throw a little oxyclean in your primary, fill it with hot tap water and let it sit til it cools. Rinse it a couple of times and see how it comes out. Will not guarentee it but has worked for me. Used it on the stinkin watermelon and it worked. By the way, it has been almost a year and the watermelon is startin to come around, still not great but bet it is gonna be drinkable pretty soon. Have left it in its gal. jug {secondary} and think it mite make something pretty good. Arne.
Pondering a thought yesterday while driving. Since watermelon can turn bad quickly in the beginning, what if you added 2 or 3 yeast cultures (same yeast) or build up a nice batch so it fermented quicker. You could even keep it in a cool state while the yeast did it's business.

This would allow less time for it to turn bad. Also your primary could be a narrower bucket for less surface air space. You're still pushing it down daily or twice daily to introduce air to help the yeast.

Looking for a good deal on watermelon currently.
Give it a try, Steve. Let us know how you make out. It's been almost a year since I made mine. Melons are going to be ripe in a couple of weeks or so and I'm probably gonna try it again. Seems like my fermentation started pretty fast, just had a bad oder to it. Arne.
I believe I will. I'm sitting on several batches of fruit to do and Calif. wine is just around the corner. I sometimes have other duties. Laundry, cleaning, cooking. A House-husbands work is never done.
Hi kthornton,

I wasn't in an area where I was getting good reception last night. I am on my second year of making watermelon wine. The best time to start making that is in the fall, preferrable October when the nights are starting to get cool. Roughly low 40's, upper 30's. You do not need to do this, yours did start on it's own, this is just an extra precaution. And have a starter ready, I think it is better if you hit the floor at a run on getting this started. I usually have a quart or two of starter foaming away. So far this has worked for me.

Now for the smell, you will have this everytime, Mike description starts with an a, ends in an s and is only three letters. I will take one FULL year before it is gone.

After approx one week in fermenter, I racked to carboy (sg 1.010) and then one month after that, and then every two months and adding 1/8 tsp of k-meta at racking. Also, degass
Watermelon is tricky... works best if the primary is kept in the fridge while the campden is working and also make a yeast starter feeding every couple of hours for the 24 that its in the fridge as well. (dont use watermelon juice in your starter- it spoils too easy) By the time you add your yeast and nutrients- your starter has had a day jump and your melon has been in the fridge- should bust off quick... Still be careful with the stuff though lol
My watermelon wine

Not sure how mine turned out. Don't have anything to compare it too.

Only took a week to get the wine cleared, stablized and back sweetened. Now it will sit for a month.

My way of juicing it was easy and took 10 min. Go to a hardware store and get a small paint mixer for a drill. Cut a hole in the watermelon and mix it. All the juice pours out into your mesh bag. In tossed my pulp and didn't leave it in.

Added four pounds of corn sugar to 3 gallons to get a starting sg of 1.082.

Skipped the campden all together, added nutrient, acid blend and yeast 10 min latter.

Two-days latter I was at a sg of 0.092.

Racked into carboy and added campden. Day latter racked off inch and a half of sediment and added more campden. Next day racked again and added biofine clear.

Next morning was totally clear. That night racked and stablized then back sweetened.

All red color left wine durring clearing. Added red food color durring sweetening to make it watermelon color.

Had slight sour smell and taste before sweetening. After sweetening tastes like watermelon but still has slight funky smell. Can't pin point it.

Reason I didn't use campden is I wanted to leave no time for spoilage. Used yeast right away to strong arm anything else out of it.

Will let you know in a month how it has
aged. Hoping to bottle before Thanksgiving.

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