Wild Blackberry wine! -- For the First time (in detail)

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jh0330

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Hi guys!
I am new to the forum and making my first batch of wild blackberry wine!.
At the bottom of the thread I have a list of question's, please lend me your wisdom all you wine-gurus :)
I had thought hey why not just write on a wine forum as my "lab" or "wine" notebook and carefully note all my progresses and struggles while I can get some feedback from some wine gurus!! :)
I underlined my steps and bolded key words

For a few days now I have been watching lots of videos on how to make wine.
Finally, yesterday morning I decided to try it myself with extremely ripe wild blackberries growing around in my area following a recipe I found online.

Blackberry wine Ingredients:
3lb of blackberries
3lb sugar
6 pints of boiling water
Steriliser
1 campden tablet
1 tsp wine yeast
1 tsp pectolase
1 tsp yeast nutrient
(Reference: "Brewbitz Homebrew Shop" from YouTube)


First thing I did was purchase some supplies (all rough pricing and yes I think I did kind of overpay for everything but I lack the knowledge on where to find cheaper):
-2.5gallon tub and drilled lid ($10) with a bubbler(2$),
-campden tablets (3$) (bought BrewCraft's, it didn't say the size of the tablets *assume standard 0.44g tablet* but it did say they were 57% sulfer dioxide).
-cleaning agent (3$) (which I probably could have found a free alternative) (container says mix 5ml into 1L water, doesn't need to be rinsed),
-wine yeast (K1 V1116 assuming this is the "k" yeast which everyone talks about. Not sure of the taste but the yeast itself seems more acceptable to newbs as the yeast eats both fructose and glucose :) ) (next time try 71B type for this), and a
-hydrometer.
-4kg cane sugar (6$)
-Pectolase (2$)
-acid blend (3$)
-litmus paper (5$)
-11L carboy (27$)
-toasted oak powder (2$)
-bentonite (1$)


I was expecting to pick maybe a pound or two of wild blackberries but when I was done I had a grocery bag literally full of blackberries! :)
I gave the black berries an hour long salt bath to make sure i don't have any creepy crawlies mixed in. I wasn't exactly sure how salty I should make the bath so i just made it salty to the taste. I was sad to see the salt bath water turn dark black because that meant I wasted much juices :(. When I took them out, I carefully took handfuls and placed them on a strainer (so no berries are on top of another) and sprayed water carefully (too strong current seemed to break them because they are so soft) while shaking the strainer. I taste tested them to make sure all the salt was rinsed off. A few of my handfuls that I rinsed tasted salty so I gave them another shower. Note slightly salty berries actually tasted great! The salt seemed to intensify the sweetness. So no worries,,, I hope :)



I cleaned all my tubs, lids, and 2 potato mashers with the cleaning agent and rinsed off.

Next, I was trying to figure out a way to cleverly weigh my berries using my bodyweight scale (accurate to tenth). I tried measuring my 2.5gal tub but the weight was below the threshold of the scale. I tried to zero out the scale with the tub on top and add my berries...
I had 2 big plates piled high with blackberries. By the time i put one plate in measuring 1.6kg, the scale timed out and turned off! :(
So, alternatively I placed all the berries in the tub and weighed it. It measured 3.4kg. I assumed roughly 1kg was the tubs weight. This meant I have around 2.4kg (5.3lb) of berries.

***Next step should have been freezing (or boiling) the berries to disrupt the cell structure to promote juices and flavour to blend**

The mashed blackberry fragrance is amazing! (smelled rosy, or even like a really nice fruit body fragrance body thing for girls)

Instead, I mashed up all the berries and had a taste test.Wow! Amazing! Sooo sweet! (I had made sure to only pick the ripest berries:) ).
Note, I mashed the berries fairly well but I should have mashed them even finer (might not matter because I will be raking the pieces but still :) ). It seemed to me I had about 2L of pure juice.

I then got too excited and decided to make 2x the recipe (12pints or 5.6L of sugar water added instead). I boiled the 5.6L of water to make sure it is sterile and dissolved roughly 3kg or 6.6 lb of cane sugar (I added a bit extra to make up for lack of berries also to try making a bit stronger). I cooled the mixture before adding to the tub to avoid hot water touching the berries and possibly creating pectin acid. I thoughtlessly had a mint gum and could not taste test well but it tasted as sweet as sprite, I think.
However, I think the fruit flavour was a bit lower than I had desired (next time I wont dilute the pure juice too much! >< )

The must filled the 2.5gal tank around 80% (to where the outer lining).

I felt like I had around around 7.5L of liquid (around 2gal) so I added 2 campden tablets (crushed with two spoons) to kill off any wild yeast in my must. (I was a bit worried I might have added too much)

Now let the must sit with lid tightly closed for 24 hours.

When the 24hours is up, I will stir the must (rather vigorously) to let some SO2 out.

Change of plans, we will let the campden pills work for 36 hours.
I will add pectolase to the must and let sit for maybe few hours.
**did some research, I can add the pectolase at anytime, pectolase will help break down the pectin and promote healthy yeast (although there is risk that there might not be enough space for the yeast to reproduce efficiently)**

(Reference, Green Zeus from www.winepress.us/forums/index.php?/topic/49241-ph-reading-for-blackberry-wine/)


Also, thanks for the tip Kim, tomorrow I will buy some acid blend and some litmus paper.
I did some follow up research and read that blackberry wine PH 3.4 tastes great.

(Reference, www.winepress.us/forums/index.php?/topic/49241-ph-reading-for-blackberry-wine/)

I will then scoop some of the must (without too many chunks) into my graduated cylinder for my first hydrometer reading and have a **taste test.
I will try to target 1.085-1.120 specific gravity reading.
If I have too much sugar I could add JUICE. In the unlikelihood of my must lacking sugar, I will simply just add more.
Then I will note down the hydrometer reading before adding yeast.

my hydrometer reading game me a SG of 1.126, 30.0 brix, and alcohol 17%.
After some parts settling, the SG moved to 1.128!
Meaning my must is much too sweet. I will add some juice.
I checked the juice SG, it read 1.046. Meaning this juice will work. Also taste tested the juice, it tasted good enough!

I first added 1.5 tbsp of pectic enzyme to start the process of breaking down the pectin.

I now added 1 bottle (1.36L) of the Trueblend Wild blueberry mix.
The must now gave a SG reading of 1.1140, brix 26.55, and alcohol 15.0%.
I added another 1/4 tbsp of pectic enzyme for assurance as the juice stated it had pectin in it as well.

I decided to att 0.96L more of the juice.
SG 1.1125, brix 21.50, and alcohol 14.5%.

I made a sample sugar water with SG 1.112 with pH of ~3.5.
(I noticed I can taste the difference between slightly more acidic and not)
The sour taste buds are located in the back sides.
I noticed it is much easier to taste the acidity by pouring a half table spoon under my tongue and slapping my tongue against the bottom.

Note, time has been 36 hours since campden tablets were added to the must.
I will let the pectic enzyme do its work for a few hours.
Also, I thought the must smelled slightly more winey than yesterday but still really nice fragrance, it might be my imagination though. :)



My yeast packet says to rehydrate the yeast in a half cup of lukewarm water. (it doesn't say so but I'll add a **pinch**(thanks barbiek! saved my yeast lol) of sugar to help it get started)
Then pour yeast water into the must and mix thoroughly into the solution.

I began to rehydrate the yeast and starting it up in warm water.
As the instructions stated, I let mixed in the yeast into a ~50mL water solution and let the yeast sit for 15 minutes and 2 tiny pinchs of sugar.
I was watching the yeast for about 10~15 minutes and noticed nothing happening!
I decided to add another pinch of sugar.
I felt the cup and it felt like it wasn't warm enough.
I warmed some water and put it into a pot. I put my cup of yeast into the pot and let it sit.
I made sure the water in the pot stayed warm, when I felt that it wasn't warm enough, I added a bit of boiling water while mixing to ensure correct temperature was met.
VOILA!!
The yeast began to bubble! Yay! I let the yeast sit for another 5 minutes and I pitched it into the must. (next time I will incubate some yeast in a small portion of the must a few hours prior to pitching)


(Began fermenting at Aug 8, 2015 (11:59PM) )

Aug 9, 2015. 1:00PM. My yeast looks healthy and happy! I see the berries floating at the top and very bubbly :). Pressed them all down and gave them a good stir! Tasted a bit yeasty.

Aug 10, 2015. 6:00PM. Yeast still looks very happy! Berries came up to the to the top. Pushed them down again (prevent mold) and gave it a good stir (to give a bit of oxygen for my yeast). Didn't taste that sweet already! :)

Aug 10, 2015. 11:59PM. Yeast still looking happy! pushed my floating berries down and they yeast was bubbling with delight. Starting to taste not like syrup anymore! Scent has changed a bit... musky... Not the same fruity smell, I hope it is just the CO2... worried

Aug 11, 2015. 6:00PM. Still bubbling very nicely. The floating pieces seem brighter red than before. Pushed them down. Had a taste test - such yummy goodness, still sweet.
Bentonite was added 15g (should have been added pre-fermentation but it should still be fine) Bentonite was difficult to dissolve! Using a tbsp measuring spoon and a 1/2 tbsp to crush all the chunks really helped. I mixed the must around thoroughly to make sure all the clay has been mixed in evenly.

I added oak powder to my must.
The label read, "Oak Toasted 30g". Looked almost like dirt.
I poured it evenly on the must. It was difficult to make all the oak wet. I took a tbsp and made sure all the oak was submerged in the must (I will give another push again later on tonight)


Aug 11, 2015. 11:59PM. The oak is well saturated in my must. The floating bright red berries are now covered in the oak. Very dark in colour now (I should have took a picture). I gently pushed down all the oak and berries and gave the must a light swirl. I think I am starting to smell some alcohol. I tried to take a taste test, but I there were oak grains in my spoon. I tasted it anyways. It still tasted berry-licous and the oak gave a nice deep texture/flavour but not yet well integrated. However, the pH tasted a bit low. I will check the pH levels post fermentation and topping up.

Aug 12, 2015. 3:00PM. The oak looks like it has completely become a part of my must. Pushed down the floating berries and oak. Still bubbly. Tasted sweet, still very fruity with a hint of alcohol. Gave the bucket a swirl. (added new pic in reply)

Aug 13, 2015. 11:59PM. I can definitely taste and smell alcohol. Took a hydrometer reading. Showed 1.058. I think tomorrow or the day after, it will be time to rack into secondary.

For the next 7days, every once or twice a day, I will thoroughly mix the must around making sure to push down any of the berry pieces that have floated to the top.

I won't bother taking hydrometer readings if the yeast is still violently reacting in the must. Depending on how bubbly the must is, maybe starting on the 5/6/7th day I will take a hydrometer reading for 2 consecutive days to compare. I should be expecting a specific gravity (SG) reading of approximately 1~0.990 when complete.

It seems ending primary fermentation a bit earlier at SG 1.010 is probably a better choice. I think this will help make sure there is a protective layer of CO2 to discourage oxidization. I don't think this will slow down the process. However, I would probably have to rack an extra time. Also before transferring into secondary carboy, degassing may help hasten settling of floating parts in your must!

I will then strain the must with a sterilized cloth (planning on just using my cleaning agent instead of a campden tablet solution wash) into a second tub (which I need to buy). I will have my bubbler on it to let it bubble out if needed without exposing the must to oxygen. Let it sit few days even after bubbling has stopped (maybe pressure is being released in holes in the lid). I expect 2 weeks.


Aug 18, 2015. I strained the must with a strainer from the kitchen. I scooped up as much floating berries as possible. Then i poured must through my strainer into a second primary tub. Next time I will do this more thoroughly. Next, I used a cloth that I boiled and then sterilized. I strained the must through the cloth into 3x 1gallon glass jugs. It was very difficult and very time consuming. Much of the solid pieces from the berries and the oak powder were filtered out. Few hours in the secondary and I can already see a layer of lees in each jug.

Aug 20, 2015. SG 1.018. The taste of alcohol is much stronger now however much of the yeasty taste is gone. Bubbling at around 1bubble every 10seconds. Smell is a bit funkier maybe this is the lees?


Aug 24, 2015. I raked away the lees. I didn't have a proper hose nor a auto-siphon but I was able to get my hands on a brand new soy sauce siphon (the wine didn't really flow but I figured it should be fine) so I raked into 2x 1gallon gallon glass jugs. I took the lees and gathered it all into a single jug and put it in the refrigerator.

Sept 4, 2015. I just came back from a 2 weeks-ish trip from LA. I got to taste some nice Napa Valley pinot noirs. Yummy. Back to my wine, I took a SG reading of 1.006. Still bubbly. Probably because I didn't degas. There was a bit (maybe 1cm) of sediment on the bottom and another 2-3cm of sediment on the walls. I had forgotten to move all my jugs to the basement while I was gone. I read up that K1 yeast will be fine up to 35degrees Celsius so I assumed/hoped for the best. I always used my air-conditioner to keep temperatures under 30 degrees for my wine and I :) but while I was gone, even without it, I doubt my apartment got hotter than 35. I took an SG reading of 1.006. The wine was SUPER clear. The colour actually became much darker like a ripe blackberry but it was clear. Although the colour of the wine in the jugs were very dark, the light from my flash-light actually was able to shine through! After taking my gravity readings, I poured myself a bit of the wine into a shot glass for taste testing. The wine tasted pretty good. Lots of fruit flavour. The colour was very pretty. I was impressed enough to pour the wine from the shot glass to a wine glass. I realized this is a much better way to taste test the wine. I was able to smell the wine properly. I realized at the start, the flavours were yummy as I mentioned and the scent was fruity and wine like. However, when my nose got closer the wine smelled much stronger. It wasn't a very appealing scent. Also the finishing taste wasn't as clean as I liked.

Next I will "rake" the must carefully into 3x 1gallon jugs and leave the bubbler on there for a while.

Here, depending on the clarity of the wine, I will decide to add a clearing agent (bentonite, the clay from volcanic ash, sounds cool while superkleer sounds efficient).

Next, I will let the must or now wine :) sit and settle before raking then bottling the last time.

I will most likely use a synthetic cork. (I hear newbies like me will get the really bad quality natural corks that are no good).






Reflection (things to do better next time):
-disrupt the cell structure of the berries through freezing or boiling
-don't add too much sugar 10% alcohol level is usually best for fruits
-don't dilute pure juice too much (may lose the nice flavour)
-from what i learnt after SO2 can taste really bad (and kinda bad for you) measure and add more accurately! (I think 35-40 ppm is enough as commercial wine has those levels)
-decide how much must I want to make first, then add berries (mash), then top up with water to the desired amount. Can measure accurately with pH meter and this equation
SO2 + H2O <==> H+ + HSO3-
-try taking PH levels into consideration
-try adding yeast nutrients
-the calibration of sugar levels should be fine touched after the campden and pectic enzyme. Adding too much sugar may lead to having to add store bough juice!
-note, 5~6 lbs of blackberries per gallon has more flavour
-read multiple recipes for a single fruit ingredient
-incubate yeast in a small portion of must a few hours ahead of time to guarantee numbers of healthy yeast and this will also discourage off-flavour from bacteria and wild yeast! Also this will lead to less byproducts such as esters and phenols.
(Reference, www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEQBPeHfXD0)
-floating pieces of berries may have created error in my hydrometer reading
-should have tried 71B
-try using a bigger cone


Questions:
-I avoided any hot water come in contact with my berries. Do I still have to worry about the possible haze from the pectin acid from the berries?
the pectin will be release even without boiling
-can I only add the pectolase only at the beginning before fermentation?
Can be added anytime but preferably before fermentation
-must is too sugary, should i dilute it down with water or juice?
definitely juice(for not loose too much flavour)
-can i just wash all my things (ex. spoons, straining cloth) with the cleaning agent instead of a campden tablet solution wash?
Yes
-blackberries have citric acid. Does this mean I should use citric acid additives to reach desired PH?
A blend of tartaric acid, citric acid, and malic acid sold as "acid blend"
-do clearing agents like bentonite or superkleer leave a taste behind?
No
-after using a clearing agent and letting it sit, do i bottle right away or rake into another container first before bottle?
rake twice more after siphoning from clearing agent added


Thank you to vernsgal (Kim), Wineyooper, barbiek, runningwolf (Dan) for your advice and inputs! ^^

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vernsgal

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Hi JH. Welcome to the forum! One of my 1st fruit wines was also a blackberry.

http://www.winemakingtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=38273

I received a lot of help on this one. Maybe some of it will help you as well.

I'm positive you'll receive some help from more exerienced here but I'll try in short to answer your questions
1/ maybe. Haze isn't only caused from heat on the fruit
2/it's usually only used in the beginning to help break down the fruit
3/ I would use juice if your SG is over your mark. water will dilute the flavor in your wine.( more blackberries or blackberry juice preferably)
4/yes as long as they're rinsed well
5/test your PH then add accordingly
(Adjusting Acidity Levels in Wine
Once testing is complete, you will know what your acid levels are. Compare this value with the suggested T.A. ranges
If you need to increase acidity:
• Add acid blend to increase acidity.
• 3.9 grams of acid blend will raise the acidity of ONE gallon of must by 0.1 %.
As a helpful hint for those who do not have scales, 1/4 teaspoon of acid blend weighs approximately 1.2 grams; a teaspoon weighs about 5.1 grams.
If you need to decrease acidity
• Add calcium carbonate to lower acidity, but only to reduce acidity by 0.4 % or less.
• 2.5 grams of calcium carbonate (commonly referred to as chalk) will lower T.A. of ONE gallon of must by approximately 0.1 %.
• Alternatively, you can add a chemical called Acidex in place of calcium carbonate. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for proper dosage.
One-fourth of a teaspoon of calcium carbonate weighs about 0.5 grams; one teaspoon of calcium carbonate weighs about 2.6 grams.
( I found mine to be very acidic)
6/ Bentonite leaves no taste that I personally have found. I don't use superkleer
7/No. let it age a few months minimum.

I hope some of this helps.Keep us posted
 

jh0330

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Hi JH. Welcome to the forum! One of my 1st fruit wines was also a blackberry.

http://www.winemakingtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=38273

I received a lot of help on this one. Maybe some of it will help you as well.

I'm positive you'll receive some help from more exerienced here but I'll try in short to answer your questions
1/ maybe. Haze isn't only caused from heat on the fruit
2/it's usually only used in the beginning to help break down the fruit
3/ I would use juice if your SG is over your mark. water will dilute the flavor in your wine.( more blackberries or blackberry juice preferably)
4/yes as long as they're rinsed well
5/test your PH then add accordingly
(Adjusting Acidity Levels in Wine
Once testing is complete, you will know what your acid levels are. Compare this value with the suggested T.A. ranges
If you need to increase acidity:
• Add acid blend to increase acidity.
• 3.9 grams of acid blend will raise the acidity of ONE gallon of must by 0.1 %.
As a helpful hint for those who do not have scales, 1/4 teaspoon of acid blend weighs approximately 1.2 grams; a teaspoon weighs about 5.1 grams.
If you need to decrease acidity
• Add calcium carbonate to lower acidity, but only to reduce acidity by 0.4 % or less.
• 2.5 grams of calcium carbonate (commonly referred to as chalk) will lower T.A. of ONE gallon of must by approximately 0.1 %.
• Alternatively, you can add a chemical called Acidex in place of calcium carbonate. Refer to the manufacturer's instructions for proper dosage.
One-fourth of a teaspoon of calcium carbonate weighs about 0.5 grams; one teaspoon of calcium carbonate weighs about 2.6 grams.
( I found mine to be very acidic)
6/ Bentonite leaves no taste that I personally have found. I don't use superkleer
7/No. let it age a few months minimum.

I hope some of this helps.Keep us posted

Thanks for the tips Kim!
I am about 10 min from 24hour mark from first adding the campden tablets.
Maybe I will let it sit for another 12 hours until i buy some litmus paper and test out the PH before beginning fermentation.

I will be putting up the update and adding pictures soon :)
 

WineYooper

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I have never rinsed my berries in saltwater only picked out any physical debris and then froze. After freezing I thawed in primary, added water per recipe, checked sg and added sugar to bring sg around 1.085. I'm afraid you may have lost much flavor by rinsing like you did. Where the heck did you get the idea of soaking in saltwater? Once my sg was ok I added campden tablet and let sit for 24 hours, may require more time with two tablets, instructions say 1 per gallon. Normal recipes are for around 5-6 pounds fruit per gallon. I think you should have done more research before starting, I have a bad feeling about what this is going to taste like when you are done, hopefully it's just thin, or weak taste and not completely ruined. Good luck and read more next time.
 

jh0330

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I have never rinsed my berries in saltwater only picked out any physical debris and then froze. After freezing I thawed in primary, added water per recipe, checked sg and added sugar to bring sg around 1.085. I'm afraid you may have lost much flavor by rinsing like you did. Where the heck did you get the idea of soaking in saltwater? Once my sg was ok I added campden tablet and let sit for 24 hours, may require more time with two tablets, instructions say 1 per gallon. Normal recipes are for around 5-6 pounds fruit per gallon. I think you should have done more research before starting, I have a bad feeling about what this is going to taste like when you are done, hopefully it's just thin, or weak taste and not completely ruined. Good luck and read more next time.

the salt water bath idea was from a site talking about fruits not related to wine. It said that the salt bath will kill any bugs that you can't see. I had a few fruit flies, a weird spider, an ant, and a tiny greenish caterpillar (I didn't put berries with bugs on it but still I can see critters moving around in my bag).

I have at least 2 gallons of liquid, I think the campden tablets wont be a problem ^^

My recipe just said 3lbs per gallon :S hopefully its alright. fingers crossed! Maybe the juice will make up for some of the lacking flavour,

I thought I did a ton of reading, perhaps I should have read a few more different recipes for the future! Thanks for your input!
 
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barbiek

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jh you don't want a table spoon of sugar to start your yeast, a pinch that's it or you'll kill it. A pinch of sugar and maybe a pinch of yeast energizer but you add 1/2 the nutrient to the must at the start and the remaining when your at 50% sugar depletion especially with a high hydrometer reading you want to keep it moving good luck sounds yummy unfortunately I've been away so the birds ate all my blackberries:m I only sulphate my fresh fruit for 24 hrs no problems. Welcome to the forum!
 
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jh0330

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jh you don't want a table spoon of sugar to start your yeast, a pinch that's it or you'll kill it. A pinch of sugar and maybe a pinch of yeast energizer but you add 1/2 the nutrient to the must at the start and the remaining when your at 50% sugar depletion especially with a high hydrometer reading you want to keep it moving good luck sounds yummy unfortunately I've been away so the birds ate all my blackberries:m I only sulphate my fresh fruit for 24 hrs no problems. Welcome to the forum!

THANKS! You just saved my yeast! haha

I actually cheaped out and didn't buy any yeast nutrient. I think it would be fine but maybe I should have... Is the nutrients important? (my research showed a mix of answers but I think experience may show a more certain answer)
In a few hours I will add the yeast before bed. If its not very active tomorrow morning I'll buy some nutrients to help it along.

To be honest, I am still contemplating on if I should add more juice to lower the alcohol content.

*****
Also, I don't have a pH meter nor the equipment to titrate.
However I do have litmus (or indicator) paper.
I heard multiple times, while researching, that the tongue is more sensitive to acidity than a pH meter.
I will make a cup of sugar water with enough sugar to match the SG reading of my must.
Then I will add small levels of acid blend and test with the litmus paper until desired pH is reached.
I will use this acidic sugar water as reference.
I will add acid slowly and thoroughly mixing and taste test till desired acidity is reached.
Do you think this will work?
 
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barbiek

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Juice won't lower it, probably wont make much of a difference But will add some body to it so it's a plus but do use the yeast nutrient you don't want a stuck fermentation. The nutrient helps a lil with the starting but not as much as finishing. Think of the sugar and nutrient as being gas and oil for your car. you have lots to start with but when you begin to run out .. (by means of sugar depletion) Oh oh need more gas no no it's the oil! Without oil you won't get anywhere hope my analogy helps
 
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Stressbaby

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-I avoided any hot water come in contact with my berries. Do I still have to worry about the possible haze from the pectin acid from the berries?
I pour boiling hot water over fruit all the time, it is not a problem, it's why you use pectic enzyme. This allows you to skip the salt bath.

-can I only add the pectolase only at the beginning before fermentation?
No you can add any time but better up front.

-must is too sugary, should i dilute it down with water or juice?
Juice
-can i just wash all my things (ex. spoons, straining cloth) with the cleaning agent instead of a campden tablet solution wash?
Depends on what the cleaning agent is.

-blackberries have citric acid. Does this mean I should use citric acid additives to reach desired PH?
Yes. Some will recommend acid blend, and that is what I did for a couple of years. However, I have almost quit using acid blend because I don't like the malic acid in fruit wines like this one. Go with straight citric or combination of citric and tartaric.

-do clearing agents like bentonite or superkleer leave a taste behind?
Not if used properly.

-after using a clearing agent and letting it sit, do i bottle right away or rake into another container first before bottle?
Rack.

A few other misc notes:
You are light on fruit. I haven't made as much blackberry as others on the forum but I don't go under 5#/gallon.
Don't strain the must through a cloth sanitized with your cleaning agent. I think this is a big mistake.
I think most blackberry wine requires addition of calcium carbonate to RAISE the pH, rather than acid to lower it. My last batch of blackberry had a pH of 2.5 or so before adjusting upwards. If I were you I'd try to get a good pH reading on this must with paper or a meter.
 

jh0330

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... blackberry had a pH of 2.5 or so before adjusting upwards. If I were you I'd try to get a good pH reading on this must with paper or a meter.

Thanks!

How come I shouldn't strain the must through a cloth sanitized with my cleaning agent? (I was thinking of soaking them in the cleaning then rinsing out with water, thoroughly. Or maybe I should be using campden tablet mix?)

I think you are right on the acid. My reference sugar water tasted less acidic. I think I should buy some calcium carbonate like you said.

I only have paper but I don't know how to use it with such a dark coloured must ><
 
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jh0330

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Holy moly I am so stupid...
I had floating pieces of berries in my hydrometer.
This probably affected my hydrometer reading right?
 

sour_grapes

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Holy moly I am so stupid...
I had floating pieces of berries in my hydrometer.
This probably affected my hydrometer reading right?

What do you mean, "in my hydrometer"? Do you mean in the test cylinder in which you were floating your hydrometer? If so, then, no, you have nothing to worry about. This will not affect your hydrometer reading. (And, similarly, a boat sailing in a lake will not affect the density of the lake water; if you think about it, this is the same situation, just on a larger scale.)
 

jh0330

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What do you mean, "in my hydrometer"? Do you mean in the test cylinder in which you were floating your hydrometer? If so, then, no, you have nothing to worry about. This will not affect your hydrometer reading. (And, similarly, a boat sailing in a lake will not affect the density of the lake water; if you think about it, this is the same situation, just on a larger scale.)

yes the test cylinder.
I literally had a layer of berries on the top. lol I'm so stupid :)
Still okay?
 

sour_grapes

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yes the test cylinder.
I literally had a layer of berries on the top. lol I'm so stupid :)
Still okay?

I see. A complete layer would, at the minimum, make it hard to read the hydrometer, and may in fact make the reading wrong for fundamental reasons, too. Better retest without the berries!
 

jh0330

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I see. A complete layer would, at the minimum, make it hard to read the hydrometer, and may in fact make the reading wrong for fundamental reasons, too. Better retest without the berries!

Later today, I am going to give my fermenting must a press and swirl, Ill try testing the SG again then.

Also, I am beginning to regret making my wine so strong in alcohol content. I think 10% would be much better for a fruit taste wine.
Is there any way to make it less strong?
Should I be going out to pick some more berries? Or is it just simply too late?
 
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