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ChuckD

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Below from left to right: wild grape- beet - elderberry
C98EB02B-EF06-4FF5-8E1E-97D5A3E9448D.jpeg
the wild grape and elderberry are 4 months old and the beet is 5 months. I gently stirred the top half of each carboy with the end of my big spoon then took a sample with the wine thief.

I really need to get together with some experienced vintners or take a class because I just don’t have the language to describe what I was tasting. I’ll give it a shot:

Wild Grape - when I put it in the cellar it was harsh (acidic) with a VERY strong foxy smell. The foxy smell has decreased considerably. You need to stick your nose in the glass to really experience it where before it filled the room whenever you manipulated the wine. It’s still very acidic. I needed to add almost 1/2 t of sugar in 4 oz to hide the acid and that made it way too sweet, like alcoholic “Welches grape jelly”. I’m going to cold stabilize then oak for another three months.

Elderberry - this one still has that rank smell but less pronounced than before. I don’t know if elderberry has a lot of tannin but this one seems to. I have to say that otherwise it seemed pretty flabby. After initial tasting I added it to the leftover wild grape (2 parts sweetened grape to 1 part unsweetened elderberry) and it was much better than either one alone.

Beet - this one was the big surprise. Five months ago it tasted like vodka soaked beets with a dash of dirt. You can still smell the beets but they do not overpower the taste. Even dry the wine was very pleasant with a well rounded taste and a good finish. Maybe it could use a little tannin. Otherwise I think with another few months of aging this is going to be really good! I will note the recipe did say it would need a year to fully mature.

Overall, a few months in bulk has improved all three wines. This whole patience thing is very foreign to me. Luckily spring is almost here and establishing the new vineyard along with the regular garden work should help divert my attention.
 
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BigDaveK

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THIS IS SPOOKY! 10 minutes before I saw this I was reading about beet wine and how surprised people are at how good it is. 5 minutes before I saw this I was at Baker Creek Heirloom checking out beet seeds. Bull's Blood and Golden caught my eye. What kind of beets did you use?
 
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Jovimaple

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THIS IS SPOOKY! 10 minutes before I saw this I was reading about beet wine and how surprised people are at how good it is. 5 minutes before I saw this I was at Baker Creek Heirloom checking out beet seeds. Bull's Blood and Golden caught my eye. What kind of beets did you use?
There are no coincidences. Plant the beets!
 

ChuckD

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THIS IS SPOOKY! 10 minutes before I saw this I was reading about beet wine and how surprised people are at how good it is. 5 minutes before I saw this I was at Baker Creek Heirloom checking out beet seeds. Bull's Blood and Golden caught my eye. What kind of beets did you use?
The universe is obviously telling you to make beet wine. It is still very young but I’m already surprised by how good it is. And the color is like a ruby. I know some people will boil the beets then use them and ferment the juice. I chopped the beets int 1/4” cubes, cooked them soft, then included them in the must.

I know I planted two varieties but only have leftover seeds from Detroit Dark Red. Personally, I would stick with dark red varieties
 

ChuckD

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Excellent test!

All the wines are young, very young. The 1 year mark will produce amazing changes.

Put a gallon of the wild grape in the fridge for 2 weeks. That may drop acid. If that isn't enough, it's a candidate for chemical acid reduction.
I’m going to put the whole carboy in the garage today. We have a perfect week ahead for cold stabilization. If I need longer cold temps I have an old fridge I can start up.
 

FlamingoEmporium

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. 5 minutes before I saw this I was at Baker Creek Heirloom checking out beet seeds.

Baker Creek is a great place for seed. Heirloom, non gmo, and great pricing and quality. I’ve got a crapload (technical gardening term, normally applied to zucchini) of arugula coming out my ears. I didn’t grow beets this year but their parsnips did great.

that beet wine just looks tasty in the pic.
 

BigDaveK

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Baker Creek is a great place for seed. Heirloom, non gmo, and great pricing and quality. I’ve got a crapload (technical gardening term, normally applied to zucchini) of arugula coming out my ears. I didn’t grow beets this year but their parsnips did great.

that beet wine just looks tasty in the pic.
I love Baker Creek and get most of my seeds there - to supplement those I save. They have some unusual varieties and each year I try at least one crazy weird thing. This year I'm planting marshmallow. Honest to God marshmallow! Two year old roots can be used for cooking but there's a boatload (regional equivalent of "crapload") of herbal remedy uses.
 
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BigDaveK

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Elderberry is on my list. Not near the top but I'll get to it eventually.
Chuck, I'm definitely going to do some beets this year. I agree on the dark red. Who can pass up getting some of that color in the finished product? Man, that's crazy talk!

Have you made beet wine before? I read that sugar beets don't make a good wine. Is that an everyone-has-an-opinion thing or is there some truth there? @winemaker81, you too - any thoughts? The varieties I'm interested in say they're sweet but don't actually call them "sugar beets."
 

FlamingoEmporium

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From the www Interweb.

“Sugar beets are not commonly consumed due to their sweet, bland flavor and are primarily used to produce sugar. Though rarely seen in fresh markets, some home gardeners do cultivate and eat the variety. Sugar beets can be consumed raw when young and are grated and sliced into green salads.”
1648324355739.jpeg
 
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Have you made beet wine before? I read that sugar beets don't make a good wine. Is that an everyone-has-an-opinion thing or is there some truth there? @winemaker81, you too - any thoughts? The varieties I'm interested in say they're sweet but don't actually call them "sugar beets."
Nope, no experience in this area. I've never made a vegetable wine, other than rhubarb. Everything else has been fruit.
 

ChuckD

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Elderberry is on my list. Not near the top but I'll get to it eventually.
Chuck, I'm definitely going to do some beets this year. I agree on the dark red. Who can pass up getting some of that color in the finished product? Man, that's crazy talk!

Have you made beet wine before? I read that sugar beets don't make a good wine. Is that an everyone-has-an-opinion thing or is there some truth there? @winemaker81, you too - any thoughts? The varieties I'm interested in say they're sweet but don't actually call them "sugar beets."
This is my first with beet wine. And I have read the same things recommending against sugar beets. I’ll be planting extra beets again this year and possibly mashing or blending the beets after cooking and add it to the must. I think fermenting on the beets gives you the deep red color and I’m sure it adds to the body.
 

BigDaveK

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now I’m thinking about sweet potato wine. I have plenty of sweet potato 🍠 always growing in the garden. Not a lot now but once rainy season starts 🍠🍠🍠🍠🍠🍠🍠
I grew some a few years ago just because. The flavor was outstanding compared to grocery store product.

That of course leads to it's cousin the regular potato. Supposed to make a good potent wine. There's threads here. (of course.)

My wine bucket list has frustratingly come to life, teasing and calling with it's siren voice. Cross one off, add three. Cross one off, add five.
 

hawkwing

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From the www Interweb.

“Sugar beets are not commonly consumed due to their sweet, bland flavor and are primarily used to produce sugar. Though rarely seen in fresh markets, some home gardeners do cultivate and eat the variety. Sugar beets can be consumed raw when young and are grated and sliced into green salads.”
View attachment 86146
They may not be good for flavor not sure. I grew them about 5 -6 years ago. I was going to make something with them but something happened and I couldn’t tend to them and they spoiled.

One thing I can say for sure is they are hardy. It was a very dry year and nothing produced much. Most things died. I got half a bag or less of potatoes, no carrots, no corn but the sugar beets grew like crazy. They were huge and lots of them.
 

BarrelMonkey

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Wild Grape - when I put it in the cellar it was harsh (acidic) with a VERY strong foxy smell. The foxy smell has decreased considerably. You need to stick your nose in the glass to really experience it where before it filled the room whenever you manipulated the wine. It’s still very acidic. I needed to add almost 1/2 t of sugar in 4 oz to hide the acid and that made it way too sweet, like alcoholic “Welches grape jelly”. I’m going to cold stabilize then oak for another three months.

Elderberry - this one still has that rank smell but less pronounced than before. I don’t know if elderberry has a lot of tannin but this one seems to. I have to say that otherwise it seemed pretty flabby. After initial tasting I added it to the leftover wild grape (2 parts sweetened grape to 1 part unsweetened elderberry) and it was much better than either one alone.

I tasted my 2021 elderberry today and thought I'd comment here since it may be relevant to the elderberry/grape blend idea. Briefly, my recipe was 9lb elderberry and 2lb (Black Monukka) grape for a 3 (US) gallon batch, adjusted for sugar and acid. Fermentation started 9/12/21, 'pressed' 9/14/21 (ie squeezed out and removed bag containing fruit pulp), racked to carboy 9/18/21 where it continued fermentation for a week or so. 3x French MT 'Xoaker' balls added 10/2/21, which are still in the carboy following a second racking off lees.

2021 Elderberry 20220329.jpg

Color: Dark cherry red, it has lost the vibrant magenta/purple color that was initially evident
Nose: Elderberry of course! Some intriguing hints of blackcurrant
Taste: Elderberry/cherry flavors with herbaceous notes. Finish dry with grippy (but not unpleasant) tannins. Beaujolais nouveau? Surprisingly round and engaging.

This was my first attempt at elderberry and I'm wondering if (a) the added grapes and (b) early press contributed to its being relatively fruity, bright and approachable at just over the 6 month mark. Next time I would probably use more elderberry per gallon and maybe do an extended maceration before fermentation, but I'm thinking that my early removal of seeds and skins might have contributed to the lack of harsh tannins that are often associated with this fruit.
 

ChuckD

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I also used 3 lbs per gallon in my elderberry. I tried to pick out all the stems but there are so many little ones that some made it into the must. Did you use a concentrate or fresh berries? I have heard that elderberry from concentrate doesn’t have such high tannin and none of the green goo.

The wild grape was made with 5 lbs per gallon, which is quite high according to some of the recipes I have seen. This may be the reason for the high acidity. I’ll give both wines a full year before I make a decision on blending.
 
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