Wine Taste after Primary Fermentation

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Kim_Macph

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This may be a silly question but this is my first attempt making wine.

How should a red wine taste after primary fermentation? I am not positive the type of grapes, the Brix levels initially were quite low (around 18) so I raised them to 22 using sugar. Left in primary fermentation until brix was -1, pressed and transferred to a carboy the other day. The wine so far though tastes quite sour. Is this a taste that will be softened after mlf or is it a sign that something is off? It doesn't smell off.
 

Kim_Macph

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To add we just tested the pH which is at 3.6. Unfortunately we didn't have the equipment to test pH prior to fermentation
 

Bossbaby

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You can expect a wine just after primary to be a little sour and a bit sharp on the tongue with a slight hint of something nice, your ph is good, you will probably have to rack off of the gross Lee's any day now and age a while, even if you dont do a MLF you can expect the wine to smooth out more and more as the months go on, by this time next year it will be much less bitter/sour and should be very drinkable..
 

Kim_Macph

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You can expect a wine just after primary to be a little sour and a bit sharp on the tongue with a slight hint of something nice, your ph is good, you will probably have to rack off of the gross Lee's any day now and age a while, even if you dont do a MLF you can expect the wine to smooth out more and more as the months go on, by this time next year it will be much less bitter/sour and should be very drinkable..
Thank you! The taste currently reminds me of a grape sour beer without the carbonation? If sour is normal than its good to go
 

Bossbaby

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If the grapes you used were backyard table grapes like Concord a little sugar before bottling will help bring out the flavor in that wine and smooth things a little.. oh and welcome to wine making!🍷
 

Rice_Guy

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Welcome to WMT. You are on the learning curve if you taste frequently.

At the end of fermentation;
*carbonic/ spritz in the mouth, slightly bitter as long as CO2 is present
*acids are high in a non doctored wine from northern grapes, doctoring can be a malo fermentation to remove malic acid and chilling to -2C to encourage tartrates to form
*yeasty/ bread like since there will be yeast in the solution
*at a month it should not have a vinegar/ acetic taste but this is a risk at six months if the headspace is large
*warm fermentations will lose the fruity aroma
*you should be free of sewer/ H2S/ skunky smells, if you have them the yeast was stressed and research YAN (yeast available nitrogen)
*you may detect an alcohol sweet or alcohol burn
 

Kim_Macph

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If the grapes you used were backyard table grapes like Concord a little sugar before bottling will help bring out the flavor in that wine and smooth things a little.. oh and welcome to wine making!🍷
No idea what kind of grapes they are. Inherited from a 90 year old man who said he brought the vines over from belgium 10 years ago and that they make a good "bathtub" wine. They come across similar to take grapes but are sweeter? Not sure honestly
 

Kim_Macph

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That is a pretty good description, actually! Sounds about right...

And welcome to WMT.

Thank you!
Welcome to WMT. You are on the learning curve if you taste frequently.

At the end of fermentation;
*carbonic/ spritz in the mouth, slightly bitter as long as CO2 is present
*acids are high in a non doctored wine from northern grapes, doctoring can be a malo fermentation to remove malic acid and chilling to -2C to encourage tartrates to form
*yeasty/ bread like since there will be yeast in the solution
*at a month it should not have a vinegar/ acetic taste but this is a risk at six months if the headspace is large
*warm fermentations will lose the fruity aroma
*you should be free of sewer/ H2S/ skunky smells, if you have them the yeast was stressed and research YAN (yeast available nitrogen)
*you may detect an alcohol sweet or alcohol burn
Thank you for this! We will be doing mlf in the next day or so but need to pick it up. Is it a requirement or will the wine develop ok without? I've read so many mixed opinions. There are no funky smells. Hubby works in water treatment and based on his treats and sniffs we are all good 🤣
 

Rice_Guy

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MLF is not a requirement, , , as a northerner I have never run it.
MLF is suggested if the grams of total acids is high which is typical of northern grapes. Southern grapes are often low, so we would do the opposite and add more acid to reach the ideal (about 0.5-0.7% as tartaric acid)
! We will be doing mlf in the next day or so but need to pick it up. Is it a requirement or will the wine develop ok without? I've read so many mixed opinions.
 

Kim_Macph

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MLF is not a requirement, , , as a northerner I have never run it.
MLF is suggested if the grams of total acids is high which is typical of northern grapes. Southern grapes are often low, so we would do the opposite and add more acid to reach the ideal (about 0.5-0.7% as tartaric acid)
Interesting, honestly I find everything I've read about mlf a bit overwhelming. Everyone does something different. These grapes were grown in bc, Canada, no idea the variety. Is there any harm in doing mlf if it isn't necessary for this type of grape?
 

winemaker81

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@Kim_Macph, keep asking questions -- it's how we learn!

The most confusing thing about winemaking is there is usually more than one valid answer. Ask 10 winemakers when to press grapes, you'll get at least 11 answers. My best suggestion is to pay attention to "why" someone does what they do. That will help you decide what you want to do.

Regarding MLF, it's typically done for 2 main reasons -- acid reduction and changing flavor. Malic acid is sharp and changing it to lactic softens the wine (technically speaking, I'm not sure it actually reduces acidity). It also makes the wine butterier and improves the mouthfeel.

Do it if you want. It won't hurt anything. However, certain conditions such has high SO2 and ABV may prevent the MLF from working.
 

Rice_Guy

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Yup, lots of choices. ,,, as @winemaker81 noted several choices are valid and can be combined.

* The probability is pretty good that your grape is fairly high acid. If the berry is about one cm it is likely a French american (older selections) or Minnesota hybrid (current release), also hybrids do not make juice with the Welches grape/ KoolAid aroma. If it is 1.5 to possibly 2 cm it is likely a concord or related American (labrusca) selection, and it smell like Welches juice. Wine experts tend to not like the Welches flavor, ,,, but I am fermenting some now which I doctored with cranberry to give long flavor notes.
* The first way to reduce acid is that commercial northern white grape juice will probably be chilled for a few days which causes tartaric to crystallize/ fall out and lowers the grams of acid and let’s solids settle. This can be done with red juice too, but doesn’t work well if steeping on the skins, a typical process for french hybrids with tannin.
* You have a choice with yeast, Lalvin 71B is rated at consuming 33% of the malic acid. A newer selection from Australia Maurivin B is rated as eating up to 56% of the malic, ,,, ie remove that % acid.
* Again malo-lactic can be run with bacteria. This should be looked at as one malic acid -> one lactic acid. This is a popular technique in commercial northern grapes.
* Once the primary fermentation is done the wine can be chilled which causes tartaric to crystallize, essentially the same thing as folks who chill/ settle solids in white juice. Wine will start getting slushy at minus two C and an easy way to do this is put it in a garage over winter.
* The last choice is how much do you back sweeten. This is called balance between sharp acid/ tannin flavors and sweet flavors. In general a wine with low acid will not require back sweetening and should be kept dry which gives better microbiological stability. Note lots of kids candy combines acid with sugar so this is always a balanced option, ,,, however a young wine will get sorbate to hold the yeast in check. Example of finished wines.
View attachment 72205
by the numbers your Cab has a high TA 1.02%, low pH 3.05, normal gravity 0.995; the two samples I put in for reference (California & Florida commercial wines) have a TA in the "normal" range.
Lots of this can be guessed by reading pH and TA (Titratable acidity) on the starting juice.
Interesting, honestly I find everything I've read about mlf a bit overwhelming. Everyone does something different. These grapes were grown in bc, Canada, no idea the variety. Is there any harm in doing mlf if it isn't necessary for this type of grape?
 

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