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Old 09-26-2011, 08:17 PM   #1
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Default Disappointing strawberry wine, 3 mistakes is too many.

Just tasted my strawberry wine that I started on 7-6-2011, it's got the dreaded rubber taste. Not overwhelming, but definitely noticeable.
This is disappointing because of the amount of work and expense of this 5 gallon batch. And the color is an unbelievably beautiful clear red!
Following my notes, I've made 3 beginner mistakes.
1) I didn't make sure all the sugar was dissolved in the very beginning, making my gravity readings actually increase as the sugar dissolved over the first few days. http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f25/sg-g...ng-way-256260/ While this is a beginner mistake I don't think this caused the rubber taste.
2) Except during the daily stirring of the must, I kept the lid on the bucket with an airlock, instead of just covering my bucket with a cloth to allow for oxygen absorption. Again, beginner mistake of not remembering all the instructions.
3) I transferred the wine into a carboy after 7 days in the primary bucket, immediately the bubbling in the airlock increased dramatically. This was my first sign that something was not as expected. Then I racked it after 27 days. After this racking I let it sit undisturbed for 46 days (which was yesterday). I now read that I should have been stirring it weekly. I believe this is where the off flavor could have been prevented.

So after the sinking feeling of having ruined this batch, I still stirred it in the carboy and put the airlock back on.

So where do I go from here? Will any time and additions help this wine?

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Old 09-26-2011, 08:41 PM   #2
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You don't want to stir in secondary- so don't beat yourself up about it. You didn't do anything wrong.

A couple of things to do- one, is to simply wait it out and see what happens. It might just be an off-smell from the lees and since you've racked it, it might improve dramatically. If it doesn't seem better in a few weeks, you could try "splash racking" to see if the aroma dissipates. I suggest adding campden tablets (one crushed per gallon) which work as antioxidants. The sulfite binds with the wine so that oxygen can't, so the splash racking won't oxidize the wine.

Aside from stressed yeast, I don't know of anything else that could cause this off taste. I'd top up appropriately, and wait it out as a first step, making sure the sulfite level is appropriate (one campden tablet per gallon at every other racking).

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Old 09-26-2011, 09:11 PM   #3
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Jack Keller disagrees with you regarding stirring in the secondary, and since I’m a beginner I’d love to hear an open discussion on what people think.
From Jack Keller’s wine making site:
“It is perfectly ok to leave the wine on the lees for three months. Beyond that and the wine enters a danger zone caused by dead yeast cells breaking down—rotting. While this can cause off flavors and odors if allowed to go on too long, the bigger danger is the formation of hydrogen-sulfide gas, which smells like rotten eggs and can be the death of the wine. But if the lees are stirred every week or so, neither the off flavors, off odors nor hydrogen-sulfide gas form. Indeed, the wine is actually improved by extended contact with the lees as long as they are stirred frequently.”

Yooper, I always appreciate your input that helps us beginners. I have a mead that I started about the same time as the strawberry wine and it is coming along nicely!

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Old 09-26-2011, 09:16 PM   #4
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Since I just stirred it yesterday, I think I'll wait a week for it to settle, then rack it again and add a campden tablet, then wait it out for another month and taste-test it again.
I appreciate your active feedback Yooper!

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Old 09-26-2011, 09:40 PM   #5
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Jason - Jack is talking about stirring in the primary.

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Old 09-27-2011, 12:30 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42 View Post
Jason - Jack is talking about stirring in the primary.
It's hard to put it together from the snippet, but he's actually talking here about H2S and off flavors, NOT the best practice for winemaking.

Jack states you should never stir or aerate the secondary, actually, in a number of places. But in this snippet, he's talking about what happens when racking isn't done. To avoid H2S and autolysis, he's describing sur lie, when the wine IS stirred in secondary, but only to resuspend the lees to avoid rotten flavors. This gives some wines a certain "something" but usually is avoided to to the likelihood of off flavors.

If you're not experienced with aging sur lie, the best practice is rack every 45-60 days or whenever there are lees 1/4" thick. Keep racking until no new lees fall after 60 days. Use campden at every other racking to avoid oxidation, top up and airlock.

Read Jack's snippet again, recognizing he's talking about aging on the lees, and I'll bold some of the "ifs" in it:

“It is perfectly ok to leave the wine on the lees for three months. Beyond that and the wine enters a danger zone caused by dead yeast cells breaking down—rotting. While this can cause off flavors and odors if allowed to go on too long, the bigger danger is the formation of hydrogen-sulfide gas, which smells like rotten eggs and can be the death of the wine. But if the lees are stirred every week or so, neither the off flavors, off odors nor hydrogen-sulfide gas form. Indeed, the wine is actually improved by extended contact with the lees as long as they are stirred frequently.”

So, you can see he most certainly doesn't suggest stirring the secondary!!!! ONLY in the case of leaving it on the lees for over three months, and to avoid rotten flavors as a result!
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Old 09-27-2011, 01:44 AM   #7
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Ok so it sounds like I misinterpreted the passage. I'll give it a week to settle then rack again.
I really appreciate the help and will update this thread when I have new info.

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Old 10-06-2011, 01:01 AM   #8
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I racked the strawberry wine last night and added a dissolved campden tablet and 2.5 teaspoons potassium sorbate, here is what it looked like 12 hours later.
It has been about 60 days since its last racking, and about 90 days since fermentation.
You can see the sediment that hasn't settled out yet which doesn't concern me as much as the rubbery/band-aid flavor it has.

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Old 10-06-2011, 01:10 AM   #9
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Aw, geez, it's too late now since you did it, but you don't stabilize the wine until it's done! You wait until it's done, clear, and not dropping any more lees. THEN you add the sorbate by racking into it to get ready for sweetening. Your wine isn't even close to ready- it's not clear, it's got a ton of stuff in it, etc.

The only thing I can advise is to wait. Wait until it's clear. Wait until there are no more lees. Then rack and wait some more. Then if you absolutely feel that you have to muck around with it, it'll probably be more likely to be ok.

You have a 90 day old wine. Let it be until it's at least 5-6 months old before doing anything else to it. Rack every 60 days as long as you have new lees forming, and add 1 campden tablet (as an antioxidant) per gallon at every other racking.

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Old 10-06-2011, 02:42 PM   #10
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Oh well, at least I only stabilized my mead too... ****! I hate this ****ing hobby! Could anything be more confusing, or more accurately, could there be more conflicting information out there about any topic in the entire world? Not one single source for wine making information agrees with any other source.

I suspected this when I first got into this hobby so I stuck with Jack Keller's site for my go-to information source. Screw that! Obviously I need a more clearly stated process for beginning wine making.

What a sick feeling I have right now.

Yooper, you've been most helpful. Where do you recommend I go from here as far as a definitive, step-by-step source for beginning wine making?

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