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Old 09-14-2011, 08:22 PM   #1
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Default First wine - blueberry

I've been brewing beer for some time now but am getting ready to make my first wine. I've been working on a berry farm all summer and have a freezer full of alpine highbush blueberries in 1# ziplocs that were harvested from the best plants throughout the summer. With something like 25-35 pounds to work with, I want to start off with a 5gal. batch.

QUESTIONS - With all of these berries, can you over-berry the must? Does anyone have a formula for determining how much juice is obtained from a certain poundage or volume of blueberries?

Most recipes that I have seen include 1-4# of raisins, grapes, or grape concentrate. I have 2# of frozen Concord Grapes that are also fro the farm. When picked, the skin split easily, they are fairly dark, the scent is incredible, and the juice under the skin is delicious. However, the "meat" is rather bitter and has a thick gelatin-like consistency that is tough to bite through.

QUESTIONS - Are these under-ripe for use in this recipe? Are 2# sufficient to add the body and tannin these other recipes are calling for? Should I just toss them and use raisins or a concentrate instead?

I'm on a tight budget. I already have a 5gal. glass carboy, a 5gal. bucket, and two 6.5gal. buckets. However, I need the rest of he "wine stuff". My shopping list includes:
Go-Ferm Protect
Fermaid K
Potassium Sorbate
Potassium Metabisulfite
Bentonite
Acid Blend
Pectic Enzyme
some sort of Tannin
a wine yeast - thinking the RC212 Burgundy Bourgorouge

QUESTIONS - Am I missing any additives? Is any of this likely to be unneeded for this wine? The powdered tannins are cheap - is the extra cost for the fancy liquid tannins (i.e. Tannin Riche extra, etc.) worthwhile? It may be some time before I do another wine - which of these do I need to be concerned about shelf life?

The additives don't cost too much, but I'm concerned about the various testing kits adding up fast. Tests for TA, new pH strips, SO2 tests, ML chromatography tests, et al. I already have a hydrometer. My beer pH strips only go down to 4.0.

QUESTIONS - How likely is it that I can get away without some of these? Which ones are absolutely essential? Someone mentioned that pH strips don't work with must as dark as blueberry - is this true?

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Old 09-15-2011, 01:42 AM   #2
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What kind of wine would you like this to turn into, dry, semi, or sweet? I've used RC212 and you have to keep an eye on the nutrients. I did a Barbera and the gave it a little dose in the beginning and no additional and it turned into the egg-iest fermentation I've ever smelled. So if you use it, read up on it's nutrient requirements.

I'm working on a blueberry now that I"m going to oak and leave dry, the last one I did I went with semi sweet.
Not sure on the concords, I used some Alexander's concentrate(Barbera) with my blackberry wine (dry and oaked). I've read some people really think Merlot is a good choice, but you'd only be using half a can or so. I'd say probably go with more fruit (maybe 5 lbs per gallon of water) and add 1-2lbs of raisins. Or maybe smash some of the grapes and just use the skins.
Definitely need K-meta, Sorbate, Acid Blend. Honestly if you're going to take your time with it you can start it and buy test kits later.
I've never pressed berries so I"m not sure how much juice you'd get, normally I through them in the bucket and smash with a potato masher or by hand. Then add water and sugar if needed to get to desired OG.

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Old 09-15-2011, 08:07 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hophead75 View Post
What kind of wine would you like this to turn into, dry, semi, or sweet? I've used RC212 and you have to keep an eye on the nutrients. I did a Barbera and the gave it a little dose in the beginning and no additional and it turned into the egg-iest fermentation I've ever smelled. So if you use it, read up on it's nutrient requirements.
I was hoping for a sweet dessert-ish wine, hoping to preserve a fair amount of the blueberry flavor and aroma. Hoping for a bit of body, but not syrupy or "chewable". What would you recommend for a yeast?

In addition to the grapes/raisins, I intend to add one other ingredient to make the flavor a little more complex. From various recipes that I have seen around, I am considering one of the following: chamomile tea, a select reserve orange pekoe tea, lime zest, cloves, cascade hops, or elderflower. What would recommend one over the other in terms of effects on fermentation, off flavors, etc.? Roughly how much would be appropriate for a 5gal. batch?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hophead75 View Post
Honestly if you're going to take your time with it you can start it and buy test kits later.
So which would I need for the first week or two? (I think that covers must sanitization, pre-ferment adjustments, yeast innoculation, primary ferment, ML adjustments, ML innoculation, and into the start of ML ferment...do I even need ML for a wine like this?) I think the new pH strips, the TA test at a minimum? How soon do I need the SO2 test? Chromatography for ML can wait until later, I think?

Thanks for the tips!
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SERVING: Gryffon's Talon, Tavernacle
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Old 09-15-2011, 09:14 PM   #4
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I'd say for a nice dessert style wine I'd plan on maybe 25lbs, or more if you can spare it, but then I'd reserve maybe a couple pounds to make a blueberry simple syrup for backsweenting or just use some blueberry juice from the store and add some sugar. Dessert style wine, maybe 6% Residual Sugar so 60g sugar per liter of wine, 5 gal = about 19L so you need 60*80 grams of sugar for your mix (assuming your final volume is 5 gal. Or just do it by taste, depending on the level of acid the amount needed to sweeten will vary, but that's a couple months away.

Personally I'd wait to use any spices or herbs until after you've sweetened it and see if it fits with what you want out of it.

I'm not sure you need much tannin if you're going for a sweet wine, unless you want it to be Port style.


NO ML for this style of wine.

SO2 won't be a concern until after fermentation has been completed so at least a few weeks before you add sorbate and more potassium metabisulfite. I normally don't add it until the first racking. As long as CO2 is filling the headspace you're in good shape. It's once fermentation is over and you're opening the top that it becomes exposed to oxygen. Sorbate will only be added once fermentation is stopped and you want to ensure no further fermentation starts (like if you're adding more juice or sugar).


The first blueberry wine I made, I don't think I used any test kits except for maybe some ph strips. TA is a good test but in the beginning it really depends on your particular taste and unless you're familiar with the testing numbers it's just a guide. SO2 I normally only do when I'm close to bottling because they're a little pricey, but I normally add K-meta every racking and according to the directions on the container. Then test before bottling (about 4 months down the road at least).

As far as yeast goes, the only one I've used for berry wines is Lalvin 71B.

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