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Old 07-17-2011, 06:38 PM   #1
JasontheBeaver
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Default Taking my winemaking skills from "cook" to "chef" levels.

This thread is a continuation of http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f25/sg-g...ng-way-256260/
From such an obvious mistake as contained in that thread, I now understand more and continue to learn. So... please humor me and read this excerpt from Jack Keller's wine making page:
"...Take strawberries, for example. Strawberry wine can be quite exquisite, but it can also be a huge disappointment. Commercial strawberries at your supermarket are picked 5 to 10 days before they ripen so they can be processed (culled, sorted and packaged), stored temporarily, shipped, distributed, and displayed in your market without rotting before you buy them. They typically contain 5-7% natural sugars. Frozen strawberries were picked closer to or at ripeness and were frozen because they would not survive the trip to the supermarket any other way. They typically are 10-13% natural sugars. But if you go to a "U-pick-it" farm and pick fully ripe strawberries, they might be as high as 15-18% in natural sugars.

If the recipe calls for "fully ripe fresh strawberries" and you buy yours at the supermarket produce department, yours will contain half the natural sugar that was intended in the recipe. Yours will also contain only a fraction of the flavor the recipe assumes will be present and the wine will suffer accordingly. And even if your strawberries are picked fresh from your own garden, their sugar, acid, pectin, and flavor components could still differ greatly from the strawberries I used because of different soils, average day and nighttime temperatures, rainfall, humidity, and the variety of cultivar used. In other words, the chances are good to excellent that your strawberries and my strawberries will certainly be different. How then can the recipes be of any real value?..."


This is great information and I'm smart enough to understand that THIS is where a winemaker can take his game from just following a recipe really well, to really creating the wine he wants.

Using my 6 gallon batch of (currently in the secondary) strawberry wine as an example, if I would have taken a gravity reading after adding the pectic enzyme but before adding the sugar to get an idea of how much natural sugar was present, then I would've known almost exactly how much sugar to add to achieve my desired OG. If this statement is correct, then my next question is;
"What is my desired OG to produce what kind of wine?"
Asked more directly and simply, what effect does the OG have on the wine?
If I'm trying to make a drier wine does it follow that my target OG is lower than if I'm trying to make a sweeter wine? Is it really that simple?

LOVING this learning curve!

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Old 07-17-2011, 07:04 PM   #2
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I am by no means an expert on wine however i believe the og does not directly affect the drieness of a wine. og is more for figuring out total alcohol content. i believe that most wine yeasts have no problem attenuating down to .996(or lower) the affect of og on this is knowing at which point you have rocket fuel and it will take years for it to calm down.

drier wine i believe has either none or very little backsweetning done to it. Unless i am way off base here then someone please tell so i can learn as well.

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Old 07-19-2011, 06:13 PM   #3
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I like most "lighter" flavored wines to start with an OG of 1.075-1.085. That ends at about 11-12.5% ABV, which is enough alcohol to help with preservation but not so high that the wine is hot and undrinkable for years!

The wine will generally finish at .990, and then once it's racked a few times (rack every 60 days as long as you have lees forming after 60 days) and clear, you can stabilize by using sorbate and campden and sweetening by adding saved must/honey/sugar syrup/etc.

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Old 07-28-2011, 02:44 PM   #4
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The OG of your must has no effect on the sweetness of your wine. The reason some wines are sweet is, the winemaker wanted a sweet wine so he stopped the fermentation when the desired brix level was reached. Another reason some wines are sweet it not done on purpose.. It happens when the fermentation does not complete. The yeast don't have enough nutrients or they die off due to the yeast not being able to survive in the alcohol they produce. The Residual Sugar is the remaning percent of sugar left in the final product. Wines that have a RS of 0- .8% are considered dry, the higher the RS the sweeter the wine will taste. Hopefully this helped.

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Old 07-28-2011, 04:46 PM   #5
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I was recently at a wine tasting that featured the winemaker (from Italy). I didn't like his wine because it was a sweet red and I like dry reds, but it was still very good.

I got to talking to him about his techniques. His winery only allows 24 hours of fermentation on the skins and is stopped at 5.5% alcohol by cold crashing. He was surprised when he was trying to explain (in very broken English) about using liquid nitrogen and filtering and other info, and I was able to translate much of his techniques into something a group of "drinkers" could understand. Most of the group loves sweet wines, after all we are in the muscidine capitol of the world.

I asked him if he ever let a batch go to dry, but he said that tradition wouldn't allow it. I kept pressing and he admitted to trying it with bad results.

Some grape varieties are fermented sweet for a reason.

By the way, his winery is an estate winery and has been producing for a long time.

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Old 07-28-2011, 07:49 PM   #6
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Thanks for the input guys. Learning daily!!

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