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Old 09-24-2012, 02:07 AM   #1
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Default Traditional wine gone wrong...

I have been working this summer part-time at a small local winery & distillery. We have a local guy that has a vineyard and makes a traditional wine that we bottle for him to sell in his cafe / store. Now when I say traditional I do mean TRADITIONAL, no chemicals, just pressed grape that are left to naturally ferment.

Last years batch was not very good, but was "unique" so he sold everything we bottled for him. This years batch was very acidic, about a 3.2 pH...we filtered it twice and put it in the small cooler to try and get the taste a little better, but it is still awful. We added some acid remover that brought the ph up to 3.5, but the taste is still really tart, and there is a bit of a pickle/ vinegar smell that has been confirmed from multiple noses.

My question is what would any of the veterans recommend to try and "fix" this... we are not being paid to consult on the wine, but it does have the winery`s name on the label. "Bottled by: Tree Spirits"

Unfortunately the customer doesn't want to wait too much longer, as he planned to unveil this wine at a party in october...

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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Old 09-24-2012, 02:16 AM   #2
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Wow. There isn't much you can do. Sounds like a fermentation issue. Of course, he may not believe that since he brought it to you tasting "good" in his opinion.

You could try cold stabilization, hoping to drop out any excess tartaric acid, but otherwise I got nothin'.

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Old 09-24-2012, 02:29 AM   #3
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He does agree that it doesn't` taste great, and we've kept it down to 30-35 degrees for two weeks...

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Old 09-24-2012, 02:42 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theshorey
I have been working this summer part-time at a small local winery & distillery. We have a local guy that has a vineyard and makes a traditional wine that we bottle for him to sell in his cafe / store. Now when I say traditional I do mean TRADITIONAL, no chemicals, just pressed grape that are left to naturally ferment.

Last years batch was not very good, but was "unique" so he sold everything we bottled for him. This years batch was very acidic, about a 3.2 pH...we filtered it twice and put it in the small cooler to try and get the taste a little better, but it is still awful. We added some acid remover that brought the ph up to 3.5, but the taste is still really tart, and there is a bit of a pickle/ vinegar smell that has been confirmed from multiple noses.

My question is what would any of the veterans recommend to try and "fix" this... we are not being paid to consult on the wine, but it does have the winery`s name on the label. "Bottled by: Tree Spirits"

Unfortunately the customer doesn't want to wait too much longer, as he planned to unveil this wine at a party in october...

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
What is the reason for not using commercial yeast? It will increase your odds of not ending up with vinegar or an off tasting fermentation.

At this point there is not much you can do to improve the taste. Try back sweetening? With out adding any "chemicals" it will likely referment.
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Old 09-24-2012, 04:13 AM   #5
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nope nothing you can do

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Old 09-26-2012, 03:24 AM   #6
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He wanted a traditional or natural ferment, however in central maine the grapes don't get ripe enough... I think thats where some of the tart comes in, but the grapes must have had some vinegar bacteria on them too...

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Old 09-26-2012, 03:30 AM   #7
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According to Peter Reinhart's excellent bread baking books, the white "bloom" on fruits such as grapes and plums is a healthy bacteria/yeast colony which makes for great sourdough starters (i.e. yeast and lactobacilli). I tried to cultivate a sourdough starter using his method of soaking a bunch of grapes in a flour/water starter but didn't have much luck. I tried his backup plan of using raisins, and I cultivated a healthy sourdough starter, presumably from the residual lacto/yeast culture on the skin. I don't know a whole lot about winemaking, but could the tartness be derived from lactobacilli as opposed to acetobacter?

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Old 09-26-2012, 12:32 PM   #8
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I say throw a ton of sugar at it, rocket fuel it and then some. Either that or I would say... sorry about your luck but you are not putting my name on this

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Old 10-24-2012, 02:16 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the tips & advice, cust told us to bottle it anyway, so 350 ish bottles later he has his "wine" and we got paid... Doesn't seam right, but I gues in the end it's about the business.

Things would have been a lot different if he was paying us to consult, not just bottle...

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Old 10-24-2012, 05:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theshorey View Post
Thanks for all the tips & advice, cust told us to bottle it anyway, so 350 ish bottles later he has his "wine" and we got paid... Doesn't seam right, but I gues in the end it's about the business.

Things would have been a lot different if he was paying us to consult, not just bottle...
Sounds like expensive vinegar.
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