Blackberry wine - correcting high OG

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jmccraney

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I started a batch of blackberry wine using Jack Keller's heavy bodied blackberry wine recipe. Unfortunately I scaled up the recipe to 5gal and blindly dumped in ingredients (including yeast) before testing the SG. With 30lbs of berries and 10 lbs of sugar, the OG measurement was of the charts, as in 1.18+.

So first question: is this a realistic measurement or could something have thrown it off? What sg should I expect? Second: was this maybe supposed to be a two gal batch? And third: how do I fix this?

Here's my thoughts on the subject:
Maybe the reading was a little high since I pulled from the bottom right after mixing in the sugar. Still, I think it is way higher than it should be. I want to maintain the rich fruit character, so I'd rather not dilute it with water. Maybe I could pick a second load of berries and ferment that without sugar, then blend those together? Either way, I'll have to wait until after primary is done to mess with it for logistical reasons.

What kind of problems could I encounter with fermenting with a high OG and diluting? I could see a stuck ferment if the alcohol exceeds the yeast's tolerance, but would reducing the alcohol and the O2 from racking be enough to get it going again? Any effect on flavor?

Thanks in advance for the help! I really appreciate whatever advice you can give.
 

bristolcity

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Take an sg reading now that the must has had time to settle down abit and go from there hopefully this time you will get a proper reading and if it's off the chart for a second time then you can go from there with what step to take next
 

Yooper

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I don't think 1.180 is valid reading. My hydrometer doesn't even go up that high!

Edit- I just checked my notes from last year.

With 11 pounds of sugar, and 20 pounds of blackberries, my 5 gallon batch was 1.085. If your berries were extremely sweet, especially since you used more, I could see you going to 1.110-1.120, but I can't imagine higher than that. Are you sure you didn't mean 1.118? Or that you got a well-mixed sample?
 

Honda88

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I would just go with it and make sure you use a yeast with a high alcohol tolerance. You will likely end up with more residual sugars so the wine may be sweet when it is done fermenting. If you took the reading at 59 degrees you are at 15.4%. Im guessing you took it at a bit higher of a temperature so realistically you would ferment dry at around 16%. So with that said you need to find a yeast that will go to at least 16%
 

WVMJ

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1.18 is not on most hydrometers, like Yooper suggests, you seem to be misreading your hydrometer. You can always post a picture. If you are over this for real you have the worlds sweetest blackberries and dont have to add any sugar to them, please send me some cuttings :):)

WVMJ
 
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jmccraney

jmccraney

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Ugh, post from my phone didn't go through. If it ever shows up I apologize in advance for doubling up.

Yes, 1.180 isn't on my hydrometer either, it only goes to 1.160. When I said off the charts I really meant it, the hydrometer was floating up almost to the bulb, so the 1.18+ was just an estimate. I was hoping there was something in berry must that would throw off gravity readings. I took another reading last night (after 2 days of fermentation) and it was down to 1.144. I'm not sure how fast wine yeast works, but this seems to corroborate the first reading, right? I made sure to give it a good thorough mixing this time. Yes I should have taken a picture of such a high reading, but I was in a hurry, hence forgetting to take a gravity reading before adding sugar. (Doh!)

About the berries, yes they were very sweet, fall-off-the-vine-in-your-hand ripe. But it's reassuring to hear you guys are as surprised by the gravity as I am. So how much sugar is from the berries and how much is from the sugar? I see that sucrose contributes 46 gravity pts per lb/gal. At 2 lb/gal sucrose, that means that I should have gotten about half the gravity (90pts) from the sugar and half from the berries? I'm confused here, because the sugar would put the SG at 1.090, above your OG Yooper. (All very rough estimates of course.) Where is my math going wrong?
 

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