Dandelion Highs

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Aug 8, 2022
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12h 51.4m +27.13°
Hello all! Hoping to nip this in the bud from some that may have more experience than me on the subject so here it goes. Back in march of this year I started a 1g primary ferment following Jack Kellers recipe for dandelion wine using the ol work horse yeast Lavlin EC-1118. I racked it in a 1 gallon carboy/airlock with a campden tablet after fermentation ceased around 12-14 days. I for the life of me cannot find the paper I scribbled the specific gravity readings (this will matter greatly) that being the case I have been much in the dark about this wine, almost forgetting it at times. Fast forward to today; well it sure smells like wine! The "AH- HA!" moment for the burgeoning homebrewer! Better yet it has a nice a straw colour, clear and no haze, the yeast cake is uniform, but whats this.....oh no there is a small cloud of what appears to be baddies in the airlock water, a grey/black cloud is the best way to describe what I saw...Not a good sign, but must press onward. I decided to take a PH reading (digital+calibrated directly before reading) and to my astonishment it read @4.7 😱

Decided to drink a little bit and it tastes like it smelled when I was boiling the petals; pollen forward and slightly sweet with a soapy green sharpness. I do not detect any off aromas that would indicate an infection, but I am still concerned about the PH level and that black cloud in the airlock. Now I understand I can raise the acidity with acids and I might plan on doing this, or may just use as-is for cooking wine....I filled 3 wine bottles before reading PH oops. I have tried but failed, or perhaps not searching with the right words to find a definitive answer of what an unsafe PH would be for wine to consume. In particular what bacteria and fungus can grow in this PH range, or is that even possible with aforementioned ?ABV on this golden brew, it subjectively smells and felt like other 14-18%ABV wines I make with the same yeast strain and sugar ratios.

Any ideas or hunches would be great thanks all!
Found this, just going to leave it here.


Once again I was not too happy about seeing 4.7 on the PH scale, it made me want to empty the bottles immediately, now I am sure this the right idea going forward. Decided to test another one of my wines....came in @4.0....Well crap I am following recipes, but only have citric acid, not an acid blend, could this be my issue? I have used citric acid in the past to lower PH of water and its a quite strong acidifier by itself.

I have 3 gallons of nectarines in primary right now and before I pitched the yeast thought "lets get the ol PH pen out" well it came in @4.7 too! I added nearly a 1/2 cup of citric acid to only get it down to a PH of 3.7.......🤔
Wine is *not* going to poison you, and dumping it just because it has a pH of 4 to 4.7 would be an abject waste.

If it is not suitable to consume, you'll be tipped off when you drink it because it will taste bad. The chart with dangerous pathogens you posted does *not* apply to wine.

And unless you really don't like the taste (or, if it has notable faults or spoilage), personally I'd keep it to drink, rather than add salt to make "cooking wine".

What to do ...

Don't allow the black stuff in the airlock to get into the wine.

14-18% ABV is well within the protective range for spoilage.

If you did not use a robust amount of nutrient additions (or any, for that matter) when you fermented the wine, the EC1118 likely produced a reasonable amount of natural sulfites. And even if you did use manual nutrient addition, it still produced some moderate amount of sulfite anyway.

At this point, adding any additional sulfites is a trade-off between protection and taste. You might hit it with another 1/4 of a standard dose of metabisulfite once you put it in it's final bottles/container. If I was going to bottle it with the expectation that it would be 3 months or more before it gets consumed ... I'd add the extra sulfite.

Adjusting the pH lower will also help the sulfites do their job as well.

A final pH of around 3.3 would be reasonable.
Citric is fine to lower the pH. Follow the directions carefully.

Sanitation in what you do from here forward is extremely important as is limiting oxygen exposure.
Sanitize everything that will touch the wine. Use a racking cane and/or tubing to rack/remove the wine off of the lees/sediment at the bottom of the fermenter.

If you do not have gravity readings available, and you really want to re-construct them for an accurate ABV%, you can try using a brix calculator to do so.

You might google "brix calculator" or wine + sugar calculator and look around.

You can take a look at gotmead's excellent calculator ...
But honestly, assuming you followed Keller's recipe, you'll be fine.

edit ...
as far as your pH pen ...
mechanical means (verses chemical/test-strip means) of testing pH can be notoriously inaccurate unless you are following device use and maintenance carefully ... the probes on the device go bad ... good fresh test strips are a better choice.
There's some references to issues with meters on the following thread ...
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You mention having total amnesia about the starting gravity but if you know the amount of sugar you added to the must (in pounds or grams, not "cups") and you know the total volume of that must then it is an easy piece of simple arithmetic to calculate the starting gravity: one pound of table sugar (not dextrose) dissolved in water to make 1 US gallon will raise the gravity of the water (1.000) by 45 points, to 1.045. Two pounds of sugar making ONE gallon total will raise the gravity by 90 points and so on and so forth.

If your airlock looks to be infected with anything I would remove it , clean it well, sterilize it (literally) and replace it. If you cannot boil it , I would chuck it and replace it with a sanitized clean airlock.
What happens in the airlock is not happening in the wine. The wine has a lower ph and alcohol, while the airlock water is just a cup of water that has been sitting out for weeks. If the wine has been somewhere warmish, there is going to be some evaporation and condensation at the lid dripping back down. Anything that got into the holes of the lid will drip back into the airlock water. Clean and sanitize it, being careful not to get any of the airlock water pouring back into the wine.
Use a mid-shelf vodka in your airlocks. Big 1.75L bottle only $30. Don't get bottom shelf, some will always get sucked into your wine. Rather Vodka than sanitizer or yucky water.
Thanks all for the input guys. The wine was already bottled when I posted the question, and I drank some but not knowing what 'good' dandelion wine is supposed to taste like I am largely in the dark. For what its worth I have never turned my nose up at any wine I have made in the past years, but this makes me question ingesting it, always trust your senses.

Sanitation in what you do from here forward is extremely important as is limiting oxygen exposure.
Isnt this what every brewer should be following at all times regardless? Rest assured PBW and star-san are staples :)

The 3 point calibrated PH pen does its job elsewhere just fine, and I make sure to keep the probe clean & wet. PH test strips will be used to compare readings going forward now though.