Do i have wine?

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Lijowa

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Brewing wine for the second time ever. I have no hydrometer or anything.

I'll try to explain this. The smell in my room is like knock me out and gives me a slight headache.

I have tried the must and it's been brewing in a crockpot for about 4 days. I thought no signs of fermentation but i noticed a slight few bubbles popping up like carbonation.
I bottled it and it was like wine, frothed like wine, but was very sweet and sour, tastes carbonated at first taste.

It tasted very floral with a sweet taste, bittersour aftertaste.
 
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Lijowa

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Its elderflower wine this is my recipe

1 gallon water.
3 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp dried lavender
6 tbsp dried elderflower
1.5 lb sugar
1/4 c apple cider vinegar.

I also dry hopped it but possibly too soon

1 oz hops.
 
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Lijowa

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It's been in a crockpot yes but I only turned in on day 3 and every 4-5 hours until its room temp. I'm in va and its snowing outside.
 

FromZwolle

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bottled how? sounds like this wasn't done fermenting.

either it will pop your corks out, or if you capped it, may end up with exploding bottles.
 
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Lijowa

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I had it in soda bottles. I didnt pour them all out into bottles I kept some fluid in crock pot.

As of now I've poured the liquid back into the crockpot and that's when the smell whipped me in the head.
 
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Lijowa

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I'm trying to strain out the flowers and it seemed ok to bottle it but my temps are low so I think I'm screwed. It's back in the crockpot so I can regulate it better.
 

FromZwolle

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I had it in soda bottles. I didnt pour them all out into bottles I kept some fluid in crock pot.

As of now I've poured the liquid back into the crockpot and that's when the smell whipped me in the head.
the smell is probably carbon dioxide. it's pungent when concentrated.

it sounds like you're doing an open fermentation, which is probably not the best choice for a beginning attempt, as it will leave your wine vulnerable to infection by wild yeast of bacteria.

look into getting a cheap closed fermenter, like a hdpe bucket w/lid and airlock.
 
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Lijowa

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I've got a carboy would it do better in there? Any suggestions. The smell is really overpowering.
 
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Lijowa

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Like wine like straight up strong wine like champagne type strong
 
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Lijowa

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It also smells sweet like sticky but idk if that bc I know it's still swe
 

FromZwolle

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Like wine like straight up strong wine like champagne type strong
well that's perfectly normal. wine generally takes a little while to mellow out. i would put it in the carboy, but make sure there isn't much air space on the top.

to be safe, top it off with some juice or sugar water. something to ferment a little more and eat up all the oxygen you introduced with the extra handling.
 
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Lijowa

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I will take your advice! Thank you all for the help!
 

AlZilla

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Its elderflower wine this is my recipe

1 gallon water.
3 tbsp raisins
2 tbsp dried lavender
6 tbsp dried elderflower
1.5 lb sugar
1/4 c apple cider vinegar.

I also dry hopped it but possibly too soon

1 oz hops.
Not to be a smart Alec ... I don't see yeast in your recipe. May I assume that you assume I'm smart enough to know you used yeast?
 

bernardsmith

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So here's the thing. Traditional ways of making elderflower wine use vinegar (for reasons that are beyond my imagination) and they rely on the indigenous yeasts that are on the flowers. I make elderflower wine several times a year - it's my wife's and my favorite country wine but I always use lab cultured yeast and never use vinegar. If the wine needs additional acidity I might add malic. BUT Lijowa, making wine without an hydrometer is like driving at night without lights or brakes. If you have no good way to monitor what the yeast is doing then you have no good way of knowing what is happening to your wine. Get a tool to measure the change in density (gravity) of your wine.
 
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Lijowa

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Update on my wine.

I put it in a carboy with a home fitted airlock and I topped it off with grape juice.
It may have ruined my elderflower/lavender taste but I'm willing to let those flavors go.
I added one grape, heavy laden with yeast.
And in a couple of days it was fermenting in my cabinet.
 
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Lijowa

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I know it's not the greatest wine. I'm excited though.🥰
 

Kickass

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This is from someone who’s never made wine, only beer, cider and several other fermented foods, but:

This entire narrative sounds disastrous. I’m hoping it’s just that I’m ignorant to the peculiarities of fermenting wine. Vinegar, inconsistencies of crockpot temp control, open fermentation, bottling after four days, back to the crockpot and a noxious odor emanating from a meager one gallon batch.

Someone please reassure OP that this beer brewer doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
 

Raptor99

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Like many others people, my first wine was the wine of 100 mistakes. The second and subsequent batches turned out better. By the second year I had learned how to avoid most of the unpleasant smells created by stressed yeast. Like most other skills, there is a learning curve.
 

bernardsmith

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Hi Kickass, It may "sound (s) disastrous" but that is how many folk make elderflower "champagne" (as they call it) on Youtube. It's a folk wine made that way but by all accounts when they avoid exploding bottles and/or gushers the wine can taste quite fine. My own first experience with elderflower wine was many , many years ago when I lived in London and ate a favorite vegetarian restaurant called Cranks, they offered a commercially made elderflower until the winery had some problems with their wine and were unable to ship more.
 

Kickass

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@bernardsmith, thank you for sharing some background info. I was hoping there was more to it than I understood.

Of related interest, my wife recently bought some St. Germain, elderflower liqueur, and we really liked it. I was thinking of how to incorporate a little into a beer but now I’m thinking I might just need to get out the crockpot and give wine a go.
 

Tennessee Brew

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I would look into some airlocks. I have done wine the poor man's way and it did work but its more trouble I think than just going and getting what you need to do this. I am totally new to this as well, been around wine making for years but first time doing it myself. So far had great success.

Temperature wise, I keep mine at room temp and I never bother with heating. I assume you keep your house at least 70 degrees. Mine runs 70 to 73 and it ferments fine. Before I ferment any of mine I shake the must like I'm trying to kill it so it will get oxygen in there at the start, seems to help cut down on that farty noxious gas. I use a mix of glass bottles, plastic and buckets. They all seem to work the same to me. Just keep the bad things out of your fermentation.
 
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Lijowa

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Ok so I dont know what this weird gummy substance is floating on top of my must.
 
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Lijowa

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And it somehow smells like vinegar. I think I have vinegar.
 

Raptor99

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The first time I made cider, after racking it for the first time I thought that I had vinegar. Then I took a whiff of my vinegar and compared. Nope, not the same. The harsh smell and flavor faded after a few months of aging in the carboy. Give it 3-4 months of bulk aging, and see how it tasted then. According to your recipe you added some vinegar, so there will be some vinegar flavor and taste.

The other thing is that I don't see any yeast nutrient or yeast energizer in your recipe. If the yeast do not have enough nutrients they can produce off flavors and odors.
 

Raptor99

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I suggest that you bulk age your first batch for 3-4 months and see what happens. If the SG is below 1.0 then it is probably finished fermenting. When you are ready you can start a new batch and try some new things. For me it was a real learning process. I'm doing many things differently now from what I did at first.
 

Tennessee Brew

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Main thing is get away from open fermenting. Always put that thing under air lock. It reduces your chances of getting things in there that can cause it to go bad. You might be getting that bitterness from the 1/4 apple cider vinegar.
If it does not have a "foul" smell then you most likely have wine, just not the taste you desire. The good thing about wines if you can doctor them up to alter the taste so you can probably do that.

*NOTE: Foul smells or odd colors are bad. You will know foul when you smell it trust me. My first wine was when I was a young boy, it went bad and smelled like haunted toilet water.
 
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Lijowa

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I tried about say 1/2 c of the wine. Knocked me on my rear. Is that normal? I'm a lightweight.
 
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Lijowa

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This is so funny. I wasnt expecting that.
 

Erik the Awful

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I would try simmering the ingredients for an hour or a few on the stove - don't let it boil or it'll get cloudy. Let it cool, add campden tablets, wait 24 hours, then pitch the yeast. Don't bother reheating after that. Punch the must down daily. Since you don't have a hydrometer, when the must drops and there's nothing to punch down, wait another day or two and put it in secondary fermentation in the carboy with an airlock.

The camden tablets are a must for killing off unwanted bacteria. The airlock is a close second, and the hydrometer third. I don't know if the campden tablets would kill off bacteria from the vinegar - I'd be inclined to leave the vinegar out.
 

bernardsmith

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If you simmer fruit you cook it (and wine making typically does not involve heat. Brewing does) and if you cook the fruit you will kill any and all bacteria - even at temperatures below boiling. It's heat that pasteurizes not temperature: you can effectively pasteurize at lower temperatures if you apply that heat for longer and an hour even at 160 F will unquestionably kill any yeast. Cooking, however, sets any pectins in the fruit: think jam rather than wine. And when you set pectins it ain't easy to produce a bright and clear wine.
 

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