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Brew_Novice

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Hi everyone!

I am relatively new to home brewing and I recently used a fruit teabag recipe to make a sweet fruit wine as I figured if I start cheaply if I mess it up then it is not a huge deal.

Anyway I followed the recipe to the T which included 1.5kg of sugar, fruit teabags and wine yeast.

The temperature was always fine and fermentation seemed to happen for a decent length of time however upon racking it for the second time and doing a hydrometer test it is showing as 14% abv and has been since fermentation started.

It also still tastes very sugary and almost has a syrupy consistency and in my view either the yeast has given up with the amount of sugar and become dormant or something else went wrong.

I am considering making a dry red wine to eventually mix the two together to make something drinkable as I like to experiment. Has anyone else come across this before and have any advice?

I have read that adding more yeast to the mix won't necessarily do anything more at this point as there is still yeast in the mix.

I have made beer which came out perfectly for my first shot and my honey mead also seems to be on track too which makes me think that it could be the recipe I followed.

Thanks in advance.
 

ShadesManna

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Welcome to making wine! As you already have seen, it's a bit different than making beer. It sounds like your wine fermentation is stuck - meaning the yeasts aren't eating the sugars for some reason. Here's a handy website that spells out a lot of the possible reasons, and suggestions on how to help it along:

How to Restart a Stuck Ferment

There are a lot of different possibilities on why it's stuck. Take an inventory of your steps, environment, etc., and hopefully your wine will be up and bubbling again soon!
 
OP
Brew_Novice

Brew_Novice

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Welcome to making wine! As you already have seen, it's a bit different than making beer. It sounds like your wine fermentation is stuck - meaning the yeasts aren't eating the sugars for some reason. Here's a handy website that spells out a lot of the possible reasons, and suggestions on how to help it along:

How to Restart a Stuck Ferment

There are a lot of different possibilities on why it's stuck. Take an inventory of your steps, environment, etc., and hopefully your wine will be up and bubbling again soon!
Thanks so much and I can now see that the recipe I used quoted too much sugar which means I’ll have to use as a desert wine. Great website.
 

bernardsmith

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Hi Brew_Novice and welcome. Here's the thing. In wine making recipes are about as important to the wine maker as a recipe is to a professional cook or chef. The key thing is to understand principles and to have good practices (and use the best ingredients you can get your hands on).

That said, most country wines (wines made with anything other than wine grapes) and meads are best balanced when the amount of alcohol in them is about 12% (or a starting gravity of about 1.090). That's about 1 kg of sugar per US gallon (or about 2.25 lbs of fermentable sugars).

What was your starting gravity? If the tea wine is now at 14% ABV, it could not have been at 14% when you pitched (added) the yeast. It would have perhaps had a POTENTIAL ABV of 14% but the actual ABV when you pitched the yeast would have been zero. And it would have been zero if the starting gravity was 1.050, 1.090 or 1.120.

I guess my point is that you need to decide what your starting gravity should be in order to produce the finishing gravity you want with the amount of alcohol in the wine (Is that to be a 12% wine with a gravity below 1.000 and so a brut dry wine? Is that to be a 15% ABV wine with a gravity above 1.000 and so an apparently sweeter wine but that might mean the final gravity is below 1.000 but then you stabilize the wine and add sweeteners?).

If your wine is at 14% and it still tastes sweet then it is likely that there is still fermentable sugar left and that may or may not ferment further. It WON'T ferment further if the yeast you selected does not have a tolerance for alcohol that would allow it to survive or thrive in 14% alcohol solutions. If the yeast DOES have a higher tolerance then it may continue to ferment. OR it may have stalled because of other problems.

A wine at 14% ABV does not have to be a dessert wine if it is still sweet. One thing you might consider is to dilute the wine with water and that will both cut the alcohol and the sweetness but diluting a wine also dilutes flavor so you might want to add more of the tea without more of the sugar - in which case even if the yeast had hit its tolerance for alcohol you are now rescuing that yeast by reducing the ABV and so allowing the yeast to ferment more of the remaining sugar...

Again, everything about wine making is about balance - levels of alcohol with richness of flavor, with sweetness, with acidity, with tannins and with mouthfeel (viscosity).
 

Bocochoco

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For the lazy man you could make a starter with lightly sugared purified water and champagne yeast. It wont be the same wine and it may need to age longer. You're gonna have a harsh ethanol taste for a while with a "desert wine" high sugar fermentation
 
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Hi Brew_Novice and welcome. Here's the thing. In wine making recipes are about as important to the wine maker as a recipe is to a professional cook or chef. The key thing is to understand principles and to have good practices (and use the best ingredients you can get your hands on).

That said, most country wines (wines made with anything other than wine grapes) and meads are best balanced when the amount of alcohol in them is about 12% (or a starting gravity of about 1.090). That's about 1 kg of sugar per US gallon (or about 2.25 lbs of fermentable sugars).

What was your starting gravity? If the tea wine is now at 14% ABV, it could not have been at 14% when you pitched (added) the yeast. It would have perhaps had a POTENTIAL ABV of 14% but the actual ABV when you pitched the yeast would have been zero. And it would have been zero if the starting gravity was 1.050, 1.090 or 1.120.

I guess my point is that you need to decide what your starting gravity should be in order to produce the finishing gravity you want with the amount of alcohol in the wine (Is that to be a 12% wine with a gravity below 1.000 and so a brut dry wine? Is that to be a 15% ABV wine with a gravity above 1.000 and so an apparently sweeter wine but that might mean the final gravity is below 1.000 but then you stabilize the wine and add sweeteners?).

If your wine is at 14% and it still tastes sweet then it is likely that there is still fermentable sugar left and that may or may not ferment further. It WON'T ferment further if the yeast you selected does not have a tolerance for alcohol that would allow it to survive or thrive in 14% alcohol solutions. If the yeast DOES have a higher tolerance then it may continue to ferment. OR it may have stalled because of other problems.

A wine at 14% ABV does not have to be a dessert wine if it is still sweet. One thing you might consider is to dilute the wine with water and that will both cut the alcohol and the sweetness but diluting a wine also dilutes flavor so you might want to add more of the tea without more of the sugar - in which case even if the yeast had hit its tolerance for alcohol you are now rescuing that yeast by reducing the ABV and so allowing the yeast to ferment more of the remaining sugar...

Again, everything about wine making is about balance - levels of alcohol with richness of flavor, with sweetness, with acidity, with tannins and with mouthfeel (viscosity).
Thanks I normally take a starting gravity but with this one I didn’t unfortunately so I cannot comment on that.

I have taken a sample and mixed it with soda water so I think with this batch I’ll make a long pitcher style drink and try better next time.


I am still new to this so everything is a learning process.
 

Bocochoco

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Theres conversions you can get a close approximation of your abv with both a refractometer and a hydrometer if you have both
 
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ShadesManna

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I am still new to this so everything is a learning process.
Every single batch is a learning process. <3 That's part of the fun. Experiment. Try new flavors. Accidentally shoot wine across the room. Finally throw away that one container you've been meaning to retire. Keep learning.
 

Bocochoco

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I don’t actually only the hydrometer
It isn't that important really for this batch. If you dont jumpstart it with a yeast starter then the mouthfeel will never be right with all that syrup in it.
No worries though. Unless its a huge batch your hit to the wallet isn't that bad after supplies are already acquired
 

bernardsmith

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The reality is that wine making is always a learning experience for all of us. I don't necessarily mean we are always learning new techniques or new procedures or developing new protocols but unless we are using kits to make a wine (and even then) with every harvest the fruits we use are going to have different quantities of sugar, different levels of acidity, different amounts of tannins; the water we use will have different levels of minerals; the ambient temperatures we ferment in will not be the same and wine making is a living process , not an engineering project.
 

Bocochoco

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wine making is a living process , not an engineering project.
1000% this
In fact I'm COMPLETELY winging a blue raspberry wine right now. I actually never used recipes after my first attempt. Made some awful wines. Made some amazing wines.
Lost my notes for past batches which sucks because I've made some really special wines. Now I just imagine the end goal and make wine based off serious trial and error experiences. A lot of people use exact formulas and whatnot and they are great for learning the whys and hows but nothing beats trial and error ime
 

Coffee49

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I have been making wine for 15 years and still notice oddities from primary fermentation to 3rd racking. Fun and the payoff is good,wine at $5 a bottle.
 

bernardsmith

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1000% this
In fact I'm COMPLETELY winging a blue raspberry wine right now. I actually never used recipes after my first attempt. Made some awful wines. Made some amazing wines.
Lost my notes for past batches which sucks because I've made some really special wines. Now I just imagine the end goal and make wine based off serious trial and error experiences. A lot of people use exact formulas and whatnot and they are great for learning the whys and hows but nothing beats trial and error ime
I don't know that I agree that trial and error is a good approach to wine making. If you know and understand the principles and you know and understand what anything you do does then you are not engaged in "trial and error". You begin by knowing what you have to work with and where you want to go with what you have (and you will know whether you can achieve the result you want with the fruit that you have) and then you create the recipe for that result. As you progress with this wine you test and measure and taste (not trial and error) and so you modify based on measured results (and the "measures" might be taste and aromas and not quantifiable numbers): is the wine sufficiently acidic? Is there enough tannin? Is it too thin? How does the flavor balance with the amount of alcohol?
 

Bocochoco

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You make it sound like that by trial and error I meant tossing fruit into buckets and hoping for the best lol.
More along the lines of ignoring details like flocculation, optimal temp, 1.080 vs 1.100. Things like that. Taking notes every batch.
When you are going by the book and your wine gets stuck it's a lot harder figiring out what you did that caused it. I fully expect the first 2 times attempting a specific wine will mean those 2 wine are likely not to be given as gifts.
This way I can modify my own recipe and get it down without a recipe at all. I suppose my goal is to have my own ricipes built from trial and error so to each their own. It's why I said ime (in my experience) that its the best
 
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