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My cider tastes like bad wine....

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bananacake

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Hi there,

About 10 days I juiced 3 gallons worth of apples, added 3/4 of a cup of brown sugar, put it in a 3 gallon carboy, added a pack of champagne yeast and sealed with an airlock.

I had guests so I stored it away out of site for the last week, and checked on it now.

It had been bubbling until I put it away, and as it seems as if it really either slowed down or stopped I figured I would taste it.

It has the hard/sourish taste of a very cheap wine. There is a hint of apple, its very bitter and I cant tell if its just still in the works, or if its gone bad.

Any suggestions as to how I can tell if I keep it going or if I need to start again?

Thanks!
 
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Time will solve the problem. 10 days is nothing for ciders. If it tastes bad at 10 months, I'd be worried. My 1st one took almost a year before I could drink a glass without adding a teaspoon of sugar. The few I have left after 3 years are superb. Past 2 years I've made Grafs. To me they retain a little more apple flavor and are drinkable earlier.
 

Maylar

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Cider right off the fermentor is dry and tart. The sugars have been converted to alcohol. Some people like it that way. You can let it age and mellow, or add something to sweeten it.
 
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bananacake

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Thanks!

I guess I wait :)

Why is it though that some people get what they call good tasting cider in 2-3 weeks.
 

Caliper

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Why is it though that some people get what they call good tasting cider in 2-3 weeks.
Because "good" is highly subjective! I don't have anything near ten months old. But, a month or two aging in a bottle makes a good tasting cider to me.
 

MindenMan

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I'm with Caliper, "good" to you might be sh!t to me... All of my ciders I age at least 6 months or more. I have a couple of bottles of carbonated cider that was "high proof" and after two years the cider has gotten a lot better, but one more year will pass before I crack open another one. Which brings up the subject of hard cider stronger than say, 6%. In order for the "hot" taste to go away requires time in the bottle. Ask Yooper about the appfelwine she makes; she lets it age for a year IIRC.
 

OmmeGerd

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The white labs English cider yeast gave off a big apple flavor. Even my wort starter tasted like apples.
 

Maylar

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You can have clear, drinkable, tasty cider in 5 weeks. A couple weeks in primary, a couple more in secondary, a week to carbonate. What most people don't get is that the lower the alcohol the better it tastes "young". Everybody wants to add sugar and crank the ABV up to 9% then they wonder why it tastes like booze and not apples.

Start with orchard cider at 1.050 and DON'T ADD SUGAR. Ferment slow at 65°F with a cider or ale yeast. This is the best path to a good cider if you're not willing to wait months for it to age.

And even then, time makes it better.
 

z-bob

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I've had much better luck with 71B yeast. Champagne yeast and Premier Cuvee are both kind of harsh -- but I never let any age in the bottle for 6 months to a year to see if they got better. Cider also needs a lot longer than a week in the primary; I usually go a month and then directly to bottle w/o a secondary.

My 71B cider has been bottled for about 2 months and it started out tasting better right from the beginning, and its definitely improving with age; I don't have to add 1/2 tsp of sugar anymore. I started a new batch using harvested S04 yeast 2 or 3 weeks ago. Next yeast I want to try is Epernay II.
 

UP-Brewer

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I like mangrove jacks M02 cider yeast. So long as you are not pressing wild apples this works great. I have a lot of random apple trees around so I have a hard time getting the right acidity balance with my cider.
 

worlddivides

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As many others have said, you can have a good cider in a short period of time... but "short" is also relative. You cannot have a good cider at just 10 days. The last cider I made I didn't drink until about the 2 month point. Technically I did take a taste at the final gravity sample (which was at around 4-5 weeks), but beers and wines also taste very different from their final flavor at that point. It's just something you get used to.

I don't think ciders need as much time as wines or meads, but that partially depends on the alcohol content. If you're making a 12% ABV cider, then you definitely want to age it a year or more. A 5% cider, and only a few months should be fine.

I have both backsweetened and not backsweetened, and that's a matter of personal taste. You're not going to get an American commercial-style cider from a champagne yeast and then bottling it, though.
 
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bananacake

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Thank you all for your responses. One more question. I did not have an hydrometer when I first put the yeast in. Its current reading is just below the 0.990. What does that mean.

Its been two weeks so far, and there was a good 4-5 days of active bubbling.

Also, is it problematic that there are a few empty inches on the top of the carboy?
 

Dhelderman

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Thank you all for your responses. One more question. I did not have an hydrometer when I first put the yeast in. Its current reading is just below the 0.990. What does that mean.

Its been two weeks so far, and there was a good 4-5 days of active bubbling.

Also, is it problematic that there are a few empty inches on the top of the carboy?

0.990 means all the fermentable sugars have been consumed by yeast.

Head space at the top of the carboy doesn't really matter during active fermentation, but now that you're done with primary fermentation, you don't want much headspace at all. Top it up with some juice or FAJC, but know it'll restart fermentation.
 

z-bob

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Thank you all for your responses. One more question. I did not have an hydrometer when I first put the yeast in. Its current reading is just below the 0.990. What does that mean.

Its been two weeks so far, and there was a good 4-5 days of active bubbling.

Also, is it problematic that there are a few empty inches on the top of the carboy?
If there's an airlock on the carboy and you leave it closed, a few inches of headspace won't hurt anything for a couple of weeks because it's full of CO2. (but you didn't leave it closed, you took a sample ;) )

My boss is a winemaker, and he says they add glass marbles to carboys to raise the level up to the top.
 
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