Noob Question - Muscadine Wine

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broomzy

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Hey guys,

I’m a total noob to wine making. Been brewing for years and wandered over here. My dad grows a bunch of scuppernongs every summer and I’ve always talked about making some wine. What are the bullet points I need to know? As a brewer, I’ve looked through Northern Brewer’s wine kits and never seen anything that resembles Muscadine wine so I was unsure of what type of yeast to use. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
 

truckjohn

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Muscadine and scuppernog wine can be great or they can be weird.....

Both have varieties that go from old wild Indian varieties to new and improved varieties more suited towards wine.... What does he have?

Key points with Muscadine and Scuppernog wine are:
Wait till the grapes are *Really* ripe... as in past eating ripe to a bit shrivelly ripe.... This really ups the sugar content and reduces weird acid and bitter flavor problems...

Check the brix with a hydrometer or a refractometer to see where it is... It could be anywhere from 14 brix for some of the old vines to 23 brix with some of the new ones.... If you have low-brix fruit - you will need to add sugar.

Check acid with an acid test kit... Some of the old vines are *SUPER* acidy and bitter... Some of the new ones are much closer to perfect acid wise.....

The best way to deal with these is to test acid first and add water to dilute it to your target acid level.... Then, add sugar to bring it up to your target brix.

You will be fermenting on the fruit - not the juice...

Then, follow "Standard" directions for making wine....

Yeast wise - what sort of wine do you want? Red or White? Sweet or dry? Fruity or more bold?

A couple "Standard" choices are Montrachet, D47, EC1116, and Bread yeast..... but you should decide on what sort of wine you are trying to make first....

Thanks
 
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broomzy

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Thanks for the help. The grapes are white to golden so I would assume white. He got the vines from a nursery a few years ago and they fruit out like crazy. The flavor is slightly acidic but not to bad. I did a little reading and came across the term “top off”. How does this work? Also, I’m assuming sterilization if a huge factor, but it seems like there is a lot of opening up the fermentation chamber or racking. I’m assuming since this is standard practice it’s ok as long as every thing is sterile.
 

Yooper

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Thanks for the help. The grapes are white to golden so I would assume white. He got the vines from a nursery a few years ago and they fruit out like crazy. The flavor is slightly acidic but not to bad. I did a little reading and came across the term “top off”. How does this work? Also, I’m assuming sterilization if a huge factor, but it seems like there is a lot of opening up the fermentation chamber or racking. I’m assuming since this is standard practice it’s ok as long as every thing is sterile.
Everything you use should be sanitized, including the grapes themselves unless you're relying on wild yeast to make the wine. This is usually done with campden tablets, potassium metabisulfute.

I love this site for information on muscadines and recipes: http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/reques15.asp and http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/nativew1.asp

Basic winemaking is easy, but requires some knowledge of technique. For example, after fermentation slows down, the wine is never poured, always siphoned or "racked" to avoid oxidation and then the wine is topped up to within an inch of the top of the carboy to avoid oxidation. There is an airlock used so that the co2 can get out, but oxygen can't get in. Those instructions are here: http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/basics.asp
 

WIP

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Instead of using water to bring down the acid content, could calcium carbonate be used? I am not a fan of using water unless necessary.
 

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Instead of using water to bring down the acid content, could calcium carbonate be used? I am not a fan of using water unless necessary.
Yes! Per Jack Keller's site above:

If the acidity of the grapes is too high, further acid reduction may be required. Here are three methods....

Acid Reduction with Calcium Carbonate: For liquors with acid levels of 10 p.p.t. or more, calcium carbonate is traditionally used to reduce acid through precipitation. A measured 2.5 grams of calcium carbonate will reduce the acidity of one gallon of wine or liquor by one p.p.t. For best results, split the liquor into two equal portions and add the calcium carbonate to one while stirring vigorously. Carbon dioxide will be given off and cause foaming. Chill the treated liquor several days and then siphon it off the lees of calcium carbonate into the untreated portion. The addition of a teaspoon of yeast energizer may be required to reactivate fermentation after treatment.

Acid Reduction with Potassium Bicarbonate: For liquors with acid levels of 8 to 10 p.p.t., potassium bicarbonate treatment can be used to reduce acid through precipitation and neutralization. A measured 3.4 grams or 0.1 oz. of potassium bicarbonate will reduce the acidity of one gallon of wine or liquor by one p.p.t. The compound is stirred directly into the full batch, then chilled to facilitate precipitation of potassium bicarbonate lees. The addition of a teaspoon of yeast energizer may be required to reactivate fermentation after treatment.

Acid Reduction through Water Dilution: This is the least desirable method, only because the Mustang Grape flavor is diluted and the resulting wine will suffer. The acid is inversely proportional to the volume of liquor, so the steps in reducing acidity from 10 p.p.t., for example, to 7 p.p.t., are: (1) 7 / 10 = 0.70 (2) 100 / 0.70 = 1.428 (3) 1.428 x 128 (oz. per gallon) = 182.784 total oz. required (4) 182.784 (total required) - 128 (oz. per gallon) = 54.784 (oz. per gallon required to be added).
 

truckjohn

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One big thing to remember is that you're not making beer... You are making wine, and the "rules" are very different.... Jack Keller's site is a great reference....

You would know by the flavor if the acid is high... The bronze scuppernogs you are talking about likely have the opposite problem... Acidity may be too low when they are good and ripe.... and it will leave you with a bland wine... Wine maker's acid blend helps this out (You could use lemon juice, but it doesn't leave the wine tasting "winey" from the different acids naturally in the wine... more like just a neutral sour... Adding straight Welches white grape concentrate can help if you can't get acid blend...) This is why testing is quite important....

The next thing is to make sure you don't get rid of all the stems and leaves out of hand... These add tannin during that initial fermentation and really help give the wine a much more interesting flavor.

In the case of extremely strong flavored grapes - it can be helpful to dilute the flavor and ... It helps to lessen the punch.... Gives you a wine that is more like "Normal Wine" flavor wise.... Many Scuppernogs are extremely "Musky" tasting.... you may need to dilute it some to make it taste more to your liking.... Taste the grapes, smell the grapes, and try to imagine what it would taste like with no sugar.....

My experience with these is that people drink (And serve) the stuff way too early.... The first phase is Sweet Yeasty juicy grape alcohol.... Then, you get really bitter grapey alcohol rocket fuel..... Then, you get Grapey wine.... Then, as it finally ages out you get Wine that tastes like real wine... It's worth the wait.

Thanks
 

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I disagree with your idea of leaving some stems and leaves for tannin. Skins add good tannin. Stems and leaves add a green flavor that you don't want. I spend every moment possible pulling stems out that may get past the de-stemmer at the winery. Tannin is good, green is not.
 
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broomzy

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Thanks so much for the help. I'll check back often as spring and summer roll by.
 
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