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Really? Fruit Wines?

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cottonwoodks

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I started my fermentation adventures just this year, making several batches of cider (almost all of which were terrible because I didn't realize the yeasts I used needed cooler temperatures), and wasn't really thinking of anything else, but then I saw this winemaking forum, and started looking through it. It was Timofey's persimmon wine thread that really got me thinking.

Every single homemade fruit wine I've ever had has been thick and sickeningly sweet, not something that I ever had any desire to try to reproduce (unlike cider). But if persimmons could yield that crystal clear, and as Timofey said--great tasting wine, well....that's another story.

We have blackberries galore, raspberries, elderberries, pears, cherries, peaches, apricots on the rare good year, and currants, concord grapes, persimmons, more than we ever harvest and eat. So....wine?

It sounds like people are making some delicious wines? Is that really true? (And if so, what went wrong with my friends' fruit wines in the 80s?)

I will certainly be reading up on it here, but any thing you could share that you wished you had known when you first embarked on your winemaking journey?
 

bkboiler

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have made strawberry, raspberry, honey and a couple grape wines...
Advice would be take notes (even if it's just on your phone), read some books to start, follow directions until you've made a few recipes that turned out very well, then start doing your own thing.
Most books I read advocate a big pipeline and patience.
 
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cottonwoodks

cottonwoodks

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have made strawberry, raspberry, honey and a couple grape wines...
Advice would be take notes (even if it's just on your phone), read some books to start, follow directions until you've made a few recipes that turned out very well, then start doing your own thing.
Most books I read advocate a big pipeline and patience.
Will do!

(What do you mean by "a big pipeline"?)
 

Mtrhdltd

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I made a good peach wine a few years back, then left it too long before bottling. It was about 4.5 gallons in a 6.5 gallon carboy and became oxidized and not as good. I learned the value of filling your fermenter to the top when aging. Most of my fruit use now is in mellomels (fruit and honey). Fruit wine can be very good if done right. I agree with bkboiler, read up before starting. Your pipeline is simply what you have between brewing and drinking. The more you have the easier it is to be patient and let your wine mature. Hope this helps.
 

AzOr

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^ great advice above.

Also read Jack Keller’s wine blog. You can find just about any fruit or vegetable wine recipe there is.
I have several pounds of jack fruit in my freezer just waiting to make a recipe from Jack.
 

videojunkie1208

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I just started down the melomel trail, first with a strawberry (under fruited), then a Blueberry:
PSX_20200926_145521.jpg
Both are dry (FG <0.99), the Blueberry tastes almost like a Shirah.

Fruit meads, and wines are fun.
 

AzOr

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I just started down the melomel trail, first with a strawberry (under fruited), then a Blueberry:
View attachment 700101
Both are dry (FG <0.99), the Blueberry tastes almost like a Shirah.

Fruit meads, and wines are fun.
Absolutely. When I’m fermenting a new fruit I usually use Jack’s recipe as a base but will often substitute white sugar with honey(so obviously a mead). But his recipes still serve as a guide for amt of fruit per gallon etc.
I’ve made apricot, blueberry, honeydew, peach melomels using the above method.
 
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cottonwoodks

cottonwoodks

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This all sounds great! Thanks! I'll check out Jack Keller. And I like the idea of having lots going on at once. That's what I'm doing with my cider.
 

Mallerstang

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I second Jack Keller's blog, and also the EC Kraus website, and the recipes forum on this site.

A few years in, and I almost never add acid blend. Most of the recipes call for it, so that's something to watch out for, because you can always add more acid but it's difficult to reduce it. Also you will usually ferment the wine dry, then back sweeten if at the end if you want to (I never do).

It's unfortunate that some people are turned off fruit wine because they once had some that was too sweet for their taste! That's like deciding you don't like coffee because the first cup you had was instant with six sugars.
 

Farside

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Your friend may have made sweet wine because of the yeast selection and adding too much sugar.

Yeast will only ferment sugars until they can no longer do so because of the alcohol content, or they reach their limit in scavenging residual sugars.

For example an ale yeast will leave some residual sweetness while a champagne yeast will ferment out everything.
 
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cottonwoodks

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Ack. Jack Keller's wine blog doesn't look like its available anymore. And the archives need a subscription..... He does have a book coming out in April, though.....
 
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marc1

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I started my fermentation adventures just this year, making several batches of cider (almost all of which were terrible because I didn't realize the yeasts I used needed cooler temperatures), and wasn't really thinking of anything else, but then I saw this winemaking forum, and started looking through it. It was Timofey's persimmon wine thread that really got me thinking.

Every single homemade fruit wine I've ever had has been thick and sickeningly sweet, not something that I ever had any desire to try to reproduce (unlike cider). But if persimmons could yield that crystal clear, and as Timofey said--great tasting wine, well....that's another story.

We have blackberries galore, raspberries, elderberries, pears, cherries, peaches, apricots on the rare good year, and currants, concord grapes, persimmons, more than we ever harvest and eat. So....wine?

It sounds like people are making some delicious wines? Is that really true? (And if so, what went wrong with my friends' fruit wines in the 80s?)

I will certainly be reading up on it here, but any thing you could share that you wished you had known when you first embarked on your winemaking journey?
The great thing about doing it yourself is that you can control the sweetness to whatever you prefer. Generally it would be fermented dry and then stabilized so that the yeast won't start eating anything again, and then sweetened with your choice of sweetener.
 

Wmau

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I've made some very good dry fruit wines. Yeast selection and starting sugar load will probably limit sweetness. I've made a really excellent dry Highbush Cranberry wine - crystal clear pinkish amber and dry as the Mohave. Fruit wines need to be monitored for acid levels, fermenting temperature and absolute sanitation is required to prevent spoilage. I get a good .99 fg on them. I rack continually to get clear - anything floating in my wines grosses me out
 

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Your friend may have made sweet wine because of the yeast selection and adding too much sugar.

Yeast will only ferment sugars until they can no longer do so because of the alcohol content, or they reach their limit in scavenging residual sugars.
Or had incomplete fermentation and/or off flavors from stressed yeasts. Some fruit can yield very acidic conditions which result in conditions that are difficult for the yeast to work.
 
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cottonwoodks

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It sounds like my friends in the 80s had absolutely no clue clue what they were doing. Most likely they threw a bunch of fruit in some kind of bucket and saw what happened.

But this discussion is very encouraging. I'm totally going to give it a shot. Multiple shots, even. I think I need to get a more sensitive pH reader. My hydrometer will probably work.

Wmau, what do you do when you're racking to keep the volume up, since there's always some left behind? Do you add water? Or rack to a smaller container?
 

S-Met

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Regarding ph meters, I got mine from Amazon. Something in the $15-25 range. I just need "good enough." It's more sensitive than litmus strips but not so costly that I'd be prohibitive to replace.

Volume, some people top with juice if available or distilled water. Other people use glass marbles to displace volume. But be careful with glass, not all is safe. I would seek advice from others on here though regarding safe glass marbles, I have no experience on this topic.
 

Wmau

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I rack into smaller containers. I don't like to add water unless it's too strong and I refuse to blend because I want to know what mine tastes like. I have ooodles of different sized containers just in case.


It sounds like my friends in the 80s had absolutely no clue clue what they were doing. Most likely they threw a bunch of fruit in some kind of bucket and saw what happened.

But this discussion is very encouraging. I'm totally going to give it a shot. Multiple shots, even. I think I need to get a more sensitive pH reader. My hydrometer will probably work.

Wmau, what do you do when you're racking to keep the volume up, since there's always some left behind? Do you add water? Or rack to a smaller container?
 
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cottonwoodks

cottonwoodks

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I rack into smaller containers. I don't like to add water unless it's too strong and I refuse to blend because I want to know what mine tastes like. I have ooodles of different sized containers just in case.
How big of containers do you usually start with? It seems like if one starts with gallons, then it's going to get pretty small pretty quickly. But 5 gallon carboys seem pretty huge....
 

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I do three-gallon batches - for instance today I'm transferring a batch of blackberry from two primary buckets into two 3-gallon carboys and a 4.6 litre jug (or maybe a 4-litre one). I'll rack it 2-3 times before bottling, into two clean carboys and a successively smaller jug - I have a collection (also ooodles in fact :)) of 4.6, 4, 3, 2.84, 1.9 litre etc. jugs and bungs to fit them all. I have marks on the primary buckets showing where the 3-gallon carboy comes up to, and a bit of measuring and math helps me figure out which other glass jugs to prepare.
 

Mallerstang

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I do three-gallon batches - for instance today I'm transferring a batch of blackberry from two primary buckets into two 3-gallon carboys and a 4.6 litre jug (or maybe a 4-litre one). I'll rack it 2-3 times before bottling, into two clean carboys and a successively smaller jug - I have a collection (also ooodles in fact :)) of 4.6, 4, 3, 2.84, 1.9 litre etc. jugs and bungs to fit them all. I have marks on the primary buckets showing where the 3-gallon carboy comes up to, and a bit of measuring and math helps me figure out which other glass jugs to prepare.
This will be 30 bottles of blueberry-blackberry and 30 bottles of blackberry, dry, some time next year. Yum.
 

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Phish_on2k

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Dang!!
Very sorry to hear that...I found his website wayback when I first started making wine and mead...seeing all the unusual things he had used as ingredients for his county wines spurred me to start noticing all of the fruiting plants in my rural area and identify which ones I could ferment!...there were some hits and misses...ha!
 
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cottonwoodks

cottonwoodks

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Dang!!
Very sorry to hear that...I found his website wayback when I first started making wine and mead...seeing all the unusual things he had used as ingredients for his county wines spurred me to start noticing all of the fruiting plants in my rural area and identify which ones I could ferment!...there were some hits and misses...ha!
I'm so late into this game, I missed all this. I wish his website were still up, but every link I click indicates that it's not. Alas.
 

sddingman

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cottonwoodks

Sorry I am late to the discussion. I am a wine-making newbie but I am having a great time making fruit wines. I am doing 1 gallon batches. So far I have done rhubarb, peach, red plum, blueberry-rhubarb and now I have a pumpkin spice in the fermenter. So far so good, I thought I had messed up my first rhubarb, but everything turned out ok.

My technique is making "organic" fruit wines. Only organic fruit, sugar, water and yeast. I try to get fruit from local growers if I don't grow it myself. I use scalding hot water for cleaning, followed by cold tap rinse.

I start with a good sugary fruit like peach or plum and use about 2.5 lbs sugar or for a pure pumpkin or rhubarb about 3-3.5 lbs (all per gallon). I then use a champaign style yeast (like red star cuvee) and drive that gravity down to 0.99 ish. I try to get that alcohol above 14%.

So far my results have been good. My rhubarb & peach wines are sweeter, but not sickly sweet or syrupy. My red plum is pleasingly dry, like a good dry rose. It's probably my favorite. Mine are still aging in the carboys, but I have been taking tiny tastes when I rack lees. I can't wait till they are ready to go (December-ish)

My main reference is Wild Wine Making by Richard W. Bender.

What ever you try best luck and yes, non-grape wines don't need to be sickly sweet at all.
 
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cottonwoodks

cottonwoodks

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cottonwoodks

Sorry I am late to the discussion. I am a wine-making newbie but I am having a great time making fruit wines. I am doing 1 gallon batches. So far I have done rhubarb, peach, red plum, blueberry-rhubarb and now I have a pumpkin spice in the fermenter. So far so good, I thought I had messed up my first rhubarb, but everything turned out ok.

My technique is making "organic" fruit wines. Only organic fruit, sugar, water and yeast. I try to get fruit from local growers if I don't grow it myself. I use scalding hot water for cleaning, followed by cold tap rinse.

I start with a good sugary fruit like peach or plum and use about 2.5 lbs sugar or for a pure pumpkin or rhubarb about 3-3.5 lbs (all per gallon). I then use a champaign style yeast (like red star cuvee) and drive that gravity down to 0.99 ish. I try to get that alcohol above 14%.

So far my results have been good. My rhubarb & peach wines are sweeter, but not sickly sweet or syrupy. My red plum is pleasingly dry, like a good dry rose. It's probably my favorite. Mine are still aging in the carboys, but I have been taking tiny tastes when I rack lees. I can't wait till they are ready to go (December-ish)

My main reference is Wild Wine Making by Richard W. Bender.

What ever you try best luck and yes, non-grape wines don't need to be sickly sweet at all.
Thanks sddingman--that's good to know. I've bitten the bullet and started. Since we're past raspberry and blackberry season, I went ahead and bought frozen blueberries and blackberries to start a batch of that, and another 1 gallon batch with ginger and raisins. I didn't want to wait until next year! I haven't gone to check out the persimmon trees, but I've heard that this is a bad year for persimmons. We'll see.

I used Lalvin 71B yeast only because that was what I had in the fridge. It seems I just have to have something going. So far the ginger/raisin is bubbling away, and the other hasn't gotten started yet, but I have high hopes. I like my wines (and ciders) dry, and I'm really looking forward to this process.
 

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