Progress on Wine Making

Last March I decided to take up trying to make wine. The first batch I made was OK — not great. The big mistake was my secondary fermentation done in the 6.5 gallon carboy I had for beer. The kit called for 6 gallon. I thought my carboy was 6, but remembered later it was 6.5, after I had followed the instructions that called for topping it off with water. The first result was watery, with little body. That was a combination of my fault and the fact that kits accelerate things too greatly and make mediocre wine.

After that I got enough Welch’s Niagara White Grape Juice concentrate to make a 5 gallon batch. I’m pleased to report that is going well, on a considerably prolonged schedule from the first batch of kit wine. It is now cellaring on oak, after several rackings and cold conditioning. My oak chips are a bit toasted, so I’m concerned about visual flaws if I leave it on too long. After reading a lot of advice online about how get oak chips sunk to the bottom, I found that in a dry white wine, the oak chips naturally tend to the bottom. No trouble there.

I also have smaller 1 and 2 gallon batches of blackberry wine and blueberry wine in the pipe respectively. The blackberry wine I made from actual frozen berries. The blueberry wine form blueberry juice you can get at Sam’s Club. No preservatives is the key — it allows for the growth of yeast. Blackberries don’t bring enough natural sugar to the table to avoid adding a lot of cane sugar. I think blackberries can make some fine wine, but as for blueberries, I’m less optimistic. While the early result is very raw, it still tastes like Tastykake tried to make their blueberry pie filling into cough syrup. The problem seems to be that a dry blueberry wine tastes too medicinal. It might be that the blueberry wine needs to be balanced with natural sugar. This can be done with modern winemaking techniques, and I have the preservatives on hand to try this. I will use some of the raw fruit juice to balance it out, probably with another helping of pectic enzyme to clear it up after the fact.

Part of me likes wine making better than home brewing, because I can find some fruit juice at Sam’s Club and think, “Hey, if I throw some Cote des Blancs into this, along with some pectic enzyme and acid blend, I think it’ll taste pretty awesome.” Because wine is such a broad subject, it is more about experimenting. Home brewing is more about perfecting technique. The latter probably fits my personality more than the former. Though I still plan to keep home brewing when I feel inclined.

5 thoughts on “Progress on Wine Making”

  1. What are the hardware costs associated with making wine? That Wife and I just participated in a winemaking deal, and I am interested in finding out more about making small batches at home.

    1. For me it wasn’t that much, because a lot of the equipment is the same for home brewing, which I already did. But I’d say about 100 bucks in equipment.

      One thing I’d point out though is that if you like wine, making your own can save money. It’ll save more than making your own beer, and it’s less time consuming.

  2. “Blackberries don’t bring enough natural sugar to the table to avoid adding a lot of cane sugar.”

    You need to get someone from the NorthWETS to send you some shoots of the wild blackberries growing there. I recall HOT summer days when they were at their peak ripeness, you could SMELL them from a hundred yards away; smelled just like blackberry jam. Trust me…no extra sugar needed. ;-)

  3. If you’re enjoying the wine making you might also try some meade. Honey wine is fairly easy to do well and all the equipment is the same as regular wine.

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