Friday, December 02, 2016

Cherry Wine

UPDATE 12/9/2016 

First racking complete.  The gravity reading was already at 1.000.  I am floored.  Already nearing the 10% ABV.  The smells thus far have been fruity, slightly banana-y.  I hope the banana is not a sign of amyl-acetate, which could lead to acetic acid.  From smelling it to tasting it so far, I do not think that is the path this will take.  The smell is very light, and it may even just be that I do not recognize the fruitiness of the cherry fermentation.  When I stick my nose in a glass of it, I don't get the banana smell.  The other reason for the smell is that its a naturally occurring byproduct of the fermentation.  I have been keeping it at a steady 19-20 C (66-68 F -- I have been using Celsius more since the STC-1000 is more accurate with that scale), so it is definitely in the Montrachet yeast temperature range.  The probe is actually taped to the side of the carboy.  I think it is time to invest in a bung that allows me to insert the probe deeper.  Time will tell, I suppose.

Speaking of sticking my nose in a glass, I tasted it.  It is tart.  But not too tart, and it is getting dry.  I feel like I have lost some of the cherry taste, but it is so early to make that decision.  I am tasting a lot of different chemicals that are being released that will either be dissipated or transformed into a different molecule.  The end product will be interesting.
Lots of yeast, clarity comes in time.

Going back to the tartness, I had a feeling this might come about due to the fact that my mother-in-law thought they were sour cherries.  I guess the smart thing for me would have been to taste them and see....

I can't get over the color....



I was given nearly16lbs of cherries from my mother-in-law down in Ste. Genevieve, Mo.  Wine Country.  This was almost a year ago.  My son was just turning 1, and life was crazy, so I froze them.  They laid in the deep freeze for nearly a year.  Until a few days ago, I took them out and let them defrost in their bags for 24 hours in a cooler, and than another 24 hours in my keg side of my side-by-side keezer.  It sits around 36F.

Once the kids were asleep I put together my plan that I had formulated over the month from reading what others have done, what I have done in the past, and aiming for what I wanted.  It went something like this:

Day 1
  • I have hard water, well actually soft now because of the water softener.  I am particular about water when it comes to beer, but I know it doesn't matter as much with the wine.  I still wanted control.  So I fired up BeerSmith, gathered 6 gallons of distilled water, retrieved a water profile from East California, and measured out my salt additions.
  • I fired up the propane burner, put my SS HLT on and dumped all my water plus salt additions.
  • I waited for a boil, added 10lbs of sugar, let it dissolve.
  • Put all the cherries in a Brew-in-a-bag.
  • Add tsp of tannin to the water.(Looking back at this, I don't know if this was smart since I never pitted the cherries, and the tannins can leak from the pits if I am not careful. We'll see.)
  • I also than added...wait for it...8tsp of Tartaric Acid.  Yeah, you read that right.  I though I grabbed Acid Blend....nope.  Again, we'll see how it goes.  I hope not missing out on the acids that are normally found in this fruit doesn't come to bite me.  
  • Poured the boiling water on the cherries. Only 5 gallons, the other gallon was used due to dead space.
  • Crushed 5 campden tablets and stirred it in.
  • Covered with a cheese cloth for 24 hours.

Day 2
  • Tested the pH, hoping that maybe it was high enough that
    I could add some Acid blend...nope. 3.22 pH.  Lower than I wanted, but I will take it.
  • Titrated for  TA%, 7.125%, a % point to high for what I wanted.
  • S.G. 1.072.  This will probably ferment out dry.  I am going to watch it and see if I can stop it.  If not, I may back sweeten.  The alcohol % will probably float around 8-9%.
    • Yes, I could have added more sugar at this point, and I had 4lbs of it ready to go, but I want to see what happens.
  • Sprinkled a packet of Montrachet yeast, capped it, and put it in its home, the fermenter side of my keezer at 70F.


Day 1 took an hour to complete, Day 2 took roughly 30 minutes. The taste of the wine was sweet and cherry.  The color was beautiful blush pink.  I have high hopes.  Even though my percentages were off, and the wrong acid was added, I still feel good about this wine.  That may change later...but all it will cost me is a few hours, and about $10 worth of supplies, I can drink to that.  Updates to come as anything new changes.


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