New to wine making...

ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)June 16, 2008


I'm new to wine making and have a few very beginner questions.

1st I have a peach raspberry wine that I've had going since March. I've racked on 4/10, 4/20 and added another pound of sugar, racked again on 4/27, 5/11 and 6/13. It's in a 6 gallon carboy. Last evening I added islinglass to try to clear the wine.

How long does it take to clear?

Can I begin tasting the wine now to determine if additional sugar is needed? Will it taste good at this time or get better once it's bottled?

How do you know when it's time to bottle your wine. There is no CO2 activity in the wine right now. I'm thinking as soon as it's clear I should be ok to bottle it. Should I add anything prior to bottling?

Blackberry Wine...I also have a 1 gallon glass carboy of blackberry wine going. I believe this too is ready for bottling. I am assuming since it's so dark in color the clarity is not an issue for dark red wines eh?

Last question...Rhubarb Wine. I started fermenting some rhubarb according to the recipe it says to ferment the fruit for 3 days. By the third day it had tiny specs of mold on the fruit. I did place the juice from this fruit in the carboy and added the yeast. But I'm worried about the sight of the mold. Should I throw out the batch and start over? I did not add any of the mold just the liquid produced by the fruit and sugar. I was very careful to ensure no mold went into the carboy.

Sorry for all the questions. I don't know anyone else that makes wine and would really like to produce some good drinking wine.



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makalu_gw(z5b NY)


The peach raspberry sounds delicious! From what I've done, peaches aren't as bad as pears but they're not the fastest to clear and how long will also depend on whether you heated the peaches and / or used pectic enzyme. I've also never racked that frequently so it might influence the clearing time. Since you've used isinglass, I'd expect clearing in a week to two. I'd wait at least that long to taste and see if you're in the general area of what you like ... if it's still going or just recently stopped, the first thing that you'll taste is the yeast. If you can look past that, you'll be able to taste whether it's sweet or dry, has an alcohol bite or is rich / thin and it's a good time to taste and get an initial impression of how the wine's going to turn out. As it ages, the wine will definitely change character but the sweetness shouldn't change too much and with any luck, it will taste much better in 6 months to a year than it will now. Taste it now and as it matures and only then decide when it's ready to bottle and give to your friends.

When to bottle your wine is somewhat a matter of preference. Some people like to bottle as soon as it drops clear while others like to bulk age it for a while and taste every couple of months to see how it's going. I'm more in the latter camp since it allows me to really know whether to spend my time doing dishes (i.e. cleaning many bottles) for keepers or mulling it and serving at holidays. I don't add anything prior to bottling since I'm usually waiting a year or more after fermentation stops but many people add potassium sorbate before bottling to inhibit additional fermentation and others add bisulfite - especially to reds - to sanitize the wines.

I'd recommend letting the blackberry sit at least 4-6 months before bottling unless you're going to filter it. While it looks dark in a 1 gallon carboy, it'll look like a Pinot Noir or a bit lighter in a glass and the color looking through it into a light is really special. If you were doing a pyment or heavy red, I'd say don't worry but many of the berry wines are just great to see when perfectly clear in a glass.

If you're seeing mold and it's not just spots of yeast fermentation, you've got a problem. If so, I'd smell it first to see if it's off and then probably dump it and start again by getting the fruit to at least 165-170 degrees before adding to the fermenter. I've tried to siphon off just the liquid on a couple of berry melomels and the bacteria is pervasive - they both got infected and resulted in dumped batches.

Lots of questions keep this forum active ... please ask away! Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 2:27PM
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ladylotus(Z3/4 ND)

Thank you so much for all the information. I think I will leave my wine in the carboy for awhile yet and taste it to see where I am with the sweetness etc.

As far as my rhubarb wine that had mold. I only made one gallon and I did not have the yeast in it at the time the mold was forming on top of the fruit. I think I am going to throw it out and start over. It's not worth worrying about when I have so much rhubarb growing in my gardens.

Also, the reason I racked my wine so much is that I did not think it was good for the wine to sit on any sediment for any length of time? In fact, now that I've added the isinglass I see I have additional sediment on the bottom of my carboy again. Is there something I may be doing wrong?

Thank you for the information.


    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 12:40AM
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makalu_gw(z5b NY)

You're not doing anything wrong, I just think you're being a bit enthusiastic on the racking. Normally, for a fruit wine I rack after about 7-10 days from primary to secondary and then after a couple of months when the fermentation has stopped and the wine begins to clear ... after that, only where there's a decent amount of sediment on the bottom - about every 3-6 months. Since you are using a good wine yeast and not natural ones or a beer yeast, you've got a lot more leeway since the yeast doesn't fall apart and give off flavors as quickly.

What you're seeing with the isinglass is exacly what you want to see - sediment forming on the bottom as it clears from thw wine. Give it another 2-4 weeks and you might be set for a final racking before bottling.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 7:08AM
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Hi, How long is the longest I can leave the wine in the carboy. I'm wondering if I can leave it in there for 6 months or longer before I bottle it?

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 10:59PM
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Bulk storage is fine, provided you clear any sediment which will produce 'off' flavours. Second and third rackings will help.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 8:47AM
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sheryl_ontario(Muncho Lake, BC z2)

I freeze all fruits in bulk before making wine with them. This helps break down the cell walls and release the juice. You don't need to leave the rhubarb sitting in sugar at room temp for days, if you freeze it first. Freeze the chopped rhubarb until you have enough, then put in large pot, mash or blender it, add the water and bring it to a boil. Boil i for a couple of minutes, let it sit covered, making "tea" for 36-48 hours before straining, adding the yeast and other things to make wine.

I only rack the wine a couple of times during the process before bottling.

I add pectic enzyme to all wines. I like them all to be as clear as possible. If they still are not clear when finished, I usually use chitosan to clear them and have used bentonite and islinglass.

Did you make the rhubarb wine again?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 7:29PM
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I bought a steam juicer just to get apple juice, it cost less than a cider press. Freezing worked very well to release the juice, the thawed apples poured off quite a bit of juice before steaming. After steaming I put the mash into a pot with a removable spaghetti insert, with an inch of space underneath, and put it in fridge, collected even more juice that drained out of the mash overnight. Then put the now almost dry mash in a pail with pectic enzyme, a little water and bread yeast, to see if it breaks down any more.

Am using the good wine yeasts on the apple juice.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 2:33PM
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