Country Wines

Homebrew, cordials, cheese, dehydrating, smoking and soap making. An area for all problems to be asked, tips to be given and procedures shared.
elfcurry
Tom Good
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Re: Country Wines

Post: # 293051Post elfcurry »

Weedo - thanks for your explanation. I find facts supported with numbers do help put things in perspective. I didn't think I was at much risk but I feel more relaxed about it now.

You reminded me that I have some very old plum jam which I was given when a friend's mother died. He didn't like plum jam and gave it all ( a number of jars in a box) to me. When I found the stones were still present, I wondered whether the old lady was taking risks. It must still be in a box at the back of the garage!
Last edited by elfcurry on Fri Sep 20, 2019 2:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Green Aura
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Re: Country Wines

Post: # 293052Post Green Aura »

I think elderberries would definitely grow in SE Dorset. I bet it's one of these things you've never noticed - now you'll see them everywhere. The bark of elders are very distinct so even when they're not in fruit you can earmark a few for later.

A few years back I went with a neighbour to get her car MOT'd. While we waited we went for a walk round the village and spotted an entire row of blackthorn bushes. We grabbed a bag and started picking them. Nearly everyone who passed stopped us to ask us what they were and how we'd use them. Sloe gin was our reply, their eyes lit up.

We've never been back because we figure the locals will all be enjoying them now. :lol:
Maggie

Never doubt that you can change history. You already have. Marge Piercy

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. Anais Nin

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old tree man
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Re: Country Wines

Post: # 293057Post old tree man »

I'm quite fortunate in North Yorkshire we have loads of elderberry trees around, i usually pick 12lb of berries at a time i don't bother with using a fork to get the berries off i use a pair of scissors to harvest them then put them in a big bucket with 2lb of brambles i then pour 10lts of boiling water over them, give them a good mash up cover and leave for 24hrs.
I then strain off through muslin or an old tea towel into another bucket add the juice of 2 lemons 6lb of sugar and 2 sachets of high alcohol yeast or champagne yeast whatever you fancy really,
I then air lock my container and ferment out on a heat mat,
once fermented out rack into another container and keep as long as you can, i give it about 6 months before i cave in :lol:
If you want to do only one demijohn just half the recipe,
Give it a go, and all the best :flower: :flower:
Respect to all, be kind to all and you shall reap what you sow.
old tree man,
aka..... Russ

elfcurry
Tom Good
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Location: Dorset

Re: Country Wines

Post: # 293534Post elfcurry »

I've had the first 'free' day for a while (ie no need to drive later) and looking at my cellar (various plastic 2 litre fizzy drink bottles containing wine for medium storage) I decided to try my two attemps at rhubarb wine. (Please excuse spelling - I did try it)

My first batch of rhubarb was only half a gallon. The single 2L bottle was very firm (ie rock hard). It has cleared moderately well and on tasting I see needs a little sugar which I added and caused a minor fountain. Quite nice. The later batch was a full gallon, so 2x2L bottles. I tried the first and it was too dry so needed a little sugar to make it taste better but it really started fizzing again.

Now, everyone says you should test wine as you make it and when it reaches the desired strength (ha!) put some chemical in to stop it getting any stronger. (What? Stop it when it's doing so well? Kill off the lovely helpful yeast that produced what you wanted? Why?) No, I don't. If it tastes good but a little too dry, I add some sugar; if it fizzes a bit then it's still 'hungry' and a bit more alcohol isn't something I want to discourage. So I did and it's better. Same with the second litre. Good stuff. It was very vigorous and I managed to capture most of the foam and liquid in a mug. Shame to waste it by mopping it up. :drunken:

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Re: Country Wines

Post: # 293535Post Green Aura »

Well caught.:lol: I love rhubarb wine.
Maggie

Never doubt that you can change history. You already have. Marge Piercy

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BernardSmith
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Re: Country Wines

Post: # 293545Post BernardSmith »

Sorryelfcurry, but the idea is not to stop the fermentation. That's a lot like a stage magician stopping a bullet between his (or her) teeth. Great on stage but will likely cause you a great deal of pain if you try to do it at home. What you do is a) determine the level of alcohol (ABV) you want in your wine and so ensure that you have enough (but not more) fermentable sugar to meet that level, b) use a yeast that can happily ferment to that level and c) allow the yeast to do its thing and finish fermenting every last gram of sugar in your fwermenter. then d) you allow the wine to age (for as long as it needs) and so you allow the yeast to drop out of solution and fall towards the bottom of the fermenter. your then e) rack the wine off the yeast and perhaps repeat the aging process and the racking once or twice more (a well made wine improves with age, a poorly made wine just ages). f) Now you add chemicals to prevent any straggling yeast cells from reproducing and refermenting (K-meta and k-sorbate in tandem - one without the other is not effective). and g) once you have stabilized your wine you can then add sugar or honey or ??? to back sweeten it to the level of sweetness you prefer. and h) you bottle and enjoy.

elfcurry
Tom Good
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Re: Country Wines

Post: # 294712Post elfcurry »

OK Bernard, I've calmed down now (over a year later!) :icon_smile:

At first I didn't like being told I was doing it all wrong but I can see you're almost certainly doing it right and in comparison I'm a bit slapdash and lazy with my methods.

I'd like to tell you and anyone else reading this why I do things the way I do. I admit, it's largely due to laziness - ie what works for me without taking what seem like unnecessary steps.

When I started making wine a decade or two ago all the steps you mention sounded off-putting, scary or just too much trouble. The idea of using a hydrometer to measure specific gravity scared me as I had to decide between taking out a sample which required even more sterilizing of equipment or returning it and risking contaminating the whole batch. The other option - taking out enough to float the thingy in the jar meant losing quantities of the valuable fluid. As I wasn't confident that my cleaning was adequate, I decided not to do the measurement and the wine usually turned out pretty drinkable. The other thing was that I wasn't sure how it contributed anything (that I could understand).

Usually now, when I put the juice in a demijohn I put sugar in it first and then quite warm water to mostly dissolve it then add the pressed partially fermented juice. The usual recipes say make sure the sugar is dissolved but that means using hotter water which worries me that it may shock the glassware, or more water which risks leaving insufficient space for all the juice. (This (too much warm water) happend to me recently and I didn't think of pouring some out so I to make space. :banghead: ) So I have a layer of sugar which would affect any SG reading until it's dissolved making a measurement rather pointless. Also I made too many batches of wine from recipes which were far too sweet so I now put in rather less than they say as you can always add more later but can't take it out when there's too much. My way of getting it 'right' is ad hoc - I taste it and add more if it needs it. The 'proper' way is more science-based (which should suit me) but it's mechanical and duller imo. Maybe I should measure SG when it's all dissolved. Thoughts?

Another aside: When I started I used to worry about taking a sample or racking as the wise people in books and wine recipes told us to top up the jar to full volume which seemd like I was diluting the final product - so I didn't do it and made several batches of incomplete gallons of wine. (Aside Bernard you're in the US - are demijohns less than a full Imperal gallon there?) I took me a while to realise that the alcohol would reach the same level given the right conditions and fuit sugar even if there was less fruit.

My crude method is to add definitely not enough sugar at first (this stops frothy overflows too) and see how it's glugging. Then taste it usually when it's racked but I'm not averse to tasting when fermentation slows down.

Yet another 'also': I used to be short of demijohns so when it pretty much finished fermenting and I needed the jar for another batch, I'd put it in two 2L plastic bottles to let it mature. I'd feel the bottles regularly and any which felt rock hard would have the pressure released as they weren't completely finished fermenting. I'd often taste it again and if it was rather lacking in sweetness I'd test with a small amount of sugar. If this led to frothing I'd conclude that the yeast hadn't died due to the level of alcohol and add some more in small quantities and release the pressure until until it calmed and halted.

I don't do this so much now (I have the jars) but still see no harm in this as I can keep adjusting it and I really don't mind tasting it. I'm pretty sure my earliest attempts resulting in partial gallons were at least partly the result of too much tasting to get it just right. :drunken:

So yes, I'm lazy and slapdash but I enjoy the process rather more than I would by following rigid methodology. Also when others taste it they are nearly always positive. One lady strongly suggested that I should do it commercially but then I'd have all sorts of regulations relating to hygiene and Customs and Excise for alcohol production and it would need to be consistent to be commercial and 'mechanical' taking all the fun out of it. No, I like to see what *this batch* is like and revel in the variation between batches with no-one saying I should do it differently.

elfcurry
Tom Good
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Re: Country Wines

Post: # 294722Post elfcurry »

Something else I've thought of. Most people make a gallon of wine, let it mature for a while and bottle it in nice, regular bottles with neat, pretty labels and corks and caps and put it in 'the cellar' to mature. Then one evening when their partner suggests they have a bottle with their meal, they select one of those from probably a previous year, open and quite likely finish it in an hour or two. Not me. I live alone - apart from the lodger who cooks for himself and only drinks larger at the pub with his mates - so no shared meals here.

And I don't really make table wine to drink with food. On occasions when I have given some away I encourage people not to have it with food but to taste it on its own. I can't recommend good wine/food companions because they're all different. Something with a particular flavour, say Raspberry wine - what would that go with? Desserts, I suppose.

Anyway, having a bottle of wine with a meal for one would be too much in one go. When I buy a bottle of wine it'll last me probably three days (just in case anyone thinks I may drink a lot because there's no-one to say I've had enough!) though my wine does seem ok in a bottle for a few days, probably because it's full-bodied, high-ish ABV and while I try not to make it sweet it's certainly not crisp or dry.

Going to the trouble of making it look nice by putting it in pretty, labelled bottles is a waste of effort as it's just me who sees it. Partly that's related to me not laying it down for the future so it won't be in a bottle for many months.

Letting it mature seems like taking a chance that once it's tasting good enough to drink it may get better, when it may become less pleasant. I've made blackcurrant wine which was still good a year later in a port bottle but any older and it will have lost some character including colour or body.

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