Friday, July 6, 2012

2012 Cherry Wine

Look how artistic!  Last year's wine is
featured in this photo. 
Cherry wine has been consistently one of my favorites, and so was looking forward to making another batch. As always, I have been watching the prices at the store for the lowest prices. There was a bad cherry crop in Michigan due to the warm weather in March followed by the hard freeze in April killing all the blossoms. I bought cherries from elsewhere, probably California.

2012 Cherry Wine Recipe

45 lb of black cherries
8 gal (31L) water (with the pulp I had 10.8 gal, 41L)
18 lb sugar
6 g pectic enzyme
3 g yeast energizer
1 packet of Red Star Premier Curvee

This made approximately 41 L of must with a Brix of 32 and a density of 1.14. I am trying to make a sweet, strong dessert wine. I often blend it with a white wine like my muscato to make a cocktail wine. 

The juice was exceptionally sweet, and the fermentation started immediately. By five days, it was more alcoholic than sweet.

4 July 2013 Update
This wine has a strong off-flavor that I attribute to the cherry pits. Even with blending, I am not sure what I can do with it. It was a bad idea to leave the pits in. Boiling the juice with the pits might have been dumb too.  The 2009 cherry wine from all fresh fruit was the best. 

2012 Strawberry Wine

I made Cherry Wine this year, and I wasn't paying attention, and made up an extra gallon of strong sugar syrup. It sat on the counter for two days because I could not think of what to do with it. Maybe,  I could just ferment it? It'd make sugar wine, but then I thought why not put herbs in it, like basil, mint or even hops. Then I thought why not fruit: like blueberries, but I had tried that before without grand success.

Then I remembered this old song, Summer Wine, which is about wine made from strawberries, cherries and well, angel kisses. Actually the song is not really about wine, it is really about sex. It is a pop song after all. Suitably inspired, I went to the store to get supplies.


Sadly, they did not have any angel kisses at the store, so I used this recipe.

2012 Strawberry Wine

16 pounds of frozen strawberries**
1.25 (4.7 L) gal water
1 large orange (including the peel)****
4000g (8.8 lb) sugar*
1.5 g Camden tablets (potassium bisulfite)
4 g pectic enzyme
1.5 g wine tannin***
5 g yeast energizer
1 packet Cote Des Blances from Red Star

This made 3.6 gallons (13.6 L) of must. 

I melted the strawberries in the water, and then I ground them up in a kitchen blender. That went very quickly.  Strawberries have a lot of water in them, but don't have much sugar.  

My refractometer
Since the pulp was suspended in the juice, I could not measure the density to adjust the sugar level. I used my refractometer to measure the refractive index or the degrees Brix, as called in the wine jargon. As mentioned, I started with syrup, but the juice and not very sweet strawberries reduced the sugar content to 15 degrees Brix, too low: I wanted 24 degrees. 

So I pulled out my reference book, converted the Brix to density, calculated the sugar add to increase the density, added made more sugar syrup, added the syrup, and cleaned up. Then I measured it at 20 degrees Brix -- it moved ONLY half as far as I expected. I thought, I should add the same amount again to get it to where I need it to be. Also I was tired of messing with it. I made more syrup, and added that. Now it was 30 degrees more than the targeted 24 degrees, and likely to make an overly potent wine or probably a sweet dessert wine. Oh well. 

This strawberry juice tasted great.  It would be really good on short-cake.  Hope the wine measures up. 

*If you are trying this for yourself, you may want to use less sugar to get a drier wine. I'd try 3500 g if I were doing this again. 

**I used frozen strawberries because the fresh ones at the store had too many under-ripe ones. The frozen ones were all perfectly ripe, plus I did not have to cut the tops off all the strawberries 

***I checked out several recipes and one had wine tannin. This is a good idea because otherwise it may be too cloying. I think it is a gamble, and that is why I used to little. Upon further reflection, I might have left this out, and tried oak chips during aging.

****The orange is to add acidity. Someday I am going to buy a home acid titration kit and control it exactly, but since I don't have one, I added an orange. I like adding the orange peel since I like getting the limonene in the wine. This works nicely in my mead.