Sunday, February 24, 2013

2013 Merlot-Cherry Stuck Fermentation

My 2013 Melbec/Cherry, which itself arose from the sad story of a broken demijohn, hardly fermented at all in the last five months. It is still sweet.

I tried restarting it with Yeast Energizer and a new packet of dry yeast twice.

I got desperate and read up on restarting wine, and learned that the pH should be 3.5-4.5.

I bought a cheap pH meter last year for this sort of problem, but I convinced myself that it did not work, and I threw it out. That left me with pH paper. My pH paper said the pH was over 5.

I decided to add the juice of seven clementines. The same clementines that I used in the mead a few weeks ago. The internet suggested one lemon for every two gallons, so I needed three in my six gallon batch.

I got some new Red Star Pasteur Champagne yeast and spinkled it into some luke warm sugar water (about 1/2 cup with 2 T of sugar.) When it was foaming, I added some wine to it, about 1/4 cup. When that was foaming I added more.  When that was foaming, poured it in to the demijohn.

The third idea was to warm the demijohn. It is winter, and it is probably 68F in the basement. I got my seed starting mats used them to mildly warm the wine. Careful to allow headspace when you warm wine, since it will expand.

The next morning, it had foamed up, and was bubbling. The flavor was noticeably less sweet in just a few hours.


Sept 2014: For a second time, I took a liter of my heavily fermenting new wine, and added to about 20 L of the stopped wine. This time it made a difference. When I tasted it in March 2015, the flavor had normalized, and it was not too sweet. :-)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2013 Mead

The 2012 Mead was so good that I was excited to try it again. I needed to ration it because we liked it so well, so I put it into 375 ml bottles!

The secret is the quality of the honey. The better the honey the better the mead. I also like a stronger, sweeter mead -- so use enough honey.

This year I ordered Wildflower honey from two sources in Florida. 20 of the 22 lb that I used were Florida wildflower honey. For mead, the darker honeys are better than the light clover honey that 4 year old like on their sandwiches. Darker honey gives a more complicated flavor.  I order them from

2013 Mead Recipe

22 lb  Wildflower honey
Water - to dilute to 20 L
2.5 t     Yeast Energizer
7 g       Pectic enzyme (about 2 t)
16        Clementines (with rinds, liquified in a blender)
1.5 t     Nutmeg
3 T       Ground vanilla beans (which we just happened to have)
1 Packet   Red Star Premier Cuvee Yeast

In addition to the wildflower honey there was 1 lb of clover honey and 1 lb of buckwheat honey.

The 20L of water was more than I expected based on last year. I needed to add 2 L extra because this honey was sweeter than last years honey. I added water until I had a density of 1.152 g/ml which should make a skull-crushing 18.2% alcohol, but it really won't. It will stop short and be strong and sweet.

Pectic enzyme is added since the clementine rinds have pectin.

I increased the nutmeg this year and skipped the allspice. I don't like the fragrance of allspice, and I don't see how it helps.

I used Premier Cuvee yeast this year since I was out of champagne yeast, but Curvee is good for whites.