2018 Elderberry Batch #2
August 2018 – This batch is the first time I’m trying an experiment I’ve been considering for 30 years — feeding a wine sugar to jack the alcohol up to ~18% and sweetening it, to produce a port-style dessert wine.
I had 5-1/2 gallons of dry elderberry wine and the idea popped into the forefront. So I racked half into a 3.5 gallon carboy — this is Batch #1 and will slightly sweetened, to make an off-dry wine. Elderberry, and fruit wines in general, benefit from a bit of sugar. Without it they can be bitter and/or astringent.
Batch #2 is the remainder (about 2.5 gallons) that will be fed sugar to jack up the alcohol. My notes (below) will show how this experiment progresses.
|Fruit||1 gallon Vintner’s Best Elderberry fruit wine base
1 liter Global Vintners Inc red grape concentrate
|Yeast Nutrient||5 tsp + 1 tsp added to Batch #2 (see below)|
|Yeast Energizer||1 tsp added to Batch #2 (see below)|
|Grape Tannin||2 tsp|
|Pectic Enzyme||40 drops liquid|
|Oak||1/2 lb toasted oak chips|
|Yeast||Red Star Premier Rouge|
|Following directions on the jug, I diluted the elderberry concentrate with 4 gallons water. For the first couple of quarts I used hot tap water to rinse the bottle — no point in wasting the goodness! The bottle said the SG should be 1.077. I got 1.076, but possible differences in dilution and temperature make this spot on. I was satisfied the label was correct.
Next added the red grape concentrate. The label said the brix would be 20-22, and I should dilute with 2.8 to 3.2 liters water. I used 2 liters warm tap water, which I used to rinse the bag. Again, no point in wasting the goodness! This brought the SG up to 1.078. I considered chaptalizing it up to 1.085 …. but decided to go with what I have.
I went with 2 liters of water instead of 3 as I’m looking for body and the 3/4 gallon extended the batch sufficiently that it will fill my carboy.
Added bentonite, yeast nutrient, grape tannin (just because), and pectic enzyme.
The oak chips were on hand and I decided to add it to see what it would do.
Sprinkled the yeast on top.
|Racked, moving the wine into a 5 gallon carboy and 1 gallon jug. Neither container was topped up, but fermentation was active so I didn’t worry about oxidation.||08/02/2018
|Racked. Filled a 3.5 gallon carboy with the basic elderberry, now designated Batch #1. Click here for the log. The remainder is being fed sugar to make a port style wine.||08/11/2018
|Put the remainder of the wine into a 5 gallon carboy. Added 3 cups sugar..||08/11/2018
|The wine is fermenting, but glacially slow. Added 1 tsp yeast nutrient and 1 tsp yeast energizer.||08/16/2018
|Fermentation is moving a bit faster, but I’m not happy with it. I aerated the wine, running it through a strainer while I was at it. I’ve had small bits of oak chips in the wine, which clogs the wine thief I used when checking SG.
Made a starter using some of the must and a fresh package of Lalvin EC-1118. Added that, we’ll see if it helps.
|Fermentation moving but still slow. Added 1 tsp yeast energizer and 1 tsp yeast nutrient.||09/01/2018
|Still not doing much. Racked to a 3.5 gallon carboy as I needed the 5 for water as Hurricane Florence is coming in. Added another 1 tsp yeast energizer and 2 tsp yeast nutrient||09/10/2018
|Not any activity the past week. Decided the wine isn’t going to ferment down any further, so I added 3 cups of sugar for a final feeding, stirring for 3 minutes.
I’m going to let it do it’s thing for 3 weeks, then check it.
Final SG 1.032
|There is no fermentation activity. Added the sludge from Batch #1, hoping this will jump start the fermentation, although I suspect that I hit it with too much sugar and it’s stuck.||10/13/2018
|Tried jump starting again. Hydrated another package of EC-1118 and added after it foamed up.||10/14/2018
|I concede, this one doesn’t want to go. Added 1/4 tsp potassium metabisulfite and 1-1/2 tsp sorbate.||11/02/2018
|Added Super Kleer fining agent.||11/06/2018
|Racked and moved into two 4 liter jugs, plus 750 ml top-up.||11/12/2018
|Add scant 1/4 tsp Kmeta and 3 Tbsp glycerin for body. Bottled.||11/25/2018
|Yield||12 bottles (24 splits)|
|Winemaking Notes||The first ingredient on the Elderberry concentrate label is corn syrup, the second is apple juice, the last is elderberry. The must smells good …. but the next time I do this, I’m going to look for a pure elderberry. It may make no difference, but the purist in me wants 100% elderberry.
I always add pectic enzyme to fruit wines. I’ve had to do it enough times when trying to clear the wine that it’s simply become a preventative habit. My local shop was out of powder, so I tried the liquid. It’s more expensive ($3 vs. $2) but the amount I used was tiny — this bottle will go bad before I use it up.
|08/16/2018||Adding yeast nutrient and energizer kicked the fermentation up.|
|10/14/2018||Jump starting it again. I have no clue why this one isn’t perking. The alcohol should be around 14%, and EC-1118 should handle more than 18%.|
|11/08/2018||One of the guys at American Brewmaster told me that one of his wines sat for 3 months before a jump start kicking in. I suspect I stabilized this one too soon.
However, even if it’s not what I was targeting, the end result will be fine.
|11/25/2018||At bottling I don’t like this one as much as I like the dry elderberry. It will be interesting to see what both taste like at the one year mark.|