Ready for the Crush
I recently bottled the Currant wine I had in the works, so there were some carboys emptied and available for the next round of winemaking. I had 30 lbs. of wild grapes that I had collected last fall and had frozen for future fermenting, so it was time to get them thawed and put to work.
30 lbs of Vitis Riparia ready for fermenting
These grapes are almost black with pigment and will make a rich, full bodied wine as the berries are small, giving you a high ratio of solids to pulp and juice. There are a lot of tannins in the skins and seeds so I destemmed the grapes before freezing.
These wild grapes are low in sugar and high in acid so the must made from them needs to be diluted and sweetened to produce a balanced wine. The pH of the straight juice was 2.95, too acidic for optimal yeast growth; preferably a pH of 3.2 to 3.4. Recipes for wild grape wine call for specific amounts of water to be added to the must, but as the grapes can vary significantly in acidity, it's more important to measure the pH and dilute accordingly. I ended up adding 4 1/2 gallons of water to the crushed grapes to bring the pH to 3.24. The sugar level at this point measured s.g. 1.035 or 9 degrees Brix. It took 11 lbs, 10 oz. of sugar to bring the level to s.g. 1.101, or 24 degrees Brix which if completely fermented will give me an alcohol level of 13.5 % in the finished wine.
Other additives were as follows:
5 Campden tablets
2 T nutrient powder
2 1/2 t pectic enzyme
For info on ingredients and equipment please see these previous posts
I should get about 6 1/2 gallons of working wine after the first racking, with the goal of at least 5 gallons of finished wine. I'm thinking about setting a gallon of this aside to experiment with raising the alcohol level and sweetness to make a port style dessert wine. Could be interesting!
It's been 24 hrs since the initial mix, so it's time to pitch the yeast. Added 1 pkg. Red Star Pasteur Red dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water. This stuff is so dark, a glass or two will guarantee you membership in LOPT (the Loyal Order of the Purple Tongue).