RJ Cole Winery

Insights into the world of an amateur home winemaker.

Location: Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

Cole Wines anagrams to Senile Cow.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Blackberry '06

As I sit here with stained hands, I'm pleased to announce the start of Blackberry Wine 2006!

Yesterday, I took the 28.5 pounds of blackberries out of the freezer in order to start the wine. I put my large mesh straining bag in my primary bucket, and dumped the frozen berries all in. Then I put slightly more than 1/4 teaspoon of liquid pecitc enzyme on top.

I was going to fill up the sink with hot water and put the bucket in there to thaw the berries out, but that wasn't going to get much coverage, and it was blazingly hot outside. So I snapped the lid on the primary, stuck a sulfited piece of a paper towel in the grommet hole, and put the bucket outside.

After a couple of hours, it was starting to thaw very well, but still hadn't thawed all the way. I thought I could speed it up a little by going ahead and crush what berries I could.

Let me ask a question: how long can you hold you hands in ice water? The juice was COLD!!! I could only squeeze and crush for a couple of mintues at a time before my hands were hurting badly. Finally, I decided to do what I originally set out to and filled the sink up with hot water and put the bucket in that. I had to switch out the water about 4 times in about 30 minute intervals, because the ice cold berries and juice in the bucket were cooling off the scalding water quickly.

Finally, the juice was no longer Ice Cold, so I was able to crush the berries with my hands. When I picked up the bag and held it over the bucket, it looked to be about 2 gallons of juice in the bucket, plus a bunch still in the bag. With the bag in the juice, displacement put the volume at about 4 gallons.

I checked the SG of the pure juice, and it was at 1.040. I would like to leave a bit of residual sugar for sweetness, so I chose Lalvin Bourgavin RC-212 yeast (which has an alcohol tolerance of at most 14%). Therefore, I was wanting to get my starting PA to about 15%. [note: due to some discrepancies on SG to PA conversions, I'm using PA scale here. I will adjust once I find more information.] That way, the yeast should top off at 14% abv, leaving the wine sweetened with the remaining "Residual Sugar."

After doing some calculations, I put a gallon of water on the stove to boil, and added in 10 pounds of white sugar. Once this was dissolved, I let it cool for a few minutes, then dumped this into the must.

I stirred good, and checked SG again - the reading was 1.100, a little lower than I wanted. After more calculations, I set about a quart of water on to boil and added 12 ounces of sugar to that. I dumped that in the must and checked SG again - 1.096, definitely too low. I thought, though, that the temperature might be a little too high to get an accurate reading, so I decided to let the must sit overnight and I will check the SG again today. If it needs more sugar, I'll have to add it this time without water, as the volume now (with the fruit bag dislacing the must) is right at 6 gallons.

Next, I decided to go ahead and check TA. A good range for acidity is .55 - .65 PPT. My test showed around .45 PPT. I added 6 teaspoons of acid blend to the must and stirred it again. I didn't re-check the TA after that, so I will check again today.

Finally, I snapped the lid back on, plugged up the grommet hole, and went to bed.

More on this will follow soon!


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