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Home made wine problem

your favourite tipple - wine, beer, spirits
Mike4
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Home made wine problem

#505022

Postby Mike4 » June 5th, 2022, 1:32 pm

I was given a pile of rhubarb a few weeks ago and I used it to have a bash at making rhubarb wine. The initial fermentation seemed to go well but after racking it into the demijohn (I'm only making a small quantity), the secondary fermentation never got started.

Does anyone know why this might have happened, or more particularly if there is anything I can do to get fermentation started again?

Many thanks....
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redsturgeon
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Re: Home made wine problem

#505027

Postby redsturgeon » June 5th, 2022, 1:44 pm

Temperature OK?

Sugar content?

If those are OK then can't see any other problem.

John

Mike4
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Re: Home made wine problem

#505031

Postby Mike4 » June 5th, 2022, 1:54 pm

redsturgeon wrote:Temperature OK?

Sugar content?

If those are OK then can't see any other problem.

John


I dissolved 3lb of sugar in 5 litres of water with the rhubarb at the start

The SG on transfer to the demijohn was a something like 1.02 IIRC. I wrote it down but now can't find it!

ReformedCharacter
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Re: Home made wine problem

#505033

Postby ReformedCharacter » June 5th, 2022, 1:57 pm

Mike4 wrote:I was given a pile of rhubarb a few weeks ago and I used it to have a bash at making rhubarb wine. The initial fermentation seemed to go well but after racking it into the demijohn (I'm only making a small quantity), the secondary fermentation never got started.

Does anyone know why this might have happened, or more particularly if there is anything I can do to get fermentation started again?

Many thanks....

The usual recommendation to get it re-started is to take a small quantity, say a cupful of wine, add a small quantity of fresh yeast and keep it warm until it starts fermenting vigorously, then add back to the demijohn.

How much sugar to the gallon did you add? Does it taste sweet? If you were aiming for a lowish alcohol wine, say 2 lbs sugar\gallon it might have finished fermenting already but a taste will tell you whether it has finished or not.

Generally wines made with a higher proportion of sugar, say 3lb sugar\gallon are more prone to 'sticking' and it is generally advised to add a fermentation nutrient to ensure the yeast has sufficient 'food' to completely ferment the sugar.

I'm assuming you used a wine yeast as opposed to a bread making yeast (which will work, but not for higher alcohol wines and may not provide the best taste).

Keeping the brew at a consistent temperature will also help avoid 'sticking'.

RC

Mike4
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Re: Home made wine problem

#505039

Postby Mike4 » June 5th, 2022, 2:23 pm

ReformedCharacter wrote:
Mike4 wrote:I was given a pile of rhubarb a few weeks ago and I used it to have a bash at making rhubarb wine. The initial fermentation seemed to go well but after racking it into the demijohn (I'm only making a small quantity), the secondary fermentation never got started.

Does anyone know why this might have happened, or more particularly if there is anything I can do to get fermentation started again?

Many thanks....

The usual recommendation to get it re-started is to take a small quantity, say a cupful of wine, add a small quantity of fresh yeast and keep it warm until it starts fermenting vigorously, then add back to the demijohn.

How much sugar to the gallon did you add? Does it taste sweet? If you were aiming for a lowish alcohol wine, say 2 lbs sugar\gallon it might have finished fermenting already but a taste will tell you whether it has finished or not.

Generally wines made with a higher proportion of sugar, say 3lb sugar\gallon are more prone to 'sticking' and it is generally advised to add a fermentation nutrient to ensure the yeast has sufficient 'food' to completely ferment the sugar.

I'm assuming you used a wine yeast as opposed to a bread making yeast (which will work, but not for higher alcohol wines and may not provide the best taste).

Keeping the brew at a consistent temperature will also help avoid 'sticking'.

RC


Thanks RC.

The recipe was 3lb of sugar for 5 litres of water IIRC, so yes maybe this is why it stuck. And yes I used wine yeast and I added the prescribed 'yeast nutrient' at the start.

I'll try the re-start method you suggested.

Curious about the yeast nutrient stuff too. I thought yeast thrived eating just sugar!

Hallucigenia
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Re: Home made wine problem

#505064

Postby Hallucigenia » June 5th, 2022, 3:37 pm

Mike4 wrote:I dissolved 3lb of sugar in 5 litres of water with the rhubarb at the start

The SG on transfer to the demijohn was a something like 1.02 IIRC. I wrote it down but now can't find it!


So you thought you were starting with around 30% sugar w/v? In that case you should be starting with a gravity of much more than 1.020, which suggests most of the sugar did not dissolve - that's a lot of sugar, it would probably be best dissolved in warm water.

Mike4 wrote:Curious about the yeast nutrient stuff too. I thought yeast thrived eating just sugar!


They're no different to you - you can get most of your energy needs from carbonhydrate by eating rice or potatoes, but you also need some protein. Yeast nutrient mostly provides the nitrogen compounds which allows the yeast to make protein, some also have vitamins etc.

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Re: Home made wine problem

#505076

Postby DrFfybes » June 5th, 2022, 4:43 pm

Mike4 wrote:
The recipe was 3lb of sugar for 5 litres of water IIRC!


3lb in 5 litres???????

They'd lynch you for that on the imperial units thread.

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Re: Home made wine problem

#505511

Postby sg31 » June 7th, 2022, 9:25 am

3lb of sugar is a lot to start with and will be prone to sticking. If you used a general wine yeast to start it you could try making up a starter of champagne yeast which is great for starting stuck wines. You can get it from ebay or any of the surviving home brew shops or online traders. Generally I start wines with 2lb of sugar per gallon, this give a wine of about 10% alcohol, if you want it stronger wait for the wine to lose most of it's sweetness then add 4 ounce of sugar at a time until you reach the required strength. rarely bother 10% is fine for me, I like wine rather than alcohol (if that makes sense)

With rhubarb wine I use a different technique. I put the required amount of rhubarb in a tub and pour the sugar over it. Cover with a tea toel and leave for a day, give it a stir and leave for another day. The sugar extracts the juice of the rhubarb. drain the sweet liquid, add water to the rhubarb and rinse, add that water and the juice to the demijohn, add a yeast starter and away you go.

Don't throw the rhubarb away whatever you do, if you taste a piece you will find the perfect balance of sweet and sour. Use it in a rhubarb pie. The sugar has extracted most of the juice so the pie wont be soggy. It is the best pie filling ever.

Good luck with it.

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Re: Home made wine problem

#505527

Postby Mike4 » June 7th, 2022, 10:13 am

All very curious.

Yes it was 3lbs of sugar in one gallon of water actually, having checked the recipe I used. I cut up the rhubarb and mixed in the sugar and left it for three days. Strained the resulting liquid out, and mixed it with the 1 gallon of water (no sugar crystals were left), added the yeast and yeast nutrient and left it to bubble for five days (I think) by which time it had totally stopped.

Then I syphoned it into the demijohn leaving the sludge behind, and put it in the rain room as that is, or was, the warmest place in the house. Then the weather turned miserable and the rain room probably averaged about 19c at a guess for a week or 10 days up to now. So I've just moved it into the kitchen which tends to be a bit warmer.

I took a SG reading - 0.995. Tasted it, and unexpectedly not at all sweet and it smells faintly alcoholic. Taste is not very nice but not horrid either. Might buy one of them warming mats on ebay. Will order some champagne yeast as suggested as I don't trust the yeast I bought in Wilko, their home-brew stand was obviously gathering dust and I suspect what I bought was quite old stock.

Just tested the calibration of the hydrometer in clean water and it is correct.

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Re: Home made wine problem

#505604

Postby sg31 » June 7th, 2022, 2:53 pm

If it is 0.995, that is fermented out. It seems impossible to ferment out 3lb of sugar in 5 days, some will have been left on the rhubarb itself but even so I would suspect something is incorrect apart from you stating that it isn't sweet at all.

I wouldn't bother with the Champagne yeast unless you want to push your luck and add more sugar (I wouldn't). Just leave it to clear then bottle. I wouldn't drink it for a good while to let it mature. Rhubarb can be a bit acidic, it tends to bring on heartburn if I drink it but my wife loves it. It shouldn't be too bad because the acid content of early season rhubarb is lower than later in the year.

I bet you threw that lovely rhubarb pie filling away. :lol:

From the method you used and the fact you used 3lb of sugar I suspect the recipe came from 'First Steps In Winemaking' by C J Berry. If so just be aware that it was first published in 1970 and many of the recipes are from long before that. In my early days of winemaking I often had stuck fermentations because 3lb of sugar was often recommended in the book. I was told later that sugar used to be much less 'sugary' due to impurities and 3lb of modern sugar was too much. These days I tend to stick to 2lb and would stop at 2.5lb. I've had peach wine ferment out 2lb of sugar in 2-3 weeks, with 3lb it can take months, as the alcohol level rises the fermentation slows. It just doesn't seem worh the time to push the alcohol limit to the extreme.

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Re: Home made wine problem

#505615

Postby Hallucigenia » June 7th, 2022, 5:00 pm

Mike4 wrote:I don't trust the yeast I bought in Wilko, their home-brew stand was obviously gathering dust and I suspect what I bought was quite old stock.


I wouldn't worry too much about the yeast - dry yeast has a half-life of a decade or so, it's resilient stuff.

88V8
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Re: Home made wine problem

#505639

Postby 88V8 » June 7th, 2022, 8:00 pm

sg31 wrote:It just doesn't seem worth the time to push the alcohol limit to the extreme.

My wife used to make her own wine.
She had a heated jacket for the demijohn and could ferment it until it would take the enamel off your teeth, at which point she would declare it ready.
Rhubarb does make a quite ghastly dry wine :(

V8

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Re: Home made wine problem

#505722

Postby sg31 » June 8th, 2022, 10:02 am

88V8 wrote:
sg31 wrote:It just doesn't seem worth the time to push the alcohol limit to the extreme.

My wife used to make her own wine.
She had a heated jacket for the demijohn and could ferment it until it would take the enamel off your teeth, at which point she would declare it ready.
Rhubarb does make a quite ghastly dry wine :(

V8


I've fermented wine for months, many months in my early years of winemaking. It was basically from sticking to old recipes which used too much sugar. Temperature was never a problem in the days when I had an airing cupboard. I was making country wines from all sorts of berries, fruit, veg and herbs just to see what they were like. The trouble is that even a large airing cupboard has a finite amount of space and when you have a glut of something worth making into wine and no space for any more demijohns something has to give.

I don't particularly like high alcohol wine, I'd rather have 3 glasses of 10% wine than 2 of 15% so I developed my own system of using just enough sugar to produce 10% alcohol, any lower and the wine won't keep, any higher and fermentation takes longer. Some wines I could have bottled within about 5 weeks.

Most of the wine was given away, I enjoyed the process of making it as much if not more than drinking it. It was that and discovering new flavours from odd things. Carrots make an exceptional wine and it's easy to start a secondary fermentation to produce a sparkling wine.

These days I rarely bother although I have a glut of blackcurrants ripening......

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Re: Home made wine problem

#506562

Postby Nimrod103 » June 11th, 2022, 10:02 pm

I used to make home made wine several years ago, but gave up because I never seemed to be able to get rid of that 'home made wine' taste, which was predominantly the flavour of campden tablets. I seemed to be very sensitive to it, and just didn't know how to remove it.

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Re: Home made wine problem

#506568

Postby GrahamPlatt » June 11th, 2022, 10:54 pm

I recall helping a mate of mine (we were late teens) making blackberry wine. It had been a bumper year and he’d gone large, with ~10 demijohns. Tasted a year later, it was awful. Tannin+++. So bad that he binned it and re-used the demijohns for his next project.
We lost touch - I’d gone to Uni and he onto other things. So, when we linked up again what, seven years later, and for whatever reason we’re rummaging in his dad’s garage, we come across a single demijohn that he’d either missed when pouring the rest away, or compassionately saved - he’s not sure. But it had to be put to the test… and it was brilliant. Not had the like since (& never will again). Wonderful.
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