On my last post I described the convoluted process I went through to get enough fruit. It had to be all wild fruit, nothing from the store, I know it’s silly but I am doing this for fun as much as for the end product.
So, now I have my fruit. I had frozen the elderberries as I picked them and the grapes I was using fresh from the picking. I found a tip that if you covered the fresh grapes in water and heated it up to boiling. the grape skins would split and crushing them would be easy. It worked! I just hope that heating the grapes up won’t affect the quality of the wine.
I bought a big filter bag, large enough to hold all of the fruit and put it into a six gallon bucket that I use for making beer (yeah, I make beer too). Then I put the frozen berries into the bag and poured the hot grapes, stems and water on top of the frozen berries. I tied up the top of the bag and added water to nearly 6 gallons assuming that taking the stems and seeds in the bag out of the wine would bring it back down to about 5 gallons.
I then followed my recipe carefully and added the pectic enzyme to the juice, stirred it in and covered it up. According to what I had read, this was necessary to ensure that my lovely juice didn’t turn into jelly before it fermented. Later I added the potassium metabisulfate and stirred it in. Again the recipe said that this was necessary to kill any wild yeast that might be on the fruit before it ruined my wine. Now I had to leave it sit undisturbed until tomorrow.
Early the next day, I went back to the winemaking. Using a hydrometer, I tested the juice for sugar content. I used the calculation I had found for determining how much sugar I needed to make the perfect wine. The juice measured 8 on the scale and I needed to get it to 24. Using the calculation it indicated that I needed eight more pounds of sugar!
Wow! Eight pounds of sugar added to fruit that naturally had sugar in it seemed impossible. So I put in just four pounds, stirred it in and let it sit for a while. I measured it again and the reading was up to 14. It looks like I need even more than another four pounds to get to 24. I added four more pounds and tested again. Now it was 22. I read that the measurement can change if it sits overnight so I covered it up and left.
The next morning I checked it again and the reading was now 23 so I added just half a pound of sugar and stirred it in. Then I couldn’t resist any longer, The juice looked exactly like a beautiful clear red rioja wine so I took a sample and tasted it. Yikes! It was sweeter than Kool Aid. It was so sweet that the sugary sweetness completely overpowered the taste of the fruit.
I find it hard to believe that the yeast will be able to convert all of that sugar to alcohol and make a nice wine from sugary sweetness. But I can only wait until the yeast has finished it’s job to see if it worked. With a resigned sigh, I added the yeast, covered the must (It’s called must after the yeast has been added to the juice) and left.
Next – fermentation