Oh, happiness. I’ve been keeping a loose eye on the bubbling of my apple wine carboys [a not-so-modest 9 carboys, or ~20 cases. I’m sharing with folks, honest], but hadn’t noticed them dropping clear until today. What does that mean? The yeast is done doing its thing – and no longer is creating turbulence in the solution. What does that really mean? It’s drinkable. I’m overjoyed. I ran out of last year’s far too quickly.
A few notes about this vintage. I kept all batches on-sediment/pulp rather than racking the clear juice the day after. Last year I took the clear juice hoping for a fruity approach – but the unavoidable MLF [malo-lactic fermentation] yielded a more funky/complex [then oaked] wine, so keeping the lees involved for this style seemed to make good winemaking sense. Also may provide nutrients for the yeast. I’m finding this vintage looks darker in color, perhaps because of it. Last year’s looked almost this dark – but only after being oaked. It has a little young-lees-stink which I’m finding is normal and goes away with age & air. The wine in the photo is pre-MLF and pre-oak. It’s got notes of apricot, caramel [odd, pre-oak], apple, and light peach?
Me and my various crews crushed and pressed apples from 5 trees, in 5 yards around the city – so I have quite a few batches, 2 being lovely crabapple wines, which I intend on blending this year to achieve the best possible wine I can. Although I can’t wait to blend, I’m more excited to simply start enjoying hyper-terroir driven wine with and in my daily cooking again. Especially with the bounty of pork and goat cheese around lately. Life is good.
So cool to see hard cider at that stage. Mine (my first batch ever…) is still pretty active and frothy on top. We love hard cider, both still and sparkling, but this is the first time we have tried to make it. I’ll be digging through your posts looking for tips and hope.
Alan – I’d say choice of fruit [I’m finding a lot of variability in apples], yeast choice, and fermentation temperature would be the things to get right. Email me if you have anything specific you need a hand with.
Life is good – particularly at your house. How did your ham turn out? I love living vicariously through you… well, I am doing my own fall preserving… but, love to learn over your shoulder.
How much time/effort do you put into controlling sugar content (via specific gravity measurement), and/or acidity? Some brewers obsess over these, while most recipes/books hardly mention them… and when I go by a recipe but check out the resulting s.g./acidity, it tends to be off from the recommended starting points.
On this note, the most vigorous fermentation we’ve gotten yet was from frozen-then-crushed crabapples, without adding/measuring anything, not even yeast. Hooray for wild yeasts and sugars!
I have done extensive TA tests, and always take pH with my meter. With apples, not so important as they tend to be acidic anyway. The pH primarily dictates how much sulphite to add – but I’m assuming you’re using none. I also test SG and have a spreadsheet that, given the volume, and referring to a table of target SG figures to hit certain alcohol levels, provides the required amount of sugar required to get it to 12.5%. I haven’t used a recipe at all in the past couple years. All the alterations to the must are driven by: volume, SG, TA, and pH.
Where TA becomes pretty key is in Saskatoon wine, or other low-acid fruit wines. Low acidity can produce a crappy-texture wine, as well as one that doesn’t keep well. And on ‘keeping’ – alcohol being the preservative that it is, I’m a fan of getting the abv% up so that I can cellar the stuff with some success.
The 2 crabapple batches I have done in the cellar are hanging in there the longest – others are dropping clear, but they are still off and running. One of them is exceptional on the nose, and if the wine’s at all as good as the must, may be by far the best apple wine I’ve ever had a hand in.
The ham is excellent! But do you think my daughters will eat it!?!? Only if I fry it crisp and call it bacon.
will you really start drinking some of you stuff already? I always found at least six months minimum till they start to taste decent.
Jeff – yes. Some of it is so fresh and fruity that it would be a shame not to. It’s also evolving rather quickly in fruit character. Some of the less fruity and more complex/dense wines I’m not touching yet. They’ll be oaked.
To date, last year’s apple wines did not improve with age – drinking optimally at about 3-9 months? Not sure why. They were oaked, and I thought would age well.