Making Up The Total

First Tasting of Vagabond Gingered Ale

First Tasting of Vagabond Gingered Ale

Before we get into the wine-making…

I’m sitting here, having finally completed with the additions (except the yeast) to my two new wines. Today being the 18th, the first day of readiness*, I placed one of the Vagabond Gingered Ales (#49, to be precise) in the refrigerator. And now I get to sample it.

The carbonation is a little under-pronounced. I’m imagining the other bottles will be better with a little more time. The flavor is very good, I’d say in the style of a porter, the red-tinged darkness backing it up. I don’t notice much ginger, but Kim said she could taste it. There is a noticeable bitterness from the hops, but not too much. And it has that slightly burnt flavor that I associate with chocolate malt. Toasty may be better; burnt sounds bad. And overall, it is decent.

…Back to the wine:

I started off the evening by adding a gallon of distilled water to each of the buckets, and then measuring specific gravity. Both came out to the same 1.038 – low, but not completely unexpected. That they both were the same was a little bit more unexpected! I used an online calculator over at a mead forum (one that I had used before) to calculate how much more sugar would be needed to bring me to the right specific gravity for a wine at around 12.5% ABV. The suggested target was just under 5 pounds.

But factoring in that there was likely still a lot of sugar tied up in the grape solids, I decided to lower it a bit. I measured out 4.75 pounds of sugar into a half a gallon of water and heated on the stove until it was all in solution. This I did twice, once for the Mars grapes and once for the Saturn grapes. After heating each, I added it to the bucket and waited some time before again measuring SG.

I checked the SG on the Mars first, and also the temperature. I found an SG of 1.102, at a temperature of 90°F. I probably should have used a little less water, to account for the bulk of the sugar. The end result was about 3.75 gallons total. I know some of that will be lost to the leftover fruit solids, and some to the yeast pack at racking. But still, I was shooting for 3.5 gallons total.

I then moved onto the Saturn, finding an SG of 1.094 (what I had actually expected for both) at a temperature of 86°F. I also noticed that the level came up to more like 3.8 or 3.85 gallons. Both had started with a temperature of 66°F. I haven’t done the calculations, but those should be all the readings I will need to figure an original gravity for comparison at the end of fermentation.

I let the temperature drop a little more, then found that I had made a gross error. I need pectic enzyme, yeast nutrient and wine tannin. I had just enough of the yeast nutrient and the wine tannin for these two; I will need more very soon. But I had nowhere near enough pectic enzyme.

Now with a straight “wine” grape, you often don’t need pectic enzyme, from what I can gather. And even with a typical table grape you don’t. With strongly flavored grapes like Concord, you do – to the tune of 1 tsp. per gallon. I’m not sure where Mars and Saturn really fall, but somewhere between the table and highly flavored. Also, the use of wine tanning was indicated for the table grape but not necessarily the highly flavored grape…so I guess I am blurring lines a bit with this recipe I am putting together.

I added to each of the wines 3 tsp. of yeast nutrient. To the Mars grape wine I added 3/4 tsp. of wine tannin. I added just a little bit more to the as-yet-lighter Saturn wine, 1 tsp. of wine tannin. My guess is it will always be lighter, though likely redder than it is now. I divided my remaining pectic enzyme between the two of them, about 3/8 tsp. each. That is well under what I am guessing is best, but it will have to do. I have no opportunity to get more in a reasonable time frame. The danger is haze, and I am willing to accept that. If I were being optimistic, I’d maybe even say that it probably isn’t necessary at all. Time will tell.

With that, I would normally wait 24 hours for the pectic enzyme rest. With such a low dosage, I may not even wait that long before applying yeast. In either case, it will be tomorrow evening.

* Re-reading quickly that post, I see I jumped the gun by a day. Tomorrow was the actual “first day of “readiness.”


One thought on “Making Up The Total

  1. Pingback: I Must Have Left My Head Somewhere | Akahige Wines, Meads and Sundry

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