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Chokecherry Wine - My First Attempt

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 02 March 2016 at 09:20
Chokecherry Wine - My First Attempt

Those of us who live in “Chokecherry Country” know that we have a great thing going with these wonderful little spheres of purplish-black love, known scientifically as Prunus virginiana. Chokecherries are an integral part of the culture and the people who live with them, from the Native American tribes who gathered and used them hundreds (and probably thousands) of years ago, to the pioneers and settlers who arrived to tame the land and discovered an irresistible treat waiting for them when they arrived.

All my life, I’ve enjoyed chokecherries, mostly in the form of syrup and jelly, but occasionally in a few other creative ways. Late last year, I even brewed a chokecherry-wheat ale that came out really well, and I intend to brew it again later this year. But in spite of the fact that I have lived in Montana and the Dakotas all of my life, one of the most popular ways to experience the chokecherry is one that I had never tried before - in wine.

Last year, I set out to remedy that situation when I picked several pounds of chokecherries in the mountains south of home with my youngest son. It was one of those late-summer mornings that exist to let you know that autumn is approaching; cool, foggy and with occasional drizzles of light rain. The aroma of wet leaves and grass was heavy in the air, and in many ways, it was nearly a perfect time to be where I was and doing what I was doing. Interestingly, the chokecherries proved to be difficult to find last year, due to a late-spring frost; however, after much searching outside of our usual areas, we did find a couple of nice groves that contained a wonderful harvest of plump, ripe chokecherries. I made some of them into syrup, and I used a small portion for the aforementioned chokecherry-wheat ale that I brewed...and the rest eventually became my first attempt at chokecherry wine.

The Wonderful, Thoughtful and Beautiful Mrs. Tas, knowing my desire to learn about making wine, bought this 1-gallon kit for my last birthday:

http://mastervintner.com/master-vintner-fresh-harvest-fruit- winemaking-kit/

What I especially like about this kit is that it simply contains the equipment and necessary additives for making wine; the beauty of it is that you get to supply all of your own fruit for making it, and it can be whatever you want. You can get it at the market, grow it in your garden...or you can gather what Nature provides. The possibilities are endless, and I am grateful to her for choosing this option, because I feel that it would be much more rewarding to go this route, than to make a “normal” wine using pre-packaged ingredients from a factory somewhere. This type of venture appeals to me, a descendant of immigrants, farmers, gardeners and gatherers going all the way back through their migrations to their origins; Montana, North Dakota, Ukraine, The Black Forest Region of Germany, and finally to 18th Century Alsace - and before that, as well.

There are probably hundreds of different recipes for chokecherry wine out there on hand-written notecards and in kitchen cupboards all across the northern United States and Southern Canada, often written with vague, generalised instructions using archaic terminology or esoteric-sounding directives such as “soak chokecherries in water until a white film grows over them, then add bread yeast.” There are also quite a few recipes to be found on the internet; however, it seemed to me that many of those recipes will contain blends with other fruits or wines, or that they call for the wine to be infused with additives, adjuncts and other ingredients that are - in my opinion - distractions from the true character of the chokecherry. In most cases, the recipes that I found are for very large batches of wine, calling for 50 or 60 pounds of chokecherries at a time and methods that could almost be on an industrial scale. Even most of the smaller recipes were for a minimum of 20 gallons of wine, an amount that would take me decades to consume.

For my own requirements, a small, low-maintenance, home-based batch that would be typical of any rural farmhouse wine, there were a few recipes out there; all were similar, but there were differences in the details that were enough to be a bit confusing for someone who has never made “real” wine before. Luckily, I found salvation in the form of a friendly and helpful woman on a home-brewing forum that I am a member of who goes by the moniker of “Yooper.” Being from the Midwest, she has been making chokecherry wine for many years; consequently, she is very well-versed on the fundamentals of the process, the pitfalls and the dozens of other little things that will really help someone who is starting out. Thanks to her experience and mentorship, I was able to bring some order to the chaos and finally get this project started after several years of wandering around aimlessly in the wilderness. I am very grateful to her for all of her patient and valuable help with this project!

Here is her recipe, scaled down to 1 gallon:

Quote Yooper’s Chokecherry Wine

2-1/2 pounds chokecherries
2 pounds table sugar
1 tsp acid blend
1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
1/4 tsp grape tannin (or less)
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1 crushed Campden tablet
Champagne yeast

Freeze berries first, for ease in crushing, but no need to destone. Place in a sanitized mesh nylon bag (very large so the berries have room), and then bring approximately 6 pints of water to a boil, and add 1.5# of sugar. Stir in acid blend, grape tannin, yeast nutrient, and crushed campden tablet. Pour over the berries. Stir well, cover loosely and let stand 12 hours. Add pectic enzyme and let stand another 12 hours. Stir well, estimate volume (you will be removing the chokecherry pulp, so I lift out the bag and look at the volume in the primary bucket). Check the SG (Specific gravity) to ensure it is between 1.085-1.100. Write this number down. Add yeast, stir and cover again.

Gently squeeze bag twice daily to extract juice. After five days, drain bag and squeeze well to extract as much juice as you can. Rack to secondary, and fit airlock. If the original SG was low, this is the time to add additional sugar to boost the ABV. Rack when lees are 1/4" thick, or in about 30 days. After that, rack whenever lees are 1/4" thick, or if there are any lees at all in 60 days.

After no new lees fall after at least 60 days, and the wine is clear, it can be stabilized and sweetened if desired, or racked onto oak for a period of time for a table wine.

I would miss the grape concentrate in this, so I would add a few raisins in secondary for body and flavor.

In a batch about 5 years ago, I got an SG of 1.094 from 8 pounds of sugar in 5 gallons, so I'd start low (the 1.5 pound above) and add more later if necessary. The batch the following year needed 12 pounds of sugar in a 6 gallon batch, so you can see how much it varies!


Due to several factors, including my father’s recollections from watching his own father make chokecherry wine years ago, my attempt was slightly different; however, It seems that the essentials should be close enough to get things started so that I can learn what I am doing and why I am doing it. My goal was for a slightly- (but not overly-) sweet, fruity wine that has plenty of rich, chokecherry flavour. Once I am able to see the results of this batch, I will be able to adjust toward that end, if necessary.

Here’s how my first batch of wine came together (deviations from Yooper’s original recipe are in parenthesis, for comparison):

Quote Ron’s Chokecherry Wine (First Attempt):

2.9 pounds chokecherries (2.5 pounds in original recipe, but 2.9 is what I had)
1 cup golden raisins (my interpretation of “a few” called for in original recipe)
2.25 pounds sugar (2 pounds in original recipe)
3/4 teaspoon acid blend (1 teaspoon in original recipe)
1/2 teaspoon pectic enzyme
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
1 crushed Campden tablet
1 pkg Montrachet yeast
7 pints Montana spring water (6 pints in original recipe)

Not used: grape tannin (my dad insisted that his dad never used it, so I tried it his way)


I began my chokecherry wine on Saturday, February 27th, 2016. Since beginning this project, I have been trying to follow the basic procedure outlined in Yooper’s instructions, but there have been a couple of minor differences. With my work and home schedule, I’ve only been able to stir the chokecherry must once each day, rather than twice. Another difference is that I’ve never used a hydrometer before and don’t yet have all of what I need to use one in order to check specific gravity, final gravity etc.; I’ve since ordered the modest equipment that I need, so I will have it by the next time I start a batch of wine. This will help me keep better track of what my wine is doing at various stages of its progress, and will allow me to accurately measure the alcohol content, as well.

At the time of this writing, I am still in the beginning stages of fermentation. I will keep a record of my progress here on this thread as I learn what I am doing. This will serve the dual purpose allowing me to retrace my steps next time - adjusting when necessary - while also (hopefully) providing useful information for anyone who is wanting to start their own batch of chokecherry wine. This and subsequent posts will contain terminology that might be new to those who have not made wine before; to be honest, I am still learning many of these terms myself, so my understanding of them is still rather superficial. I might know some definitions, but it will take more experience before I am able to grasp the context of and interrelationships between many fundamental aspects of home winemaking. I will do my best to explain some of these terms when and where I can. If you have questions, please be sure to ask, or to consult many of the excellent resources available.

Here is a record of my progress up until this point:

Quote Saturday, February 27th, 2016

Well, Glory be ~ I was finally able to start my chokecherry wine today!

My dad, who used to watch his dad make chokecherry wine, came over today telling me about his progress with his own first batch of wine, which he started a couple of days ago. Because of this, I figured that now is the time to finally get going, and I am sure glad that I did. Everything went very smoothly, and I think that I am going to end up with some very nice wine. It actually took longer to get the equipment clean and sanitised than it did to actually get the wine going, so once again, I am kicking myself for taking so long in getting a project started. I could have been sampling some wine right now, If I would have gotten going on it!


Quote Sunday, February 28th, 21016

I did my first stirring and pitched my Montrachet yeast today; I had intended to make a yeast starter, but forgot to do so.

Ambient temperatures are right around 70 degrees, plus or minus a couple of degrees, depending on the time of day.

If I read Yooper's instructions correctly, the primary bucket should be covered loosely (not clamped down) and the airlock should not be on, until it goes into secondary. My dad agrees with this, saying that is how he is doing his.

We're cruising along here, and I think that all is well.


Quote Monday, February 29th, 2016

I stirred my must and squeezed my bag of chokecherries today after work. I was unsure about just how vigorously I should be squeezing things out, so I gave it a few firm squeezes, squishing around so as to hopefully mash up the chokecherries (but not the stones, of course), and then called it good. It did look like a lot of pulpy stuff seeped out of the mesh bag, and I am guessing that by the time my first week is through, I'll have what is essentially a bag of skins and pits.

Temperatures had fallen to 68 degrees, but I am going to guess that this is okay, as long as it was only for a short time. I bumped the heat up and tucked the fermenting bucket away until tomorrow.

The must is looking great, with a characteristic chokecherry colour starting to deepen from purple (with a hint of brown) into deep burgundy. I did not notice any signs of active fermentation, but this is my first batch, so I am not sure what exactly to expect. There were the very beginnings of foam on top, it seemed, so I'll check it tomorrow and see what I have. It is really starting to smell rich as well, almost like the beginning of wine, so I am assuming that I am on the right track.

With my first attempt, I did not add tannin to the recipe, as my dad was insistent that his dad never used it, apparently on the grounds that the few small stems that make it through the picking process provide the necessary tannins. The recipe only calls for 1/4 teaspoon for the gallon, and I am hoping that the wine is not affected in any adverse way. My goal is a rich, slightly-sweet, slightly-fruity wine, so time will tell.


Quote Tuesday, 1 March 2016 (morning)

I looked in on my wine this morning. Ambient temperature was 68 degrees, so I bumped it up just a tiny bit to stay around 70. It was dark in the room, but I think I saw the beginnings of some foam at the top, which I would take as a confirmation of fermentation. It might also have been the mesh bag; I'll know for sure when I get home from work.

I am definitely getting some wonderful, chokecherry-powered aroma from this must, and to me, it definitely SMELLS like fermentation is happening. This is my first batch of any "real" wine, so in many ways I am not sure what to expect. Going forward, I plan to use a hydrometer, as I should have been doing all along, but for now, it seems that things are progressing.

When I get home from work tonight, I'll confirm visual signs of fermentation, stir, squeeze etc.

More as it happens, etc. &c.


Quote Tuesday, 1 March 2016 (evening)

I came home tonight from work and checked on my wine before stirring it. It looks like things are going well!

Ambient temperatures are holding steady as above, and the wine is getting a nice, deep aroma that definitely has some fermentation in it. Colour remains as described above, a nice deep burgundy with a bare hint of tan or brown added. I still do not see any real foam on top, but maybe I am expecting to see it because of the krausen that I am used to seeing with beer brewing. The wine is quite cloudy now, which is expected, and as I squeezed the mesh bag full of chokecherries, I was getting plenty of good, thick pulp into the bucket. I was also able to feel that about half of the chokecherries are squeezed down to the point where they are pretty much just pits. By Friday, I am guessing that this will be the case for nearly all of the bag, if not all of it.

A few errant drops gave themselves up to a taste test, and I think we've got some good things here. It is actually starting to taste like a young wine; just slightly more sour or acidic than I expected, but I assume that will balance out. There's also plenty of sweetness still, and oodles of chokecherry flavour.

That's all I have for now.


As of this morning, 2 March, 2016, things appear to be moving right along. My ambient temperature was 71 degrees when I took a quick peek this morning, and the heart-warming smell of fermenting chokecherries was in the air. I’ll stir tonight when I get home and note any progress.

Edited by TasunkaWitko
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I stirred my chokecherry must again when I got home from work last night. Temperatures were holding steady at 71 degrees, right where they need to be.

Everything looked, smelled and tasted the same as before...only more advanced, better, I'm not sure what the proper term would be. But it definitely seems that we are moving along well. There are still no big, billowing piles of foam on top of the must, as I would have expected before I started this project; however, there were definite visual signs that things were "moving around" as fermentation continues, and I have come to the conclusion that for wine, this must be normal.

I looked in this morning, as well - just a quick peek to make sure that bandits hadn't run off with my wine. Temperature was still the same - 71 degrees - and the wine-ish, chokecherry aroma was really smelling beautiful.

According to schedule, the primary fermentation should be complete tomorrow or Saturday, if my calculations are correct. I will rack this wonderful stuff to a fermenter at that time, and as this wine progresses to what will hopefully be a wonderful end.

What shall my next project be? I'm not sure. It is going to be a little early for dandelion wine, rhubarb wine and any other fruit wine that comes to mind using locally grown or gathered ingredients. I could pick up some good quality IQF fruit of some variety; another option that I have heard of would be to buy fruit puree or possibly use those cans of "Oregon" fruit. I assume that the sugar needs to be accounted for, but a few folks have reported great results. Other options are out there, too - banana wine, perhaps? Or maybe even a second batch of chokecherries - I have more that I got from my dad, so more batches are possible.

I'll think of something....

Edited by TasunkaWitko
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RobertMT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 March 2016 at 12:08
Wine yeast is a lot better behaved than ale yeast.

If you want a good hard cider. Scaled to gallon batch for you. This is slightly sweet, slightly carbed, appellee, goodness, that'll sneak up with it's 14% ABV.

1/2 gallon apple juice
two 12oz cans frozen apple juice concentrate
1/2 lb brown sugar (light or dark your choice)
24 oz strong tea (steep 6-8tea bags for 10min and squeeze dry)
1/4 cup of raisins or 1/4tsp of yeast nutrient
pkg of Nottingham or other dry ale yeast.

Secondary is optional, you can also add one cinnamon stick and split vanilla bean if desired.

At bottling
1 tsp Vanilla extract
2 tsp simple syrup (for priming) or
1 TB real maple syrup (priming and flavor)


Pour apple juice in primary, add brown sugar to empty juice jug, add warm tea and shake to dissolve sugar, add to primary, along with raisins or YN, shake to aerate and sprinkle dry yeast on top, install blow off, third day, after it's settled down a bit, add one can of thawed FAJC and swirl to mix, next day add second can of FAJC, replace blow off with airlock and let ferment off. You can rack into secondary after month and add cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, or both and leave for month, before bottling, or just add priming sugar and bottle from primary. Let bottle condition and carb, for couple weeks. I bottle one PET bottle (pepsi 12oz plastic) and squeeze to check for carb, if it gets real hard, stop ferm., by cold crashing bottles in frig.

Or follow these Pappy's

Edited by RobertMT
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 March 2016 at 12:43
Robert, that sounds great! I'm putting it on my list as my
next cider project. I haven't had much luck with hard
ciders, as they have either "gone sour," or - in some
cases, have mysteriously disappeared; the empty bottles to
be found at a later date.

I will give this a try ~ Thanks!
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Quick update -

Got home from work tonight and stirred the chokecherry
must. Ambient temperature was 72, so I bumped the temp
down just a tiny fraction, to keep it in the
neighbourhood of 70.

Appearance and aroma were as in previous posts, but
apparently further along and more advanced. I did see a
tiny bit of foam on top of the must, and a few bubbles
rising. Squeezing the mesh bag, it was evident that
nearly all of the chokecherry pulp is gone, leaving
behind only pits and remnants of skins, as expected.

Tomorrow or Saturday, I'll be racking the wine to the
secondary fermentation; then the wait begins! :)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote RobertMT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 March 2016 at 18:56
The trick on cider, make it in bigger batches and let it age a bit. I started with 3 gallon bakery buckets, most store bakeries get their frosting in them and will either give them to you or charge a buck, if you ask. I now have both glass and PET carboys, glass is easier to clean, but you must use care when moving.

I've gone to Pappy's style cider and ale yeast, it doesn't finish as dry as Ed Wort's. Cold crash and a bit of age helps smooth either out.
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I'll get some Nottingham and give it a shot; I've got a 5-gallon carboy that's just sitting there, so I might as well put it to work, right?

I do have a package of Mangrove Jack's cider yeast that I need to use - do you think that will work as well as Nottingham?

Mangrove Jack's Cider Yeast Details

As for the chokecherry wine, I'm feeling pretty good. I took a quick look this morning - the chokecherries are smelling beautiful - I'm loving it!

Ambient temperature was right between 70 and 71 degrees - I think things are going just fine! :)
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mangrove jacks should work well, keep ferm temps below 68 if possible, it's like BBQ, low and slow, gives smoother deeper taste.

If you have 5 gallon carboy, 6 gallon recipe reduced to 5.

3 1/2 gallons apple juice
ten 12oz cans frozen apple juice concentrate
2 lbs brown sugar (light or dark your choice)
64 oz strong tea (steep 25 tea bags for 10min and squeeze dry)
1 cup of raisins or 2 tsp of yeast nutrient
pkg of Nottingham or other dry ale yeast. (make starter)

1.07 OG before adding second 5 cans FAJC (1.085 OG if all added at start) 1.002 - 1.003 FG, just slightly sweet, just above dry and 13-14% ABV. Tea adds some body, as does brown sugar.

I reserve 1/2 of FAJC for adding second day, lets yeast get better start.

I take 1/2 gallon of the apple juice and make starter day before, just shake well to aerate and add your mangrove jacks, I cover with coffee filter and rubber band, pour cup or so of apple juice out first, to leave some headroom in jug for starter.

If you can find apple juice in gallon glass, they make good secondary's and you can try different additions, vanilla beans, cinnamon stick, chunk of apple or oak wood all work well.

For 5 gallon batch, I add 1/2 can FAJC for priming.

Edited by RobertMT
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That sounds like a plan, sir ~ Thanks for the conversions to 1 and 5 gallons!

I will give it a go as soon as the weather warms up a bit and we open up the front porch (where the equipment is at).

I stirred the must when I got home from work tonight. Ambient temperatures were the same, right about 72 degrees, and it smelled wonderful. As predicted, we're
pretty much down to skins and pits in the mesh bag, and the must, while cloudy, had wonderful burgundy colour.

Today marks "Day #5" since I pitched the yeast; there were no visible or obvious signs of activity, but I am certain that fermentation is progressing right
along and is transitioning to a slower pace. By the time I begin my next batch, I'll be able to do a better job of keeping track of this; but for now, I think
it is ready to rack to its secondary fermentation in my 1-gallon glass fermenter. I will get this done tomorrow or Sunday, as time permits.

I've been wanting to get photos of my progress, but at the moment I'm limited to the mediocre ones that my phone and iPod can take. Here's one that I took after
stirring the must this evening:

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Well, today I did receive the hydrometer testing tube in the mail. It was also the day that, by the schedule, I should rack over from my primary bucket to my
gallon-sized glass fermenter. I went ahead and did exactly that this evening, and here is what I ended up with:



I then tested my must; if I am reading the hydrometer correctly, the measurement is exactly 1.000; it is definitely no lower than that.

The fermenter is currently sitting in my closet, protected from any light that might come into contact with it and finishing the last stages of fermentation
while the sediment (lees) settle to the bottom, clearing the wine. As you can see in the photo above, we've got some pretty cloudy stuff, at the moment. This
is, I am sure, due to all of the skin and pulp that was fine enough to get through the nylon mesh bag during primary fermentation. Based on my readings, I am
sure that it will settle down and clear out quite nicely; I also suspect that as the wine clears, the true, deep burgundy colour of the chokecherry will
become evident, as I have seen with many chokecherry wines. But, since this is my first batch, it is all new to me; time will tell.

Right now, with all of the floating particulates, the must is a bit sour and bitter (tannic, maybe?), as would be expected with chokecherry pulp and skins;
however, as the wine settles out and clears, I am guessing that this will ease off as well, allowing the real essence of the chokecherry to come through.

I might take a peek at it tomorrow, just to see what's going on and to make sure that the temperatures etc are where they need to be. After that, I will do
my best to leave it alone and forget about it for at least a week, in order to let the wine do its thing and come into its own.

More as it happens etc. &c.
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I took a look at my chokecherry wine just a moment ago. It appears to be doing very well and looks like it is already starting to clear as the sediment has
settled down a LOT. I've been describing the colour as deep burgundy, but it would probably be more accurate to say that it is somewhere between a deep burgundy
and deep mahogany; either way, it looks beautiful, so far.

Another thing that I noticed is that there had been a little airlock activity, so it seems that some very slow fermentation is taking place. As far as I know,
this is perfectly normal.

I'll leave the wine alone for a week and see what we've got next weekend. Hopefully, it will be a really nice sight!
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Give it couple weeks, at least and close to year of age mellows it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 March 2016 at 05:22
That's what I've been reading, as well; it will be hard to wait, but once the pipeline gets started, it should be good!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 April 2016 at 05:45
On Sunday, 17 April, I racked my wine over in order to get it off the lees. I used a crushed/dissolved campden tablet in order to ward off any possibility of oxidation, and the procedure went without any hitches that I am aware of.

The wine seems to be clearing very well on its own; I sucked up a little bit of the lees, but not very much at all, considering what was there before. There is a thin film at the bottom of my fermenter now, but nothing that I plan on getting excited about. I'll check it again in a month or so, and rack one more time if necessary before stabilizing and bottling.

Due to my dad's "sampling" and the space that was opened up when I took it off the lees, I did have to top it off a little to get back to a full gallon. Since this appears to be a normal procedure and the recipe takes this into account, I am not concerned. I used a cup or so of the same spring water that I use when I started the wine, which has always worked very well in my beer brewing. The next time I make chokecherry wine, I'll be able to top it off with...chokecherry wine!

I think I am on my way to some very nice wine. It has an aroma that is really something - I'm still learning my vocabulary for this, but I like it. I took a very small sample that settled out of the lees and found it to be very, very good. It does have a noticeably bitter (tannic?) edge to it, which I am guessing to be expected at this young stage, but with some really nice chokecherry just starting to come through. I suspect that as things come into balance, it is going to be really nice.

I have no plans to back-sweeten at this time, but we'll give more thought to that option when we get to that point.

Near as I can tell, I am very well on track with this. Time will tell, of course ~
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Goatlocker Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 June 2016 at 14:28
Ron,

Now I might have to try your lead with some of the wild black cherry we have growing around here. It makes a fabulous slightly bitter jam, very dark and pungent.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 June 2016 at 04:35
Give it a go - my understanding is that wine made from those wild black cherries is similar in character to chokecherry wine; if that is the case, it should be really good!

The procedure that I laid out above is working very well so far - if you have any questions, just let me know. If you don't have any wine-making equipment, this kit that my wife got for me is working really well, and I highly recommend it:

http://www.northernbrewer.com/master-vintner-fresh-harvest-f ruit-winemaking-kit

Edited by TasunkaWitko
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 September 2017 at 14:00
Well, my #2 son got into my first batch before it was ready, and to cover his tracks, he replaced a full half of it with water....
 
I thought of killing him, but decided not to; it's just too damn much hassle, although in the end I might have been able to plead temporary insanity. Instead, I started a second batch of wine on 3 October 2016, using a very slightly-modified recipe:
 
Quote Chokecherry Wine

3 pounds chokecherries
2.5 pounds sugar
1 cup chopped golden raisins (intended to add body to the wine)
1 teaspoon acid blend
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
Scant 1/4 teaspoon tannin
1 crushed Campden tablet
1/2 teaspoon pectic enzyme
1 package Montrachet yeast
7 pints Big Spring Water from Lewistown, Montana
 
As I mentioned, there are a couple of small differences with this batch, compared to my previous batch. I never used any tannin with the first batch, so I tried it this time, for comparison. The amount of chokecherries and sugar is slightly higher this time, but not by much, simply because that's what I had. My goal was a fruit-forward, strong-ish wine.
 
This time, the boy stayed out of it, and that makes me happy. Over the months, I racked this off the lees once or twice, then put it away to bulk-age. For a month or so, I told myself to forget about it, and after a while, I did!
 
Somewhere in that time, I re-filled the air-lock a couple of times, and finally, a month or so ago, I put a 38-mm cap on the fermenter and put it in the refrigerator, hoping that it would pull down any vestigial sediment etc. Normally, one would add a fining agent, but I did not do that at this time, since it didn't seem to need it. There was just the tiniest bit of sediment on the bottom; but otherwise, the wine seemed wonderfully clear and had a beautiful colour.
 
Last night, I bottled this wine, and I am thinking that I really have something nice. The normal, "proper" procedure would be to add a crushed campden tablet (dissolved in a bit of warm water) and a half-teaspoon of sorbate. I did not do that this time, for my own reasons, but intend to do so in the future; therefore, I am putting down this procedure so that I won't forget. 
 
Anyway, proceeding with the bottling, I washed and sanitised all equipment, then got down to doing it. It was quite easy, thanks to my mini auto-siphon and bottling wand - in fact, it was even easier than bottling beer. One thing I was eager to try was this handy gadget, which turned out to be very easy to use and made corking a breeze:
 
 
The are currently unavailable at Amazon, it seems, but can be found here, also:
 
 
I was expecting to get 4 bottles from the batch, plus a partial fifth bottle; however, I was happily surprised with 5 full bottles. I had just enough left over for a small sample, and it sure was good. The chokecherry came through very well, and I was quite happy to see that it still had the slight, zippy "spiciness" to that I referred to in my post above.
 
The bottles of chokecherry wine are currently sitting upright, in the dark, while the pressure equalizes and the corks settle in. In a few days, I will store my wine horizontally and leave it alone for a few weeks while the "bottle shock" wears off. I am guessing that when the time comes to sample it, I'll be quite pleased with it. I plan to see how this wine matures over the next year or so, and am hoping for really nice things.
 
For now, this second recipe that I made looks to be the one to use. I don't see any need for changing it, but will try to improve my methods and practices a bit in the future, including attempting to use some of the additives that can make a good wine even better. I have enough chokecherries in the freezer to start another batch of wine, and will get it started as soon as I can.


Edited by TasunkaWitko - 14 September 2017 at 14:18
TasunkaWitko - Chinook, Montana

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