Thank you for your wine making newsletter each month. It is very informative and helpful to me in my winemaking. I have a question, “How do I keep the fruit flavor in my wine? I end up with about 13 percent alcohol content but am losing the fruit flavor. Could you help?
Thank you for all the kind words. We try very hard to bring useful, relevant information to the home winemaker.
What your question really involves is the basic balance of the wine. There are three primary elements in a wine’s basic balance profile: fruit flavor, alcohol and sweetness.
Obviously, the amount a fruit that you use in a wine recipe will affect the wine’s fruitiness. The more fruit in the wine recipe, the fruitier the wine will be, but there are limits to how far you can take this.
Using too much fruit in an attempt to increase the wine’s fruitiness can create a wine that is sharp or tart tasting. This is caused by excess fruit acid – the acid that is in the fruit. It can also create a wine that takes an incredible amount of time to completely age. So, there is only so much fruitiness to be had in a given wine recipe.
One way of maximizing the amount of fruit you use without making it too acidic is to using an acid testing kit. This will allow you to monitor how much acid is in the wine. The directions that come with it will tell you what range to shoot for.
While adding more fruit increases the fruitiness of the wine, alcohol decreases it. This happens simply because the alcohol is numbing the tongue making it less sensitive to fruit flavors. This is why you will typically find among wine recipes in various wine making books and on the web, that the higher the alcohol level, the more fruit the wine recipe will call for.
To keep a handle on your wine’s alcohol level, you will want to use a wine hydrometer. The scale on the hydrometer will tell you how much alcohol can be made with the beginning sugars that are in the wine must.
Sweetness also plays a role in balance. During a fermentation all the sugars are turned into alcohol, even the sugars that come from the fruit itself. Removing the sugars will lower the fruity impression of the wine, dramatically.
The good news is the sweetness of the wine can easily be corrected at bottling time. By adding a little sugar syrup solution you can bring back the fruitiness. Just a very slight amount of sweetness can bring out a lot of fruitiness in the wine. You don’t necessarily need to make the wine sweet. You just need to take the dry edge off the wine.
Add the sugar to taste and then also add potassium sorbate. This is a wine stabilizer that will keep the wine from fermenting the newly added sugars. This is what I recommend doing with your current batch.
As for future batches, you will want to lower you target alcohol level a little… maybe 11% instead of 13%. This will make a noticeable difference in the fruitiness of your wine. It will seem more lively and less watery.
By working with these three basic elements of a wine: fruit flavor, alcohol, and sweetness, you can control how much fruity character your wine will, or will not, have. It is up to you to create a wine the way you like it, with the amount of fruitiness you prefer. It’s all part of learning how to make your own wine.
Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.
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Nice piece info in a understandable wording
Wow! That was really helpful!
Several years ago I was at a wine tasting at a local winery They had a peach wine that they were practicly giving away.It was horrible and they knew it so I bought several cases . I have a little secret that I use with my fruit wines especialy peach.It is bananas, yea you heard me Bananas.Include them in your recipe and you will be suprised at the differnce they make as long as you dont go overboard with them. The peach wine that I bought I fixed by simply going tothe grocery store purchaseing a couple of bunches of bananas ,mashing adding water boiling and firmenting .After fermintation and racking I added it to the peach wine I had bought and rebottled . You can buy a sweetener / conditioner to add befor bottleing or as stated buy customer service add sugar to taste then add Potasium sorbate.
Hope this helps.
cannot understand how peach wine was horrible , unless it was the lack of fruit ? when the wine was made ,
one of the best wines we ever made was peach perfection we made 10 english gallons each time and used perfect ripe peaches as many as the wine would take result
perfect peach wine every time
My Peach & Nectarine tasted good at time of bottling, not so good 1 year later but tasting very good at 2 years of aging. Part of problem is 17.5% alcohol. All of my wine is made 16% or stronger, and all improve greatly after 2 years of aging.
Each year my farmer-neighbor, a good friend, processes the grapes in 5 acres he set aside for grapes only. And since my grapes are less than 5 acres I have time available to help him both prune and harvest his grapes and take them to the winery.
Since this is also labor intensive, his Plum trees (about 6-8) and their fruit have to go unattended and generally spoil, but this particular year he and I harvested all the Plums, both still on the trees and those fallen.
With them, I made a beautiful wine which cleared with difficulty…UNTIL ECKraus advised me how to clear it all, almost over night. The alc was about 12.5%, but I had a difficult time drawing out the fruity-Plum flavor…AGAIN ECKraus to the rescue, and we used some of their excellent fruit flavoring additives…it was beautiful, and I can’t wait for their mharvest this new time around
can you add the bananas and peaches in the same firmenting bucket or do they need to be separate?
Love the banana idea. Wish I would have know that last year when I made my peach wine.
I didn’t see an answer to the question of chris hilliard of whether you can ferment banana & peach together to make a peach wine.
I just add a little banana wine to any fruit wine. It sort of smooths it out, has to be sweetneed though as my banana really works out the alcohol and is really dry
Chris, while you can add the bananas and peaches together in the same fermenter, another idea that I promote is making a batch of banana wine separately. When it’s done store it in gallon jugs. Then blend it to taste into wines that you later make. Some wines may taste best with just a gallon blended in; others my taste best with two or three gallons of banana. By doing it this way you are taking better control of the wine’s flavor.
that was really helpfull information, please keep up
nice explanation about the fruit and wine combination
What about adding an F pack near the end of fermentation? Don’t know if I’m correct but my assumption has always been that F stands for flavour so this might give you a fruitier tasting wine
Bill, I believe what you are talking about is a flavor packet and yes it is fine to use them. Some of our wine kits come with flavor packets that are added after fermentation completes, the wine is clear, stabilized and ready to bottle. The flavor packets will add to the sweetness and fruit flavor of the wine.
Will the fruitiness reemerge with continued ageing?
Mark, aging the wine will smooth out harshness of a young wine and bring out other characteristics but you will not notice much improvement in the fruity flavor.
I use bananas wine as well in blending wines. The are cheap and plentiful. Some of my recipes call for grape concentrate to be added at the end of fermentation for more body. It helps in kicking the flavor up a notch. I always keep welches concentrates in my freezer for winemaking. It has to be 100 % juice though. It’s what makes winemaking fun. To experiment wityh recipes etc. I like entering my wine in local fairs to see how they compare to other wines. feels good to win that blue ribbon also. Happy winemaking ya all!!
What do people think is the best back sweetener for apple wine? I made a batch last year (25 lbs apples for 6 gallons, alcohol a little high, around 13%), but when I back sweeten with sugar, it the sugar taste is too pronounced to me. Would apple cider or some other fruit juice be better?
We are new to this, and making a low bush blueberry wine, that appears it is getting out of balance. Looking at nearly 14% alcohol. Would you recommend adding the banana wine as mentioned, back sweetening with a sugar solution, or cooking down some blubberies and making a concentrate? Would really like to have a good blueberry flavor. Thanks.
Sue, normally bananas are used during the primary fermentation to add body to the wine, but they can also leave the perception of sweetness. Back-sweetening the wine will normally help to bring out the fruity flavors. You can also add blueberry juice at bottling time to enhance the flavor. Just make sure if you choose either of these options to add potassium sorbate to prevent re-fermentation. Below we have posted a couple of article that discuss adding mot fruit flavor.
More Fruit Flavor
I am planning to do Asian pear wine here shortly and was considering adding white grapes for sweetness and body. Don’t want a sweet wine.. Anyone have a pear wine recipe that was exceptional ?
EC Kraus has the recipe I follow for Pear wine. If you Google EC KRAUS pear wine you can actually pull up a pdf version if you can’t find the blog post. The guys at my local wine shop think my pear wine was awesome. I did add 2 quarts of baby pear juice for topping off the carboy.
Try your experiments on a small scale, if you like the results you can scale up. If you don’t like it you can reconfigure and you haven’t ruined an entire batch. (Been there, done that!)
I want to cut some of these recipes that make 5 gallons into just 1 gallon, so I’m going to divide everything by 1/5th. Would I also cut down the yeast or would I still want to use the entire packet?
Brian, you would still need to use the entire packet of yeast.
The red wine kits we have made that taste fine but I really want a heavy, jammy full-bodied red but don’t want it to taste sweet/sugary. Would I be able to achieve this by adding a little simple syrup in the carboy a week before bottling? How much simple syrup would it be so it doesn’t come out “sweet”?