Phwoar… look at these babies! Two demijohns of gooseberry wine, one into secondary fermentation with the pinker version having yeast suspended and well in a primary fermentation party.
Gooseberry wine should be a easy to make. No extra tannin or acid is needed so its just a case of sugar yeast and time… loads of time. It turned out to be quite stressful in the end!
The first demijohn was intended to be made with MA33 yeast as it can deal with acid well turning malic acid into lactic acid and mellowing the wine over time. The yeast did not start fermenting, or if it did it promptly stalled. There could have been a number of reasons but I think the high sugar level (though just a standard 1.09SG) may have inhibited it. High initial acid levels may have been a cause too. I waited 3 days and then used some classic EC1118 to start it off and it all went swimmingly.
The next demijohn was used to refine my methods. After the cold maceration and mashing the fruit was to measure the acid. I removed the must from the fridge added pectolaise to destroy the pectin as it got to a reasonable temperature. This allowed the juice to really infuse so that a decent reading could be taken with an acidity kit. It was a little too acidic so I added some precipitated chalk to neutralise some. It was disappointing that there was no massive bubbling as I had been lead to believe and the few bubbles that were produced were gentle.
After that I again pitched the MA33 yeast and left it with fingers crossed. The yeast is a slow starter taking 48 hours to get stuck in. This can open up the chance of spoilage with either microbes or other ambient yeasts but hopefully inoculation during the cold soak sorted it. Five days after pitching the yeast and probably three into the fermentation I squeezed the juice from the gooseberries and removed them from the must. It was an amazing amount of juice that they provide, with probably 1.5 litres squeezed out. The resulting pulp left behind is a sorry state but shows how much is juice. This also gave a chance to rack the wine into the demijohn and provide some oxygenation that MA33 needs to keep it viable.
The two differing yeasts will provide a decent chance to taste the different properties they will bring to the wine – in a years time sadly. Blackberry and elderberry foraging can keep me busy and keep my kind off it. The champagne yeast will impart a champagne style flavour and I could do a second fermentation in 6 months time to get a sparkling wine… Ms Gazette may force me, and her sister Ms Financial-Gazette may bully her into it! The MA33 will probably be mellower with the acid changing more with age and make a fruitier wine as the fermentation is slower maintaining colour and aroma.