23.3 lbs. processed and mashed strawberries, 12 lbs. rock candy sugar, 1/4 teaspoon sodium metabisulfite, 5 teaspoons pectic enzymes, 5 teaspoons yeast nutrient, 2 packages Red Star Champagne yeast
The recipe called for 25 pounds of strawberries, but was unclear about wether that was 25 pounds raw or processed strawberries (probably raw based on the order of the instructions). We started with about 30-35 pounds and ended up with 23.3 pounds of processed strawberries after trimming the greens, soft or rotten bits, and eating quite a few. We used a potato masher to mash up the strawberries. We didn’t quite wait a whole 24 hours (closer to 17 hours) before transferring the juice liqueur to the primary fermentation because of time constraints. For kicks we used rock candy sugar instead of table sugar. And just to be safe we used 2 packages of yeast for a healthy start.
Fermentation kicked off within the hour, before we left for the weekend. After two days, we noticed a very light sulfur smell so with the thought that the yeast might be stressed I added 3 teaspoons of yeast nutrient and lightly stirred it in. Possibly the sodium metabisulfite was still working its way out of the carboy or it had stressed the yeast when we added the juice liqueur early by not waiting the full 24 hours. The carboy did have signs of a pretty aggressive fermentation over the weekend and still seemed to have a healthy amount of activity so fingers crossed it comes out alright. That little boost helped and the next day there were no more sulfur smells (just happy yeast smells).
At secondary the color was a clear light red with a hint of orange to it. More acidic taste on the back of your tongue than you would expect from the sweet strawberry juice aroma it gives off to the noise. The heat of the high alcohol is last note you end with after swallowing. Planned to age this a bit longer in the secondary and let the alcohol taste mellow out a bit and then consider sweetening it if need be at that time.
After ~6 months of aging (we got busy) it was very dry and the puckering tartness has left, there was still a strawberry aroma, but no sweetness on the nose or in any of the tasting. The aftertaste was very very dry and somewhat bitter. We sweetened the wine incrementally and it was an immediate improvement. After 5 oz. of non-fermentable sugar the typical strawberry were present in the nose and the wine was palatable. We incrementally increased the sweetening and ended up at 15 oz. of non-fermentable sugar for the entire batch. The result was a strawberry wine that is a sweet strawberries on the tongue, but ends with a semi-dry tartness. At 15% ABV this wine will catch up with you quickly, but the sweet and tart combo dangerously masks the heat of the alcohol.