Ask Wine Wizard

Tips For Making Cantaloupe Wine

TroubleShooting

Chef Jem — Jackson, North Carolina asks,
Q

 

So glad I just found your webpage on making melon wine (https://winemakermag.com/article/making-melon-wine).

I started fermenting cantaloupe juice a couple days ago with organic cane sugar dissolved in coconut water. Fermentation is active now. I see some red-colored speckles in a layer on top of the contents and would like to know if that is to be expected, to be strained, or whether the whole batch should be dumped. Do you have any thoughts on how I should approach this?

A
Because cantaloupes have high pH, my guess is that the red speckles you’re seeing in a layer on top of your wine are bacteria colonies and no, they are not to be expected. According to a fruit pH chart I found online from Clemson University, the pH of cantaloupes usually falls in the range of 6.1–6.6. The pH of water is 7.0, and the pH of most table wines made from grapes fall in the 3.3–3.7 range, so are much more acidic than melon juices. Bacteria tend to thrive in a higher pH (lower acidity) environment, which is one part of the reason most wine in the world is made from grapes, whose lower pHs keep spoilage bacteria at bay better (alcohol being the other part of the equation). Wine made from grapes just naturally “happens” better than wines from other fruits, which sometimes need hefty acid additions. As the article on making melon wines mentions, because melons grow on the ground (as opposed to grapes that are up off the ground on vines), they can pick up a lot
Response by Alison Crowe.