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1st batch-did I screw up?

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redtail57

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Just made my first batch of wine. It is a Vitners Reserve Merlot. I checked for clarity and it looks good to me. So, I am now at the bottling stage. My questions is, I took a sample and tasted it and it was rather weak and watery with no body. Will that improve over time? The instructions say wait at least a month to drink and better if you wait three months. Did I do something wrong? A guy at a brew store said it might be that I got one of the cheaper kits that only has 2.6 gallons of juice versus the more expensive that has 4 gallons. The Sgs were where they should be at each step. Anybody got any ideas?
 

Wade E

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You did nothing wrong! Some people actually like these thinner kits, Me, I ended up giving it all away and only do the RJS Cellar Classic Winery Series or the En Primuers now and they produce an excellent product. Both of these 2 kits come with grape skins in their kits and produce a much higher abv also.Starting sg on most of these kits is 1.110 which is more in tune with most big red wines. Some dont come with grape skins like a Pinot Noir but still produce a great wine as Pinot Noirs arent supposed to be huge on tannin. Try 1, you wont go back! They are more pricey but if you break it down into 30 bottles its really not much more per bottle.
 

redtail57

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Thanks for the advice!

Thanks for the advice! I may try those kits next. Is the best bet to just go with grapes after you figure out what the heck your doing?

You did nothing wrong! Some people actually like these thinner kits, Me, I ended up giving it all away and only do the RJS Cellar Classic Winery Series or the En Primuers now and they produce an excellent product. Both of these 2 kits come with grape skins in their kits and produce a much higher abv also.Starting sg on most of these kits is 1.110 which is more in tune with most big red wines. Some dont come with grape skins like a Pinot Noir but still produce a great wine as Pinot Noirs arent supposed to be huge on tannin. Try 1, you wont go back! They are more pricey but if you break it down into 30 bottles its really not much more per bottle.
 

Skyhawk

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I hate to say it, but aging will not help insipidness. If it's finished, and hydrometer readings are fine as you say, then I'd attempt a fix by adding 3 or 4 oz oak chips. If you don't like the oak taste, then half the oak and add perhaps 1/2 teaspoon of grape tannin. Also check the acid (TA) levels and add tartaric acid if necessary.

And although some may think this unusual, if you still have this wine on some lees (dead yeast deposit at bottom of carboy) keep it there for a month or two and stir it up from time-to-time with the skinny end of your spoon.

Although I don't make wine kits often anymore because real juice and grapes here is so much cheaper, I found that I could make better wine with them by not following the recipe exactly. In other words, adding tannin and oak not in the kit is fine according to your tastes, as is lengthening the amount of time in carboy between rackings before bottling.

For those who are new to this, I'd follow the directions exactly though. (That's my disclaimer! :D)
 

Wade E

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I agree with thenabove post, stirring the sediment will add a little body and mouthfeel and the added oak will add more body. You will have to do a lot more reading and get a lot of equipment or do some very extensive hands on work to deal with grapes. You most likely will want to do malo lactic fermentations to reduce the malic acids on wine from red grapes and now how to do acid tests, ph testing and tannin addition bench trials.
 

Skyhawk

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Is the best bet to just go with grapes after you figure out what the heck your doing?
It depends on what is locally available. I prefer real grapes in the fall, or grape juices at other times rather than kits because kits are more expensive for me. Juice is also easier than kits, since you don't have to mix with any water and sometimes you can ferment them in the container they come in. They often come with yeast already in them, which takes effect after you warm it up. Of course you need good quality juices to make good wine.

Some kits are really good, like those high end Cellar Classic 18L kits with the grape skins. But they are regularly priced here for about $120.00, and you can buy an imported 20L Pinot Noit, Merlot, Syrah, or Cabernet Sauvignon pail of frozen/cold natural juice for $55. Even with another $20 to buy frozen skins to ferment with, that's still only $75 compared to $120 - a $45 difference.
 

Wade E

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Over here we dont have the frozen grape option and without that Most red wines will still come out thin IMO.
 

WildSeedGrrrl

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The Vitners reserve merlot, is also the first wine I'm doing and I noticed the same thing when I was tasting it after I had stirred it up. A friend helping me tried it and thought it was fine (so I know who is getting at least 2 bottles of it), so thank you all for the advice on how to beef it up. I'll keep this around though for just house drinking, and not for drinking with foods.
 

WildSeedGrrrl

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Well I cracked open a bottle of the Merlot I had made, finally. I took it to a friend's dinner party and figured they'd be kind but honest. Well the first thing I noticed after opening and piuring it into a glass was the fizziness. there were tiny bubbles and when you tasted it, it had a sparkly aftertaste. PLus, it wasn't as dry as I had initially thought it would be, so that actually made the fizziness work. I don't think I degassed it enough. But it wasn't unpleasant at all. I drank half the bottle all by myself.
 

Tom

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YEP! Sounds like it's a degassing problem. How did you degas? We all suggest to use the S/S wand attached to a drill.
So you have "sparkling" Merlot.. nothing bad about that. Now you know what to do next time..
Enjoy the wine :r

What did your friend say?
 

WildSeedGrrrl

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they loved it. i liked it as a sparkling merlot. I did use a the paddled degasser that attaches to a drill but I think we didn't do it long enough. I would make another 'sparkling merlot'. Plus it was drinkable in about 2.5 months. I can't wait to taste it in another 2 months.
 

Wade E

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This is why i use both a drill mounted stirrer and then electric Vacuum pump cause I detect gas in wine more then others. I exchange wines with a lot of people in many other states and most of them are a bit gassy for me and i have to vacuum degas the bottle before I can drink it and taste what the carbonation can hide.
 

smurfe

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Yes, you screwed up
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:) I have always wanted to say that when there is the normal "Did I screw up my batch" post. :h Seriously though, First off welcome aboard. As most have said, I am sure you did nothing at all wrong. Unfortunately it is probably the kit. Sadly many get into this hobby and buy a cheaper kit to see if they like it. The bad thing is that some of these lits are sub par and turn the people off of the hobby before they ever get in it full swing. If a vendor tries to sell a high end kit people think the vendor is trying to up sell them when in reality they are just trying to help you make the best product possible so you will be a happy camper and come back and buy more.

The Vintners Reserve red kits are for the most part all like this. Very thin on body and somewhat watery in taste. I have tried the extra oak route before and have not been pleased with it. Normally you end up either not leaving it long enough or you over oak. The VR whites aren't bad though. I always recommend that you buy at least a 16 liter kit and preferably all juice. I know budgets are tight though.

Also, if you do make a 7 liter Vintners Reserve kit don't buy into the BS that you have to drink it up within 6 months to a year or it somehow starts going bad. That is marketing to get you to buy more kits. We just enjoyed a 2005 VR Pinot Griggio that was excellent. I drank a bottle of 2005 VR Cabernet the other night that while on the thin side tasted just fine.
 

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