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vinny

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Today marks the 1 year anniversary of my 3 juice juice bucket wines. I had planned to start MLF, but got some feedback that it caused more headaches than benefits, and I don't have any equipment to measure any starting of finishing points, so I never got to it.

The 3 varietals are Carmenere, Petit Verdot, and Pinotage. All are very tart. VERY tart. I did ferment 2 on the skins, but they are still light in color and body in comparison to many wines. They are not bad wines, but they are not finished in my opinion. Back sweetening is obviously a good place to start. As they are all tart a blend is not out of the question, but would be determined after back sweetening. I have 4 kits that I need to start, a couple that would be good blend options.Patience a tried and true option. 😄

I just thought I would ask those more seasoned than myself, what would be your starting point and go to tricks?

I just got an Apera pH meter. I will post the pH and ABV, and anything noteworthy from my notes shortly.
 
pH and ABV are helpful, although at this point the pH is just curiosity.

If any of the wines have a bite like a tart apple, that's malic acid and MLF might help. If the wine is just sharp, that's tartaric acid. In that case, cold stabilization may help.

Next option is potassium carbonate. Use the pH to get an idea of how much to add, then add 1/4 that amount. Mix in well and let the wine rest a week, then taste.

Go slow and avoid adding too much. You know what I'm gonna say next?

It's easier to add more than to take some out ......
 
I was using paper strip for the initial reading, so accuracy?

Carmenere 3.6 starting pH, finished 3.06. 12.6% ABV, 1 oz oak in secondary

Petite Verdot 3.6- 3.08 12.4%. fermented on skins, 2 oz oak in secondary

Pinotage 3.5- 3.18 12.8%. fermented on skins, 1 oz oak in secondary

The TART flavor has actually mellowed, I last tasted them a little over a month ago, and there is a surprising change. They are light, and the tart is more of a lack of balance or body at this point rather than the in your face tart that was holding up until today's tasting. Part of me wonders if it isn't partially the ABV. I usually aim for 13.5+ in the reds.

They are all fruity. Actually like cranberry to start, tart to berry, then rounding out and filling out with alcohol presence. Kinda jagged though, my terminology, but the best I can come up with.

I like oak, I could definitely up that to fill things out. I also have a gallon with a little of the carmenere and higher blend volumes from the 2 that had skins that I saved for topping up. That should also be investigated for structure before I make too many preconceived judgements.

Carmenere and Petite verdot in the glasses with a Temperanillo kit wine. They all have about the same depth as in the hydrometer cylinder.
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pH and ABV are helpful, although at this point the pH is just curiosity.

If any of the wines have a bite like a tart apple, that's malic acid and MLF might help. If the wine is just sharp, that's tartaric acid. In that case, cold stabilization may help.

Next option is potassium carbonate. Use the pH to get an idea of how much to add, then add 1/4 that amount. Mix in well and let the wine rest a week, then taste.

Go slow and avoid adding too much. You know what I'm gonna say next?

It's easier to add more than to take some out ......
Patience? 🤔

I think some Everclear and a series of bench tests with ABV, oak, glycerine, some cold stabilization, and maybe some acid tests might be beneficial with other wines to identify if it is malic vs tartaric. Are either more forward, or does acid always hit first in abundance?

The other issue with MLF was that I added k-meta before adding yeast. Assuming the supplier did as well I was going to be in the high range for setting off MLF successfully.
 
I don't worry pH too much at the end, but your readings give me an understanding of the situation.

Light bodied wines don't handle oak as well, it overshadows the wine. Go cautiously in this area

Bumping the ABV to 14% won't hurt. Glycerin will give it body, but won't do as much as you might like for acid.

What's your refrigerator space? If you have 4 liter jugs, break the wines up and refrigerate a jug of each for 2 to 4 weeks. I'd do that to see what happens. If they're not dropping acid crystals, then stop.

After that, potassium carbonate.

Or backsweeten. 1/4 cup sugar per 4 liters may make a huge difference.

I fought to avoid backsweetening my '23 Vidal (F-A white) ... but I gave in, and I'm glad I did. A lot of folks say "don't backsweeten reds!" ... but if it works for you, it works.

I'm messing with my '23 Chambourcin, which is a bit acidic. @VinesnBines hit hers with K-carbonate and it worked. I'm probably going to do that. [My grapes came from her vineyard.] I'm also considering backsweetening 4 to 8 liters just for the heckuvit, as an experiment.
 
Today marks the 1 year anniversary of my 3 juice juice bucket wines. I had planned to start MLF, but got some feedback that it caused more headaches than benefits, and I don't have any equipment to measure any starting of finishing points, so I never got to it.

The 3 varietals are Carmenere, Petit Verdot, and Pinotage. All are very tart. VERY tart. I did ferment 2 on the skins, but they are still light in color and body in comparison to many wines. They are not bad wines, but they are not finished in my opinion. Back sweetening is obviously a good place to start. As they are all tart a blend is not out of the question, but would be determined after back sweetening. I have 4 kits that I need to start, a couple that would be good blend options.Patience a tried and true option. 😄

I just thought I would ask those more seasoned than myself, what would be your starting point and go to tricks?

I just got an Apera pH meter. I will post the pH and ABV, and anything noteworthy from my notes shortly.
I’m not sure how many grape wines you’ve made and I’m no expert but in my experience aging does INCREDIBLE things to grape wine, it can be mind boggling the changes a couple to several years of aging to to them. So if you’ve not aged wines yet then I’d try just plain old cellaring before trying other things. I know it takes a long time for feedback doing this but it is a very very old technique that predates the scientific age. Not that I’m opposed to taking a scientific approach mind you.
 
We did a carmenere from grapes in 2020. After fermentation it was tart. We did MLF. Tart. Cold stabilization. Tart. Two and a half years in bulk, still tart. We bottled because we needed to reclaim capacity. Six months in the bottle. Tart. A year, tart. Opened a bottle last month. Wonderful.

Patience is an underrated skill in winemaking, investing, and child rearing.
 
If it was my wine I would hit it with potassium bicarbonate and add enough sugar to get up to 1.003 sg. Even raising the ph to 3.6 the wine will be sour but just a tiny bit of sugar will help.
FYI , Grape and Granary now sells small packets of VP 41 malolactic bacteria for about $12.
 
We did a carmenere from grapes in 2020. After fermentation it was tart. We did MLF. Tart. Cold stabilization. Tart. Two and a half years in bulk, still tart. We bottled because we needed to reclaim capacity. Six months in the bottle. Tart. A year, tart. Opened a bottle last month. Wonderful.

Patience is an underrated skill in winemaking, investing, and child rearing.
Interesting. I will keep this in mind. Thanks.
 
The only thing you might want to consider if you plan on doing MLF is the amount of sulfites already in the wine. Although VP-41 has a higher sulfite tolerance it still may be too high.
I have VP-41 so I could give it a try, but that was the main reason I decided not to bother. Multiple members mentioned it could be a hard start and with no way to measure any anything I was just rolling the dice.
 
I’m not sure how many grape wines you’ve made and I’m no expert but in my experience aging does INCREDIBLE things to grape wine, it can be mind boggling the changes a couple to several years of aging to to them. So if you’ve not aged wines yet then I’d try just plain old cellaring before trying other things. I know it takes a long time for feedback doing this but it is a very very old technique that predates the scientific age. Not that I’m opposed to taking a scientific approach mind you.
These are my first wines made from juice, everything else was either a county wine or a kit. I have some 2+ year aging berry wine, but some of my kits have peaked at a year. Although I have bottles saved to check aging changes, it kinda put the brakes on my excitement for long term aging. I suppose this is a different wine though being from grape juice, and not a manufactured kit designed for quick drinking.

It is quite a different skill winemaking. Stop worrying, relax, do nothing. 😄
 
These are my first wines made from juice, everything else was either a county wine or a kit. I have some 2+ year aging berry wine, but some of my kits have peaked at a year. Although I have bottles saved to check aging changes, it kinda put the brakes on my excitement for long term aging. I suppose this is a different wine though being from grape juice, and not a manufactured kit designed for quick drinking.
The qualities of a wine dramatically affect its aging needs and potential. A lot of country wines lack the oomph to handle aging, but that lack of oomph means they are drinkable sooner. This is true for all wines, which is why whites are generally drinkable sooner than reds, and have a shorter shelf life.

The same is true to cheap kits. Low quality kits have less constituents, so I'd not expect much aging potential. Unfortunately you can't get them (FWK not available in Canada), but the FWK Tavola that I've made have/had a 2+ year lifespan. I made them to drink, so long term aging is not on the agenda. The Forte kits I made in 2021 are holding strong and I expect them to be consumed prior to decline, probably in the next 2 to 3 years. I've had similar success with the WE Reserve line.

Juice buckets are harder to judge, as there's no label nor reviews that say how good a given varietal is in a year. If it's just red juice, my guesstimate is 2 to 5 years, and I'd pessimistically plan on using 'em up in 3 years.

For your next juice buckets, buy skin packs. The Sangiovese buckets we started last fall with pomace from CS, CF, and Merlot is seriously good at this point. Possibly better than the CS, CF, and Merlot!


EDIT: clarified that FWK are not available outside of the continental USA.
 
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I did do skins, but my LHBS owner is a... Bit of a wing nut. I got the pails on the fifth and added the skins on the 7th, when she got them to me. The juice took off like crazy so the skins only really had a day in the fermentation. I put lids on and pushed it out a week for EM, but I clearly didn't get the break down of skins that I would have liked.

Learning can be a slow and painful process. 😄
 
Learning can be a slow and painful process.
Something to keep in mind is that winemaking is like the remainder of life -- there are times when we make good choices and do the right things, and the situation does not go where we want it to.

Anyone who have made more than a dozen batches and not had one come out less than optimal? While it's entirely possible, I'd first assume BS.

I've made probably more than 150 batches in my time, ranging from 1 US gallon to 24 US gallons, most in the 5 to 8 gallon range. Most of the ones I was at least somewhat unhappy with (which is a small list), I have an idea as to the reasons. I've also had a few where I have no idea what want wrong. Stuff happens.

In your situation the timing of the process was not good. And you don't know the quality of the juice.

Funny -- our local grape buying group sometimes goes in on 50 gallon barrels. In 2020 one guy who wanted 13 gallons backed out, so I had the opportunity to buy 7 gallons of Sauvignon Blanc. At the 6 month mark, this might have been the best white wine I have ever made. At the 15 month mark? It was already in decline.

This is a good reason for tasting wines periodically during bottle aging, and if a wine starts declining, use it up.
 
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