Other bzac Kit Tweaking Post

Discussion in 'Kit Winemaking' started by bzac, Apr 23, 2012.

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  1. Apr 23, 2012 #1

    bzac

    bzac

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    Not sure how many of you have seen this but I think its up to 18000 views on another forum . I though I'd post it here and field any questions on it

    one thing I recommend is only use one tweak or maybe two per kit to start , that way you get a better idea which teak you liked and which you didn't , then add more arrows to your quiver as you get more comfortable.

    I have added a bit to this list from my original post


    I will share the tweaks I have found make MY kit wines taste their best.

    1. Use a yeast which can handle concentrates , 95% of the time you are best off to use the yeast that comes with the kit. Other wise read the yeast manufacturers description of the yeast many are listed as concentrate friendly. Also be aware that some yeasts need more nutrient , I know a guy who owns a LHBS and has had very good results barrel fermenting chardonnay kits (WE) using d47 yeast but this yeast is nutrient demanding (or it will produce H2S) so he adds Fermaid on day 2 and 5 , 1 tsp . His more adventurous customers have tried this with good results . I have tasted two wines he did one as per , the other with barrel fermenting and D47 , the latter I liked more. Doing this sort of thing does violate your warranty though.

    (EDIT , I've done about 20 yeast substitutions in kits since I wrote this orginal thread and at best they performed the same as the kit supplied yeast , at worst they didn't go dry or made the pressence of KT way worse. I no longer reccomend changing the yeast , more downside than plus side on this one. concentrates are not very yeast friendly, stick with the supplied yeasts)

    2. Use better Oak , use a barrel it is a worth wile investment, if not use better cubes like stavin,
    the sawdust that comes with kits sux (this is my number one ***** with the kit companies, premium kits should come with premium oak, charge a dollar more but give us better oak) I would even recommend marketing it , ie written on the side of the box in big letters NOW WITH STAVIN PREMIUM OAK CUBES INCLUDED. Go easy on the amount of cubes you add , it is easy to over oak , you can always add more but you can't take away , to only cure for over oaked wine is to blend with unoaked wine. I add my cubes after the wine is clear and stabilized and is ready for bulk ageing. I rack onto a handful or two (1-2 oz, 25-50 cubes)(depends on the style of wine) of cubes in a new carboy and then taste the wine every week (don't forget to top up) when it tastes slightly too oaky (it will mellow int he bottle) I rack it off the oak. When topping up use red for red white for white it doesn't have to be an exact match , trust me on this one.
    a barrel is really what will take your wines to a higher level because you get micro oxygenation , concentration and oak flavour of wine in Oak as opposed to oak in wine. leave the chips and dust out of the primary if you are doing this. also using cubes bulk ageing is important .
    so the schedule looks like , once your wine is clear and stable , rack onto oak for 1-12 weeks , rack off the oak , 3-9 months later bottle.
    medium toast is the place to start.

    nice Hungarian barrels ( just like french oak , half the price )

    http://www.vadaiwinebarrels.com

    3. Bulk age your wine especially reds , a minimum of 6 months in a carboy a year is better (whites only need six months) before bottling. Add 1/4 tsp kmeta to the carboy at 3 months and again right before bottling ( 6 months or so later)

    4. you need to degass your wine , this is important but somewhat overstated in this forum. another advantage if you buy a barrel is it will degass on its own while ageing. Splash rack the wine at the first racking this will drive off some Co2 and other fermentation gasses like the tiny bit of H2S yeast produces.

    5. use a kit (reds) with natural grape material , this may be a crushendo kit , it may be that you add raisins , real grapes , pomace , this will add more tannin and natural sugar which helps the yeast cope with concentrates.

    6. When you get more experienced ,

    try small amounts of some wine makers additives , some tannins are worth experimenting with , you may or may not like the results, good rule of thumb is to add the minimum reccomended amount of tannin, I like a 1/2 tsp of tancor grand cru added preferment or 1/4 tsp added durring bulk aging, if you like big oaky australian wines use tannin plus for that american oak vanilla edge , go easy with tannins and also know that if you add them you will have to age your wine abit longer before it is ready to drink.

    Biolees (sur lie sold by more wine is a similar product) added 2-3 tsp per carboy and left in for 2 months (or more 6 months is no problem) before racking has been a great tweak with every kit I have used it on red or white. Noblese is onother one to try , similar to biolees but build more body.

    I have found many kits a bit flat on the pallet , I have found a tablespoon or 2 of tartaric acid added before fermentation a tweak I like , you might not, and yes the acids are balanced , but I find a bit of an acid edge is good , but my taste is my taste.

    7. your wine has now spent a year in the carboy , and you have bottled it, it will be in bottle shock for the first 2 months , wait 3 months before opening the first bottle after bottling , six months in the bottle is better yet. your kit red wine will peak between 2 years and 3 years. whites 1-2 years

    8. To really get a wine show worthy , filter it . I do this once and use medium pads . no need to sterile filter a kit , just polish it. if you have done multiple rackings and bulk ageing in a barrel or you are doing it in a carboy and there is no sediment after your last racking you can skip this .

    These are all things that have helped my wines show their best , some of these tweaks are to manage KT , but they all are intended to result in better wine.

    you need to experiment with your own wines and find what works for you .

    I think the greatest disservice the kit industry does is market kits as six week and four week kits but nowhere on the box do they tell you the truth , they should be labelled as 12 month and 18 month kits.

    here is along port weaking thread , to long to repost but it shows you how to add grapes

    http://www.winepress.us/forums/index.php?showtopic=19356&hl=bodega port gold&st=0

    Zac
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2012
  2. Apr 23, 2012 #2

    Flem

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    Thanks for the tweaking tips, Zac. They are certainly appreciated.
     
  3. Apr 23, 2012 #3

    bzac

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    feel free to ask me abou the ones that didn't work .
    like using less water than the directions say to make a stronger wine.
    doing mlf .

    banannas added are Ok , but I'd reccomend raisins or grapes first.

    a kit can also be a great base for amazing fruit wines . I typicaly replace some of the sugar asked for in a 5 gallon batch of fruit wine with a couple litres of concentrate from a cheap white wine kit.
     
  4. Apr 23, 2012 #4

    Runningwolf

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    Zac you're the man! Great post. I have three RJS Ports aging right now; Apple, Coffee and Orange Chocolate Port. Have you experimented adding any flavorings to any of them? I bought some Buttershots for the apple and Hazelnut Schnapps for the coffee and try some bench trials with both. Do you have any other ideas?
     
  5. Apr 23, 2012 #5

    ibglowin

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    Good info all the way around Zac. Thanks for posting this up as we do have a lot of "tweakers" on this forum!
     
  6. Apr 23, 2012 #6

    Dugger

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    Zac - regarding the use of oak cubes at the start of bulk aging, do you recommend not using the kit supplied oak during fermentation - in other words no oak at all until bulk aging and then only good oak?
     
  7. Apr 24, 2012 #7

    Wade E

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    Dugger, like Zac I agree with that completely. The cubes, staves or spirals give a much truer to taste oaking IMO. Great post bzac! Im going to stick this thread!
     
  8. Apr 24, 2012 #8

    millwright01

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    Thanks for that. I have thought of a few ideas, and one of them is here all ready.
     
  9. Apr 24, 2012 #9

    bzac

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    on the oak thing.

    since I wrote this teak post 5 years ago , I've learned a bit more about oaking.

    the oak dust you add durring primary realy adds more tannin and structure than oak flavour , this is because much of the flavour compounds are metabolised by the active yeast (its kind of like doing a barrel ferment in a new barrel , a subject to follow "how to barrel ferment a kit wine" )

    where as post fermentation oaking is all about flavour.

    so my answer is if you like a wine with good structure but not oak flavour , use the powdered oak in the primary and try a little bit of a tannin additive in with it.

    if you like both oak falvour and bigger tannins , use the above and follow up with oak cubes , stave segments or spirals.

    if you like a smooth oak flavour but softer wines , leave the dust out of the primary and follow up with cubes.

    one tip with cubes is you can buy a bags of french , american and hungarian cubes and blend all three while ageing.
    I like 2/3 french or hungarian and 1/3 american cubes in bolder reds.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2012
  10. Apr 24, 2012 #10

    bzac

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    I always intended this tread to be an exchange of kit tweaking expireinces and ideas when I originally posted it on wine press.
    something that never really happened . so please don't be shy , share your trials and tribulations.
    wins and misses.
     
    FRANKC likes this.
  11. Apr 24, 2012 #11

    ibglowin

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    Here is one I tried on my last red kit and 2 last white kits. Still way too early to tell the effect but I added 6gm of Booster Rouge. High hopes for more body/mouthfeel etc.

    I used Booster Blanc for the whites of course!
     
  12. Apr 24, 2012 #12

    Boatboy24

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    bzac and others: I'd love to hear about any experience you have with using less water. My first kit, which is now bulk aging, is a Vino Italiano Barolo I purchased from Amazon. Almost all the positive reviews on it stated that the kit was made to five gallons instead of six. Those that did make six seemed to complain that the wine was "thin". Granted, this is a low end kit, but I'm curious to see how it turns out. I wouldn't expect this tweak to be necessary on a higher end kit - especially one with skins or a grape pack.
     
  13. Apr 24, 2012 #13

    ibglowin

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    So you save money by buying an inexpensive kit and then you only get 5 gallons (or less) after racking........ That step just raised your per bottle price ~ 20%

    Just buy a better kit to start with and get 6 gallons a REALLY GOOD wine!

    Just my $0.02.
     
  14. Apr 24, 2012 #14

    JDC

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    Another "tweak" is to not use the clarifying agents provided with the kits. This really is what "speeds-up" the Kit process, with normal wine making you would normally add more rackings and more settling time. If you plan on bulk aging anyway - then only use a clarifing agent when you have a difficult to clear wine - otherwise let gravity take its course & let them clear naturally over time. Natural wine makers seldom use clarifiers, just time. I think you will get good results (I have - I normally do not use the kit provided clarifiers). I have only had to use a clarifier on one Pear wine I made a few years back on my Fruit wines & have never used any on any of my Meads. I did use the kit provided ones on the first 2-3 kits, but none in the past 4 years or so.
     
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  15. Apr 24, 2012 #15

    Boatboy24

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    I agree. But this was my first kit, and a small investment to make in a hobby I'm just starting with. If I fail miserably, I've only lost ~$45. Still, my cost will be less than $3/bottle. My second kit (currently in primary) is a CC Showcase. :h
     
  16. Apr 24, 2012 #16

    ibglowin

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    Most of us understand that feeling of trying to be careful of spending too much $$$ at first........

    Seems to dissipate fairly fast I have to warn you!
     
  17. Apr 24, 2012 #17

    Rocky

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    I was concerned about spending too much on this hobby but compared to the old car hobby (which I just got out of), it is much more manageable. When you have to spend $1200 for a carburetor or $500 for an air cleaner, a few hundred on wine making equipment pales in comparison. And, I enjoy this hobby much more (as does my Bride!).
     
  18. Apr 24, 2012 #18

    bzac

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    for the clarifiers , I don't use them on red wines as I bulk age or barrel them long enough .
    if a red was still cloudy at the 6 month mark I would use them as an intervention .

    for whites I use them pretty much as described , between the bentonite and the clarifiers they resolve alot of chill or protein haze issues that can develop in a wine that was clear at bottleing. I reccomend always using them on a white wine.
     
  19. Apr 24, 2012 #19

    bzac

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    I really don't reccomend this , it can preoduce a wine that is very out of balance as far as acids and alcohol levels go .

    if you have a cheap red kit and want to give it a bit more oomph .

    you can add a lb of raisins pre ferment . wine making ones are best , followed by zante currants whicg are actualy not currants but black corinth grapes a vinifera variety. last choice is a sunmaid raisin. make sure what ever raisins you use they are preservative and more importantly oil free.

    or add enough sugar to bring the sg up by one or two brix (you own a hydrometer right?) prior to pitching the yeast

    here is a calculator to figure out how much sugar to add

    http://vinoenology.com/calculators/chaptalization-and-water-dilution
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2012
  20. Apr 24, 2012 #20

    Boatboy24

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    Yes it does. Only a month into the hobby and I'm on my fourth carboy and already my third batch of wine. Thought I'd be doing a batch every few months or so. :?
     

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