WineXpert cheap Merlot kit has little taste

Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum

Help Support Winemaking Talk - Winemaking Forum:

tradowsk

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Messages
242
Reaction score
90
I bought a cheap 1 gallon WE Merlot kit over the summer to mess around with. I fermented with the included oak dust and BM4x4, and everything went smoothly.

SG stabilized at 0.996 after about 2 months, so I did a quick 3-day cold crash in my fridge to speed the clearing and then added 1/4 spiral of Heavy French oak and some Jack Daniel's barrel chips. They were removed in early November (after about 2 months in there) and the wine has been bulk aging since. After sitting for so long, it degassed naturally and has been kmeta'd normally.

I have to say the nose is fantastic with vanilla, caramel, chocolate, oaky notes. But when actually tasting it, I get very little flavor. There some hints of typical red wine flavors and oak as well, but it tastes like a very watered-down red wine. Like you took a cup of water and added an ounce or two of wine to it. The finish is okay, but there is a bit of tartness that I'm not a fan of.

Overall, the batch is currently about 5 months from pitch. I'm not expecting anything fantastic (especially since it's a cheap kit), but I'm surprised by the extreme lack of flavor on the palate. Looking at threads here, people talk about a wine being "young" but to me that implies there is at least some flavor there.

Did I over-oak or something? Or will time bring back those flavors?
 

salcoco

Veteran Wine Maker
WMT Supporter
Joined
Jan 1, 2007
Messages
3,057
Reaction score
1,391
Location
Kansas
you maybe unbalanced since you mention being tart. make a sugar syrup, two cups sugar to one cup water. do some bench trials by adding small amount of sugar syrup to wine start with about 1/4 tsp in 1/4 cup this will not sweeten the wine but put in better balance and may increase flavor components.
 

Country

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2018
Messages
138
Reaction score
38
I would guess the tartness you describe is hiding some of the flavor. All my wines have this tartness at this age. I would do nothing but give it more time. Good luck
 

tradowsk

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Messages
242
Reaction score
90
Thanks for the advice, I'll try tweaking a bench sample and see if what I can come up with. I'm in no hurry to bottle anyway.

I also probably overoaked this. Would that cause the other "wine" flavors to be hidden (making this watery), or would that just add a strong oak flavor alongside them?
 

Country

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 16, 2018
Messages
138
Reaction score
38
I can just say that I bottled a pino that I would describe as “watery” and lack of flavor and mouthfeel only to have it become an outstanding wine after several months in the bottle. On the other side, I have “tweeked” wine to try to fix something that didn’t really need fixing and was not pleased with the results. Others will say to never bottle a wine you’re not happy with so you have quite the decision to make. Maybe a few more months in bulk aging will help you to decide.
 
Last edited:

tradowsk

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Messages
242
Reaction score
90
@Country glad to hear that you had a similar situation that worked out well. I guess this is where the "art" comes in haha
 

tradowsk

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Messages
242
Reaction score
90
I'm a big fan of Islay whisky that knocks you over the head with oak, smoke, and peat, so I probably need to have a much more careful approach oaking my next batch of wine. But this was an experimental batch anyway, and the nose is amazing, so maybe after a year or two this will be phrnomenal

Thanks for all the help everyone, glycerin (with a light touch) will be my friend
 

FTC Wines

Senior Member
WMT Supporter
Joined
Apr 19, 2009
Messages
1,348
Reaction score
426
Location
N. Ft. Myers , Fl
Tradowsk, a friend of ours received a cheap 1 gal Cab kit for his B day. He gave it to me to make for him. Well it was flat, little taste, little alcohol, etc. So I back sweetend it with Blackberry Brandy. Wow what a difference. Could work for your Merlot too. Roy
 

ThreeSheetsToTheWind

Skeeter Pee Sommelier
Joined
Dec 28, 2018
Messages
124
Reaction score
53
Location
The great white north
I've had a similar experience to country's. I bottled a cheap shiraz that was bland and watery. Two months later, we checked a bottle and it has improved greatly in flavor and mouthfeel. I would give time a fighting chance here.
 

tradowsk

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Messages
242
Reaction score
90
Thanks for the advice everyone! Glad to know this isn't a lost cause.

I'm probably gonna see about adding a bit of glycerin to add some body and maybe reduce that tartness a tad, but I'll bottle it as is and let time do its thing. Worse comes to worse I can use it as a top up wine
 

tradowsk

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Messages
242
Reaction score
90
Update: I got some glycerin from my LHBS and did a few small bench trials.

Adding a drop to a 1oz glass of wine really made a huge difference! It brought out a lot more of the fruit flavors, and the extra body really lengthened the finish substantially. It didn't seem to reduce the tartness though, which isn't a big deal.

I also experimented with adding more drops, and found 2 things:
1) there are definitely diminishing returns with this
2) adding too much makes it cloying and really undrinkable

So thanks all for the advice, I'll do some more rigorous tests to find the right dosage before bottling
 

StToddy

Junior
Joined
Jul 28, 2018
Messages
16
Reaction score
8
One web site says typical usage rate for Glycerin is 1-3 tbsp per gallon and should not exceed 4 tbsp per gallon.
Your taste test on your batch would roughly equate to 0.43 tbsp per gallon.
Maybe this goes to show it always wise to make adjustments in small increments!
 

dmguptill

Chemist-turned-home-winemaker
Joined
Jun 8, 2018
Messages
109
Reaction score
67
Location
Minnesota, USA
Update: I got some glycerin from my LHBS and did a few small bench trials.

Adding a drop to a 1oz glass of wine really made a huge difference! It brought out a lot more of the fruit flavors, and the extra body really lengthened the finish substantially. It didn't seem to reduce the tartness though, which isn't a big deal.

I also experimented with adding more drops, and found 2 things:
1) there are definitely diminishing returns with this
2) adding too much makes it cloying and really undrinkable

So thanks all for the advice, I'll do some more rigorous tests to find the right dosage before bottling
I've also found, by doing the same kit different ways, that the cheap kits can benefit from a little extra alcohol. One of the first things I noticed was the increased fruit forward and mouthfeel, similar to what you describe with the glycerine. In this case I was taking the kit from about 12.7% up to 13.5-13.8. Amazing the difference a little extra alcohol can make!
 

tradowsk

Senior Member
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Messages
242
Reaction score
90
I've also found, by doing the same kit different ways, that the cheap kits can benefit from a little extra alcohol. One of the first things I noticed was the increased fruit forward and mouthfeel, similar to what you describe with the glycerine. In this case I was taking the kit from about 12.7% up to 13.5-13.8. Amazing the difference a little extra alcohol can make!
According to my notes, I went from OG 1.110 to SG 0.995 currently, which equates to about 15% ABV I believe. I didn't chapitalize or add anything besides the kit juice, and I discarded the instructions so idk what the target abv was. But I'm definitely in the "bold red" realm here, which is why I think I need a little tweaking to balance everything.
 
Top