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Morgan

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I'm contemplating getting a kit. How many of you feel that the addition of certain additives... E.g. extra tannins or enzymes such as OptiRed, of extra oak, or raisins, etc, makes a better product? Do you just go with what the producer recommends? I like dry Spanish reds as a general rule, Rioja, Tempranillo. We have the grapes where I'm at but hoping to hone my craft a bit before next harvest. Thanks!
 

cpfan

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Morgan:

I tend to buy premium kits, so I don't usually tweak them. Since we aren't big on oaky reds, I may reduce the amount of oak included if it seems like a lot. Also, we like dry whites, so if the kit comes with a Suss Reserve pack (similar to an F pack), I'll put it in the primary to make a dry wine (done this with rieslings and gewurztraminers).

One non-premium kit that we really like is the Ken Ridge Classic Merlot (its basically our house red). We make it just the way it comes in the box.

BTW, I don't count extending the time frame for making the kit as a tweak.

Steve
 

mmadmikes1

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The companies making these kits know what they bare doing and have tweaked the hell out of them and tried a lot of different combos before releasing them. Adding extra oak if you like oaky wine seem easy enough. Adding Tannins might really backfire.
I am not a big kit guy but understands it is the only way to get some varieties.I say make frozen juice wines and play with them if you want to get the hang of messing around. They are why cheaper and you can make small batchs so when you mess up it does not hurt to DUMP IT OUT.
 

Dugger

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I usually make premium kits like cpfan, so don't tend to tweak them since they are designed to be optimal for that particular juice. Using a different yeast would be something I might consider but haven't yet and I'm not sure if the gain would be worth the risk of perhaps a stuck fermentation.
If you do decide to try some tweaks, do a search for joeswine or bzac threads on tweaks. Also, I would recommend you tweak half your kit and do the other half as per instructions to compare the difference (or thirds or whatever suits your equipment and goals).
 

Boatboy24

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Now that I'm thinking about it, I've tweaked every kit I've done. Some are just with more oak, others by adding dried fruit and/or banana to the primary. Others still (only recently) with additional tannin. ibglowin recommended the use of 4-6g of Tancor Grand Cru and that has made a big difference in the couple wines I've tried it on so far. In fact, I had a CC Sterling Merlot that I was very disappointed with - flat and flavorless in my opinion. I gave it some TGC about three weeks ago and it's like a whole new wine now - one that I actually enjoy. I will bottle it in another week or two. I've also swapped out the kit yeast on a few. I guess I'm a tweaker, but I'm finding that the higher end kits only need a little oak and tannin for my taste. I just got a Vadai barrel, so that will be another tweak I start to implement.
 

MrKevin

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I tweek my high end kits the ones with skins. This usually means I scrap the supplied oak, and oak in a barrel.
 

Rocky

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As most have stated, I do not do a lot of tweaking on the high end kits. I do add a grape pack and/or raisins to any red kit or bucket I buy. I have tweaked white kits with juiced apples, white raisins and various extracts. I like oakey wines, so I tend to augment the oak that comes in a kit with more.
 

tonyt

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Even when I say to myself "I'm going to make this exactly by the directions" I don't. My wife and I like fairly big oak, a thick mouthfeel and chewy tannins. So I generally add oak and/or tannin. I often add glycerin just prior to bottling for mouthfeel. We don't like pucker dry so I often add 2-4 ounces of simple syrup. I don't do all of these things to every kit but every kit will get some combination of these tweaks. Perhaps best of all 1/3 of my kits get a three month ride in the Hungarian barrel. I try to put off any tweaks until the last couple months of bulk aging to give the kit time to show it's own profile. My thought is that I'm making MY wine, if I want wine someone else designed I'll go to the grocery store and choose one. This is a hobby for me, the journey is as important to me as the destination.
 

joeswine

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To tweek or not?

:u I DO BELIEVE EVERYONE IN SOME FASHION ADJUST THE WINE THE WAY HE OR SHE LIKES TH E FINISH TO END UP,LIKE BY JUST NOT USING THE OAK SUPPLIED WITH THE KIT ( layering)OR ADJUST THE SG FOR A HIGHER ABV,OR HOW ABOUT YOU JUST GET TIRED OF THE SAME OLD SAME OLD,AND WANT TO PUT YOUR TOUCH ON YOUR WINE,OR LETS SAY YOU WANT TO MAKE A BLEND THAT IS NOT AVAILABLE ON THE MARKET ,BEING CREATIVE IS WHAT WINE MAKING IS ALL ABOUT ,WHEN YOU TAKE THE CREATIVENESS OUT WHAT IS LEFT,AND EVEN IF YOUR NOT BEING CREATIVE SUPPOSE YOU NEED TO ADJUST THE ACIDITY ,SEE WE ALL TWEAK THE WINE ITS JUST A MATTER OF WHEN AND WERE AND HOW MUCH,:sm have you ever wondered why most wine kits come with the same yeast just about?:ft ARE THEY THE BEST FOR YOU WINE?
 

deboard

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So far I haven't tweaked a kit significantly. I have stuck to the higher end kits though. I have skipped the oak (if it's at least chip size) in primary and did it in secondary instead. This is mainly to ease racking since the bentonite/oak mess at the bottom of the primary tends to hose up my autosiphon. If the kit has a grape pack, I'll put the oak chips in the primary in the same bag as the grape pack.

I like to have some oak chips or cubes in secondary though, it seems to really help with degassing. I bought a pound of oak cubes with my last order just for this purpose.

Of course I say this and realize I just started a Luna Rossa, which has a large amount of french oak chips included, and I remember I dumped them all in the primary!
 
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Bartman

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Yes, I think tweaking kits (especially the cheaper ones) makes for a better finished product, but what is "better" is in the eye of the beholder. With the lower-end kits, I find they are typically low in alcohol, so I will add some sugar when pitching the yeast, and the mouthfeel is usually thin or weak, so I'll add raisins or extra oak depending on the kit. Since I age my reds for months after fermenting, I usually skip the clarifiers and fining agents altogether, and let gravity and time do the clearing instead (no bentonite, no chitosan, etc.).
 

eblasmn9

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I make mostly higher end kits and find that my tastes are not always the same as kit designers. Most kits I find a bit thin including the ones with grape packs. I may not be the oak monster that some are, but about every red kit I have made does not have enough oak.
I have just recently bought a barrel to address the weakness that I find in kit wines. I am hoping the oak and the concentration (micro-ox) will give me better mouthfeel and oak profile. Everything I have read tells me it will. Most important to me is this "hobby" is just plain fun and much less frustrating then my last hobby: golf.

...OR LETS SAY YOU WANT TO MAKE A BLEND THAT IS NOT AVAILABLE ON THE MARKET ,BEING CREATIVE IS WHAT WINE MAKING IS ALL ABOUT ,
Going forward I really want to start doing more of my own blending and being creative.
 

joeswine

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Spirit of wine making

NOW THAT'S THE WINE MAKING SPIRIT.THINK OUSIDE THE BOX:try
 

Paulietivo

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Have fun in making your wine! Tweek away my friend, you have the right idea. Ever since I've made wine from kits Ive experimented like a mad scientist. You will find that it expands your knowledge and ideas. Just a suggestion but at first tweek with a medium priced kit as the expensive kits are very good at being excellent wines on their own. Some med $$ favorites of mine are celler craft sterling and grand cru. Many of these come with grape packs, raisins and oak to begin with and can be made in a variety of ways. I like to be daring and patient in my winemaking. For example mixing 2 or more kits, trying different yeast strains, and adding oak spirals in extended aging have yielded great results. If you have the chutzpah, take only the yeast and oak from your kit and throw away all other additives. Yes, try no sulfites or clarifying agents whatsoever. You must be extra clean and rack at least twice and age for 6 months before bottleing. Taste, then continue to age for 1 -2 years and you will be delighted with a strong wine the way nature intended. Delicious. Finally the musti mundiale all juice kits are fantastic because they are 100% juice. Easy, clean & patient. Enjoy the experimenting.
Paolo
 

cdjohnston

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IMHO - some additions can certainly help especially if you try a kit. I have helped some friends out with their home kits - usually i hand them a fistfull of untoasted oak shreds - the oak tanin will help stabilize the color of your red wines and add a "perceived" sweetness to your finished wine even though it is bone-dry.

Experimentation and "tweaking" is always a good thing - you learn from the process. If it works out, great! You have now made something only you could make. However, if you fail, then it's time to learn to recover or make vinegar.

Make sure you take lots of notes during the process.

Good Luck!
Chris
 

joeswine

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It is yours!

:try As was stated, once you learn the process in mind you have to learn the process, then you start to diversify, adjust, whether it is because you failed to make the product, or because you want to change the taste of the product,. It is all up to you, have fun and have a happy new year .:try
 
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