Other EM with skin packs

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winemaker81

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I found this article on WineMakerMag this morning:

https://winemakermag.com/wine-wizard/macerating-skin-packs
At the end of the article is a quote from Gail Tufford, who I've corresponded with at Winexpert:

“There is no benefit to extending the fermentation period of a kit with skins. It is best to rack off of the skins and sediment after 14 days, 17 at the most. The skins will be spent by this point and will offer no further alcohol, flavor, or aromatics to the wine. The lees will start to break down and can give off-flavors if the wine is left on the sediment too long. It is really important to punch the skins down every day during fermentation. Mix them around and squish the skins bag to the sides of the fermenter and give it a good stir to incorporate flavors and tannin into the must. Even though the wine is naturally off-gassing, which offers some protection, there is still a risk of exposing the wine to bacteria if left in the fermenter too long.”​

My first thought was that folks on this forum have proven this wrong, but her comment regarding alcohol, flavor, and aromatics is correct, and is corroborated by numerous technical papers. Alcohol stops increasing when sugar is gone, and flavor/aromatics extraction is complete in the first 2 to 5 days of the ferment.

However, she didn't mention tannin, which continues to extract during EM.

I keep in mind that she works for WE, and her POV reflects her focus on the typical kit wine customer base, where producing a tannic wine is not a normal goal. Looking at it from that POV, everything she said makes sense.
 
She (WE) also frowns upon any deviations from their instructions and want you to free up the fermenter asap so that you can order another kit. While I cannot offer any technical data on the matter to contradict her, I believe that EM has become a widely utilized practice for good reason, it works and as Tim G. First observed in his experiment, it makes a young wine more drinkable, faster with more depth vs not doing EM...even some wineries are using the practice to some extent these days.
 
She (WE) also frowns upon any deviations from their instructions and want you to free up the fermenter asap so that you can order another kit. While I cannot offer any technical data on the matter to contradict her, I believe that EM has become a widely utilized practice for good reason, it works and as Tim G. First observed in his experiment, it makes a young wine more drinkable, faster with more depth vs not doing EM...even some wineries are using the practice to some extent these days.
* Tim V.
 
She (WE) also frowns upon any deviations from their instructions
From Gail's POV, that makes perfect sense. Think about it -- beginners who find WMT have enough problems, and they get experienced help from the crew of regulars. This is probably a tiny percentage of WE's (or any kit vendor's) customer base. Keeping people from experimenting means less support calls to WE, and more satisfied customers. I'm going to grant Gail the benefit of doubt and state that her POV is avoiding unnecessary support calls and emails, not selling more kits. The opinions of WE executives may differ.

I'm cautious about buying into long EM, as I've researched the origins. It was (AFAIK) developed in Burgundy to produce long aging wines, which makes sense as heavy tannins take longer to soften. I found a brief article on the Australian Wine Research Institute site:

https://www.awri.com.au/industry_su...atment-extended-post-fermentation-maceration/
I like this site as I can read most of their articles without spending 3/4 of my time researching the meaning of terms -- which is ok, as it expands my knowledge, but some research papers appear to be written by folks who get extra points for using the most obscure technical terms instead of English.

Which brings up another critical point -- the low volume of skin packs vs the pomace of grapes. Do EM on 2 skin packs in 6 gallons of wine vs. 60-70 lbs of pomace in 10 gallons of wine. These are completely different scenarios due to the constituents.

I'm doing a 14 day ferment on three 1 lug batches. Partially to get more extraction from the grapes, and partially 'cuz I'm going 2 presses, and this lines up with the second one. Cleaning up after pressing is not so much fun that I want to repeat it often!

We'll see how this comes out.
 
Hmmm, I've not had any issues with my 1 month em's. Wine tastes very good, maybe it would taste better if I only did 14 days. However, 1 month fits in with my general scheme. Kit in the fermenter for 1 month, it doesn't seem to matter if it's none, one, or two skins bag. Then 1 month in the 6.5 gal kill carboy, then one month in the secondary 6 gal carboy, then filtered and 4 months in the Better Bottles. Like I've said, I've had no issues so far.
 
Hmmm, I've not had any issues with my 1 month em's.
That's my point -- you are doing a few pounds of grape skins in 6 gallons. With grapes, we're looking at 60 to 70 lbs of pomace in 10 gallons. The amount of tannin (and anything else) that can be extracted is extremely different.

I've read about EM in Burgundy and on technical sites, and wasn't matching that up with reports from our members, not until I realized the conditions for both are quite different.
 
@winemaker81

Well, I could cycle out of the fermenter after 2 weeks, but I'm limited by the space that 10 carboys take up. Wish I had a basement. The other issue is the fermenters sitting there empty for 2 weeks, I find it hard to resist an empty fermenter, it's always calling to be filled. :D

However, I see your point, running kits is not the issue, but with grapes & pomace one has to worry about em affecting the taste.
 
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@ratflinger I understand about fermenters and carboys begging to be filled!

It will be interesting to see the results of a 14 day ferment on the 1 lug batches, where I'll have ~2.5 US gallons of wine and 12-15 lbs of pomace. I've also got the pomace of 8 lugs (144 lbs) with a 6 gallon kit -- those are not doing an EM (can't seal the fermenter) but it will be interesting to see the difference the pomace makes.

Another time I'd divide the pomace in two, add to two Merlot kits, ferment one for a week and the other for 2 weeks.

There's no shortage of potential experiment! [Just storage room, not only for fermenters/carboys, but the produced wine as well!]
 

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