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Jovimaple

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Started my Barbera today. Wow, that concentrate is thick!! O.G. is a respectable 1.097. Started the included RC 212 yeast today and will pitch tomorrow. No skins but I plan to bulk age for a few months before bottling.
 

winemaker81

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My niece is jumping into wine making and I'm helping her remotely. She's getting a hardware kit but will not have access to a press, so it limits (at least initially) what she can do. Folks in this thread are excited about the FW kits, so I'm gathering information.

Up front she's looking for an early drinking red -- she understand patience (has several cases of my wines aging), but wants something to drink while others are aging. In the FW red selection, please post recommendations.

Regarding skin packs, how are they used? Simply dropped in the fermenter? Are they loose or in a package of some sort? If not, should she invest in a staining bag? If she's making an early drinker, I realize she may not want a skin pack. Or does she?

How big are the packs, e.g., what is used to press them? I make fresh grapes and have a #40 basket press, which I suggest is overkill for this. Besides which, she lives 700 miles away so commuting is not an option.

Thanks for suggestions!
 

Sailor323

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My niece is jumping into wine making and I'm helping her remotely. She's getting a hardware kit but will not have access to a press, so it limits (at least initially) what she can do. Folks in this thread are excited about the FW kits, so I'm gathering information.

Up front she's looking for an early drinking red -- she understand patience (has several cases of my wines aging), but wants something to drink while others are aging. In the FW red selection, please post recommendations.

Regarding skin packs, how are they used? Simply dropped in the fermenter? Are they loose or in a package of some sort? If not, should she invest in a staining bag? If she's making an early drinker, I realize she may not want a skin pack. Or does she?

How big are the packs, e.g., what is used to press them? I make fresh grapes and have a #40 basket press, which I suggest is overkill for this. Besides which, she lives 700 miles away so commuting is not an option.

Thanks for suggestions!
The skin packs come with a bag to use use during fermentation. Personally, I would choose a pinot noir without skins for early drinking. Other brand kits offer many reds for early drinking--Bergamais comes to mind right away (similar to Beaujolais), I have enjoyed pinot noir from many kits soon after bottling, Grenache is nice
 

Jim Welch

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Started 2 batches of FW Merlot yesterday, will be pitching the starters late this morning. Using the included RC212 in one and Bm45 in the second.
 

Jovimaple

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Regarding skin packs, how are they used? Simply dropped in the fermenter? Are they loose or in a package of some sort? If not, should she invest in a staining bag? If she's making an early drinker, I realize she may not want a skin pack. Or does she?
The FWK folks have a few step by step videos on youtube. Here is one that shows how to set up the must, including adding skins with the muslin bags included with the kit if skins are ordered:
(I think I originally got this link in the email when I ordered but just now I went to youtube and searched on Finer Wine Kits to find it.)

Someone earlier in this thread posted a link to the instruction booklet they send, too.

I have done a handful of other kits so far, and I think the FWK would be a great first time kit just for the level of detail in the instructions (a lot of WHY and not just "do this").

If she is interested, she should order today or tomorrow and then email them to ask to be put on the lifetime discount list. That deadline is August 1st:

"FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN'T PURCHASED A FINER WINE KIT.

If you haven't purchased a Finer Wine Kit, yet, you still have time to get in the lifetime 10% discount group. We are offering the discount to anyone who purchases a kit before August 1st 2021, and emails their request to [email protected]. Be one of the first to make the best wine from a kit you can make, and secure a lifetime 10% discount!"

After I ordered, I emailed them and got a response saying my email address was now on the list, so as long as I order FWKs using that email, I will get 10% off the current price.

Also, it's my understanding that the early adopter pricing ends then, so the price will go up after Sunday.

Good luck to your niece!

P.S. The instructions say that the concentrate should be kept in the fridge or frozen (I think it said above 10 degrees F) so if she doesn't have her equipment yet, she could still order and make it when she is ready. The concentrate bag is 1.6 gallons and fit on my fridge shelf just fine for a few days.
 
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winemaker81

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The FWK folks have a few step by step videos on youtube. Here is one that shows how to set up the must, including adding skins with the muslin bags included with the kit if skins are ordered:
This is the best video on kit winemaking I've seen. Kudos to the FWK folks for an excellent job!

I had no intentions of ordering a kit ... but am thinking I need to, for the discount.
 

cmason1957

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This is the best video on kit winemaking I've seen. Kudos to the FWK folks for an excellent job!

I had no intentions of ordering a kit ... but am thinking I need to, for the discount.
I don't think you will be greatly disappointed by the quality of wine these kits make. They are certainly a step above others I have made.
 

Jovimaple

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I did it for the discount, as well.

I would like to make a moscato or a reisling, but those were sold out. So that's for the future!
 

Old Corker

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My niece is jumping into wine making and I'm helping her remotely. She's getting a hardware kit but will not have access to a press, so it limits (at least initially) what she can do. Folks in this thread are excited about the FW kits, so I'm gathering information.

Up front she's looking for an early drinking red -- she understand patience (has several cases of my wines aging), but wants something to drink while others are aging. In the FW red selection, please post recommendations.

Regarding skin packs, how are they used? Simply dropped in the fermenter? Are they loose or in a package of some sort? If not, should she invest in a staining bag? If she's making an early drinker, I realize she may not want a skin pack. Or does she?

How big are the packs, e.g., what is used to press them? I make fresh grapes and have a #40 basket press, which I suggest is overkill for this. Besides which, she lives 700 miles away so commuting is not an option.

Thanks for suggestions!
The excitement about these kits comes from the ways in which they are different from other kits along with the overall quality of the product. They are not pasteurized and that's the reason they are kept refrigerated and shipped in a cooler. Then there is the promise of future excellence from the taste, smell and color in the early stages. That said, it should be noted that these kits are so new none of them have much age on them yet so it is still a promise and not a result.
As for the skins packs they are pretty different too. More like dried raisins than the moist jam like texture of other kits. They don't seem to have much fermentable sugar in them so add little if any to the must (and the SG). I put them in the provided muslin bag and add the provided oak chips in there as well. It makes for easier racking that way. I use the squeeze the crap out of the bag with my hands method of "pressing".
I like the suggestion of the Pinot Noir without skins as an early drinking red but also think the Bordeaux may also be decent done that way. Since you don't need the skins for SG there are probably other reds that could work too.
That's my $.02
 

Gilmango

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My niece is jumping into wine making and I'm helping her remotely. She's getting a hardware kit but will not have access to a press, so it limits (at least initially) what she can do. Folks in this thread are excited about the FW kits, so I'm gathering information.

Up front she's looking for an early drinking red -- she understand patience (has several cases of my wines aging), but wants something to drink while others are aging. In the FW red selection, please post recommendations.

Regarding skin packs, how are they used? Simply dropped in the fermenter? Are they loose or in a package of some sort? If not, should she invest in a staining bag? If she's making an early drinker, I realize she may not want a skin pack. Or does she?

How big are the packs, e.g., what is used to press them? I make fresh grapes and have a #40 basket press, which I suggest is overkill for this. Besides which, she lives 700 miles away so commuting is not an option.

Thanks for suggestions!
I think that these kits are a great place to start, detailed instructions plus the videos (at least 4 of them altogether, if you watch the one linked above, the others will show up in youtube).

For early drinking red I agree that skipping the skin pack is the first key, and then getting a lighter red. From what is on offer at Finer Wines my first picks would be Barbera, then Pinot Noir, then Sangiovese. All of those three certainly could be made with a skin pack or even two and added oak or tannins (they include extra oak for secondary only if you order the double skin pack, otherwise they just include the oak shavings which I understand help absorb some of the 'green' flavors in the primary, but don't really yield much oak flavor), but I think each one has a lighter but delicious flavor profile, and great acidity to be enjoyed young. (Granted I am talking about those wine varietals, I have only made the Super Tuscan so far from Finer Wines and it is bulk aging but tastes great at 10 weeks.)

If she did eventually do one with skin packs no extra equipment is needed. They come with a muslin sack for each skin pack. When you rack off the primary just be sure to give that muslin sack a real good squeeze and/or twist to capture the last liquid. I usually pour that liquid into a bottle or two which I put in the fridge, after a couple days the liquid is all on top and I use that to top off the secondary carboy. Keep in mind that these skin packs are just dried skins, not the jammy/sugary/fruity skin packs some kits some with, so mostly there for the flavor compounds on the skins which should boost flavor, aroma and total dissolved solids. Even after doing extended maceration with them they did not get very soft nor seem to absorb much of the wine.

EDIT - According to my wife, I was not supposed to buy / start another kit until after I bottle one of the 5 kits I've made so far, 4 bulk aging, 1 still doing extended maceration. But I just bought the Barbera kit - with NO skins. Replying above helped convince me to put my money where my mouth/keyboard is, as I think it will be drinking well at a younger age than most of what I have made so far, so I will get it in the bottle before all but perhaps my first kit (RJS International Cru Nebbiolo - 12 Liter pre downsize, with small dry skins pack). Having those two bottled should give me plenty of time to be patient with the bigger wines (2 Super Tuscans, 2 Amarones) all of which had big skin packs, extended maceration, oak and tannin additions, and mostly no fining, so they can bulk age many more months.
 
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Lynx rufus

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I started the Super Tuscan yesterday. I mixed up the yeast starter, and last evening it was bubbling along nicely. This morning there’s no activity! I don’t have much experience with RC 212, so I’m hoping someone can help me. I was planning on pitching the yeast later this afternoon.
 

Jim Welch

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I started the Super Tuscan yesterday. I mixed up the yeast starter, and last evening it was bubbling along nicely. This morning there’s no activity! I don’t have much experience with RC 212, so I’m hoping someone can help me. I was planning on pitching the yeast later this afternoon.
once the yeast in a starter blows through the sugar it goes dormant. Nothing to worry about, just gently swirl the starter to get all the yeast in the bottom in suspension and pitch it.
 

David Violante

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I started the Super Tuscan yesterday. I mixed up the yeast starter, and last evening it was bubbling along nicely. This morning there’s no activity! I don’t have much experience with RC 212, so I’m hoping someone can help me. I was planning on pitching the yeast later this afternoon.
Mine has done the same in the past as well. I think you're safe to pitch the yeast and watch for signs of fermentation in the must over the next 24 hours. Try to make sure the must and the yeast starter are close to the same temperature. I keep them in the same room when I start the process just to make it easier.

The yeast for the Barbera I just started acted the same way as yours. Lots of activity in the bottle, then not so much at all. I pitched it yesterday afternoon and by 10pm I could hear faint crackling at the surface of the must. This morning it's going well (sounds like an egg frying and surface has begun to push up slightly) and the temperature has gone up a few degrees (compared to yesterday) so activity has begun.

If you don't have any evidence of fermentation beginning after 24 hours or so, check the temperature of the must and perhaps increase it a bit to help the yeast get going. Mine started at 66F and is now at 69F. You could safely bring it up much more, but not out of the range of the yeast (86F I believe). After all that and if nothing is happening, it may be time to pitch some new yeast. I'm sure you could contact LP and get some replacement yeast. I'll bet you're going to be fine though.
 

David Violante

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once the yeast in a starter blows through the sugar it goes dormant. Nothing to worry about, just gently swirl the starter to get all the yeast in the bottom in suspension and pitch it.
Sorry Jim! Typing at the same time... I agree 100%...!
 

Lynx rufus

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I just checked the temperature of the yeast starter & the must. The yeast starter was 74°, & the must is 70°. I had the yeast starter in a slightly warmer room than the must. I’ve moved the starter to the area where I make my wine. I’m going to pitch the yeast later this afternoon.
Thanks for the help!
 

Jim Welch

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I just checked the temperature of the yeast starter & the must. The yeast starter was 74°, & the must is 70°. I had the yeast starter in a slightly warmer room than the must. I’ve moved the starter to the area where I make my wine. I’m going to pitch the yeast later this afternoon.
Thanks for the help!
4 degrees temperature difference is nothing to worry about
what you could do in the meantime is start tempering the starter with small additions of must over several steps, not mandatory at all but if you have a thief put maybe 1/5-1/4 of the starter volume of must into the starter, then 30-60 minutes later do it again.

Edit: just to be clear, say your starter is 8 oz, add 1 1/5-2 oz of must, then repeat several times after 30-60 minutes between each addition . The starter should show activity again.
 

Lynx rufus

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I added a small amount and have noticed it’s beginning to “fizz”. This was a good suggestion, thanks.
 

joeswine

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So much Tech, for a simple and fun process, I must be getting old.
 

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