WineXpert First Kit: WineXpert California Merlot Reserve (with additions?)

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MrHerbington

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So, I bought WineXpert California Merlot Reserve (10l/2,64 US gal) which should make 23 liters/6gal batch. I have 30 liter stainless steel fermentation primary, and 20 liter glass bottle for secondary/bulk aging. Also new 10l french oak barrel, medium roast. After reading up some wine chemistry I decided to skip most of the stuff which came with the kit, I won't use: bentonite, sulphite/sorbate mix, kieselsol or chitosan, but instead clarify with time in the bulk aging glass bottle. Kit had 2 different yeasts, EC-1118 and Bourgovin RC212, I am planning to use only the RC212.
I bought some pure potassium metabisulphite because I don't want to use any sorbate. The kit had also some american oak chips medium roast which I might use in the primary as instructed. I will use tap water with Aqva Ultra filtration which has dual stage filtration, activated carbon and 0,1 µm fiber filtration, as it will remove any funky flavors from the water. I don't even drink unfiltered anymore.


Also I have: 3 liters of organic red grape juice (Biona, UK) with no preservatives or added sugar, 5g of grape seed tannin extract, 10g of grape skin anthocyanin extract. Should I use these with the kit to get a wine that responds better to aging? When to add the extracts and how much? Should I barrel age this wine or save it for some later project?
 

MrHerbington

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Update: Won't be using 20 liter glass bottle for bulk aging, for it arrived today and the glass was faulty, big bubbles in the glass and seals were bad. Also the bottle was dirty even though it should be new. Only glass bottle I can get in this country. I will return it and ordered 23 liter PET carboy instead. Any downsides using plastic? The barrel can only fit 10l so I can't age everything in it, I'm planning to bulk age in the carboy for some time and then split the batch to the barrel and bottle the rest, and top up the barrel from the bottles. Or maybe oak in the carboy and skip the barrel for this batch, not sure yet.

Potassium metabisulphite should arrive tomorrow, I won't start the kit before I have everything I need. Also waiting for the 3 liters of organic grape juice to arrive to make a bit stronger wine.

I would buy some stainless steel for bulk age but every product has way too much airspace compared to the carboy so I assume oxidation would be a problem?
 

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MrHerbington

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PET carboy instead. Any downsides using plastic?

"As expected the experimental results show that the permeation rate of water is significantly higher than the permeation rate of ethanol. This lead to an increase of the ethanol concentration of ethanolic fillings. Particularly for highly concentrated spirits in small PET bottles and high storage temperatures the water permeation is unfavourable. For a 0.21 PET bottle and an initial concentration of 40.0 Vol% the ethanol concentration increase after a storage time of twelve months at 23 °C to 40.9 Vol%."

Well this is interesting. IF no harmful chemicals are leached then PET aging could be a good thing even.
 

MrHerbington

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Additional grape juice (Biona, UK) arrived today. Very clear and organic too, I can see right through it
 

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MrHerbington

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I will start the project maybe next week, waiting for the bulk aging PET carboy to arrive (won't start before I have everything I need) and getting a better water filter, new version of Aqva just released.

Anyone have any idea how to use grape seed tannins and if they are good for the Merlot Kit?
 

MrHerbington

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Additional grape juice (Biona, UK) arrived today. Very clear and organic too, I can see right through it
Took a taste test from the juice to be sure if I will use it, very jam/berry like, zero acid, very easy to drink. Should be great with Merlot of this kind.
 
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your method is good. there won’t be any issue with the additional/ alternate grape - you are only blending with everyday Merlot. I would suggest you get yourself a Cab Sav and after twelve months blend both your Merlot and CabSav to make a Bordeaux style wine. You won’t regret it. Have fun. Cheers
 

MrHerbington

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your method is good. there won’t be any issue with the additional/ alternate grape - you are only blending with everyday Merlot. I would suggest you get yourself a Cab Sav and after twelve months blend both your Merlot and CabSav to make a Bordeaux style wine. You won’t regret it. Have fun. Cheers
I'm planning to get either CabSav or Malbec kit or both. Bordeaux blend will happen at some point. Though there is only one shop in this country that sells WineXpert kits and most of them are out of stock currently... I could get some other brands too but they are obviously lesser quality as the amount of grape juice is significantly lower for the same amount of end product
 

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The kit is started 16.8.2022, yeast added 02:04

First I treated the stainless steel primary with hot water, few tablespoons of citric acid and potassium metabisulphite. It is brand new but I figured it's good practice. Emptied most of the solution from the tap at the bottom to sanitize it as well. Rinsed with hot water two times. Very nasty sulfur fumes, but overkill is better than underkill.

Then I made a yeast starter with 1dl of water, RC212 and teaspoon of regular sugar. Then I proceeded to treat two hydrometers with saturated citric acid solution. Next I dissolved the grape seed tannin (5 grams) and grape skin anthocyanin (10 grams) extracts with some hot water, and tasted. Zero bitterness, just astringent tannin dry effect in the mouth. Apparently pretty good quality albeit they were really cheap. The anthocyanin is VERY dark and concentrated. Very happy as I thought the tannin might be bitter and unusable. The anthocyanin had a pleasant wine like taste.

Then I added 10 liters of filtered tap water into the primary. Next the extract solution (about 0,2-0,3l) it got so dark I could not see the bottom anymore. Even when diluted it was very dark. Then added the Biona grape juice (just under 3 liters because I tasted one glass of it previously) and last the kit juice (10l). Rinsed the kit juice bag with 0,75l of water. Last I added the yeast starter, about 0,1l.

Both hydrometers were at 1.090 so I should get 13.13% ABV, correct? The kit stated it would be 23 liters of 13%, and my tweaks result a 24l with slightly more alchohol, with added tannin and color.

Forgot the oak chips, but I'll add them (or half of them) after I see the fermentation begin.

Ambient temperature is 23 degrees celsius, one 0,75l juice was cold and the extract solution was hot so they cancel each other. Everything else is room temperature
 

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MrHerbington

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Inside the anthocyanin bag. Still almost black, after I rinsed it with water a few times. It was dry powder.

I am assuming that the additions will be kind of "neutral" regarding actual taste, only adding color, body, volume and astringency, as none of them had any aggressive flavors or aromas. The actual kit juice was very similar to the Biona juice, tasted a drop of it. Though it was more sugary, both were very mellow and nice.

The tannin had instructions to add "1-3 g/10 l", so max 0,3g/l, I added 0,2g/l so perfectly in the middle.
 

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MrHerbington

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Just a bit over 14 days, 0.994. Taste is great, nice aroma. 23l carboy full + 1l bottle, lost about 1-2dl in the sludge. The airlock got very slow about 3-4 days ago already, pretty fast fermentation.

The carboy is slowly tilted because the chair is not completely even so the lees will gather away from the tap. Put the bottle in the fridge so it will clear faster, to get some more tasting done soon.

Also added 1/4 tsp of potassium metabisulphite in the carboy
 

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MrHerbington

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Bottles arrived today and been tasting the 1l bottle for a few days. Very nice.
 

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MrHerbington

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And we have a leak.... Not great not terrible, I racked it back to stainless steel primary which has huge airspace... The wine still had some CO2 though and potassium metabisulphite so I guess it will be okay for a few days. I'm getting a 23l PET Carboy without a tap to replace this one.. Had some sediment already
 

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MrHerbington

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Luckily I was at home and noticed pretty soon, lost only about 1dl.. Not sure if I can fill up the new carboy to the neck though... Might have to add some water
 

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i wonder if keeping the PET carboy tipped/raised for sediment clearing caused stress on the sidewall and tap. just some thoughts. i would not leave a plastic container sitting on an uneven surface with it full of liquid. just my recommendation. besides, there isn't going to be enough sediment dropping out to reach the tap anyway. good luck!
 

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i wonder if keeping the PET carboy tipped/raised for sediment clearing caused stress on the sidewall and tap. just some thoughts. i would not leave a plastic container sitting on an uneven surface with it full of liquid. just my recommendation. besides, there isn't going to be enough sediment dropping out to reach the tap anyway. good luck!
I contacted the seller and they said other people have been having issues as well. IDK but might be just that the tap is not tightened properly. They do not sell tools to do it but send a link to another company that sells the proper tool.
 

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Oh well, I added another 750ml Biona Organic Grape Juice and EC-1118 to get some protection from spoilage and to make up the leak losses as I wait the tapless carboy.
 

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