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SLM

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I wish I would have discovered this forum long ago. My life would be much better.
My first kit was a Master Vintner Sommelier Select. I figured making a good investment would yield foolproof results. I got fooled.
I followed instructions perfectly (I see now that was my first mistake) right through bottling (my second mistake). The taste is tart, almost fizzy, but fermentation was complete and there are no bubbles. No improvement after a couple months. If I open a bottle, aerate and and add some sugar it's somewhat drinkable but not good wine.

So my questions are: What am I tasting? Acid? CO2? If I could go back I now have a good idea what I would do. Bulk age, sweeten, perhaps potassium bicarbonate? But is there any way to fix the problem after bottling (besides patience)?

My instructions say: Your wine will taste quite good immediately (NOT!), but you can store it in a dark, cool, temperature stable place for up to a year. I know many of you age your kits much longer, so why would the vendor tell me it's only good for a year?
 

mainshipfred

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Sorry to hear but please don't get discouraged. I doubt it would be acid since the kit should be balanced and sweetness is a personal preference. There is no substitute for aging, either bottle or bulk. Don't know which one you made but if you want something to drink earlier the less expensive kits and especially whites will allow you to have something to drink sooner while your bigger wines are aging. They are nothing to write home about but will taste better at a young age than a more expensive kit. Hope it helps.
 

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I'm curious to understand why you think following the kit instructions perfectly was a mistake?

We all do tweaks when making kits, but generally when doing a kit for the first time I stick to the instructions to give me a good benchmark. And I've never had a bad result from following the instructions.

Obviously I don't know what your particular instructions said!

I know some instructions say a rough number of days to follow as a guide, but the key is to trust in your hydrometer!
 

Rice_Guy

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The taste is tart, almost fizzy, If I open a bottle, aerate and and add some sugar it's somewhat drinkable but not good wine.
So my questions are: What am I tasting? Acid? CO2? . . .
My instructions say: Your wine will taste quite good immediately (NOT!), but you can store it in a dark, cool, temperature stable place for up to a year. I know many of you age your kits much longer, so why would the vendor tell me it's only good for a year?
low levels of CO2 will show bubbles forming on the side of a glass (this will be more obvious at warm temperatures), and high levels will actively foam. The gas is more soluble at cold temperature therefore if you run your kit in a cool basement it is hard for the CO2 to naturally come out of the wine, ,,,, this is a likely flavor cause. Dissolved gas will make a wine taste more acidic and sugar will “balance” high acid/ CO2

Kits are designed to work with minimal set up as acid testing/ correction. If there is sufficient SO2 (potassium metabisulphite) and the temperature is cool/ uniform (15C) the wine should last longer than a year. My industry runs products in accelerated aging at 30C to give a worst case shelf life number which gets put into the best by date. it is a CYA statement
 

SLM

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I'm curious to understand why you think following the kit instructions perfectly was a mistake?

We all do tweaks when making kits, but generally when doing a kit for the first time I stick to the instructions to give me a good benchmark. And I've never had a bad result from following the instructions.

Obviously I don't know what your particular instructions said!

I know some instructions say a rough number of days to follow as a guide, but the key is to trust in your hydrometer!
Yes, fermentation went well and according to schedule. I believe my mistake was wasting perfectly good bottles on bad wine! I should have waited longer and fixed it before bottling. It's an old vine cab.
 

SLM

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low levels of CO2 will show bubbles forming on the side of a glass (this will be more obvious at warm temperatures), and high levels will actively foam. The gas is more soluble at cold temperature therefore if you run your kit in a cool basement it is hard for the CO2 to naturally come out of the wine, ,,,, this is a likely flavor cause. Dissolved gas will make a wine taste more acidic and sugar will “balance” high acid/ CO2

Kits are designed to work with minimal set up as acid testing/ correction. If there is sufficient SO2 (potassium metabisulphite) and the temperature is cool/ uniform (15C) the wine should last longer than a year. My industry runs products in accelerated aging at 30C to give a worst case shelf life number which gets put into the best by date. it is a CYA statement
Thanks for explaining the science. So that explains why there were no more bubbles after .998. And how CO2 can be present in bottles even thought they don't explode. The third stage (stabilize, clear, degas) calls for 2-3 weeks in a cool place. But perhaps if I had kept it warmer longer it would have mellowed naturally. At least that's how I'm interpreting it.
 

Rice_Guy

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Thanks for explaining the science. So that explains why there were no more bubbles after .998. And how CO2 can be present in bottles even thought they don't explode. The third stage (stabilize, clear, degas) calls for 2-3 weeks in a cool place. But perhaps if I had kept it warmer longer it would have mellowed naturally. At least that's how I'm interpreting it.
yes warm temp promotes degassing, cool will retain gas (in both bottle and carboy). A wine or a beer bottle should be able to withstand about 1.5 atmosphere of pressure (most not all), above two atmospheres will have a risk of exploding or pushing the cork out.

this is a place where taste and experience in taste will help in diagnosis, a lot of what I am saying is based on word word “fizzy” in the original post,, I would expect to see micro bubbles on the glass with low levels of CO2. ,,, not a foam. A neighbor or spouse or relative’s opinion/ descriptive vocabulary would be useful. ,,,, however you will get this with experience.

All foods are hedonic and one usual trick with acid is balance it with sweet, ex a cola is about pH 2 combined with 10% sugar. I hope you experiment, sometimes called bench trials, to retaste samples after * adding some acid, * adding several levels of sugar, * tasting after a known good commercial dry wine, * warming then stirring out CO2 , * adding tannin, * after sitting in a half full canning jar for a few weeks (oxidation/ sometimes described as a burn flavor), etc. Practice.
 

SLM

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Good education, as is this website. And thanks for the encouragement.
 

SLM

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4 months later this wine is still not good. More CO2 than a coke! And this bottle has been open for a week! Is there any way that will dissipate in the bottles? I'm thinking of dumping it back in a carboy to age. Either that or use it to make sangria.
IMG_9321.jpg
 

CDrew

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The CO2 will not dissipate in the bottles. It's trapped in the bottles.

I suppose you could put it back into bulk storage, but why bother? You could consider opening a bottle and using one of these vacu-vin vacuum pumps to fully remove the CO2. Then taste it. If you don't like it, toss the wine and move on.
 

Rice_Guy

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Your level of foam would suggest that you were in the primary already, I have only see this on a wine which refermented in the bottle and then after pulling the cork it stopped in a few minutes, ,,, reached equilibrium with the atmosphere.

well as a kit you have two cases, I would experiment
* a VacuVin will pull 15 inches Hg, do you have one in which case try it, to remove gas it should have vacuum for several hours which says you will repump a few times. Taste it when the major foam stops. If it has recovered when the gas is gone that leads to your suggestion of carboy, I would use a pump and T’s then recork rather than oxygenate the batch.
* the original post was December and gravity was .998, it is possible that you are warmer and as a result the yeast are active again working to get to 0.990.
* malo lactic ferment can do gas, but not likely unless you had the bacteria at home
* I am assuming that you did not add sugar then bottle, the standard with sugar is add potassium sorbate to stop yeast growth

humm what else changed? Interesting to see foam retention a week
 

SLM

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I do have a vacuvin, will try that.
I don't have a pump. What are T's?
Final SG was .994, storage is cool. Being my first kit I added all the ingredients including potassium sorbate, no sugar. I would think that would prevent refermentation. Also, no corks are pushing out.
I should add that I have to shake the bottle to get that foam, in case that wasn't clear. But yes, even after a week.
 

sour_grapes

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I don't have a pump. What are T's?
A T or tee is a fitting shaped like the letter T, allowing you to join three tubes together. You could use them to connect many bottles to one pump. However, since you don't have a pump, it doesn't matter! You could use tees with a Vacuvin, but that is a lot of pumping!
 

wineh

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4 months later this wine is still not good. More CO2 than a coke! And this bottle has been open for a week! Is there any way that will dissipate in the bottles? I'm thinking of dumping it back in a carboy to age. Either that or use it to make sangria.
View attachment 72234
Wow, that's a lot of CO2! You could (and likely should) literally "dump" all the bottles back into a carboy. Aging is not the issue; you need to stir the crap out of the wine to get rid of the CO2, then you'll need to add a little KSo and let it settle a bit. Make sure the carboy is full b4 letting it rest.
Good luck!
 

Rice_Guy

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Shaking for foam. :) OK
dissolved CO2 is a constant K times gas pressure of the CO2, therefore if the bottle is sealed for a week gas retains pressure and stays dissolved. Reducing the head space pressure will degas a wine, ,,, and one could degas a day before used. ,,,, The question again is does the flavor improve with this treatment? You already identified option two which was sangria.

Quite a few folks on WMT report that the flavor improves with age, so that also is worth a few bottles.
 

winemaker81

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@SLM, my best guess is that you didn't degas completely, which is a strict requirement for bottling as early as kits allow.

How old is the wine? If it's a heavy red under a year old, it's not going to be optimal, even if degassed properly.

How did the vaccuvin work? Degassing makes a huge difference.

If you have most of 2 cases left, I agree with @wineh, unbottling, stirring well, and rebottling may be your best choice. I did this once ... which taught me to ensure the wine is degassed before bottling! Painful lessons are the best learned ones.
 

SLM

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Yes CO2 was clearly the problem all along. The vacuvin worked. Degassed it is somewhat drinkable. This is the problem with blindly following directions without knowing the science. I used the drill tool but obviously that didn't get the job done. Now I will know by taste when a wine is sufficiently degassed.
 

winemaker81

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@SLM, stir for 3 minutes, changing direction every 30 seconds. The stir should be vigorous that the wine foams heavily. When done, you should have an inch of foam on top that takes 10+ minutes to clear. Use a corded drill -- cordless don't have the RPMs that work, IMO.

DO NOT do this in a carboy, or you will have your very own Mount Vesuvius! If you do it, post the video, it will get a lot of likes on this forum. 😜

A few years back I started stirring all wines, post-fermentation. They clear amazingly fast without the CO2.

A tip with kieselsol/chitosan -- immediately after degassing, I add the kieselsol and stir for a minute, changing directions at 30 seconds. Cover the fermenter with the same towel you used for fermentation. An hour later add the chitosan and stir again for a minute, then rack into the carboy. The wine continues to emit a LOT of CO2 so O2 exposure is not a problem.
 

CDrew

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I'm not an expert degasser (ha), but just a for instance:

Today at the 6 month point, I racked Sangiovese, Syrah and Primitivo, about 5 gallons of left overs of each. They have all been vacuum racked at least twice previously. The sangiovese still had a ton of CO2 in it, to the point it tasted fizzy. The other two were already basically fully degassed. All of these wines were started from Grapes in September. So it's just a reminder how long the CO2 can persist. I've not ever made a kit, but I don't see how it's possible to bottle in 6 weeks. That just seems like bad advice.

I am planning on bottling 10 gallons of Rose and 15 gallons of Sauvignon Blanc in April, and I'll likely vacuum rack and hold it under a pretty good vacuum for 15 minutes or so prior to putting it in the bottle., just to be sure most of the CO2 is gone,
 

winemaker81

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I've not ever made a kit, but I don't see how it's possible to bottle in 6 weeks. That just seems like bad advice.
It's not bad advice. It's a completely different point of view. Kits are optimized to bottle quickly, and it works.

Especially for new wine makers, time is an issue. "When can I drink my wine?" is the primary question. New winemakers want to enjoy the fruits of their labors. NOW!

Most of us have been there.

You and I know that if these wines are aged longer, they get better. But if the maker wants to drink it now? Cool. Enjoy! Different strokes for different folks.
 

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