Juice buckets vs Kits

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kuziwk

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Hi guys,

Some background information, I've done tons of kits over the past few years and I think I have a pretty good procedure. Essentially i toss the instructions, ferment to dry in the bucket and skip racking to a secondary fermentator. I put the lid on the bucket with an airlock about after a week. With the skins I leave them submerged with the spoon held against the lid which is now shut. Up until the one week point when the lid stays shut, I agitate and squeeze the skin bag with the spoon against the side of the bucket.

I bought a sterile 23L juice bucket which has been balanced and to my knowledge is prepared the same way a kit is prepared but without the concentration process (extreme negative pressure tank). I also bought a bag of fresh skins.
Can I follow my procedure like I do with standard kits? Or do I have to rack into a secondary like the instructions say? Im just concerned that I will get off flavors just in case sterile juice buckets are different in any way to concentrate kits.
 

DoctorCAD

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With skins, you should rack off the lee's. Off flavor can be had from the rotting fruit. Also, rack off the dead yeast so you don't pick up off flavors from the dead yeast cells.
 

kuziwk

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With skins, you should rack off the lee's. Off flavor can be had from the rotting fruit. Also, rack off the dead yeast so you don't pick up off flavors from the dead yeast cells.
Right so ive been told this aswell with my kits, but many people myself included don’t bother and I believe the extended time on the skins contributes to a better wine. The main question i have is, what is the difference between a juice bucket and wine kit.
 

Rocky

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Right so ive been told this aswell with my kits, but many people myself included don’t bother and I believe the extended time on the skins contributes to a better wine. The main question i have is, what is the difference between a juice bucket and wine kit.
I make wine regularly from both kits and juice buckets, Chilean in the Spring and Italy and California in the Fall. I also buy a lug of the same grape for each juice bucket, destem, crush and place them in a bag in the wine. I squeeze the bag a couple times a day during primary fermentation and rack to a secondary fermenter when SG drops below 1.020. At that point, I remove the skins and dump them in the compost pile. (The raccoons love me!) The wine is on the skins for a good week or more and I am not convinced that longer would be an improvement.

When I made wine exclusively from fresh grapes the skins in the wine were only in contact for 7-10 days before we racked the wine from our working barrels to our wine barrels. My method now closely approximates this procedure.

To your question, the differences between juice buckets and kits, I believe kits are more consistent. I have had spectacular juice buckets from Chile one year and the next year not so good. Juice buckets are less costly, particularly for white wines (to which I do not add grapes) and white juice buckets very closely approximate making wine using fresh grapes, i.e. no contact with the skins. Juice buckets from Italy seem the most consistent with California somewhere between Italy and Chile. Lastly, kits go through a process to reduce water involving pressure. I don't know if this could or would hurt the wine but I can't conceive of how it would help.
 
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Rice_Guy

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a “sterile” juice bucket means that it has had heat treatment similar to a kit and can be kept at room temperature.
I bought a sterile 23L juice bucket which has been balanced and to my knowledge is prepared the same way a kit is prepared . .
The buckets I have looked at are not sterile but refrigerated/frozen. About half the time they have yeast actively working. The reds tend to have 30ppm of SO2 and the whites 0 to a trace.
Frozen buckets are much closer to fresh juice than evaporated juice from kits.
 

kuziwk

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a “sterile” juice bucket means that it has had heat treatment similar to a kit and can be kept at room temperature.

The buckets I have looked at are not sterile but refrigerated/frozen. About half the time they have yeast actively working. The reds tend to have 30ppm of SO2 and the whites 0 to a trace.
Frozen buckets are much closer to fresh juice than evaporated juice from kits.
The bucket I have is sterile juice, it came in a vaccuum sealed bag just like the kits do. I'm still wondering of whether or not I can skip racking to a secondary fermentator the same way I do with my kits from skins.
 

Rocky

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The bucket I have is sterile juice, it came in a vaccuum sealed bag just like the kits do. I'm still wondering of whether or not I can skip racking to a secondary fermentator the same way I do with my kits from skins.
I don't know of a reason why you could not do so. My question would be, what advantage do you see in skipping racking to a secondary fermenter?
 

kuziwk

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I don't know of a reason why you could not do so. My question would be, what advantage do you see in skipping racking to a secondary fermenter?
A racking that potentially wastes wine plus I like to keep the skins submerged in the wine when the alcohol level is higher. I feel I get better extraction when the wine's alcohol content is higher...which makes sense since alcohol is a solvent which "could" help extract more tannin and/or color.
 

kuziwk

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I don't know of a reason why you could not do so. My question would be, what advantage do you see in skipping racking to a secondary fermenter?
The advantage in my opinion would be eliminating an unnecessary racking step potentially saving wine aswell as time. Having an extra week on the skins in a high alcohol environment in my opinion extracts more tannin and color, some guys are doing an extended maceration for 6 weeks like this however I'm not brave enough or do I have the proper equipment. My process is unsubstantiated though as I have not done a side by side comparison. Either way I would like to make this juice bucket the same way I make kits, I'm just concerned as if there is some substantial difference between the two such as grape sediment that could rot from the juice bucket. It seems like these juice buckets are pretty much the same as a concentrate though, they just didn't remove the water.
 

Rocky

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A racking that potentially wastes wine plus I like to keep the skins submerged in the wine when the alcohol level is higher. I feel I get better extraction when the wine's alcohol content is higher...which makes sense since alcohol is a solvent which "could" help extract more tannin and/or color.
Gotcha, I might have to try that and see how it works for me.
 

kuziwk

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Gotcha, I might have to try that and see how it works for me.
I've been doing it with high end the 16l kits with skins and I'm convinced it make a subjectively better product. I might run an experiment in the future, right now my current experiment is clearing agents vs none at all side by side.
 

Rocky

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"right now my current experiment is clearing agents vs none at all side by side."

Interesting, I think you may find that the wine clears just fine without clearing agents, given enough time. Years ago, when we made wine at home, we crushed and co-fermented two varieties (Zinfandel and Muscat) into a working barrel during the first two weeks of October, left the wine in the working barrel for 10 to 14 days and then racked it into wine barrels. The bung hole was open at the top of the barrel and we kept the wine level full, halfway up the bung hole. Large sediment material would bubble up out of the hole like parts of skins, parts of stems that were missed, etc. About the second week of December, we would insert the bung and let the wine sit in the barrel until just after Easter. At that time we would bottle (in gallon jugs...750 ml bottles would have taken forever!), cork, wax, tape and just about anything else to keep the wine safe and then bury it in sand in one corner of the cellar.

We did not filter or use any type of clearing agents. When the wine came out of the barrel (3-4 months or so) and went into the gallon jugs, it was clear, ruby red.
 

kuziwk

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"right now my current experiment is clearing agents vs none at all side by side."

Interesting, I think you may find that the wine clears just fine without clearing agents, given enough time. Years ago, when we made wine at home, we crushed and co-fermented two varieties (Zinfandel and Muscat) into a working barrel during the first two weeks of October, left the wine in the working barrel for 10 to 14 days and then racked it into wine barrels. The bung hole was open at the top of the barrel and we kept the wine level full, halfway up the bung hole. Large sediment material would bubble up out of the hole like parts of skins, parts of stems that were missed, etc. About the second week of December, we would insert the bung and let the wine sit in the barrel until just after Easter. At that time we would bottle (in gallon jugs...750 ml bottles would have taken forever!), cork, wax, tape and just about anything else to keep the wine safe and then bury it in sand in one corner of the cellar.

We did not filter or use any type of clearing agents. When the wine came out of the barrel (3-4 months or so) and went into the gallon jugs, it was clear, ruby red.
Hmm well there is no doubt about that the wine will clear on its own. I've been playing around with reduced clearing agents with good success, and now no clearing agents. I'm leaving the bigger kits for up to a year basically to clear before they get bottled. I'm still using clearing agents on the cheaper kits although alot less than the instructions say. The cheaper kits get the clearing agents so I have something to drink in 3-4 months. I have not yet decided to filter the reds that have been in carboy for a year, like you said it may not be required but it would suck if they dropped lees in the bottle.
 

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