Kit Wine Taste

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Zintrigue

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Brian, one would think that you're lucky enough to have some good south american vineyards near by. They're really starting to make a statement. Perhaps you can source from someone local?

Either case, the unpleasant aromas shouldn't be happening early on. The smell should be fruity and yeasty like bread. It makes me wonder if perhaps your equipment has been contaminated with something, or maybe your juice goes bad in transport. Does the juice smell like grape juice when you pitch? If the juice smells fine when you open it then I would think it's your equipment and try new buckets and whatnot.

I once contracted bretts in my 1 gallon equipment and it gave everything I put in it a distinct vomit sourness. After much research I discovered that bretts can't be sanitized or bleached or boiled away, it creates a skin-like layer on your surfaces and hides out under there, waiting for optimal temps and moisture (aka your wine) to come out and thrive. Horrid, nasty thing, that bretts. Not bad in beer, some of them use it on purpose, but off putting for wine.

Anyway, I hope you can solve the mystery, that would be very frustrating.
 

jsiddall

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Agreed about the regional grapes idea. Definitely try to find some of that!

Regarding smells during ferment most kits seem to get stinky after a few days. Caused by sulfur compounds, and sometimes called rhino farts, this is usually a sign of inadequate nutrient and I usually add a half does of Fermaid K after the first couple of days to reduce this.

If you are getting something that smells more of vomit then there may be something else going on. Sorry, can't help you there.
 

brianpablo

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Brian, one would think that you're lucky enough to have some good south american vineyards near by. They're really starting to make a statement. Perhaps you can source from someone local?

Either case, the unpleasant aromas shouldn't be happening early on. The smell should be fruity and yeasty like bread. It makes me wonder if perhaps your equipment has been contaminated with something, or maybe your juice goes bad in transport. Does the juice smell like grape juice when you pitch? If the juice smells fine when you open it then I would think it's your equipment and try new buckets and whatnot.

I once contracted bretts in my 1 gallon equipment and it gave everything I put in it a distinct vomit sourness. After much research I discovered that bretts can't be sanitized or bleached or boiled away, it creates a skin-like layer on your surfaces and hides out under there, waiting for optimal temps and moisture (aka your wine) to come out and thrive. Horrid, nasty thing, that bretts. Not bad in beer, some of them use it on purpose, but off putting for wine.

Anyway, I hope you can solve the mystery, that would be very frustrating.
Thanks for your reply! Unfortunately I live in Venezuela, which doesn't have a wine industry to speak of or much of a climate for growing grapes. I had the same infection concern when I made my first batches - especially after getting a film yeast growing in secondary on one of them. So I immediately bought a new bottling bucket, but right away had the exact same thing happen - a wonder grape and oak smell for a day or two that was then taken over by the smell I described. At least some of this ages out, and the fact is that wine drinking is not very well developed here and wine is expensive enough that people are always overjoyed with whatever I give them. I've had occasional infection problems with homebrew, but they don't taste or smell like this. I'm honestly not sure which it is, but I do have concerns about these kits receiving a lot heat on the way over. The chardonnay that's clearing now has a very dark color to it, which left me worried about oxidation. And it has exactly the same smell as the rest.
 

Zintrigue

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Hm... I really wonder if you have some other piece of equipment that's infecting your batches. Especially with the film on top, that's classic bretts. Maybe your hydrometer or stir spoon or test tube or something. According to the google gods, a white wine that's turned brown is indicative of oxidation, which is not very consistent with bretts since it's anaerobic (hence the film across the top.) Gosh you sure have a puzzling mystery here.

If it were me (It was me once or twice...) I would hand scrub everything with sanitizer, and anything I couldn't hand scrub I would toss and replace. Especially the racking equipment - tubing and all. I know bretts spores float about on the breeze, so be extra careful not to expose the must for too long. Like if you place a towel over it like I do, don't lift that sucker unless necessary. And I know that racking tubes tend to hold a lot of moisture, so I always rinse with scalding hot water and then run sanitizer through it before putting it away. Haven't had a return of the bretts yet (fingers crossed).

And then for the oxidation, do you have a lot of headspace left in your carboy during clearing and aging? If you already know this then please feel free to roll your eyes at me, but at one point I didn't know and wish someone would have pointed out the obvious to me.

Please let us know when you figure out what's going on. It's a cliffhanger, haha
 

brianpablo

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Thanks for your interest, Zintrigue!

So what I can remember is that the first batch I did had these off flavors and smells, and I found a film yeast in secondary. I peeled the stuff off and drank the batch - it wasn't particularly good but I gave a lot away. I bought a new primary fermentation bucket, racking cane and hoses. The following batch was a Malbec, I was worried about get the film yeast again so I dumped a bunch of marbles in secondary. That ended up being a problem because the stuff never fermented below 1.002 or so, (the yeast gets trapped at the bottom and doesn't chew off the last few points) which left it pretty sweet. Same off flavors and aromas (gave that stuff away pretty aggressively because it had a real cough syrup flavor to it). The following batch was the Old Vine Zinfandel - same problem all around, only this time I left enough head space in secondary for its to fully ferment out. Same off flavors! They're easing off a bit, so I'm going to leave them for another six months at least to see what happens. The following batch was the Chardonnay. Even before I opened the bag, it seemed to have a very dark color and a significant amount of sediment. I decided to ferment it on the cool side to see if that could be causing the problem. Within a few days I was back to the familiar smell. I've racked it and left it clearing, though it still a lot more brown than I think anyone would care for in a "white" wine. I've had my far share of infections, but they generally get the same kinds of smells and flavors which are not the ones I'm getting here. I may just sit on the current batches for a while to see if they mellow out. Of course I'd love to hear your professional diagnosis!
 

Zintrigue

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I'm faaar from professional, but I do love a good mystery...

My next question is what quality water you're using. A lot of people say that they use bottled, distilled water to make their kits. I use tap water, which is locally sourced from a community well and has its fair share of microbes, according to the reports (my own problems here, hehe).

If you don't mind me asking, why marbles? Are you stirring during primary to introduce oxygen to the must?

When you mentioned cough syrup I poked around on google and found this guy's explanation:
A cough syrup or medicine-like flavor is usually a result of a high alcohol low acid wine that's been sweetened. I'd think using cherries to sweeten would be that much more risky.

If I were to venture a guess I would guess that you're wine is low in acid. Best advice I would suggest is figure out what your total acid is using an acid titration test kit. Fruit wines are *generally* around .55-.65% in total acid. If you do in fact have a low total acid then adding acid like Tartaric will make it more tart and help take some of that sweet medicine-like edge off.

As always, experiment with a very small sample and scale adjustments up to the whole batch once you've got your additions figured out. Good luck
.

So you taught me something new today. I wonder if perhaps during shipping the acidity of your wines is being cooked out. It might behoove you to bulk order during the colder months for your country and store the excess kits somewhere cool through summer.
 

Jui

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I've heard of the mystical kit wine taste, but only recently started making wine and opened my first bottle from my first batch. It was a WE Vintners Reserve (mid-tier kit) and aged about 6 months. The wine wasn't bad, it's definitely drinkable (specially after decanting for a while), but it definitely has an off-putting smell and taste I don't get from commercial wine. Is this expected will all red kits, no matter how good the kit is?

I'm hoping I don't age my premium kits for two years to be sorely disappointed.

What's your experience?
Hey there I was wondering the same thing!
I first tasted a Costco Cab Sav and
it was great from our neighbour but when I made it it had a gassy taste since I tried it right away.
Then I made a Cheeky Monkey and
another kit with same result.
I expected when the kit was done
it was drinkable. Man was I wrong!
Still I paid $100.00 bucks Canadian
and can’t drink it??
Rather make a fruit concentrate or
Dragons blood then a kit.
You tried it after six months, I though it would improve by then????

Adrian in Calgary
 

MartyDz

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I got a all in one wine pump, degass under vacuum and filter 5 micron before bottling and HUGE improvement no more cloudiness if I chill a bottle and no more off flavors. If you don't want to spring for the pump yet he sells a "headspace eliminator" basically a check valve in a bung but you can degas using a cheap hand pump meant for bleeding brakes. Makes a huge difference by itself, I just don't think stirring/whips degas well enough.

The other thing I did was throw out the instructions in the kits. I use the bentonite at the beginning, and the metabisulphite at first racking but throw out the chitosan and sorbate (unless you're gonna back sweeten the sorbate isn't needed)
Malfrune, I’m probably 15 or so kits into winemaking from kits. Mostly, I’ve focused on the higher end kits (with seeds, skins and stems), but am now experimenting with lower end kits. I currently have a Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon steeping in the basement.

I’ve decided to ditch the plastic carboys and am using glass so I can use the All in One Wine Pump. I’m ordering it now. I really appreciate your completeness, but I have a few questions.

1. You said to throw out the Chitosan and Sorbate, does this apply to Kieselsol also?

2. The All in One video mentioned that racking 5-6 times may be necessary to degass. You mentioned keeping the carboy under vacuum until the wine has stopped outgassing. Do I do both of these or is vacuum enough?

3. The 5 micron filter: How many 6 gallon kits can each filter clarify (wondering if I need to stock up)?

Thanks,

Marty
 

malfrune

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Malfrune, I’m probably 15 or so kits into winemaking from kits. Mostly, I’ve focused on the higher end kits (with seeds, skins and stems), but am now experimenting with lower end kits. I currently have a Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon steeping in the basement.

I’ve decided to ditch the plastic carboys and am using glass so I can use the All in One Wine Pump. I’m ordering it now. I really appreciate your completeness, but I have a few questions.

1. You said to throw out the Chitosan and Sorbate, does this apply to Kieselsol also?

2. The All in One video mentioned that racking 5-6 times may be necessary to degass. You mentioned keeping the carboy under vacuum until the wine has stopped outgassing. Do I do both of these or is vacuum enough?

3. The 5 micron filter: How many 6 gallon kits can each filter clarify (wondering if I need to stock up)?

Thanks,

Marty
1. Yes, I just let it sit around until it clears, I'm pretty lazy in my wine making a few extra weeks/months/whatever in a carboy isn't going to hurt anything as long as it's sealed. I don't long term bulk age but I haven't found anything bad about letting it sit a few months even if there's some sediment in the bottom. Sorbate isn't needed of fermenting till dry and not back-sweetening. If you do want to bottle earlier the clearing agents might be beneficial, but with a filter, not really needed IMO.

2. The "head space eliminator" will keep it under vacuum, I keep a brake bleeder vacuum pump next to it and just pump it down once a day till it quits bubbling. You'll have to rack eventually but I wouldn't rack multiple times just for the purpose of degassing. The hand pump will put like 20hg/whatever vacuum is measured in on the bottle and that's plenty to degas, it does take days/weeks, but it works really well.

3. Some do multiples with 1 filter and might go through the trouble of washing and saving them, I don't. Amazon has multiple brands and they're all less than $5 a piece when buying the mulitpacks so I just toss em, it ain't worth the headache to save a couple bucks and risk contaminating the next batch.

Also I'm no expert on any of this, this is just what works for me and makes a product I like.
 

MartyDz

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The "head space eliminator" will keep it under vacuum, I keep a brake bleeder vacuum pump next to it and just pump it down once a day till it quits bubbling. You'll have to rack eventually but I wouldn't rack multiple times just for the purpose of degassing. The hand pump will put like 20hg/whatever vacuum is measured in on the bottle and that's plenty to degas, it does take days/weeks, but it works really well.
Malfruse,

You may not be an expert, but you're about to make my life a whole lot easier. Can you post a picture of your Brake Bleeder Pump set-up? Really curious if you've found a way to Degas multiple Carboys at a time or if the Vacuum Pump is attached to a single carboy until degas is complete. I'm really liking this idea. Harbor Freight Tools has a $20 Bleeder Pump that looks perfect for this...

Thanks for the quick reply!
 

malfrune

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Malfruse,

You may not be an expert, but you're about to make my life a whole lot easier. Can you post a picture of your Brake Bleeder Pump set-up? Really curious if you've found a way to Degas multiple Carboys at a time or if the Vacuum Pump is attached to a single carboy until degas is complete. I'm really liking this idea. Harbor Freight Tools has a $20 Bleeder Pump that looks perfect for this...

Thanks for the quick reply!
I don't, it's literally this https://www.allinonewinepump.com/product/headspace-eliminator/ on the carboy. and I use https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NP60URE/?tag=skimlinks_replacement-20 style of pump to pump it down. I only drag the all in one out to transfer/rack

I don't degas all at once, I pump it down and let it degas till it equalizes. Yes you can do multiples there's a check valve in the head space eliminator so pump does not need to stay attached. Just pump it down till it bubbles and foams and walk away for a while, just watch the foam don't want oak chips in your check valve. My carboy stays in the kitchen so I just stick the pump on and give it a few squeezes when I walk by. Eventually it'll quit off gassing and stay under vacuum. It's not a fast process but the carboy has to sit there a few weeks anyway so why rush.

The most complicated thing about the setup is there's a certain stub of hose I use to connect the headspace eliminator to the pump hose, which I believe the eliminator came with it's just a 3/8 or so hose that goes on the check valve that the OD of the vacuum pump hose fits perfect inside to make an adapter. The whole thing is pretty much idiot proof if you have buy of those items.
 

Rice_Guy

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Malfruse,

- - Really curious if you've found a way to Degas multiple Carboys at a time or if the Vacuum Pump is attached to a single carboy until degas is complete.

Thanks for the quick reply!
motorized pumps are easy to get;
my first "tool" was a vacuum cleaner which could pull 5 inHg (.15 atmosphere) the second was a plastic 12 volt 2 head $10 pump which can be hooked in series to produce 15 inHg (.5 atmosphere) or as a single stage producing 12 inHg with twice the CFM. I have played with an AC pump which was doing up to 20 in Hg (.7 atmosphere)/ 3 cfm. -- --> BUT ! ! CFM is misleading! since once the vacuum builds up to the rating of the pump, it essentially spins it’s valves and delivers no cfm. The limit of the brake bleeder is that it is a hand pump which needs to be redone several times as CO2 is removed from the wine/ repressurizes the head space

At 20inHg the gas bubbles just pop out instantly! But then I can let the plastic pump run over night and get the same thing. (haven't been motivated to measure the rated CFM) There is no reason not to keep all carboys hooked together in series or parallel with tubing Ts. 1/4 inch water line (PE) will survive 20 in Hg) vinyl tubing survives 15 in Hg.

one atmosphere is roughly 29.8 in Hg or 15 psig or 100 kPa,,, you can't get better than a full atmosphere vacuum
 
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jbo_c

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I guess I’m going to have to stop referring to what I perceive as ‘Kit taste’. For the first time, I had a commercial wine that had the same flavor. - though in this one, I didn’t find it as distracting as I have in my stuff. There was more other flavor to balance it.

The wine was the 2017 Chilean Cabernet from Black Box. We enjoy the Black Box (or Bota Box) wines for every day quaffing. I’d never suggest they’re cream of the crop, but they fit our tastes for an every day glass. So I’ve had lots of them but never picked up that flavor in them before.

Jbo
 

Wilhelm

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New to this passion and planning my first wine fermentation, plenty of experience brewing beer though.

Seems there's some differing opinions on this subject matter concerning kit taste. I guess this is expected considering differing palates and sensitivities. I'm planning my first wine to be a white wine like a Riesling (Wine Expert Vintners Reserve Riesling). For the most part I want to do a white wine hoping the turnaround is faster so that I can gain a bit experience before I ferment a red that needs to sit around for two years. Not much to hide behind so any flaws will probably be pretty easy to pick out. Fermentation control and nutrients will be a focus.

Most people here seem to be aging their Red kit wines for at least a year but I'm wondering how long you age your whites which are generally meant to be drank fresh...? Any experience in this matter? Can they be drank earlier or do they also need some extended periods of time before they taste like a decent wine?
 

jgmann67

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New to this passion and planning my first wine fermentation, plenty of experience brewing beer though.

Seems there's some differing opinions on this subject matter concerning kit taste. I guess this is expected considering differing palates and sensitivities. I'm planning my first wine to be a white wine like a Riesling (Wine Expert Vintners Reserve Riesling). For the most part I want to do a white wine hoping the turnaround is faster so that I can gain a bit experience before I ferment a red that needs to sit around for two years. Not much to hide behind so any flaws will probably be pretty easy to pick out. Fermentation control and nutrients will be a focus.

Most people here seem to be aging their Red kit wines for at least a year but I'm wondering how long you age your whites which are generally meant to be drank fresh...? Any experience in this matter? Can they be drank earlier or do they also need some extended periods of time before they taste like a decent wine?
Generally - 2 years for Reds; 6-12 months for Whites.
 

Wilhelm

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Thanks. I'll give it a go. Hopefully I have a some decent wine in the glass at the end. In general the recommendations I see in this forum is for newbies to stick to the instructions. Do you guys always use the yeast that comes with the kit though? I'm personally thinking it could be better to purchase fresh yeast that I know was stored appropriately.
 

Johnd

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Thanks. I'll give it a go. Hopefully I have a some decent wine in the glass at the end. In general the recommendations I see in this forum is for newbies to stick to the instructions. Do you guys always use the yeast that comes with the kit though? I'm personally thinking it could be better to purchase fresh yeast that I know was stored appropriately.
There shouldn’t be any “yeast freshness” issues with the kit yeast, but many substitute other yeasts in favor on ones that promote better flavor profiles.
 
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