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Making a Port style wine from a Standard Wine Kit

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ou8amaus

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Recently I tried tweaking a lower end kit by reducing the water added, and making it to 5 gallon instead of 6 gallon. Along with a homemade frozen grape pack, extra tannin and extra oak... Overall I was pleased with the result (needs a little more aging time). I have also made a couple of Port style wines from kits this year and have been intrigued… Now my brain is telling me to try and make a port style wine using a standard kit and making it to only 3 gallons. My brain is most oftentimes wrong, but it is in charge and all I can do is try and channel its rogue ideas.
I am sure this is not a new concept, but I could not find any other threads which provided reviews on results. So my thinking is that if I take a kit which is supposed to make 6 gallons of 12% red wine, and ferment it to 3 gallons, that the EC1118 will give up the ghost somewhere near 20%, leaving the balance of the sugar to sweeten. I know most of the port threads here center on stopping fermentation by adding alcohol, but here in Canada the prices are outrageous so I must do without.

My thinking is that I will probably need to step feed it more nutrients somewhere along the way as I will be stressing out the poor yeast to its maximum tolerances, and although I am aiming at 3 gallons will the residual sugar remaining after the yeast die make this too sweet? I realize this is an experiment, my expectation are low and I am prepared to fail miserably, but I would like to plan for at least limited success and be pleasantly surprised.

There are many experienced port makers here so I would love your feedback regarding this concept, and any input/suggestions you may have. Thanks!
 

vacuumpumpman

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I also made a kit wine and turned into a port like wine by eliminating a gallon of water

Came out good
 
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ou8amaus

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Check out this thread, it might be of interest to you for an inexpensive port(though it does require alcohol).
http://www.winemakingtalk.com/forum/f137/dragon-port-44437/

Mine turned out really good, now that I have let it sit for 8 months. 22% ABV it finished at.
Thanks for the link! Grape minds think alike... I just printed out the recipe this morning for the DB Port. That one is definitely on my to-do list, but I wanted to try a grape version first.
 

sour_grapes

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I can think of a potential problem with your approach. If you dilute your kit to only 3 gallons, then Fermcalc tells me that your starting SG will be 1.170, or 38 Brix. Yes, this amount of sugar would give you in excess of 20% ABV, as you desire, provided the yeast can ferment it up to their alcohol tolerance.

But it is not just the back end of the fermentation you need worry about. The yeast must also be able to prosper in the initial stages. Too high a sugar level up front will cause "osmotic stress," which is a fancy way of saying that the yeast cannot live in such a sugary solution. (This is why honey does not spoil, for example.)

I cannot find a good reference for how many Brix the yeast can tolerate. But this gives you something to google for, or perhaps someone on here knows.

If you are starting from a "normal" SG, you could step feed with sugar. This allows you to get the yeast going, and then feed them more as you go, without ever exposing them to osmotic stress.
 

vacuumpumpman

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I let it ferment out naturally
No alachol added to this one
 

ou8amaus

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this amount of sugar would give you in excess of 20% ABV, as you desire, provided the yeast can ferment it up to their alcohol tolerance.

Too high a sugar level up front will cause "osmotic stress," which is a fancy way of saying that the yeast cannot live in such a sugary solution. .
That is awesome information, thanks! That could have tanked the project from the get go... So to mitigate the potential of osmotic stress, I will change the starting ratio and hold back some of the kit concentrate. I will keep the starting SG to about 1.120. Then once fermentation is well under way I will step feed the balance of the concentrate. Once the yeast hits its tolerance levels I am hoping the sugar level remaining will be in the range of what port should be. This will be a gamble.

What is the normal range of SG for port once completed?
 

sour_grapes

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That is awesome information, thanks! That could have tanked the project from the get go... So to mitigate the potential of osmotic stress, I will change the starting ratio and hold back some of the kit concentrate. I will keep the starting SG to about 1.120. Then once fermentation is well under way I will step feed the balance of the concentrate. Once the yeast hits its tolerance levels I am hoping the sugar level remaining will be in the range of what port should be. This will be a gamble.
Yes, of course, that should work. :slp I did not think of that solution (no pun intended).

What is the normal range of SG for port once completed?
I am not a great deal of help, but I wound up at 1.010. I did the following: I fermented a regular wine (~13% ABV) to dry (SG=0.994). Then I sweetened it to 1.030. Only then did I add the brandy, and this took the ABV to 20% and the SG down to 1.010.
 

ou8amaus

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OK thanks!
My math is probably off here, but if I start with 24% Potential ABV (1.155 SG), and the yeast quits around 18% (1.072 SG), then I will be left with 6% worth of unfermented sugar. No sure how to translate these numbers into an expected final SG?
 

sour_grapes

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To a very good approximation, ABV=131*(Initial SG - Final SG)

So, fermenting to 18% would "consume" about 18/131 = 0.137 of your initial SG. In your case, that would bring the SG down to about (1.155 - 0.137) = 1.018.
 

ou8amaus

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bring the SG down to about...1.018.
Once again I am in your debt, thanks!
1.018 might potentially be a little too sweet, but only tasting will tell.

So, if there are no other immediate red flags... lets get this going!
 

marino

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I think my Porto Corinto started at 1.150 and it got all the way to 1.010
 

JimmyT

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Once again I am in your debt, thanks!

1.018 might potentially be a little too sweet, but only tasting will tell.



So, if there are no other immediate red flags... lets get this going!

So how did this turn out?
 

ou8amaus

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Grrr . Kit was delivered and it had sprung a leak. Small leak but I was not willing to risk it. Had to return it. Took a few weeks to get a replacement, by which time the available Carboy had demanded I fill it with something else. So plan is still in place, just need to free up a 3 gallon carboy this week! I will post an update!
 

richmke

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The first post made it sound like he did.
I missed that.

My thoughts on the original post:

1) In order to mix a 6 gallon kit to 3 gallons, you need to start with a cheap kit. Most expensive kits start at 4+ gallons.

2) If you mix to 1.160 SG and can ferment down to 1.020 SG, you end up with about 1.020 SG, which is the sweetness I like. I think most port kits end up around 1.030 SG, so you can start around 1.165. That will give you 18% ABV, or the limit of EC-1118

3) If you start with a kit that is intended to start at 1.090 SG, you would need to dilute it to 3.375 gallons to have an SG of 1.160.

4) I've thought about doing the following:

a) Mix a high-end kit to 6 gallons
b) Remove 2 gallons
c) Ferment
d) Chapitalize to 18% abv
e) When fermentation is complete, add back the reserved juice.
f) Let that ferment to completion

That should give you about 1.02 SG at 18% ABV. then you can fortify to 20% ABV.
 

ou8amaus

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Agreed, a higher end kit will definitely provide better results. At this time I want to try it on a cheaper kit just to get the process down and see what the results are.

Thanks for the calculations! I plan on doing a little on the fly mixing/measuring/adding but it is reassuring to have numbers to aim for.

I like your plan of action, and I may very well end up pouring this down the drain and following in your steps... But for this attempt I started with a basic idea of not using any extra sugar except for what comes in the kit (which makes it necessary to use a low-middle range highly concentrated kit), and not using any alcohol to bump up the final ABV (which will limit this experiment t 18%).

Hopefully I can empty some carboys by next weekend and get this going!
 

CGish

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Agreed, a higher end kit will definitely provide better results. At this time I want to try it on a cheaper kit just to get the process down and see what the results are.

Thanks for the calculations! I plan on doing a little on the fly mixing/measuring/adding but it is reassuring to have numbers to aim for.

I like your plan of action, and I may very well end up pouring this down the drain and following in your steps... But for this attempt I started with a basic idea of not using any extra sugar except for what comes in the kit (which makes it necessary to use a low-middle range highly concentrated kit), and not using any alcohol to bump up the final ABV (which will limit this experiment t 18%).

Hopefully I can empty some carboys by next weekend and get this going!
How is this experiment going?
 

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