making costco merlot kit drier

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jgnin

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I've got a ton of questions but this one is the one bugging me the most. I've been buying different kits, but at $60 for 2 merlot kits at costco, I had to buy it. Question is, I'm trying to figure out if there's a way to make the wine drier than it is when just following the regular directions. I've read about adding ascorbic acid to make it drier, but hoping to get some advice from somebody thats actually tried it. If it works, when to add it? Does it work at all? Are there other options to dry your wine? Thanks in advance for any help.
 

Madhampster

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I bought the same kit and it is going as I type this. The only change i have made so far is adding toasted french oak cubes along with the oak that it came with. My son just b
Finished a double batch and he will be bottling this week and it did taste nice and dry. He did it all in a glass carboy and did not rack it until it hit 0.990. I helped him on the weekend to rack the 2 carboys. He added extra oak chips at the start. Just be carful the yeast gets really active and i had alot of foaming out the airlock.
 

jgnin

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I've got one kit that I bottled in july, i found it's alcohol content was low, thinking maybe the temp was too low? Or maybe I should have left it in the carboy longer than the instructions said before bottling? The kits i have now I'm using a heat belt, hopefully that helps. Did the oak chips just add flavour or make the wine drier?
 
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Madhampster

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My sons wine was dry. I hope mine gets as dry. I wont know for a little while yet. Dont follow the directions to close. Follow the specific gravity. I will wait until the airlock stops before I rack it.
 

jgnin

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I literally followed the instructions to the letter, which I won't do from now on, if it's anything like brewing beer then it won't hurt to leave it in the carboy longer.
 

Johnd

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I literally followed the instructions to the letter, which I won't do from now on, if it's anything like brewing beer then it won't hurt to leave it in the carboy longer.
Time is not the important factor in alcoholic fermentation. Follow your hydrometer, it talks the tale that you need to hear.
 

jgnin

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OK, think I'm getting it now, the time frames for the kit are second fiddle, and the hydrometer reading is the gold standard for figuring when it's time to bottle...
 

Johnd

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OK, think I'm getting it now, the time frames for the kit are second fiddle, and the hydrometer reading is the gold standard for figuring when it's time to bottle...
Yep. Follow the hydrometer. AF takes as long as it takes.

Time only matters after your wine is done. If you let it age properly, a function of time, instead of drinking it early.
 

jgnin

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OK, now I'm really gonna pick your brain..... Anything you add outside of what comes in a kit that you add to enhance flavor, swap out yeast, oak chips etc.? This has been educational to say the least...
 

Johnd

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OK, now I'm really gonna pick your brain..... Anything you add outside of what comes in a kit that you add to enhance flavor, swap out yeast, oak chips etc.? This has been educational to say the least...
This is only my opinion, there are many others. I'm a bit of a purist, and don't add much to my varietal kits outside of tannins, oak, barrel aging, different yeasts, and the pressed skins from one of my grape wines.

Lots of folks here like to add other fruits as well, like raisins, currants, blackberries, elderberries, etc. Dig into the thread entitled "Tweaking Cheap Kits", it'll keep you busy reading for weeks.......
 

jgnin

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looks like I've got some reading to do, thanks for the help
 

salcoco

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assuming what you define as being dry is the cotton taste in the mouth when tasting wine, this is the result of tannin. tannin can be added as a powder using post fermentation tannin( see scottlabs.com for more info), aging the wine in oak , either a barrel or adding oak chips, cubes or staves; or adding fruit that would add tannin during fermentation ie dried elderberries or raisins, also adding grape skins can increase the tannin level. suggest reading Jack Keller's web site for insite on the matter.
 

jgnin

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Another quick thought, wondering if anyone has tried, the kit calls to be filled to 23 liters, might it be a better to just fill to say 20 liters instead for a filler tasting wine?
 

jgnin

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And I'll be going to my local wine store after work to see what they have for tannins, oak chips etc.
 

wineforfun

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Another quick thought, wondering if anyone has tried, the kit calls to be filled to 23 liters, might it be a better to just fill to say 20 liters instead for a filler tasting wine?
Ok, as Johnd mentioned, you really need to read through the Tweaking Cheap Kits thread. I believe it will answer a lot of your questions.

To address a few of your questions.
Yes, with those cheap kits, it may be beneficial to drop the volume down to 5 gal. instead of 6 gal. It will make a fuller wine that way.
Not sure with the kits you mention, but a lot of the cheaper kits have no oak or tannin included. These two items will greatly enhance the lower end kits.
Lastly, you mentioned your previous wine was low in alcohol. What was the starting SG? I am assuming if you went according to kit instructions it was probably in the range of 1.060-1.080. Just a guess as most of the cheaper kits are on the lower end of ABV. To fix this, sugar addition is needed to raise the potential ABV.
 

jgnin

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Just bottled the merlot kit after sitting in the carboy for about 4 1/2 months. It's good, surprisingly good.....I just started two Costco Shiraz kits, added tannins, blackberry, blueberry, red berry and about a cup of sugar......starting sg was 1.10 so expecting about 14% alcohol when it's done.
 

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