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Other Master Vitner Kits - What's your experience?

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cubluffs

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Hi All,

My first kit that I made was a Master Vitner Wine Makers Reserve Cab Sauv 10L and I do not like how it turned out. I followed directions exactly. I didn't give the wine a whole lot of time to age, but it doesn't smell or taste right. I would compare it to bad box wine. I don't know if I did something wrong or if it was the quality of the kit.

Has anyone made the Master Vitner kits? What has been your experience? Just wondering if I should ever consider buying one of their higher end kits (Somm Select or LE) or stick with RJS, WE, MM?
 

jgmann67

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Hi All,

My first kit that I made was a Master Vitner Wine Makers Reserve Cab Sauv 10L and I do not like how it turned out. I followed directions exactly. I didn't give the wine a whole lot of time to age, but it doesn't smell or taste right. I would compare it to bad box wine. I don't know if I did something wrong or if it was the quality of the kit.

Has anyone made the Master Vitner kits? What has been your experience? Just wondering if I should ever consider buying one of their higher end kits (Somm Select or LE) or stick with RJS, WE, MM?
Wine kit quality increases as the volume of the juice increases (i.e. a 10L kit won't be of the same quality as an 18L kit). But, with that said, plenty of people make 10L kits and the result is a perfectly fine everyday drinking wine.

When you say it "doesn't smell or taste right," how do you mean? Also, how long was it from the time you dropped your yeast until you bottled? How long was it from the time you bottled until you opened your first taster?

I would bet that if you followed the directions, and there isn't a whole lot of time between starting fermentation and bottling, your wine tastes sharp and lacks the typical flavor of a cabernet. That's because it's still got a good bit of co2 in it. Best thing you can do is test a bottle (search "poof" test). And, if it fails, pour your wine back into bulk and properly degas the wine.

As far as what kit to buy next. Buy the best quality kit you can afford... Always.
 

cubluffs

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When you say it "doesn't smell or taste right," how do you mean?
All I taste is fruit. Seems to be no acid balance. Doesn't smell like wine - hard to describe the smell beyond that.

Also, how long was it from the time you dropped your yeast until you bottled? How long was it from the time you bottled until you opened your first taster?
Strictly followed directions, so from yeast to bottle was somewhere around 30 days. Started drinking 30 days later. Clearly patience is not one of my virtues :h

As you mentioned, likely was still CO2 in the wine. I was stirring with a spoon and don't think I drove out all the CO2. Have since purchased a drill attachment. Plan on bulk aging in the future, and bottle aging at least 6 months to a year. Difficult to do when first getting started.

Aside form my poor wine making methodology that was employed with this batch, still wondering what experience folks have had with Master Vitner kits? I've never seen one of those kits listed on the top kits threads.
 

jgmann67

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They're fairly new (only that last few years IIRC).

Did you measure your gravity along the way? Add oak?

If there's no oak and no skins in your kit, it will lack tannins and complexity.

Seriously, if you're a fan of red wines, shop for a kit that has a big bag of juice, at least one stage of oak and a good volume of grape skins.

My personal favorites so far are in the WE Eclipse and the RJS EP lines.

Also, in the future you might want to think about degassing via a vacuum system of some sort.
 

cubluffs

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Appreciate your input.

I did measure S.G. throughout the process and all recordings were within range. There was a small amount of oak that was added in secondary - but didn't seem to impart much tannin or complexity.

Will look into bigger bags of juice and higher end kits. Wanted to get one or two under my belt prior to spending high $. Will also explore vacuum system. What's your recommendation?
 

jgmann67

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Appreciate your input.

I did measure S.G. throughout the process and all recordings were within range. There was a small amount of oak that was added in secondary - but didn't seem to impart much tannin or complexity.

Will look into bigger bags of juice and higher end kits. Wanted to get one or two under my belt prior to spending high $. Will also explore vacuum system. What's your recommendation?

I couldn't bring myself to buy cheap kits. Call me a snob, im okay with it.

The cheap way to vacuum out your co2 is to do it the hand held brake bleeder way ($20). More expensive is using a vacuum pump. Like many in this board, I have the All-in-One vacuum pump system ($200) that I use for degassing and bottling.

Either way, using a vacuum means that you will need to use glass carboys to get it done ($40/6gal carboy).
 

rustbucket

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Since you've already bottled the wine, you are beyond standard degassing methods. One thing I did last year when I was in your situation is that I used a hand vacuum pump that come with rubber stoppers at most wine stores. After I opened each bottle for consumption purposes, I would remove the cork, insert one of the vacuum pump stoppers, and vacuum the gas out. It took about 5 minutes per bottle. I pumped the vacuum out, gave the bottle a good shake, pumped some more, then continue until you don't see any bubbles.

Another thing that works is decanting. Agitate the wine like hell while pouring it into the decanter. Then let it air for a few hours before serving it.

With regard to the smell you're describing, the wine needs more aging. The smell should dissipate after a few more months in the bottle. My thought is that the smell be due to bottle shock. I experience that once with a high end Cellar Craft Red Mountain Cabernet that tasted like rubbing alcohol and smelled just as bad. Nine months later, it was delicious.
 

jgmann67

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Since you've already bottled the wine, you are beyond standard degassing methods.
He could pull corks, pour back, degas, dose with kmeta and rebottle. It's time consuming and adds some expense, sure. But, it teaches some valuable lessons and will make for a better, more consistent end product.
 

cubluffs

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Thanks for all the great suggestions Jim & Ron. I'll try decanting on the next bottle. I won't be bottling anything that hasn't been properly degassed or aged for future batches...lesson learned!
 
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Jim and Ron make excellent points. I personally do not step below the mid-range wine kits...used to make them earlier on but I have found the quality in the result is much higher as you spend in a little more.

Also the results are more predictable with the higher-end kits. They seem to come out more consistent as far as flavor, alcohol, body, etc.

Cab Sauv is also one of the 'big wines'...higher tannins, complex and varied based on the ripeness of the grapes, where they came from, etc. Aging does this type of wine a huge favor. 30 days is simply not enough.

If you are the impatient type (such as myself) get into a rolling stock type of operation...

3-4 weeks fermenting
Clarify/degass - wait 4 weeks
Rack - wait 4 weeks
Rack - wait 4+ weeks to bottle

I keep a bucket (or 2...or 3) always fermenting with bottles rolling out regularly. It helps with the problem of my impatience vs. results. Works only if you have the room to be able to accommodate the multiple & simultaneous batches.
 

Zintrigue

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My first ever wine kit was a 1 gallon Master Vintner merlot.

It's awful.

Now that I've made a few other things, I see why.
1.) Their method of "degassing" involves vigorous stirring for three (I think?) days. From my very young understanding of this process thus far, this introduces too much oxygen to your wine and creates that wet cardboard smell. I was quite "vigorous."
2.) The wine is watered down.

I'm a stickler for following directions EXACTLY as well, and I was disappointed in my Master Vinter's wine. I would also say that it was less than boxed wine quality.

However, the most important thing for me was that I learned a lot from the experience and was more comfortable doing it again.

Check out the "tweaking cheap kits" thread by Joeswine. It has a lot of great ideas for turning cheap kits into great table wine.
 
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