Merlot from juice – how to proceed

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Ericphotoart

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I started my first merlot from juice March 2nd ’23. I really have high hopes but I would like to ask how to proceed at this point. It’s been 9 months since I started and I don’t have a problem with bulk aging longer but maybe there is something I need to include in the whole process. So here is my recipe and what I did so far.

It’s 6 US gallon must.
2 gallons of Coloma Frozen Merlot concentrate (Brix 68)No sugar added)
8 tsp acid blend – pH 3.4
3 tsp pectic enzyme
3 tsp yeast nutrients
3 tbsp tannin
Yeast K1-V1116
SG – 1.110
March 13 – SG 0.996 – rack and add ¼ tsp kMeta
April 21 – rack and add .5 oz French oak chips
June 22 – rack and top off with 1 l blackberry wine
September 26 – rack and add ¼ tsp of kMeta + 2 oz Medium Roasted French Oak cubes
My notes from September 26 indicate that the wine is medium body, lack complexity and is quite strong.
I didn’t add any skins and maybe adding oak chips on April 21 was a mistake? How to proceed at the moment? Just leave it alone, add kMeta, add skins now? The wine is aging with oak cubes. Some people say they leave wine on cubes for several months. Any suggestion will be appreciated.
 
I started my first merlot from juice March 2nd ’23. I really have high hopes but I would like to ask how to proceed at this point. It’s been 9 months since I started and I don’t have a problem with bulk aging longer but maybe there is something I need to include in the whole process. So here is my recipe and what I did so far.

It’s 6 US gallon must.
2 gallons of Coloma Frozen Merlot concentrate (Brix 68)No sugar added)
8 tsp acid blend – pH 3.4
3 tsp pectic enzyme
3 tsp yeast nutrients
3 tbsp tannin
Yeast K1-V1116
SG – 1.110
March 13 – SG 0.996 – rack and add ¼ tsp kMeta
April 21 – rack and add .5 oz French oak chips
June 22 – rack and top off with 1 l blackberry wine
September 26 – rack and add ¼ tsp of kMeta + 2 oz Medium Roasted French Oak cubes
My notes from September 26 indicate that the wine is medium body, lack complexity and is quite strong.
I didn’t add any skins and maybe adding oak chips on April 21 was a mistake? How to proceed at the moment? Just leave it alone, add kMeta, add skins now? The wine is aging with oak cubes. Some people say they leave wine on cubes for several months. Any suggestion will be appreciated.
I don’t know that you did anything wrong, just different.
I’m surprised you added acid to a juice bucket, usually they are adjusted before being sold.
At pitching I would have added skins and oak shavings (both in bags so they don’t clog the siphon).
You skipped adding sulphites for April and June? Hope you just didn’t mention that you did. Could be an issue.
I don’t think you’ve added enough oak, I usually do 4 oz which lasts 3 months, no more is extracted after 3.
Like the idea of topping off with blackberry, seems like it’s at a 5% component. I would think you can taste that much and it would be a benefit.

What to do now? I would not add skins, too much risk of introducing bacteria. Skins are not sterile. CO2 generated from fermentation mitigates that risk. Your past that.

Options that come to mind, while you still have time...
Add some powdered tannins, not the generic packet of “tannins” you find at your LHBS, but targeted products like Riche extra, Rouge, etc. I’m not suggesting these specifically, just as examples that you can get to do specific things.
At bottling, blend in a few commercial wines, or other wines you’ve made in the past. No going back once you’ve done this, your stuck with what you get. I wouldn’t use a store-bought Merlot, but maybe Cab, Syrah, etc.
Add glycerin at bottling, some say it adds sweetness, I don’t get that feeling. To me it’s just smoother and allows me to separate/identify any nose/palate/finish tastes as I drink it. Everyone is different. I use 12 oz per 5/6g carboy.
 
Thanks. That's a great advice. As for acidity, I don't remember what was pH without adding acid blend but it was definitely higher than my target of 3.4. I decided to rack the merlot today and I noticed not a lot has changed since september. Your advice on adding glycerin to merlot surprised me a little as I didn't think this might be an option. I added glycerin to fruit wines before with a good results. I will add it as soon as I get it. Just ordered. Tannin that you mentioned is also very interesting. I will need to investigate this subject a little more. Thanks again. I added kmeta this time. You were right, I skipped this in April and June.
 
I started my first merlot from juice March 2nd ’23. I really have high hopes but I would like to ask how to proceed at this point. It’s been 9 months since I started and I don’t have a problem with bulk aging longer but maybe there is something I need to include in the whole process. So here is my recipe and what I did so far.

It’s 6 US gallon must.
2 gallons of Coloma Frozen Merlot concentrate (Brix 68)No sugar added)
8 tsp acid blend – pH 3.4
3 tsp pectic enzyme
3 tsp yeast nutrients
3 tbsp tannin
Yeast K1-V1116
SG – 1.110
March 13 – SG 0.996 – rack and add ¼ tsp kMeta
April 21 – rack and add .5 oz French oak chips
June 22 – rack and top off with 1 l blackberry wine
September 26 – rack and add ¼ tsp of kMeta + 2 oz Medium Roasted French Oak cubes
My notes from September 26 indicate that the wine is medium body, lack complexity and is quite strong.
I didn’t add any skins and maybe adding oak chips on April 21 was a mistake? How to proceed at the moment? Just leave it alone, add kMeta, add skins now? The wine is aging with oak cubes. Some people say they leave wine on cubes for several months. Any suggestion will be appreciated.
Your September 26 notes are revealing:

wine is medium body and lacks complexity (since you made it from concentrate and didn't ferment on any grape skins.)

Wine is quite strong (SG 1.100 to SG 0.996) gives you about 14.9% alcohol, so the alcohol dominates the flavour. If I had your wine I wouldn't bottle it on its own but would rather use it as a blender with a lower alcohol wine made from fresh grapes or even frozen fruit such as blackberries with a bit of elderberries. Bulk Blackberry Concentrate Suppliers | Organic Blackberry Juice Concentrate
 
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Yes. Not fermenting on skins was a mistake but I don't want to quit and call it a failure. It was my first Merlot made from scratch (almost - not a kit at least) so i want to correct it as much as I can. At my next racking, sometime in spring I will try to blend a very small amount with a blackberry wine and see what happens but my goal is to improve this wine a little. I'm not saying it is horrible but needs a little work. A few things can be done but for a few it is too late and I fully understand it. I think I will follow Bob's advice at this point.
By the way I don't think 14.9 ABV is that high and dominates the flavor. Most wines are in 14 - 14.5 range so this small fraction doesn't make too much difference. Thanks for your input it helps a lot.
 
Its not the alcohol by itself. Its the alcohol in the absence of components that would make the wine more interesting e.g. fruit skins that will enhance its smell.

Here is an off the wall idea. Soak some dried unfermented elderberries into it for a month or so. e.g. 8 oz - 16 oz should make difference.
 
Like I said, nothing you did I would call a mistake. Adding skins is more a desire for a style. For example adding skins to a rose, maybe a Pinot, wouldn’t be characteristic of those styles.

Curious why you added the frozen concentrate, adding that to the juice bucket may have made the whole must off balanced. Not a mistake, just something you have to know when you do it.

Next time you can certainly do skins. Another option I have started doing recently (last 2-3 years), is to split the juice bucket into two buckets and pitch a different yeast in each. When the SG gets to 1.020-ish, I add the malolactic bacteria, and combine the two buckets, and put under airlock.
 
Yes. Not fermenting on skins was a mistake but I don't want to quit and call it a failure.
I agree -- this is not a failure. It may not be what you wanted, but definitely not a failure.

What to do with it? Cooking wine is the obvious one, along with using it for drinks (mulled wine, Sangria, etc.). Use it for blending -- not for alcohol adjustment, but for flavor.

For future reference, add skin packs, raisins, Zante currants, dried elderberries, or something to give the wine body.

I have FWK Tavola Barbera and Pinot Noir made without skin packs, as I wanted lighter bodied wines. My main batches are seriously heavy duty, but I like variety, so having these on hands gives me that. You may want to consider that, although if this just isn't to your taste, you have the options previously mentioned.
 
Curious why you added the frozen concentrate, adding that to the juice bucket may have made the whole must off balanced.

Maybe I was not clear in my initial post. It was Coloma Frozen Merlot juice concentrate (68 Brix). So the must consisted of 2 gallon of this concentrate plus 4 gallons of water.
 
How did the tannin level seem when you tasted it? Too much alcohol, too much acid, too much tannin? what do you mean by it tastes strong? Three tblsp of tannin seems like a lot for six gallons.
 
skins would have added depth but you have enough tannin. describe the mouth feel. strong ethanol but without other flavor wont be great.

1 if need body could add. some black tea, tobacco leaf, roasted walnut shells. smoked pecan shell. (only briefly)
add 1 vanilla bean,
add some citrus peel,
glycerine would be ok, but do that after fixing flavor profile.

if fruit tastes flat can back sweeten very slightly, since high Abv, like mention blend with a 12 Abv wine that's fruity.

I'd take 1 liter put 100 ml In different jars and experiment with different things, could add some choc nibs, soak cherries or currants. let sit covered a day or so to taste,

ph might be very low. check it.
 
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