Merlot Kit tastes sweet and is super thin

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Trickster

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Hi

I am new to all this have been a beer brewer for some time but made my first wine kit last week. My results are terrible! The wine is very thin and smells like grape juice. My hydrometer readings went from 1090-990. So the alcohol level was good so I finished it and went through the clearing process and my wine now is very thin and very sweet. Any help on how I can resolve this would be much appreciated or guidance in where I may have gone wrong.
Thanks
 

pillswoj

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What kit exactly? Was there a reserve pack added? A wine that finished at .990 will not taste sweet.
 

Johnd

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Hi

I am new to all this have been a beer brewer for some time but made my first wine kit last week. My results are terrible! The wine is very thin and smells like grape juice. My hydrometer readings went from 1090-990. So the alcohol level was good so I finished it and went through the clearing process and my wine now is very thin and very sweet. Any help on how I can resolve this would be much appreciated or guidance in where I may have gone wrong.
Thanks
First and foremost, at one week of age, your wine is far from developed and has much change to go through. If your final SG was .990, it's definitely not a sweet wine, sometimes fruitiness can be interpreted as sweet. If you used the provided potassium sorbate in your wine, many describe the taste as a sweet / cotton candy sort of a taste, this will also subside as the wine ages, and potassium sorbate isn't necessary for dry wines (like yours) unless to plan to sweeten them later.

As your wine evolves, it will develop more of a nose (though kits sometimes are a little lacking there), and the taste profile will change, becoming more refined and spread across the front, mid, and rear palate. These things just take time.

The degree to which your wine will evolve also depends upon the variety and type of kit you selected. Pinot is a relatively light red wine in the scheme of things. The smaller the concentrate bag in the kit is, the more water you have to add, the lower the quality of the final product, is a general rule in kit selection. For instance, a kit with a 10 liter juice bag to which you add 13 liters of water, will generally not be as good as an 18 liter juice bag to which you add only 5 liters of water.

Lastly, and this is my own personal experience / opinion, the kit wines, particularly the reds, always have seemed to produce a wine that is lighter than expected when compared to grape wines of the same varietal. It makes perfect sense to me that the wines would be lighter, as they aren't fermented with the benefit of the skins, pulp, stems, and seeds of the source fruit. The process of extracting the juice from the must without putting it through fermentation just doesn't produce the same results as traditional winemaking. That said, the process is much easier and you can produce some very nice wines from kits. There are also things that you can do to enhance the flavor of your wines. Oaking, and finishing tannins are a couple that folks use pretty regularly. Do some surfing around on WMT, there are lots of threads that have suggestions, one of them is https://www.winemakingtalk.com/threads/tweeking-cheap-kits.51904/
 

sour_grapes

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Welcome to WMT! I agree with the others, and I would also like to know what kit you used.
 

sour_grapes

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I think it is either this one (the "Platinum" version): https://www.elderberryhomebrew.com/product-page/solomon-grundy-platinum-merlot-30-bottle-kit
or the "Gold" version: https://www.brewbitz.com/collections/solomon-grundy-wine-kits/products/solomon-grundy-gold-merlot-7-day-wine-kit-30-bottle

You have to add sugar for the "Gold" version, but the "Platinum" version has the sugar already.

I can't tell how concentrated it is. The name is "Solomon Grundy," which is a play on the British nursery rhyme:
Solomon Grundy,
Born on a Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Grew worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday,
That was the end,
Of Solomon Grundy.
They play off of this by saying right on the box "Started on Monday, drunk by Sunday" and "Ready in 7 days."

As @Johnd mentioned above, there is no way that a wine will be ready in a week. That is a real disservice, IMHO, to advertise their product that way.

For the "Gold" version, some brew stores explicitly say this:
Solomon Grundy Gold Merlot - 30 Bottle Kit makes 30 bottles of wine in just 7 days! Perfect for on the table, parties or to even give as gifts!

You will also require 4x kg of sugar to make this kit. We recommend brewing sugar to get the best results. Supermarket sugar will add extra sweetness to the wine, but it helps to keep the cost down to a minimum. (emphasis added)
I am not sure why they say that. I assume they are saying that if you use sucrose (a disaccharide) that not all the sugar will be fermented, but I do not think that this is true.
 

pillswoj

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A few years back I tried a super cheap costco kit (worse then the argentia ridge) I think it was branded Europea and claimed to be a "Merlot style" it remains the only kit I have ever dumped. Even after fermenting dry it had a cloying sweetness that I attributed to an over abundance of Glycerine to try and make up for the lack of body.
 

winemaker81

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Beer is typically ready in a matter of weeks. Wine making is a longer time line and it's necessary to reset expectations.

Consider how beer changes 2, 4, and 8 weeks after bottling. Change "weeks" to "months" and you'll get a better idea of the time line, although some reds (even kit reds) take a lot longer to mature.

You'll rack again in another 2 or 3 weeks. At that time, if you still consider it thin, try adding 2 to 3 oz of oak cubes and bulk age for at least 3 months. That can make a difference.

This thread is all about tweaking kits. It's a lot to read, but you'll find more tips there.
 

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