WineXpert My Cold Soak Experiment

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Jan 29, 2011
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Central Ohio
My curiosity over cold soaking has gotten the better of me and so today I started a little experiment. I am making a kit of WinExpert Amarone and what I have done thus far is to leave the juice and the skins overnight in an insulated cooler with dry ice. This morning, I mixed the bentonite with hot water and poured it into the fermenter. I added the cold juice and cold (refrigerated) distilled water to the 6-gallon mark on the fermenter and stirred everything very well. I then added the semi-frozen grape skins (loose) to the fermenter and stirred everything well again. It is going to take a while for the skins to "un-freeze" and I plan to wait until the wine temperature is about 64 F (currently 40 F with an ambient of 67 F) before adding the oak chips and pitching the yeast. I am guessing that will be quite a few days so I should get some good cold soaking. I have the fermenter cover on tightly and an airlock in place.

I will update as time goes on. The only thing I am a little regretful about is not using the bag for the skins. My thinking was getting them into the bag in a frozen state would be a mess and, in that they are loose, I will probably get more flavor from them. Anyway, that ship has sailed.

I don't believe that putting the skins in a bag make a difference in extraction. The FWK muslin bag is loose enough that there is good circulation. Not having to mess with pulp is a really great thing!
I agree, Bryan. These, of course, are those "jellied" skins in a bag which are a pain to get out and into the muslin bag. On top of that, they were semi-frozen and lastly, I am lazy. I know I have created a minor issue for myself down the road and I will jump off that bridge when I come to it.

If I do this again, I am 99% sure I will use the muslin bag. Thanks for your note. I always appreciate your insight.
@Rocky, being able to quickly separate the pomace from the wine is its own reward.

I recently made a pair of triple batch FWK. Post-fermentation I pressed the bags -- 6 per triple batch. Each pressing produced 1.5 liters of additional wine. This was the easiest press I've ever done! It's nice to just pick the bags out of the press.

Contrast that to the "cake" that results from a fresh grape pressing. I press hard, which produces a solid cake. It can still make a mess when removing it from the press.

grape cake.jpg

Yes, using a #40 press to press 6 bags of grape skins is serious overkill. I have an ancient fruit press that holds about a gallon. I need to clean it up and re-paint it -- next time I make FWK, it will be more appropriate for pressing.
I never put the skins in the little baggie. Its a little extra mess but I can't believe that the extraction is even close with them all clumped together in a bag vs dispersed throughout the must.
Rocky, this is a new concept to me….can you advise what the intended results of a pre-ferm cold soak? Posts on other threads on doing this mention there is no benefit for kit wines.
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I've done it both ways and depending on your point of view you are all correct.
Floating the grapes pack loosely gives 100% contact to the juice, all the time. a lot more work if you have the time, no problem

The grape pack is placed in a cloth sock, easier to control, less work, and not 100% contact. Think about it.

It all depends on your experience, what you want to try or do, and the equipment you have on hand, it's what works for YOU.


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Rocky, this is a new concept to me….can you advise what the intended results of a pre-ferm cold soak? Posts on other threads on doing this mention there is no benefit for kit wines.
SGKM, my understanding and intention in using the cold soak was to extract more color and increase the body of the wine. I have never done this before with a kit nor with fresh grapes. This particular experiment will not yield any appreciable difference, if fear, because the wine went from 40 degrees F to 62 degrees F in a matter of 2 days. I imagine that the test will be inconclusive. I used a typical 7.9-gallon plastic fermenter in this trial. If I do this in the future, I will use my insulated Home Depot 10-gallon water cooler which I imagine will give me a longer soak.

I will say this from the current test. The color is very dark (Amarone) and looks to have great body. I can't make any conclusions at this time. This is a shot of the wine as it appears this evening, approximately 7 hours after pitching the yeast (Lalvin Bourgovin RC212 and Lalvin EC1118).

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Update on the Amarone:

I racked from the fermenter to a 6-gallon carboy, degassed and added sulfite. I added my own K-meta and chose not to use the packet provided with the kit which is a mixture of K-meta and K-sorbate. The FSG was 0.994 and I am not concerned with further fermentation.

The color of the wine is spectacular and the taste, even at this early stage, is excellent. I am not attributing any of this to the method I used. I just think it is a good kit. There were 2 bags of Kieselsol and the instructions were to add one today and one tomorrow along with the Chitosan. My plan is to make those additions tomorrow and rack the wine to another carboy using a sieve to catch any remaining skins.

Bryan (@winemaker81) was right about the mess, and I wish I had used the provided bag. There is quick Karma for being lazy. Never too old to be foolish.
Your soak was through with 100% contact that’s the difference , it might have taken longer and a bit more messier, the effort was in the finish wasn’t it.
I don’t disagree with the sick method either
However contact is contact isn’t it . And I know how it is when you get older (Less Is More).😉

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