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Not tweaking high end kits

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facn1989

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I haven't tweaked any of my kits and follow instructions to the T. Can I still get a good wine if I let it age 2 years?

My first kit is reaching 2 years and I will taste my first bottle soon, but not sure what to expect. I don't bulk age as I live in a small apartment and only have on carboy.

I guess my point is, most ppl seem to tweak by doing an EM, discarding the sorbate and clarifiers, adding more oak or tannin, etc. Can I still get a good wine if I follow the instructions exactly but age 2 years?

I'm afraid of messing up a kit so I've never really ventured off the safe path :(
 

jbo_c

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Sure. It’ll be fine.

I got into a supply jam yesterday and opened a Super Tuscan that was started in January and it was pretty dang tasty at only 6 months old. I tweak some(gently) but this one was strictly by the box.

Jbo
 

cmason1957

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One of the members of the wine makers club I belong to ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS follows directions to a T, except with the slight deviation of extra time before bottling, but I think he keeps that to about 3 or 4 months extra only. He has won numerous Gold, Best in Class, and Best of Show at major competitions, like winemakers competition and others nationwide. He is a rule follower by nature, since he is a retired vet. So all that to answer your question, yes, you can follow the directions very closely with kits and make a very good wine.
 

facn1989

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That is great news! Thanks for sharing!

I know kits won't make amazing wines, but I'm happy if my wines turn out comparable to a $18-$20 commercial bottle. The white (Eclipse Sauv Blanc) and Rose (RJS EP Pinot Noir Rose) have been pretty good. I've read the whites tend to be more consistent than the reds, but both kits have been better than $16-$18 commercial wines I've had
 

Elizajean

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That is great news! Thanks for sharing!

I know kits won't make amazing wines, but I'm happy if my wines turn out comparable to a $18-$20 commercial bottle. The white (Eclipse Sauv Blanc) and Rose (RJS EP Pinot Noir Rose) have been pretty good. I've read the whites tend to be more consistent than the reds, but both kits have been better than $16-$18 commercial wines I've had
I only make kits, higher end ones and a few moderate quality, and they are all very good! I follow the instructions, except I bulk age once all cleared for as long as I wish, then bottle and age some more. Your wine should be drinkable, but continue to improve after about 6 to 9 months, some are better than others when they are young. You do not have tolerate them age two years to enjoy. My Eclipse Sauvignon Blanc is excellent now at 18 months, but was pretty good at 14 months. I've put it into the drinking rotation.
 

Sailor323

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I usually follow the directions pretty closely. However, in over 35 years of winemaking (mostly from grapes), I have never used sorbate. Also, I ignore the instructions re: racking. I rack when convenient and I do use kieselsol + chitosan prior to one of the rackings. As for tweaking kits, I've never done it but plan to do so with my next kit by making 5 gal instead of 6 gal.
 

LouisCKpasteur

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I follow directions pretty closely too. 7 wines entered during the last two Winemaker Magazine Int'l contest, 5 medals won. I have no particular talent for this. I just followed directions. I will make the observation that I think you'll get a good white wine much sooner than a red with a premium kit. My Chardonnay (Australian) and Eclipse Gerwurztraminer both won Silver at well under a year old. If I can do it anyone can - and damn, I hate having to say it!
 

LouisCKpasteur

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Saturday night I was at a little self styled French bistro in Ann Arbor MI. I ordered 2 glasses of a Cote du Rhone at 9 bucks a pop to go with my Steak Frites- the bottle would have been 45. Sure, it was probably marked up, and I can't remember the estate, but I told my friend who went there with me that my Eclipse Nocturnal (two year old in late July, and Bronze Medal winner this spring) was better. Of course she thought I was nuts, but she hasn't tasted it yet.
 

DIYer

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I'm planning to experiment with 2 identical GSM kits I have. One, started last night, I will do per instructions. The other, I plan to do a short EM( 4 weeks probably) and maybe add extra oak and/or tannin. Will be interesting to see how much they differ in taste and optimal aging time.
 

Sailor323

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I have to ask,"What is a 'high end' kit?" Nearly all the kits that I see cost $90-$120 US. Are these considered high end?
 

tjgaul

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I have to ask,"What is a 'high end' kit?" Nearly all the kits that I see cost $90-$120 US. Are these considered high end?
Generally speaking, the level of the kit correlates to the size of the juice bag. 10L and under are lower end, 12L-16L mid range (unless skins are included) and the high end kits are the 18L ones - Winexpert Eclipse / RJS En Primeur / Cellar Craft Showcase. The high end kits list for about $150, but are often sold at a discount.

WE and RJS also come out with their limited edition kits each year which would also be considered high end.
 

tjgaul

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Saturday night I was at a little self styled French bistro in Ann Arbor MI. I ordered 2 glasses of a Cote du Rhone at 9 bucks a pop to go with my Steak Frites- the bottle would have been 45. Sure, it was probably marked up, and I can't remember the estate, but I told my friend who went there with me that my Eclipse Nocturnal (two year old in late July, and Bronze Medal winner this spring) was better. Of course she thought I was nuts, but she hasn't tasted it yet.
I totally agree. Whenever I taste commercial wines now I use my best homemade stuff as the benchmark. I hate to get locked into a cellar palette, but most of the time I prefer my own wine to the commercial ones. My wife recently switched from white to red and will always choose the homemade . .. unless I got heavy handed with the oak.
 

joeswine

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You can always tweak a higher end kit. Taking into account the ABV. And of course the wines profile.
I just finished from the fugitive series monstralle ( not sure of the spelling) from northern Spain,followed the directions , changed the ABV by 1 point and added 1 full cup of raisins to the primary , after total completion and bottling I found that it had everything a wines characteristics should have and that was. At bottling , I'll post the process soon, this wine is a true metal winner.
 

facn1989

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never have done extended maceration... It seems most people just leave for 8-9 weeks without racking... might that cause and issue with gross lees imparting off flavors?

I have a CC Showcase Zinfandel in primary and ready for first racking but wondering it trying out EM.

Since I follow instructions due to lack of space for bulk again, can I follow these steps?

- Rack today into carboy and add back skins (might have to put back loose as it will be difficult to add the entire bag through small opening)
- Instructions say to clear/degas on day 14. I can skip clearing and degassing for 6 weeks (already 2 weeks in primary) for EM.
- Rack again and then continue with clearing degassing as per instructions
- Bottle when clear (probably another 4-6 weeks)
 

jgmann67

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never have done extended maceration... It seems most people just leave for 8-9 weeks without racking... might that cause and issue with gross lees imparting off flavors?

I have a CC Showcase Zinfandel in primary and ready for first racking but wondering it trying out EM.

Since I follow instructions due to lack of space for bulk again, can I follow these steps?

- Rack today into carboy and add back skins (might have to put back loose as it will be difficult to add the entire bag through small opening)
- Instructions say to clear/degas on day 14. I can skip clearing and degassing for 6 weeks (already 2 weeks in primary) for EM.
- Rack again and then continue with clearing degassing as per instructions
- Bottle when clear (probably another 4-6 weeks)
Leaving your wine in an EM for 6-8 weeks will degas and clear your wine nicely. Though I think you’ll have some difficulty getting your skins in a carbon, and it’s probably going to be a pain in the patootie to clean it after.

When I do an EM, I use a fermonster that I can seal up after week two. The grapes settle to the bottom and I can leave the wine undisturbed for the rest of the EM. Then I rack into a clean carboy, dose with kmeta, add oak cubes, top up and leave it alone for three months.

I don’t use clearing agents or the sorbate.

After three months. Taste your wine. Is it well on its way to being where you want, rack and dose it again. Then bottle... or, if it needs something, tweak the wine and wait another 3 months.

Don’t be in a rush to put your wine in the bottle. Red wines don’t really shine for a couple years. And, the longer the wine is in bulk aging, the more likely it is that you’ll have wine left to drink when that day comes.
 

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