Poor tasting wine

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Trigger200

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I've been making wine for a few years now. I live in Western New York and get the grape juice from a local supplier. I've had pretty good luck with my white wines; the taste is generally good. I have not had good luck with the reds. Once fermentation stops, the taste is very harsh. I've tried masking it with sugar but both my wife and I like dryer wines. I'm sure there is no silver bullet to get that smooth tasting dry wine....but I'm hoping I can get some advice to improve the taste of the wine. I do degas the wine before bottling which does help some. I've read that colder climate grapes produce higher acid wines but I usually pick juice that has a lower "TA" number at the supplier in hopes the finished product won't be as tart. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

Rice_Guy

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A guess . . . .
since this is an issue with reds but not whites the acid probably isn’t the issue. Whites typically are below 3.5 and reds above 3.5 pH. A difference between the two types is that reds have tannins and other phenolic pigments. As a test to remove tannin you could try a bench trial with egg white and a pinch of salt (just a little of the mix, one egg is good for five gallons) OR you could try fining with gelatin (mix per package and try 1/16 tsp)
Age is the normal cure to moderate high tannin.

Another option is to find someone near you with tasting experience (? Wine making club?) and ask if they could identify it.

What varieties have you been running/ ,,,more details?
 
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Bossbaby

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The taste of any wine right after fermentation should be a little harsh, this is why aging a red wine for a year or more is important, What is your racking schedule like, alowing the wine to sit on gross Lee's after fermentation is complete for too long will give you some pretty nasty flavors, Some insight on how you are making the wine in the first month would help us give you feedback.
 

Rice_Guy

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Boss, I have read about gross lees but don’t have good names on what flavors, how would you describe “pretty nasty” or “tastes like——“. Thanks
. . , What is your racking schedule like, alowing the wine to sit on gross Lee's after fermentation is complete for too long will give you some pretty nasty flavors,
 

Bossbaby

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Boss, I have read about gross lees but don’t have good names on what flavors, how would you describe “pretty nasty” or “tastes like——“. Thanks
I would say pretty nasty would cover many smells that a wine is capable of producing when things start to go the wrong way, that flavor that comes to mind is when you save the sludge at the bottom of your carboy after 1st rack and try to salvage some wine by putting it in the fridge to allow it to settle out and forget about it for a while and end up with some wine that has an aroma of sewage but still has an ok taste on the back end.😆
 

hounddawg

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The taste of any wine right after fermentation should be a little harsh, this is why aging a red wine for a year or more is important, What is your racking schedule like, alowing the wine to sit on gross Lee's after fermentation is complete for too long will give you some pretty nasty flavors, Some insight on how you are making the wine in the first month would help us give you feedback.
just before joining on here i bulk aged for 2 years 3#-6's blackberry,, a 6 gal carboy 3 gal carboy an 4 gallon carboys of apple/pear/crabapple and 3#-6's of strawberry all were bulkaged for 2 years on gross lees, and all killer good, i don't do that no more. i've not a clue what would happen with grapes,
Dawg
 

Bossbaby

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just before joining on here i bulk aged for 2 years 3#-6's blackberry,, a 6 gal carboy 3 gal carboy an 4 gallon carboys of apple/pear/crabapple and 3#-6's of strawberry all were bulkaged for 2 years on gross lees, and all killer good, i don't do that no more. i've not a clue what would happen with grapes,
Dawg
The comment on gross Lee's was a little exaggerated I was taking a shot at what HARSH meant to Trigger200 and how his wines were not working for him so early in the process. If there is one thing you all have taught me is to rack off the gross Lee's because of the dead yeast creating off flavors and aromas.
 
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If there is one thing you all have taught me is to rack off the gross Lee's because of the dead yeast creating off flavors and aromas.
That's not quite correct. Gross lees is fruit pulp, either grape or other fruit. When it decomposes, it can produce off flavors. Most folks get poor results from letting wine set on the gross lees, but as @hounddawg related, that's not 100% true. However ... keep in mind that you won't know you're getting a bad result until you get a bad result, at which point you're SOL.

Fine lees is yeast hulls, and sur lie is the technique of aging white wines on the fine lees to increase complexity and mouth feel. Bâtonnage is stirring the fine lees back into suspension, which maximizes exposure of the wine to the fine lees. While this is normally done with whites only, it can be done with reds. I practiced bâtonnage on my barrels for about 6 months, stirring the wine gently when I topped up.
 

hounddawg

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That's not quite correct. Gross lees is fruit pulp, either grape or other fruit. When it decomposes, it can produce off flavors. Most folks get poor results from letting wine set on the gross lees, but as @hounddawg related, that's not 100% true. However ... keep in mind that you won't know you're getting a bad result until you get a bad result, at which point you're SOL.

Fine lees is yeast hulls, and sur lie is the technique of aging white wines on the fine lees to increase complexity and mouth feel. Bâtonnage is stirring the fine lees back into suspension, which maximizes exposure of the wine to the fine lees. While this is normally done with whites only, it can be done with reds. I practiced bâtonnage on my barrels for about 6 months, stirring the wine gently when I topped up.
Amen, and they can read mine,, i said that,,,, i don't do it that way anymore. yep i lucked out once, but when i leraned it was a crap shoot, i went to a tried and true way
Dawg
 
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Trigger200

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Thanks for all the replies. Past red grapes include the very common Fredonia and Concord grapes as well as Foch and Frontenac. For this year, I picked up five gallons of Dechaunac. I started fermentation on 10/11 and first racked on 11/11/21. I racked again just a couple of days ago and from the SG reading it appears fermentation is complete.

From the supplier, the Dechaunac juice was 21 brix and had an acid level of .84 and a pH of 3.15. I use the yeast as recommended from the supplier along with yeast nutrient and I have heating pads to keep the temp somewhere around 68-70 degrees.

Bulk aging is not in my wine making vocabulary right now...so I'll have to research. Typically I bottle after a couple of months and stash it away .

Again, generally speaking, when tasting the wine at bottling, it taste quite harsh and not pleasant to drink. I enjoy the hobby but hoping to improve and make something that my wife would enjoy!
 

hounddawg

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Thanks for all the replies. Past red grapes include the very common Fredonia and Concord grapes as well as Foch and Frontenac. For this year, I picked up five gallons of Dechaunac. I started fermentation on 10/11 and first racked on 11/11/21. I racked again just a couple of days ago and from the SG reading it appears fermentation is complete.

From the supplier, the Dechaunac juice was 21 brix and had an acid level of .84 and a pH of 3.15. I use the yeast as recommended from the supplier along with yeast nutrient and I have heating pads to keep the temp somewhere around 68-70 degrees.

Bulk aging is not in my wine making vocabulary right now...so I'll have to research. Typically I bottle after a couple of months and stash it away .

Again, generally speaking, when tasting the wine at bottling, it taste quite harsh and not pleasant to drink. I enjoy the hobby but hoping to improve and make something that my wife would enjoy!
that bulk aging goes a long ways on taste, but one can bust a batch in half and bulk half, or you could make a quick drinker like sketter pee or dragon blood, that will give you something to drink and let your better wines bulk age.
Dawg
 
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Bulk aging is not in my wine making vocabulary right now
This is the source of your problem. Very few wines are good at 2 months. Most need at least 6 months, and reds may need 12 to 24 months.

Your winemaking method sounds fine. You need to develop patience. Do not feel bad -- this is an attribute most winemakers have to develop -- most don't start with it, unless they were taught by a previous generation.

After a wine clears, plan on it spending 6 months in the carboy. Add K-meta every 3 months, and keep an eye on the airlocks -- make sure they don't go dry or start growing a biology experiment. This will produce the results you want.
 

Trigger200

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This is the source of your problem. Very few wines are good at 2 months. Most need at least 6 months, and reds may need 12 to 24 months.

Your winemaking method sounds fine. You need to develop patience. Do not feel bad -- this is an attribute most winemakers have to develop -- most don't start with it, unless they were taught by a previous generation.

After a wine clears, plan on it spending 6 months in the carboy. Add K-meta every 3 months, and keep an eye on the airlocks -- make sure they don't go dry or start growing a biology experiment. This will produce the results you want.
Just a couple of days ago I racked the carboy, then added betonite. I was wondering if you could tell me how long to leave in the betonite before racking again? And once done clearing, no other additives to just let it sit for another 6 months? Also, when adding k-meta every three months, how much for a five gallon carboy? Thanks for the help
 
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Just a couple of days ago I racked the carboy, then added betonite. I was wondering if you could tell me how long to leave in the betonite before racking again? And once done clearing, no other additives to just let it sit for another 6 months? Also, when adding k-meta every three months, how much for a five gallon carboy? Thanks for the help
Watch the level of the sediment. It will drop fairly quickly, and after a period of a few days to a few weeks, it will have done its job. When it stops building up, and starts to compact, it's ready to rack.

I add 1/4 tsp K-meta per 5 or 6 gallons of wine at each racking, post-fermentation, and every 3 months during bulk aging. Once in bulk aging, watch your airlocks to keep them full and not growing biology experiments. Other than that, ignore the wine.
 

Trigger200

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Watch the level of the sediment. It will drop fairly quickly, and after a period of a few days to a few weeks, it will have done its job. When it stops building up, and starts to compact, it's ready to rack.

I add 1/4 tsp K-meta per 5 or 6 gallons of wine at each racking, post-fermentation, and every 3 months during bulk aging. Once in bulk aging, watch your airlocks to keep them full and not growing biology experiments. Other than that, ignore the wine.
Thank you
 

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