Port - Kit conversion to Port

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hawkwing

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I've played with port style; black raspberry/chocolate, Concord from juice, banana. The first attempts (raspberry and Concord) were fermented dry then back sweeten and then fortified with brandy. The banana was the first I ever tried stopping fermentation with spirits to retain residual sugar. I made the decision on the banana in mid primary so my ABV was not as high as I would have liked.

I fortified the banana with Malibu Rum (coconut) and Everclear. The rum is a lower ABV so I supplemented the fortification with Everclear 151. I may try another batch with both the Malibu and a higher ABV rum. Bananas and rum are a great combination and I have been underwhelmed with regular banana wine.

More experiments to come. Maybe that fig batch that is trying to be vinegar.

I have oaked the raspberry and Concord batches. That adds a nice touch.
I just made a Red Zin old vine kit and chapitalized 3 times to attain a 17% abv, and stopped at 1.025. I fed a little goferm as I did this. Also, I added banana chips for a smooth mouthfeel.
I removed 1.5 gallons for my wife, and then added1.75 liters of brandy to bring it to 19ish%. It is a great tasting port so far. 🍷
For you guys who’ve made a zif style how close is it to a commercial ruby port?
 
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Given the size I may have to use the larger 54L Demi Jon. But would be harder to move.
Other than sliding it on a counter, DO NOT move a 54 liter demijohn. They are slippery -- my son and I picked one up last year, moving it onto the counter from the floor -- we nearly dropped it. We agreed that it will NEVER be moved again while full. I purchased a pump and fill it on the counter.

Mine came with a plastic basket -- it's ok to pick it up using the basket handles while empty, but I don't trust it while full.
 

Malach58

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Red Zin gets close but I prefer the Tempranillo more. I’ve got two bottles left of Temp based that are 12 years old. At 10 years old they were art. It was a subtle addition and marriage of banana powder, Hershey dark Cocoa powder, and medium toast oak cubes. And of course, time.
 

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Like others, I've fooled around making port style wines. My best was a mocha port, made from a higher end zinfandel kit. I step fed it to reach higher alcohol (somewhere around 18%), and the yeast died out leaving some residual sugar. Then added everclear to bring it up to about 20%. Added cocoa in bulk aging and back sweetened just a tad. It was little rough for a couple of years but really smoothed out and came together years 2 through 5 (we don't store our wines properly and we lived in S. Florida, so most of our wines only lasted 2 to 5 years... although this one had a gradual decline through year 8 when we drank and enjoyed the last one). I think the small amount of everclear added a nice fortified flavor without being HOT, and also agree with others that commercial brandy is not optimal for fortifying port (it works, just not the same as what's done traditionally for port).
EDIT: Malach58 just reminded me I did add medium toast oak cubes as well, in both fermentation and bulk.
 

hawkwing

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Did any of you filter your port?

Also what yeast did you use? I’m wondering if I should use 212 or lower alcohol toleranceyeats for fortification so it doesn’t second ferment. Probably will have to add potassium sorbate if memory serves me right.

I will probably start with a basic kit and if it turns out ok I may step up to a more premium kit. I will be checking on options hopefully next week.
 

Ohio Bob

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I agree with @hawkwing, you do not need to worry about refermentation if you fortify past 18%.

That being said, there’s no need for sorbate either, use it if it makes you feel safer. My wild blackberry port gets EC1118, a neutral fermenting yeast. 212 is a good call too. I suspect yeast may affect the flavor less, since you will(?) be back sweetening. I also do not filter, just bulk aging enough to get it to clear. You can if you want though.
 

ratflinger

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I filter all my wines. 3 mo from ferment start through the glass carboys, then filter into the Better Bottles for the bulk aging. Do you have to - no, but I like the polish it puts on the wine. I use 1 micron.
 

Malach58

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Did any of you filter your port?

Also what yeast did you use? I’m wondering if I should use 212 or lower alcohol toleranceyeats for fortification so it doesn’t second ferment. Probably will have to add potassium sorbate if memory serves me right.

I will probably start with a basic kit and if it turns out ok I may step up to a more premium kit. I will be checking on options hopefully next week.
I don’t filter (even though I have a mini-jet) , I rack every 3 mos for a year.
RC212 is my goto for reds
 
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I don’t filter (even though I have a mini-jet) , I rack every 3 mos for a year.
Are you getting enough sediment that racking is necessary every 3 months?

I've been doing sur lie the last couple of years, and bâttonage for the 2020 reds. I'd like to divide a batch in half -- do sur lie and bâttonage for one, and rack the other every 3 months if there is more than a dusting of fine lees. I'm interested in seeing the real differences between the batches.
 

Malach58

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Are you getting enough sediment that racking is necessary every 3 months?

I've been doing sur lie the last couple of years, and bâttonage for the 2020 reds. I'd like to divide a batch in half -- do sur lie and bâttonage for one, and rack the other every 3 months if there is more than a dusting of fine lees. I'm interested in seeing the real differences between the batches.
By the third rack there will be only a fine dusting to contend with, or just carefully bottle. I usually bottle the first two and last two with screw caps for samplers. There are times when the lees from the addition of dark cocoa powder or elderberries will give me fits.
 

Malach58

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Are you getting enough sediment that racking is necessary every 3 months?

I've been doing sur lie the last couple of years, and bâttonage for the 2020 reds. I'd like to divide a batch in half -- do sur lie and bâttonage for one, and rack the other every 3 months if there is more than a dusting of fine lees. I'm interested in seeing the real differences between the batches.
I’ve never tried sur lie aging before, other than twice in the past I’ve not racked the secondary for a couple months, but you’ve got me curious. I’ll be starting another Temp based port, and may split it, racking one, sur lie and battonage for the other.
I think too I’ll order a Chardonnay and try it completely Sur Lie.
My current Chardonnay is a FWK, and it’s dark like a wildflower Mead. Thanks for the prod👍🏼
 

hawkwing

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Are you getting enough sediment that racking is necessary every 3 months?

I've been doing sur lie the last couple of years, and bâttonage for the 2020 reds. I'd like to divide a batch in half -- do sur lie and bâttonage for one, and rack the other every 3 months if there is more than a dusting of fine lees. I'm interested in seeing the real differences between the batches.
Have you noticed any difference using this method?
 

hawkwing

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I think I'm going to go with a Cabernet Sauvignon kit. Do you think a cheap kit would be ok with the extra concentration or will I be wishing I got a higher quality kit? The 46L from Costco with less water might be enough unless I shell out for a premium kit.
 
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Have you noticed any difference using this method?
What I've noticed so far is less racking. ;)

I say this tongue-in-cheek, but it's literally true. In the past I racked every 3 months, which unnecessarily exposes the wine to air, and causes loss of volume as racking has some wastage. Sur lie is an easy technique -- ignore the wine. Bâttonage is easy in the barrel, since at topup time the volume is reduced so I can stir gently with a drill-mounted stirring rod, then top up. This also distributes the oak flavor from the oak cubes (barrels are neutral so I add cubes), making the taste testing more accurate.

In the carboy? I'd withdraw a large sample using a thief, stir the wine, and then replace the sample.

I've been happy with the wines I've made, but without something to compare against, I can't say for sure what difference it's made. That's why I would like to do a test. I've considering purchasing another FWK Tavola for a quicker drinker (no skin packs, minimal oak), and moving that into a pair of 3 gallon carboys will let me do the test.

I think I'm going to go with a Cabernet Sauvignon kit. Do you think a cheap kit would be ok with the extra concentration or will I be wishing I got a higher quality kit? The 46L from Costco with less water might be enough unless I shell out for a premium kit.
It appears Costco sells kits only Canada -- I searched and it came up Costco.ca, and kits don't appear for my local (NC) locations. I don't know anything about the quality of the Costco kits, so I can't comment.

I'm not in favor of shorting water in kits. I've had a few kits in recent years where the acid was out of balance after I shorted the water -- these were WE or RJS kits. Given the results I got with the new WE formulation, I'd go with a WE kit, and add raisins, currents, or something similar. Maybe a sliced banana or 2 for body. Add to the kit, not take away.
 

hawkwing

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What I've noticed so far is less racking. ;)

I say this tongue-in-cheek, but it's literally true. In the past I racked every 3 months, which unnecessarily exposes the wine to air, and causes loss of volume as racking has some wastage. Sur lie is an easy technique -- ignore the wine. Bâttonage is easy in the barrel, since at topup time the volume is reduced so I can stir gently with a drill-mounted stirring rod, then top up. This also distributes the oak flavor from the oak cubes (barrels are neutral so I add cubes), making the taste testing more accurate.

In the carboy? I'd withdraw a large sample using a thief, stir the wine, and then replace the sample.

I've been happy with the wines I've made, but without something to compare against, I can't say for sure what difference it's made. That's why I would like to do a test. I've considering purchasing another FWK Tavola for a quicker drinker (no skin packs, minimal oak), and moving that into a pair of 3 gallon carboys will let me do the test.


It appears Costco sells kits only Canada -- I searched and it came up Costco.ca, and kits don't appear for my local (NC) locations. I don't know anything about the quality of the Costco kits, so I can't comment.

I'm not in favor of shorting water in kits. I've had a few kits in recent years where the acid was out of balance after I shorted the water -- these were WE or RJS kits. Given the results I got with the new WE formulation, I'd go with a WE kit, and add raisins, currents, or something similar. Maybe a sliced banana or 2 for body. Add to the kit, not take away.
I've read that the Costco and the WE kits in the non premium variety are kind of thin. I've seen many recommendations to add less water. I've even seen someone write that the SG was lower making 9% alcohol not the 12.5 on the included labels. That was probably in the Costco.ca reviews. Do raisins, currents or banana add noticeable flavors?

Net week I'm going to go and see what my favorite local store offers and what he recommends.
 
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I've read that the Costco and the WE kits in the non premium variety are kind of thin. I've seen many recommendations to add less water. I've even seen someone write that the SG was lower making 9% alcohol not the 12.5 on the included labels. That was probably in the Costco.ca reviews. Do raisins, currents or banana add noticeable flavors?
Ya gotta be cautious of reviews, as you're trusting that the reviewer knows what they are doing. With winemaking, there is a lot of "not" on the internet.

I've been making kits since 1996. I wish I hadn't tossed them out some years back -- I had the original packaging of WineArt kits -- I'm guessing there was a < 1 gallon of concentrate to make 23 liters. Those early kits were poster children for "ain't gonna get the SG the instructions say", and it became common to short the water to get a good SG.

Fast forward to 2022. The landscape of kits changed dramatically, even as far back as 2010, and much more in the last 3 years. The reputable vendors I'm familiar with (WE, RJS) reformulated their concentration process, and in my limited experience (2 WE Reserve kits), WE's new product kicks the old product's butt, and it has a denser concentrate. You can find the threads from 2 years ago, with a lot of people very unhappy with this change.

Pre-reformulation, I had 2 kits turn out acidic, and I shorted the water in both. IMO, the newer kits are properly balanced for reconstitution to 23 liter, so shorting the water throws the acid balance out of line. My answer is to NOT short the water -- add things that add body to the wine.

Adding raisins, currents, banana, etc. will change the taste of the wine, depending on how much you add. But there is nothing sacred about the original taste of the kit wine. That's simply what the vendor produced. Your goal is to make your wine, so do what you need to do to make a good result.

Note that the above applies to kits from reputable vendors, which (as I said) includes WE, RJS, and now FWK. There are other good vendors, but I haven't used their kits and can't speak about them.

OTOH, if you're making the really low end kits, everything I just said doesn't apply. Shorting the water makes sense, as does adding other "stuff" to bump up the wine.
 

hawkwing

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Ya gotta be cautious of reviews, as you're trusting that the reviewer knows what they are doing. With winemaking, there is a lot of "not" on the internet.

I've been making kits since 1996. I wish I hadn't tossed them out some years back -- I had the original packaging of WineArt kits -- I'm guessing there was a < 1 gallon of concentrate to make 23 liters. Those early kits were poster children for "ain't gonna get the SG the instructions say", and it became common to short the water to get a good SG.

Fast forward to 2022. The landscape of kits changed dramatically, even as far back as 2010, and much more in the last 3 years. The reputable vendors I'm familiar with (WE, RJS) reformulated their concentration process, and in my limited experience (2 WE Reserve kits), WE's new product kicks the old product's butt, and it has a denser concentrate. You can find the threads from 2 years ago, with a lot of people very unhappy with this change.

Pre-reformulation, I had 2 kits turn out acidic, and I shorted the water in both. IMO, the newer kits are properly balanced for reconstitution to 23 liter, so shorting the water throws the acid balance out of line. My answer is to NOT short the water -- add things that add body to the wine.

Adding raisins, currents, banana, etc. will change the taste of the wine, depending on how much you add. But there is nothing sacred about the original taste of the kit wine. That's simply what the vendor produced. Your goal is to make your wine, so do what you need to do to make a good result.

Note that the above applies to kits from reputable vendors, which (as I said) includes WE, RJS, and now FWK. There are other good vendors, but I haven't used their kits and can't speak about them.

OTOH, if you're making the really low end kits, everything I just said doesn't apply. Shorting the water makes sense, as does adding other "stuff" to bump up the wine.
I’ve been reading on the forum about adding things to make low end kits better. I’m wondering what adding black grape skins from the grocery store would do (possibly after I juice them and use just the skins). Or adding tannin. Im not sure I can get wine skins locally. I have to check my stores but I don’t recall seeing them before. I want to get a bit of a bump to a better wine without adding a different fruit flavor or raisin flavor. I want to get close to a commercial port. Adding raisins might go well with the tawny port though as it’s supposed to oxidize.

If I reduce the water I would Adjust the pH if necessary. I have to go through the calculations and make sure I got everything straight.

I was looking at the calculator provided for fortification and there will be significant dilution in the end. I will have to add around 5 bottles of 95% or 190 proof Everclear to get 20% if I start at and SG of 1.100 and want to end up with 120g/L of residual sugars. Way more than I was expecting.
 

hawkwing

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Ya gotta be cautious of reviews, as you're trusting that the reviewer knows what they are doing. With winemaking, there is a lot of "not" on the internet.

I've been making kits since 1996. I wish I hadn't tossed them out some years back -- I had the original packaging of WineArt kits -- I'm guessing there was a < 1 gallon of concentrate to make 23 liters. Those early kits were poster children for "ain't gonna get the SG the instructions say", and it became common to short the water to get a good SG.

Fast forward to 2022. The landscape of kits changed dramatically, even as far back as 2010, and much more in the last 3 years. The reputable vendors I'm familiar with (WE, RJS) reformulated their concentration process, and in my limited experience (2 WE Reserve kits), WE's new product kicks the old product's butt, and it has a denser concentrate. You can find the threads from 2 years ago, with a lot of people very unhappy with this change.

Pre-reformulation, I had 2 kits turn out acidic, and I shorted the water in both. IMO, the newer kits are properly balanced for reconstitution to 23 liter, so shorting the water throws the acid balance out of line. My answer is to NOT short the water -- add things that add body to the wine.

Adding raisins, currents, banana, etc. will change the taste of the wine, depending on how much you add. But there is nothing sacred about the original taste of the kit wine. That's simply what the vendor produced. Your goal is to make your wine, so do what you need to do to make a good result.

Note that the above applies to kits from reputable vendors, which (as I said) includes WE, RJS, and now FWK. There are other good vendors, but I haven't used their kits and can't speak about them.

OTOH, if you're making the really low end kits, everything I just said doesn't apply. Shorting the water makes sense, as does adding other "stuff" to bump up the wine.
Oh I forgot that yes sometimes reviews are bad reviews. They give a bad review because they don’t know what they are doing and get a bad result that is not the fault of the product in question. Usually I can read through those and figure out if I’m willing to take the risk.
 

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