Port - Kit conversion to Port

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I’m wondering what adding black grape skins from the grocery store would do (possibly after I juice them and use just the skins).
This is out of my experience. I suggest you post in the Tweaking Cheap Kits thread for better help.

My take at this point -- you're better off buying a better kit, bumping the OG up with sugar to 1.110 - 1.115, using EC-1118, and step feeding the wine until the yeast quits. Bulk age at least 6 months, then backsweeten if it needs it, and redo the Everclear calculation.

I'd do a limited experiment -- move most of the wine to a 19 liter carboy, and experiment with the remaining 4 liters. Once you've fortified the wine, it will probably need at least another 6 months aging in the bottle before you know how successful the result is.

This contradicts some of my previous advice, but you're comfortable taking some risks (as per your initial post), so go for it! IME, trying to go cheap on something like this will not produce the results you want.
 

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This is out of my experience. I suggest you post in the Tweaking Cheap Kits thread for better help.

My take at this point -- you're better off buying a better kit, bumping the OG up with sugar to 1.110 - 1.115, using EC-1118, and step feeding the wine until the yeast quits. Bulk age at least 6 months, then backsweeten if it needs it, and redo the Everclear calculation.

I'd do a limited experiment -- move most of the wine to a 19 liter carboy, and experiment with the remaining 4 liters. Once you've fortified the wine, it will probably need at least another 6 months aging in the bottle before you know how successful the result is.

This contradicts some of my previous advice, but you're comfortable taking some risks (as per your initial post), so go for it! IME, trying to go cheap on something like this will not produce the results you want.
I don’t know why for sure, but I want to avoid adding sugar, as I’ve used it before for fruit wines. I want to rely only on natural grape sugars.

Part of the reason I want to use the cheaper kit is that it’s a total of 14L of concentrate for $105CAD. The premium WE kits are $180 CAD for 14L. Seems like a big difference but they do come with skins I believe. I’m not sure if one would be more concentrated or not. I’m potentially already not diluting to the proper levels to change to a port style. So I’m not sure how much different 14L of concentrate for the same style can be other than acidity levels. Since one is supposed to make twice as much.
 
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I don’t know why for sure, but I want to avoid adding sugar, as I’ve used it before for fruit wines. I want to rely only on natural grape sugars.
A large part of the world has no problem chaptalizing the must when the brix is low -- it's a very common practice. If you are relying on natural grape sugar in kits, you're not getting it. Kits are designed for very specific brix, and it's highly likely they are adding sugar to hit those targets.

Also consider the cost of 5 bottles of Everclear, plus anything else you add to the wine. How does the total cost compare to a WE premium kit?

Me? I would use a Reserve kit, not Private Reserve, as I suspect the Reserve is good enough for this purpose, especially if it has skin packs. Those will make a tremendous difference in body, something you're unlikely to achieve with a bargain kit.

Regarding acid, if you use 25% more concentrate to make a 23 liter batch, the TA is likely to be 25% higher. I have no clue what the pH will be.

Keep posting regarding your experiment -- I'm interested in seeing how it turns out.
 

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A large part of the world has no problem chaptalizing the must when the brix is low -- it's a very common practice. If you are relying on natural grape sugar in kits, you're not getting it. Kits are designed for very specific brix, and it's highly likely they are adding sugar to hit those targets.

Also consider the cost of 5 bottles of Everclear, plus anything else you add to the wine. How does the total cost compare to a WE premium kit?

Me? I would use a Reserve kit, not Private Reserve, as I suspect the Reserve is good enough for this purpose, especially if it has skin packs. Those will make a tremendous difference in body, something you're unlikely to achieve with a bargain kit.

Regarding acid, if you use 25% more concentrate to make a 23 liter batch, the TA is likely to be 25% higher. I have no clue what the pH will be.

Keep posting regarding your experiment -- I'm interested in seeing how it turns out.
You are probably correct. I could chaptalize to reduce the requirement for expensive spirits. I’m not sure how much this will change the flavor however, pushing the yeast harder. I’ve read that it will create different off flavors.

I could save some of the concentrate for back sweetening and ferment dry so the residual sugars are hopefully more from natural grape sugars.

Regardless of the kit price I will need the Everclear. This I dint think its fair to include in the cost comparison between kits. According to the website the reserve kits don’t mention having grape skins. Maybe I will go for a better kit. This stuff should age well. I’m still researching and planning yet so lots to consider.

I wish I could find an article where the TDS of the different levels of kits was listed.
 
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I could chaptalize to reduce the requirement for expensive spirits. I’m not sure how much this will change the flavor however, pushing the yeast harder. I’ve read that it will create different off flavors.
Hmmm, I've never heard that. Unless you can find a reference that explains the difference in flavor, I'd be cautious regarding believing it.

According to the website the reserve kits don’t mention having grape skins.
Oops!! You're right! My mistake. Too bad you can get FWK in Canada.
 

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Hmmm, I've never heard that. Unless you can find a reference that explains the difference in flavor, I'd be cautious regarding believing it.


Oops!! You're right! My mistake. Too bad you can get FWK in Canada.
The off flavors mentioned was more in reference to distilling to spirits.

I had to look up FWK. Interesting and yes just another thing that would be easier if I lived in the US. Honestly I’m not sure why they can’t just remove water from the crushed grapes and leave everything else in the kit. Sell us and ultra ultra premium option. There probably is a way to preserve it without pasteurizing too.

I had another thought that if I do get the 2x7L kit I could make two batches and experiment on one with the grape skins etc to see what the difference is.
 

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I got some good news today. I went into my local wine store and found out the guy imports wine grapes from California in the fall. Several varieties and the price would work out quite a bit cheaper than a premium kit. 50%-100% cheaper. Basically can make two carboys for not much more than a single kit. Looks like I'd have to preorder in August. I will have to plan for that. Make a whole bunch.
 

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You can get CA grapes shipped to Saskatoon?? I would think your shop can get juice buckets too. It’s worth asking. My shop does pallets upon pallets of juice buckets but not grapes. My assumption is it’s easier (more profitable?) to ship buckets.
 

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You can get CA grapes shipped to Saskatoon?? I would think your shop can get juice buckets too. It’s worth asking. My shop does pallets upon pallets of juice buckets but not grapes. My assumption is it’s easier (more profitable?) to ship buckets.
Yes he imports them. Several varieties apparently. I wish I got more information before I left. He does get juice buckets too but apparently they don’t have any skins. I was under the impression that the grapes would be the better way to go.
 

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You will need to buy or build a press. Welcome to a brand new world!
I've seen used ones come up before. I'll keep watch. I would expect that if this guy retires there would be no one else bringing grapes in. So this could come to an end someday. I'm not sure if anyone else would be interested in doing so.
 
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I've seen used ones come up before. I'll keep watch.
I purchased a used #40 basket press using Facebook Marketplace. It's not a common item, so checking every other day is necessary. Also, there is at least one thread here regarding building a press.

You might ask the grape coordinator if anyone has a press -- it's a PITA, but if the distance is close, someone might let you use theirs.
 

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I purchased a used #40 basket press using Facebook Marketplace. It's not a common item, so checking every other day is necessary. Also, there is at least one thread here regarding building a press.

You might ask the grape coordinator if anyone has a press -- it's a PITA, but if the distance is close, someone might let you use theirs.
I will have to try that and see. I almost bought one as I was making apple cider. It took me 5-6 hours to put 5-6 pails of apples through my juicer to get one and a bit pails that ends up being one pail after the pulp settles. I have one of those Kuvings masticating slow juicer that takes whole apples but it does plug with skins and core bits a little too often. There are some options for sure. I have some time to plan it too. Not sure how much I'll end up making but I have two 54 L demijohns I'd like to fill. I also have a few carboys I could fill. Since I assume I have to age for two or more years it would be nice to get a steady stream going.
 

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I did a bit of an experiment. I wanted to try some different red wines side by side which I've never really done. I got bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. The Pinot Noir was my least favorite. I'm not 100% which in my favorite possibly the Cabernet Sauvignon or the Zinfandel but the Merlot was good too. Then I too 100ml of each or just under 1/2 cup and put in 10g sugar or about a heaping desert spoon and a bit more than a teaspoon of 95% Everclear. This made them 20% and about 90g/L of sugar. Then I compared them to a Port. Again Pinot Noir was my least favorite. But they ware a decent approximation. I wasn't too sure which was the best. The Zinfandel and the Cab were very good but so was the Merlot. As I drank more the better they tasted lol. It must've taken time for the flavors to meld. ;) I'll have to try the Cab with just a little more sugar. It might need slightly more.
 
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Not sure how much I'll end up making but I have two 54 L demijohns I'd like to fill.
Do you have a pump? If not, you need one. DO NOT try to lift a 54 liter demijohn when full, and don't trust the plastic basket to not break. Weight is not as much an issue as being able to hang onto it. I have a good pump I purchased from LabelPeelers, which I like.

Since I assume I have to age for two or more years it would be nice to get a steady stream going.
This is not correct. Some wines need several years of aging, many do not. Fruit type (including grape varietal), fruit quality, and wine style all affect the aging.

As I drank more the better they tasted lol. It must've taken time for the flavors to meld.
That's an excellent explanation!
 

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Do you have a pump? If not, you need one. DO NOT try to lift a 54 liter demijohn when full, and don't trust the plastic basket to not break. Weight is not as much an issue as being able to hang onto it. I have a good pump I purchased from LabelPeelers, which I like.


This is not correct. Some wines need several years of aging, many do not. Fruit type (including grape varietal), fruit quality, and wine style all affect the aging.


That's an excellent explanation!
I do have a pump. I have a mini jet and a super jet. I don't think I'd try to lift them. I was wondering about that. The 23L/6gal carboys are enough. I can easily handle them but at more than twice the weight I can't see good things happening given the shape and what not.
 
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I can easily handle them but at more than twice the weight I can't see good things happening given the shape and what not.
My son and I lifted mine once. The weight wasn't that bad for 2 husky guys, but we both nearly lost grip on it. While I can pickup a full 23 liter carboy with no problem (yet anyway, give it a few years), I'm leaning more and more towards, "Ya got a pump, use it!"
 

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