Racking day. Experienced opinions. Please!

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vinny

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Well, today was racking day for the both Pinot Gris and Shiraz kits, bottling Saturday.

As I've mentioned I have been planning to bottle half and rack the other 3 gallons to a smaller carboy. I considered filtering each, then rack to 3 gallon and bottle the rest.

I tasted first to inspire a game plan. The Pinot gris is... Boring. Well, I guess they both are, but the PG is lacking any prominent fruity/acidic flavors. I don't think it is oxygen, but it is flat in that sense. Insipid.

The Shiraz is pretty ok. Kinda weak. Drinkable, but not exciting. Having not tasted a young wine since I trunk aged a Malbec over 10 years ago, I don't know what developments to expect. Would you expect the PG to start off acidic and blend to fruity notes, or start out boring and fill out.

I am wondering if I should do anything for the moment. Splitting and bottling would give me the ability to sample as the bulk ages over the next few months or more to gauge when to bottle. Part of me wonders why change anything if nothing is ready, though. Other than to rack off the lees... but then I might as well carry on and split?

I'm a bit more interested to hear how the flavors will change, partly to ensure I didn't oxygenate the PG, but also to get an idea of what to expect.

'What I would do' is also appreciated. These are the kits I ended up low in. I kept them under vacuum which I monitor frequently. Racking to another 6 gallon is kind of pointless because I lose more volume, but I have no interest in sneaking a taste for some time so bottling is also a waste of time?

What to do... what to do...
 
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VinesnBines

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Because I'm lazy and my memory shot....when did yo start these? Without that info, my gut reaction is leave both alone. Why are you in a hurry to bottle?
 

vinny

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Because I'm lazy and my memory shot....when did yo start these? Without that info, my gut reaction is leave both alone. Why are you in a hurry to bottle?

I'm not, really.

These are at 8 weeks so 'it's time'. These are my first kits that are 'ready' and I was very interested to sample as it aged and flavors developed to get a better understanding of the process. Today I am understanding there is no interest in an underdeveloped wine. Which is why the question.

I don't really want to rely on vacuum for a long period of time, as mentioned by Fred. I check it all the time to make sure the seal hasn't failed. I have no idea what the change will be in a month and if that would offer a bit more interesting traits to follow as the bulk ages. I don't want to bottle it all, but if I rack I might as well move to the smaller carboy because of the headspace and bottle the rest. I was originally excited to do this so I can sample, but I am VERY ok to wait for it to improve after tasting them.

Lastly they are on the lees with fining agents added and I don't know how long is a reasonable time to remain on the lees.

I put them back on vacuum for now and in the meantime I'm just... what do they call it? Over thinking everything?
 
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How is the acid on the Pinot Gris? I don't mean "what's the pH or TA?" How does it taste? If it tastes flat, add a small amount of tartaric acid (1/8 to 1/4 tsp), stir well, and taste again after a week. When you get to the "it needs just a bit more" -- stop. It doesn't.

Don't be in a hurry to bottle. Make sure the wine is good before you bottle.
 

vinny

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It's not very acidic, which is why I was asking how flavors develop. I would expect acid to be overwhelming at first and blend over time.

I only have acid blend. I will have to run to town for tartaric.

I guess I will rack off the lees into another 6 gallon and keep it under vacuum until I get it balanced so I can adjust the whole batch.

What is general aging time for a PG, I think you said 6 months?
 

VinesnBines

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I agree with winemaker_81 that you should make sure the wine is good before you bottle. Often the wine will improve in the bottle but issues like "flat" probably won't improve. I have a pawpaw wine that had a weird aftertaste that seems to have improve after two years in the bottle. I have hopes for a banana and a coffee wine in the bottle. Neither were terrible and some of the taste testers liked them. i wasn't wild about the flavors so I figure that is a personal preference.

I did bottle a Petit Verdot a few weeks ago that had been a pain since crush. It finally started to improve; i fined with egg whites and went to bottle. I think that decision was correct. it is starting to improve in the bottle.

Long story...make sure you are happy with the wine and forget the timetable. Don't be tied to weeks or months.
 

Chuck E

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They're both too young in my view. I would get them off the lees and bulk age in a carboy with small headspace. Rack again in 3 months, and taste. If the PG still tastes flat, add a small amount of tartaric acid. If it does not taste "fruity" you might have to back sweeten. I like to "bench" test with small amounts of wine to arrive at the correct amount of additions.
 
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I only have acid blend. I will have to run to town for tartaric.
Acid blend is fine. How far below full is the carboy? If it's a bottle or so, I'd do nothing until the acid adjustment is completed, then top up with a PG.

1 tsp acid increases the TA of 1 gallon by 0.15%, so 1 tsp in 6 gallons is 0.025%. I'd up my previous suggestion to 3/4 tsp acid. Stir well and taste a week later. Do not bother with pH or TA testing -- you're fixing the taste, not the acid level.

Go slowly, acid integration takes time, and if you add too much, you are SOL. Patience is not a suggestion, it's a requirement. ;)

I typically bottle wines between the 4 and 12 month mark. If you were not adjusting this one, you could bottle in another couple of months. However, I'd not bottle the PG for 2 months after you complete acid adjustment, to ensure the acid fully integrates.

The Shiraz? Give it another few months. Expecting a 2 month old wine to taste good is an exercise in disappointment. Patience, Grasshopper.

I'm not in favor of storing under vacuum. Wine has numerous equilibriums, one of which is CO2. A fully degassed wine contains CO2, which contributes sharpness to the taste. Your taste problems may be caused by vacuum removing too much CO2. This is supposition, not fact, so YMMV.
 
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heatherd

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Well, today was racking day for the both Pinot Gris and Shiraz kits, bottling Saturday.

As I've mentioned I have been planning to bottle half and rack the other 3 gallons to a smaller carboy. I considered filtering each, then rack to 3 gallon and bottle the rest.

I tasted first to inspire a game plan. The Pinot gris is... Boring. Well, I guess they both are, but the PG is lacking any prominent fruity/acidic flavors. I don't think it is oxygen, but it is flat in that sense. Insipid.

The Shiraz is pretty ok. Kinda weak. Drinkable, but not exciting. Having not tasted a young wine since I trunk aged a Malbec over 10 years ago, I don't know what developments to expect. Would you expect the PG to start off acidic and blend to fruity notes, or start out boring and fill out.

I am wondering if I should do anything for the moment. Splitting and bottling would give me the ability to sample as the bulk ages over the next few months or more to gauge when to bottle. Part of me wonders why change anything if nothing is ready, though. Other than to rack off the lees... but then I might as well carry on and split?

I'm a bit more interested to hear how the flavors will change, partly to ensure I didn't oxygenate the PG, but also to get an idea of what to expect.

'What I would do' is also appreciated. These are the kits I ended up low in. I kept them under vacuum which I monitor frequently. Racking to another 6 gallon is kind of pointless because I lose more volume, but I have no interest in sneaking a taste for some time so bottling is also a waste of time?

What to do... what to do...
For the Shiraz, I'd bulk-age with some oak to add complexity to the flavor. My reds typically age in a carboy for a year or more. Add k-meta every three months.

For the Pinot gris, I'd also bulk-age for maybe six months to see if it ends up tasting better. Same thing with adding k-meta.
 

vinny

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How far below full is the carboy?

These were both quite low. Down to the shoulder of the carboy. 4 bottles in the PG and 2-3 in the Shiraz


I am going to follow everyone's advice here. First off, I'm going to try to find a 5 gallon carboy in town to get past the headspace concerns. I completely understand, it's ready when it's ready. Kind of a light bulb moment. I'll bottle it once it tastes good.

Makes sense. How can you adjust anything in bottles? I'm excited to try to tweak it to where I want it. It's good marketing with 4,6,8 week kits. If it was noted 8-14 months, who would start? Patience is clearly developed as one moves along.

I have co2. Would it be an idea to bubble a little through before racking if I can find a 5 gallon carboy. Obviously not pressurizing the carboy or intending to carbonate, but to reintroduce a % of co2 back into the wine to see if that makes any difference?

If co2 is an idea, I think I would just let them sit a month or so and see what direction things move in and adjust acid then. Then allow to sit another couple of months and taste again.

I guess this means I have to get more on the go so I have something to busy myself with as these are doing their thing.

I thought the kit makers would know better than me and if I followed kit instructions I would have a great wine. I am starting to see how working through challenges like this can be interesting. I had a shiraz the other night that was much more pronounced than I am used to. Very tart with deep flavors. Maybe astringent is the right word. I could see how adding just one bottle of something big could take a quiet little wine and fill it out. It would be even more fun with your own wines, blending a little of this and that to make something completely unique.

Same with the PG, if it isn't crisp enough, up the acid. Maybe some fruit rind if time and backsweetening don't pop the fruit flavors? I just assumed you make the kit and that is what your supposed to get. I can see how the goal is to make it what I want it to be, and why people are saying that they tweak at all stages.

I'm gonna have questions!

It's been stated many times. Wine is very simple, yet extremely complex.

I get it.
 
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The 19 liter carboy makes sense in this situation, although topping up with PG is simpler. Read my post on racking tips before the next wine -- it should help.


I have co2. Would it be an idea to bubble a little through before racking if I can find a 5 gallon carboy. Obviously not pressurizing the carboy or intending to carbonate, but to reintroduce a % of co2 back into the wine to see if that makes any difference?
I have no idea if this will work. I can't see that it would hurt, as excess CO2 will bleed off.

I thought the kit makers would know better than me and if I followed kit instructions I would have a great wine.
Not exactly. Kit instructions are designed to get a beginner through the process, producing a wine they can be proud of serving. The instructions are optimized for that purpose.

Same with the PG, if it isn't crisp enough, up the acid. Maybe some fruit rind if time and backsweetening don't pop the fruit flavors?
Based upon your description, adding a bit of acid should help. Aging with grapefruit zest may give it a perk. Backsweetening is your call.
 

vinny

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The 19 liter carboy makes sense in this situation, although topping up with PG is simpler. Read my post on racking tips before the next wine -- it should help.



I have no idea if this will work. I can't see that it would hurt, as excess CO2 will bleed off.

The two kits I have done since are topped up nicely. My primary marks were over a liter off from a full carboy and I vacuumed the PG from one container to the next. when I shut off the pump some back fed into the sediment so I had heavier losses.

I'll see what I can find for smaller carboys. Might be worth adding a little acid and topping up if there aren't any available
 

vinny

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Based upon your description, adding a bit of acid should help. Aging with grapefruit zest may give it a perk. Backsweetening is your call.

I ended up topping both of these up. I just tasted the PG and although better it's still not there for me. I had a sip left in my sample and sprinkled a few grains of acid blend into it. It picked it up a bit so I want to add 1/2 to 3/4 tsp of acid and see where that brings it over the next week or so.

It didn't seem to have quite as young a flavour. The white grape didn't seem as notable with a little acid. Does that make sense or just my imagination?

I picked up some tartaric acid, just wondering if I will notice a difference between acid blend and tartaric and if either is preferable before I add?
 
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I picked up some tartaric acid, just wondering if I will notice a difference between acid blend and tartaric and if either is preferable before I add?
It will produce a difference. Tartaric is the primary acid in grapes, while "acid blend" is a proprietary mixture -- every vendor's is different. I read that LD Carlson's is only 10% Tartaric, with the bulk being citric and malic. This will taste totally different.
 
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In a good way, or is it safer to stick with tartaric?
It depends on what you like, so giving you a solid answer is tough. If it helps, I prefer tartaric as the wine tastes more "natural" to me.

That's an interesting experiment -- take 3 gallons, add tartaric to one, citric to another, and blend to the third.

Note that a final acid adjustment like this are done to taste. A pH meter or acid titration kit won't tell you what your taste buds like. When adjusting acid I add a small amount, stir well, and let it rest a few days for the acid to integrate. Then taste. If you think it needs just a bit more, stop. It doesn't. ;)
 

vinny

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That's an interesting experiment -- take 3 gallons, add tartaric to one, citric to another, and blend to the third.

Sounds fun. I might as well figure out the difference now when I won't notice, or at least be as offended by the differences of playing around with things. Once I get a sense of what I like and expect I likely wont be as open to experimenting.

If you think it needs just a bit more, stop. It doesn't. ;)

Meaning it will blend and fill out more with time and I can add a little more later, or it is a very fine line between almost there and too far gone?
 

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That's an interesting experiment -- take 3 gallons, add tartaric to one, citric to another, and blend to the third.
I've recently thought one of my wines could use a bit more acid. I like the testing idea. No experience here - and I know everyone's mouth is different - but what's a good starting point? 1/4 tsp acid per gallon? Less? I don't want to mess something up with the very first dose.
 

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if you are using straight acids/ not blends they can be identified fairly well, mixtures, natural fruit juices are hard to identify. Malic acid has the sharpest flavor.
I picked up some tartaric acid, just wondering if I will notice a difference between acid blend and tartaric and if either is preferable before I add?
 
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