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Sparkling Wine Questions

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phantom

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A friend, and former homebrewer, has announced his engagement, and set a tentative date for 24 Dec 2007. I was thinking of trying to do a case or two of wine for the wedding, with at least one case something sparkling. Since I've got less than a year, I figure a mead/melomel is out of the question, at least for something that's to be consumed at the wedding. So, I figured a sparkling wine. That leads to a handful of questions:

1) Force carbonation and sweetness?
I've got a kegerator and plan on doing a force carbonation, instead of doing the whole mess with bottle carbonation. For fermenting, I know to let everything go until dryness, then add the sorbate and k-meta to stabalize, then keg and sample. For sweetening, do I need full pressure for the full effect, or would lower pressures be sufficient. Basically I'm worried that if I've got a keg at ~30psi, and I start adding any sugar or syrup, I'll get a foaming mess.

2) Which kits should I start with?
I've got wine(kit) and beer(extract) experience, and I was thinking one normal wine, and one special. Reading through some articles on-line and in "Wine Maker", for a sparkling wine I'd want to start with something dry and white, typically an unoaked Chardonnay. Winexpert has their Millenium Sparkling kit as part of their Selection Speciale series, which finishes off-dry, which is about where I want to go. Has anyone tried this kit? Has anyone started with something else, and had success? Could/should I try the upcoming Feb limited release unoaked chardonnay from RJ Spagnols?

3) Something special?
Since I'm going the force carbonation route, I can play around with some post-fermentation additions, without worrying about the yeast changing my plans. I've read that sweet wines don't turn out right, but has anyone played with fruit additions? I'm kinda wondering about something like a strawberry addition, so that it's an off-dry sparkling, with a hint of strawberry aromas? My friend likes blackberry wine, so maybe try something with that? Maybe skip the grapes altogether and try a sparkling fruit wine? I've tried most of the wines from here, and I think their sparkling pink grapefruit was interesting, but it doesn't stick out in my mind.

4) Aging?
Should I bulk-age before or after kegging/carbonating? If I start now, I can ferment and still have 6-8 months of aging before its useage, but where and when should I age the wine?

To everyone who can supply some help and answers, thanks in advance.

Edit to #3. The "here" was supposed to be a link to this address:
http://www.floridawine.com/wine_selection.htm
 
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FentonCellars

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Here are my thoughts....

1. For your wine, choose White over Red. This takes less time to mature and you could do several batches and all be mature by the wedding. Also, to choose the best white wine, check the last WineMaker for a top kit brand that finished top of the category in the last competition (Top 100). This way, you know it will be good.
2. WineMaker had some good info on sparkling wines also. If you don't find the article, I can search my 3-ring binder.
3. I know nothing about your number 1 or 3... sorry!

Good luck,
Eric
 

Sacalait

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Question#3 You could add blackberry flavoring or whatever takes your fancy. This is done after fermentation is complete. I recently had a peach wine that had been enhanced with additional peach flavoring and it tasted like you'd just taken a bite out of a peach.
 

5th meridian

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I force-carbed one of the sweet wine kits and it turned out great. It was closer to a cooler but better than any cooler that I ever had. It was less sweet but a lot more flavourful. The kit I made was a wine expert peach chardonnay.
 
E

EDP

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5th,

How'd you bottle from the keg without losing carbonation?
 

lockwood1956

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A counter pressure bottle filler would be needed, or you could just serve it from the keg :D
 

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