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Donatelo

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I started this Merlot from Cru international today. My first wine with oak chips and grape skins from the kit. Very happy to be making wine again. Sanitized all my equipment and added the water, bentonite, bagged must, oak chips EC-1118 yeast, and dried grape skins. Following the instructions to a ‘T’, but added 2 c. sugar/1 c. water syrup to bring the SG up to 1.090.

Chapitalization is the best way to raise the Abv% as far as I know. I have done a chardonnay, Gerwurztraminer and a chabliese from kits and they all seemed a little light to me. While they are great tasting at the table, they are light.
 

olusteebus

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yeah, you don't want the light. As you well know, we don't drink just to pee.
 

mhopkins

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I started this Merlot from Cru international today. My first wine with oak chips and grape skins from the kit. Very happy to be making wine again. Sanitized all my equipment and added the water, bentonite, bagged must, oak chips EC-1118 yeast, and dried grape skins. Following the instructions to a ‘T’, but added 2 c. sugar/1 c. water syrup to bring the SG up to 1.090.

Chapitalization is the best way to raise the Abv% as far as I know. I have done a chardonnay, Gerwurztraminer and a chabliese from kits and they all seemed a little light to me. While they are great tasting at the table, they are light.
Questions regarding "but added 2 c. sugar/1 c. water syrup to bring the SG up to 1.090." I have done three dessert wine kits, which required chaptalization (dissolved the contents of the chaptolization pack (400 g Dextrose TPH) in 350 ml (1.5 Cup of hot water) and added to primary fermentation bucket. But, this was after the first 5-7 days of primary. And, one of the kits came with two packets of yeast. So, (1) what is your thinking about the timing of chaptalization, and (2) how do you know if you have enough yeast to process the extra sugar?
- Mark, a relative newbie just starting 9th batch ... a So African Sauv Blanc
 

sour_grapes

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Questions regarding "but added 2 c. sugar/1 c. water syrup to bring the SG up to 1.090." I have done three dessert wine kits, which required chaptalization (dissolved the contents of the chaptolization pack (400 g Dextrose TPH) in 350 ml (1.5 Cup of hot water) and added to primary fermentation bucket. But, this was after the first 5-7 days of primary. And, one of the kits came with two packets of yeast. So, (1) what is your thinking about the timing of chaptalization, and (2) how do you know if you have enough yeast to process the extra sugar?
- Mark, a relative newbie just starting 9th batch ... a So African Sauv Blanc
I'll explain in a moment why your kit instructions had you add your sugar later, but first let me point out that Donatelo is only trying to bring his ABV up to ~13% or so. Normal wine yeast can handle that pretty easily, so the timing does not matter too much.

For your case, there are two reasons that the chaptalization is delayed. For a dessert wine, you want the ABV to be very high. That means a lot of sugar. If you add it all in at the beginning, the environment will be hostile to yeast -- too much of a good thing. The high sugar levels negatively affect the yeast.

The second factor is that they are having you add, not sucrose, but rather dextrose. Why dextrose? It would be cheaper to add table sugar (sucrose). Well, sucrose is a disaccharide, which means that it is essentially two sugars bound together. When it splits, it splits into glucose (aka dextrose in this case) and fructose. Our pet yeasts can metabolize either of these monosaccharides, but they have a much easier time with dextrose. The idea is that during your initial fermentation (for the first 5-7 days), the yeast eat nearly all the fructose and/or dextrose present; in the process, they produce alcohol. They produce so much alcohol that the must is now starting to become a hostile environment; however, you still want to give them more sugar so that they can produce yet more alcohol. So you decide to make it as easy on them as possible, since they are under stress, so you feed them dextrose.

If you instead added the chaptalization pack in the beginning, the yeast would likely have eaten all the dextrose before getting through all the fructose. Then they would be struggling to metabolize the fructose when they were in a very hostile environment, making a stuck fermentation more likely.
 
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Donatelo

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Very nicely put , Sour-grapes . Well written and easy to understand.
I might add that I wanted to raise my Sg only a bit from 1.085 to 1.090. I wouldn't' want to go any higher than 1.090.If I went higher, it would make the finished wine a little harsh to me. If I wanted a still higher ABV (14-16%) I would slowly feed the yeast a little at a time at the end of fermentation.. My kit came with EC-1118 yeast which is a fairly hardy yeast.
But I just like a little stronger end product. Not much of a change.
 

Donatelo

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It turned out very well. Plenty of body. It developed a very light liquorish taste. It is so different from my Peach, Chardonnay and even the Concord Grape. It won't last long around my house. Very satisfied.
 

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