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Third time the charm?

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Bleedaggie

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Hi! Just bought my third kit (RJS Washington Merlot). My first kit was a cheap WineExpert merlot . The second was a RJS Primeur Malbec.

Both of my first kits struggled to clear. The first one never did clear. The second one just took an extra couple of weeks. However, the second wine still has a harsh taste right at the start, and just a tiny hint of carbonation. It is drinkable and finishes okay, but I wouldn't serve it to anyone else. I followed the instructions precisely, except on the second batch I degassed it twice as long as recommended just to make 100% sure I got all the CO2 out.

I just happened to mention it to an uncle who homebrews. He's totally convinced the problem is that I used reverse osmosis water. The guy at the homebrew store disagreed but couldn't really tell me why - he sells the wine kits but isn't "really a wine guy."

What say you?

I've got spring water I'm planning to use this time, but I'd love to not have another barely-drinkable batch. Is it possible the RO water is my only problem, or is there something else you'd recommend too?
 

Scooter68

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When you say "Never did clear," how long did you wait? weeks, months, a year?

Most wines, even kit wines need more than the 'instructions' state to really be ready to bottle or drink. In fact blind obedience of those instructions leads more beginning wine makers to a frustrating experience than not. Think of instructions as guidelines, not rules, and in fact loose guidelines really.

Fermentation is not like a math problem - 1+1+1 does not always equal 3 in wine making. There are many variables that you, and the kit maker cannot always control. Once you pitch the yeast into that bucket, the next steps should ALWAYS be based on measurements, not based on calendar days or hours stated in the instructions. Fermentation can take from 3-4 days or 3-4 weeks.

Likewise clearing can take a week or two or a year or more.

And it's normal for a new wine (A few months since fermentations completion) to have a sharp tastes. The 'carbonation' is gas that is still in the wine. That gas and the age of the wine contribute to that sharpness. In a year from fermentation that wine will taste very different. I like to use the following to describe the wines I make:
At end of fermentation = Wine
At 1-3 months = Drinkable wine
At 1-2 years = An enjoyable wine, a pleasure to share.

Out of about 25 batches of wine, I've had 2 batches that were sharable within 6 months from the time fermentation was completed.
 
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Mike Blicke

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I highly doubt it is due to reverse osmosis water. I use reverse osmosis water in all my wines and they have cleared without issue. I haven't had a problem with reverse osmosis water imparting any taste to the wine, harsh or other.
 

meadmaker1

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@Bleedaggie your comment that it was still fizzy says a lot. Instructions can't dictate timing. If it is fizzy it wasn't ready to bottle. My rule of thumb, if there is sediment on the bottom of the car boy there will be sediment in my bottles.
I don't do kits and only use recipes as a guide line. Folks trying to follow kit instructions is one of the most often posted topics here, and they are always answered the same. As time goes on most of us will have enough batches going that we let things go loner just because we don't have time to do everything on an exact exact schedule . And i give this much of the credit for the improvement of my product over the first few attempts.
 

Bleedaggie

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@Bleedaggie your comment that it was still fizzy says a lot. Instructions can't dictate timing. If it is fizzy it wasn't ready to bottle. My rule of thumb, if there is sediment on the bottom of the car boy there will be sediment in my bottles.
I don't do kits and only use recipes as a guide line. Folks trying to follow kit instructions is one of the most often posted topics here, and they are always answered the same. As time goes on most of us will have enough batches going that we let things go loner just because we don't have time to do everything on an exact exact schedule . And i give this much of the credit for the improvement of my product over the first few attempts.
Thanks. So you rack and rerack until there is no sediment on the bottom of the carboy at all?
 

Johnd

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Thanks. So you rack and rerack until there is no sediment on the bottom of the carboy at all?
Yes. That, and knowing that it takes wines months, not weeks to be clear and still before bottling. If you’d like to produce wines without CO2, clear as a bell, that won’t drop sediment in your bottles, you need one very special tool. Patience. Most white wines require north of 6-8 months to clear, degas, and drop all of their sediment, reds north of a year. I know that seems like a long time, but your good wines aren’t really even hitting their stride by then, so why bottle them?
 

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