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Topping Up RJS Coffee Dessert Wine

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Khristyjeff

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My RJS Coffee Desse Wine just went into secondary. I've followed the tweaks as written about by @joeswine. I need to top up to fill my 3 gallon carboy as I don't have an All In One pump or gas, so wondered if a nice Malbec would be a decent companion. Or other suggestion? Thanks!
IMG_2203.jpeg
 

joeswine

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If you did it correct you should be at a 3 gallon level.
If not when you put in the air lock do you have positive pressure on the inlet side.
 

joeswine

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Have you put in the fpac yet, if not what does your instructions say to do o?
 

Khristyjeff

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Directions say to leave in secondary until Day 42 (Dec. 29), then rack into fermenter and add the coffee f-pac that came with the kit then bottle it. There was some positive pressure when I put in the air lock. They had me degass it today. I do believe there is still some fermenting to do. SG was 1.007 and the pH was 2.87.
@Brian55 This is like a port but technically not so they just call it a Dessert Wine. Thanks for your responses.
 

WinoDave

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I wouldn’t worry about topping up unless your bulk aging for 3+months. I’ve done the coffee dessert wine and since it’s a kit, I went 2 weeks primary, another 2 weeks in secondary where you degas add stabilizing chemicals and flavor pack and then a final transfer for 2 weeks for final clearing. With wine kits you can bottle them I n 6 weeks. Wine makers who bulk age and are topping up are usually the wine makers who are tweaking and making adjustments to the wine. If your just making a wine kit and follow the instructions, no adjustments, you really have no worries.
 

Khristyjeff

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I wouldn’t worry about topping up unless your bulk aging for 3+months. I’ve done the coffee dessert wine and since it’s a kit, I went 2 weeks primary, another 2 weeks in secondary where you degas add stabilizing chemicals and flavor pack and then a final transfer for 2 weeks for final clearing. With wine kits you can bottle them I n 6 weeks. Wine makers who bulk age and are topping up are usually the wine makers who are tweaking and making adjustments to the wine. If your just making a wine kit and follow the instructions, no adjustments, you really have no worries.
Thanks @WinoDave. The only changes I made were to add some simple sugar, 2 tsp of tannin and 1 tsp of instant coffee. Does that change your opinion any? On a related note, I had read that kits don't mention topping up because of the short timeframe. It's just not necessary. Extended bulk aging is a different story.
 

WinoDave

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I've made all the Dessert Wine Kits and they don't need any more sugar, they are already super sweet and potent at 18% alcohol but it doesn't hurt anything if you added sugar it will ferment out. Tannin and coffee are fine, seems you made some small tweaks. I don't tweak the Dessert Wines, if your a coffee person and wanted more coffee flavor then yeah I could see someone adding some coffee, best way to add coffee is just throw the whole coffee beans in for a day or 2, maybe 4-6 ounces, if you put them in a mesh hop sack then you can pull the coffee out when it hits your desired taste. I've made a lot of wine kits, if its the high end kits I leave them alone as is. Lower end kits I may add more wood or soak some wood in some bourbon and toss all of that in. My best wines have come when I've bought a used 5 gallon bourbon barrel online and let a Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel or Blackberry Wines sit in there 2-4 weeks. Bourbon and Wood really does make a wine great. I've never topped off a wine, even if I smash the grapes myself. I try to bottle all wines in 3 months tops.
 

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EDIT: I re-read the thread and missed this the first time through -- if there is activity, e.g., the SG is above 0.998, then the wine is not done fermenting and degassing will have no real effect. If the SG is below 0.998 and remains there for 3 days, the fermentation is done.

The time frames in the kit instructions are guidelines, not rules. Until fermentation is complete, ignore the times listed -- your hydrometer tells you when fermentation is done. Fermentation may take any where from 4 days (fast ferment) to 3 or 4 weeks. Most of the time it's 5 to 7 days.

==

@Khristyjeff, if you still have activity, there is no need to top up as CO2 is filling the air space. In fact you want an air space to avoid potentially overflowing into an airlock.

I've made a few of the dessert wine kits, and IIRC, I didn't top up. The time frame between the completion of fermentation and the addition of the F-Pack was short enough that I felt safe. Once the F-Pack is in, you should not have a problem.

If you do have air space, any good quality red wine will work. If you use a port, use a quality port, not one of the $5.99 knock offs. You can get one that's decent tasting for $10-$15 USD.
 
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joeswine

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I look at your picture , that's fine no need to top off.go back and look at the process pics. They'll tell you the story I just won best of show with my Coffee Port at Winemakers Magazine international .. follow the process and my tweaks, just stay the course.
 

pillswoj

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I use brandy to top off my dessert wines, helps get the alcohol level up to a true port range.
 

Khristyjeff

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I look at your picture , that's fine no need to top off.go back and look at the process pics. They'll tell you the story I just won best of show with my Coffee Port at Winemakers Magazine international .. follow the process and my tweaks, just stay the course.
Thanks @joeswine. I think this is going to turn out great. I added a little instant coffee to the extra wine that didn't make it through the siphon and if the finished product tastes anything like that, we're in business. Thanks, and congrats on another award!
 

Khristyjeff

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EDIT: I re-read the thread and missed this the first time through -- if there is activity, e.g., the SG is above 0.998, then the wine is not done fermenting and degassing will have no real effect. If the SG is below 0.998 and remains there for 3 days, the fermentation is done.

The time frames in the kit instructions are guidelines, not rules. Until fermentation is complete, ignore the times listed -- your hydrometer tells you when fermentation is done. Fermentation may take any where from 4 days (fast ferment) to 3 or 4 weeks. Most of the time it's 5 to 7 days.

==

@Khristyjeff, if you still have activity, there is no need to top up as CO2 is filling the air space. In fact you want an air space to avoid potentially overflowing into an airlock.

I've made a few of the dessert wine kits, and IIRC, I didn't top up. The time frame between the completion of fermentation and the addition of the F-Pack was short enough that I felt safe. Once the F-Pack is in, you should not have a problem.

If you do have air space, any good quality red wine will work. If you use a port, use a quality port, not one of the $5.99 knock offs. You can get one that's decent tasting for $10-$15 USD.
Thanks for the good tips. I think I'll pick up a good port to see what they're like. I'm a bit of a novice on these dessert wines. Do they need to be refrigerated once opened?
 

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Do they need to be refrigerated once opened?
I expect that with an ABV approaching 18% and a fair amount of residual sugar, the wines will have a better shelf life than a table wine. How much better, I don't know. It will vary with ABV and residual sugar.

I bottle my desert wines in split bottles (375 ml), so leftovers are uncommon. When there are leftovers, I typically use a vacuvin (vacuum pump for opened wine) and refrigerate. The wine is typically used within 1 or 2 days.

Another tip -- I buy nigori sake, which typically comes in 375 screw cap bottles (other wines do as well). I soak the labels and keep a bunch on hand.

Especially when I'm cooking, I'll open a 750 ml bottle for sipping. I often fill a 375 and put it aside. It's good for quite a while as it has no head space.

I have to pay attention when I'm sipping-n-cooking -- it's amazing how that 750 bottle will "evaporate" while I'm cooking. With half the bottle set aside, I'm conscious when the first half of the bottle finishes "evaporation".

With dessert wines, putting half aside like this preserves it well for weeks or even months. Screw cap bottles are ok to use -- screw the cap down tight and turn the bottle upside down -- if it doesn't leak, you're ok. If it leaks, recycle the bottle and grab a new one.

Note: I only use screw cap bottles for short durations, maybe a few weeks, but they're great for this purpose.
 

Khristyjeff

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I've made all the Dessert Wine Kits and they don't need any more sugar, they are already super sweet and potent at 18% alcohol but it doesn't hurt anything if you added sugar it will ferment out. Tannin and coffee are fine, seems you made some small tweaks. I don't tweak the Dessert Wines, if your a coffee person and wanted more coffee flavor then yeah I could see someone adding some coffee, best way to add coffee is just throw the whole coffee beans in for a day or 2, maybe 4-6 ounces, if you put them in a mesh hop sack then you can pull the coffee out when it hits your desired taste. I've made a lot of wine kits, if its the high end kits I leave them alone as is. Lower end kits I may add more wood or soak some wood in some bourbon and toss all of that in. My best wines have come when I've bought a used 5 gallon bourbon barrel online and let a Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel or Blackberry Wines sit in there 2-4 weeks. Bourbon and Wood really does make a wine great. I've never topped off a wine, even if I smash the grapes myself. I try to bottle all wines in 3 months tops.
Thanks Dave. Those are some really good points.
 

pillswoj

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When I did the coffee dessert wine, I used 2 tbsp of Dark roast coffee in the primary (the grounds settle out) other then that and using brandy to top up I followed the directions. In total I used about 3/4s of a bottle of brandy to top it up (1 year bulk aging racking every 3 months). Just after bottling the coffee flavor was a bit harsh and bitter but after 1-1.5 years in bottle it mellowed into a fantastic wine. I tend to serve it at cellar temps in the winter months (50 - 55 F). in the summer summer I will put it in the fridge for 40 mins or so. We bottle it in 375s so we never have leftovers.
 

Khristyjeff

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When I did the coffee dessert wine, I used 2 tbsp of Dark roast coffee in the primary (the grounds settle out) other then that and using brandy to top up I followed the directions. In total I used about 3/4s of a bottle of brandy to top it up (1 year bulk aging racking every 3 months). Just after bottling the coffee flavor was a bit harsh and bitter but after 1-1.5 years in bottle it mellowed into a fantastic wine. I tend to serve it at cellar temps in the winter months (50 - 55 F). in the summer summer I will put it in the fridge for 40 mins or so. We bottle it in 375s so we never have leftovers.
I like to hear how others tweak their kits to personalize it to their own tastes. Thanks.
 

heatherd

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I have done coffee port several times. I top up with a commercial port. When I'm ready to bottle, I rack to a primary fermenter and add brandy to fortify, then bottle from there. I didn't age this, as it tasted ready to go.

When I made mine I added espresso powder and heavy toast oak.
 
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