Two More Kits On The Go

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vinny

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Tonight I started 2 WinExpert Classic kits. Diablo Rojo and Merlot.

I started 2 kits previous that are ready to bottle in 2 more weeks. I still plan to bottle half of each and bulk age the rest in a 3 gallon carboy. Those were Pinot Gris (Wineco) and Shiraz (WinExpert), both premium kits. This time I am trying 4 week kits to figure out where my tastes are. I will likely do the same, bottle half, bulk age the rest so I can note changes over the months as the rest matures.

I Followed both kits instructions, but chaptalized up to 1.095 on the DR and 1.100 on the Merlot. Roughly a cup to 2 per kit. I added the 2 included oak kits to both.

I just bought another load of used wine equipment. I couldn't buy the bottles for the 100$ I paid for it all, but I was mostly interested in the Buon Vino filter. I have to unload some equipment now, though. I have 3 corkers and at a minumum triples of just about everything else. My Skeeter Pee was clear for days after I racked it, no sediment, but when I bottled it there was a very fine 'fluff' that settled on the bottom after a few days. This inspired the filter hunt.

Anyway! I was wondering if I can skip the K-meta-sorbate pack and just use a 1/4 tsp of K-meta once I rack. I have been reading that sorbate can cause off flavors and is included just to give beginners the best chance of success. I was VERY diligent in my sanitizing and I am confident that it was at least suffient, if not bordering on obsessive.

The Diablo Rojo has a reserves pack (backsweetening). If I filter, would I be ok to skip sorbate on this one as well?

Is it common practice amongst users here to filter most or all of your wine?

Are reds filtered as often as whites/blushes, is it as much for flavor as visual clarity?

Cheers!
 

Jovimaple

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As @joeswine says, if you skip the backsweetening, you don't need the sorbate.

@Rice_Guy has written that he usually bulk ages for 9 to 12 months before backsweetening clear wine to be sure the yeastie beasties are done (with a few rackings to get rid of the lees, as well). If the wine is clear, meaning all the yeast has fallen out, and it's been racked off the lees where any remaining yeast would be lurking, you could backsweeten without using sorbate after aging it that long.
 

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Another option is to add the reserve pack for the DR now, in primary. That it will be fermented dry, but you get any flavors in it.
 

vinny

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Another option is to add the reserve pack for the DR now, in primary. That it will be fermented dry, but you get any flavors in it.

Based on the colour and thickness I assumed it was just a syrup. Are the reserve packs more of a flavor pack than a sweetener, or is this more of an in case they have flavor enhancers included?
 

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If the wine is clear, meaning all the yeast has fallen out, and it's been racked off the lees where any remaining yeast would be lurking, you could backsweeten without using sorbate after aging it that long.

I'm not sure how to interpret this.

A longer aging time will also offer the added benefit of not needing the sorbate so it can just be excluded. Or, people are intentionally making efforts to mature their wine to ensure they don't need to add sorbate because it can and often will negatively affect flavor.

If the intention is to spend the time aging a kit that 'is drinkable at bottling' is sorbate looked at as a negative? If the intention is not a fermenter to glass or 'trunk aged wine' am I on the right path and it should be avoided?
 

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Sorbate is used to stop the yeast from fermenting. If you do not backsweeten, OR if you age the cleared wine long enough (at least 9 months) for the yeast to be completely dead and cleared from the wine before backsweetening, you don't need sorbate.

Edited to add that so far I use sorbate in almost all of my wines because I am too impatient to let them age long enough to backsweeten without it, and hubby and I don't care for dry wines.

I have a whole bunch of peaches and raspberries in the freezer. When I make those wines, I may wait to sweeten especially the peach, since I understand that takes a long time to clear anyway. I have a stock of wines built up now so maybe I can let a couple sit for a year or so in carboys.
 
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sour_grapes

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Based on the colour and thickness I assumed it was just a syrup. Are the reserve packs more of a flavor pack than a sweetener, or is this more of an in case they have flavor enhancers included?

I believe it has both sugar and flavors.

Edit: You could, you know, umm, taste it to find out!
 
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I checked WE's site for the Diablo Rojo -- on a scale of 1 to 10, it's 1 for sweetness, so the F-pack contains sugar, but probably not a lot. FWIW, I'd make the kit according to directions, as kits like this are balanced for the sugar. Bone dry? The balance may be off, e.g., the acid will be high as it's designed to balance the sugar. Keep in mind the reputable vendors such as WE design their kits to be made a certain way. Changing some things may produce a less than desirable result.

Sorbate, if the recommended amount is used, is not a problem unless you're doing MLF (not done in kits). That said, I skip sorbate unless backsweetening, as it's completely unnecessary.

@Rice_Guy's experience is that yeast typically dies by the 9th month, so sorbate is unnecessary. Typically anything I backsweeten gets bottled around 6 months, so I use sorbate on the few wines I do backsweeten.

Regarding sediment in the bottle -- you bottled too soon. Even Skeeter Pee needs some bulk aging time if you want it fully cleared, or a fining agent, or both. Note that filters should be used for polishing, not fining. If you filter a wine that is not clear, you'll very quickly plug the filters with sediment. Been there, done that!

I haven't filtered in a long time. When I did, I filtered both reds and whites -- coarse for reds, coarse then medium for whites. At that time (decades ago), the fine filters seemed to diminish the wine, e.g., stripped them. It may be the composition of the filters at the time, or it may have been my perception. After bulk aging whites & lighter reds for 6-9 months, and heavy reads for 12+ months, I have no problems with clarity. YMMV
 

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Sorbate, if the recommended amount is used, is not a problem unless you're doing MLF (not done in kits). That said, I skip sorbate unless backsweetening, as it's completely unnecessary.

Bryan! I've been patiently waiting...

I always appreciate how you come in and catch any questions that haven't been answered.

MLF = malolactic fermentation?

For the Merlot I will toss the pack and just use K-meta. I'll stick with the instructions for the Diablo Rojo. I'll take a good slurp of the f-pack for Sour_Grapes and report back. It will be a good comparison. I have found in the 3 finished batches I have made, DD, Skeeter Pee, and malted hard lemonade, I am getting a headier buzz. I can't really pin the feeling to explain, but I feel more effects on vision, and less sharp or even blurry compared to the effects I would feel with a store bought wine.

I can be sensitive to some chemicals and all of these are going to have higher levels than store bought as they are so young and k-meta and sorbate full doses were added within the last month.

The nice thing is with used equipment and cheap filters I can experiment for a few buck and filter a portion to compare. I wanted the bottles and carboys that came with everything else, so nothing is lost if I don't end up filtering my wines. It did grab my attention though that people were filtering to sterilize and stabilize without the use of as many additives.

I have seen that some people are dosing with K-meta right off the hop to kill wild yeasts in the primary, then pitching on day 2. This is the only time they add it in. No more at racking, or bottling. I understand this will be best for less aged wines, but it's gonna be AT LEAST another couple of months before I run out of things to experiment with.;)

Day 2 and the fermentation isn't even detectable, yet. They'll liven up soon enough, I am sure. The last 2 were intense.
 
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I always appreciate how you come in and catch any questions that haven't been answered.
Glad to be of service!

Winemaking is like software development -- the sooner things are caught, the easier it is to fix them. I try to look for stuff that will bite people in the butt.

MLF = malolactic fermentation?
Yup

For the Merlot I will toss the pack and just use K-meta.
Write the date on it and hang onto it. The packet is good for the next wine to backsweeten.

We (WMT) never came to a firm conclusion regarding the shelf life of sorbate -- it's something between a year and several years. My practice is to assume it was sitting in a warehouse for a while, so I write the date on the packet, and toss it if it hasn't been used in a year so. A very long time ago I had one batch start pushing corks out (had to unbottle and complete fermentation), so I err on the side of caution. I didn't have to clean up a mess, but other folks have had an entire batch blow corks before it was discovered.

I'll stick with the instructions for the Diablo Rojo. I'll take a good slurp of the f-pack for Sour_Grapes and report back. It will be a good comparison.
IMO you made a good choice. My thinking is that if you want a bone dry wine, buy a dry wine kit. Having an off-dry red is a good experiment.

Besides, you may not realize it's sweet. I purchased a few bottles of Vignoles (F-A hybrid common in NY), and when I looked at the back label, it said "sweet". Well ... @^*%!!! Don't get me wrong, I like dessert wines, but in small quantities. So I popped a cork -- it tasted off-dry, as the acid level was high and the sugar counter-balanced it. So you red may not be what you are expecting.

I have found in the 3 finished batches I have made, DD, Skeeter Pee, and malted hard lemonade, I am getting a headier buzz. I can't really pin the feeling to explain, but I feel more effects on vision, and less sharp or even blurry compared to the effects I would feel with a store bought wine.
Higher ABV?

A tiny minority will have an allergic reaction to K-meta, and while it gets blamed for headaches, I've been informed that is not a normal reaction. [I'm repeating what I've been told, and cannot confirm either way.]

The nice thing is with used equipment and cheap filters I can experiment for a few buck and filter a portion to compare. I wanted the bottles and carboys that came with everything else, so nothing is lost if I don't end up filtering my wines. It did grab my attention though that people were filtering to sterilize and stabilize without the use of as many additives.
I know commercial wineries will sterile filter wines -- I'm not positive the filters available to home winemakers are good enough for that. Someone else will need to chime in.

A local brewery uses a centrifuge to clear their beer.

I have seen that some people are dosing with K-meta right off the hop to kill wild yeasts in the primary, then pitching on day 2. This is the only time they add it in. No more at racking, or bottling. I understand this will be best for less aged wines, but it's gonna be AT LEAST another couple of months before I run out of things to experiment with.;)
For fresh fruit, it's commonly recommended to dose with K-meta up front, and while I've been iffy on it, I'm leaning towards doing it. While commercial yeast will normally beat out the competition, there is some change wild yeast and bacteria can reproduce enough to cause off flavors before being stamped out. Logically, this makes sense.
 

vinny

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Higher ABV?

No, 'cause I'm getting it from all 3 and the hard lemonade is more beer than wine, 5-7%. I get more of this visual/perception change than I do alcohol buzz. I haven't had any notable side effects the next day, no crippling headaches or anything, but I have been sampling rather than guzzling. I don't know what would happen if one got carried away with some friends.

IMO you made a good choice. My thinking is that if you want a bone dry wine, buy a dry wine kit. Having an off-dry red is a good experiment.

I'd say one of the more surprising things I've found so far in all of this is how much sugar you can add and not have a sweet wine. I have not had many sweet wines, but one in particular that I tried really put me off giving many a chance.

I added 1/4 cup sugar to a gallon of DD and it was hardly notable. I added another 1/4 a few days later and it really brought out the fruit flavors, but I still wouldn't say it was at all sweet. Balanced compared to the high acidity without, but not sweet. This is the main reason I wanted to try the Diablo Rojo. At a 1 I'm not pushing the limits much, but I am reaching beyond my standard conceptions.

I agree it is likely not going to be what I expect, I am learning I really don't know what to expect from any of this. I do assume it won't be too sweet to end up on cooking rack, though.

I actually got 2 filters with this batch of equipment. One with the large round filters and the Buon Vino. The Buon Vino fine say .5 micron and I found a super sterile pad for the larger filter of .02-.04 micron. Both say they are adequate for filtering yeast as well.

I don't know if this is anything I will do long term, but for the cost of a couple packages of filter pads I could experiment on a few of the bottles and see how it comes out flavor wise, if I can back sweeten, If I get the heady feeling without sorbate, etc. etc.

Again, it's all in the name of science.

I'm finding in wine making A+B= very interesting. Often C+D= Wow, that's not what I expected.

It's all good fun.
 
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@vinny, I've gotten seriously lit without drinking a drop, when working on numerous wines in succession. The fumes got me. Is your reaction from drinking or working with the wine?

Your experience with SP is not surprising. Wine making is an advanced chemistry set. I suspect you may like the Diablo more than you expect.

You're set to experiment with the filters. You can sell the one you like least. Or both, or neither. If you try a sterile filter, bottle a couple of back sweetened bottles and watch them, in case it doesn't work as expected.
 

vinny

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I've gotten seriously lit without drinking a drop, when working on numerous wines in succession. The fumes got me. Is your reaction from drinking or working with the wine?

That is very interesting. I never would have thought. CO2 concentration in the room or alcohol, you figure?

For me it wasn't fumes, I hadn't been working with any, just tasting.
 

vinny

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Alcohol! :p

Edit: at wine judgings I've gotten lit when spitting every wine. You can absorb alcohol through your mouth. I thought I was fine until I stood up.

I did a wine tasting at my place once. Brought a young fellow from the local liquor store to orchestrate it. We weren't spitting. It turned into quite the event.

Lit is not quite the right word to describe the 'elevated' effects. Fun was had by all.
 

vinny

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I racked both kits yesterday. I decided to follow the instructions other than just using K-meta for the Merlot instead of the included sorbate pack.

I'm like a dog chasing cars with this hobby. Every time I turn around there's another post and I think that sounds so interesting, I have to try it. I instantly wonder if I can do that to something I have already started. Instead of changing the process of something I have on the go I have decided to add a little focus to the game and finish a batch as it was intended from the start, then move on to the next one with a different intent.

I added more water to primary this time and got full carboys with a cup or so extra of each once finings were added.

The Merlot is Acidic. It smell nice. Fairly deep and oaky, but it needs some time to mellow. Not a surprise right out of primary.

The Diablo Rojo, however, is already shaping up to be something really enjoyable. It's honestly shocking how a week ago it was just sweet grape juice and it is currently showing the characteristics of a really good wine.

Is there more to these kits than just juice and that is how they mark the aging time, 4,6,8 weeks etc? Both of these four week kits are just so much different than the premium kits. Given the flavours of the premium kits at racking I was thinking they could take a LONG time to become drinkable. The Pinot Grigio had no exciting fruit notes, or tart follow through flavors. With both 4 week kits I can see how just a little rounding will make them very drinkable. The Merlot just needs to blend enough that the acid isn't the prominent flavor, and the Diablo Rojo really just needs to soften and blend a little. The flavors are already there and it is fairly balanced.

Is it modifications to the juice? Is it because the flavors of the end product are so different. The premium kits will develop such broader flavor profiles they show less promise early, and the 4 weeks kits create a simpler more balanced flavor profile earlier?

I am just trying to understand the process and how I can relate it to other wines I will make in the future. As well as how it will translate to country wines and others made from raw ingredients instead of juice.
 
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Is there more to these kits than just juice and that is how they mark the aging time, 4,6,8 weeks etc?
With WE and RJS, the better quality kits contain more juice with respect to concentrate, and given the differences between various brands of kits, there are different grades of concentrate.

The time difference (4, 6, 8 weeks) IMO is mostly marketing. All kits can be bottled in 4 weeks. The process is exactly the same for WE Classic, Reserve, and Private Reserve kits. There is nothing in Private Reserve that requires more time before bottling. A kit needing 8 weeks before bottling sounds better and helps justify the price.

However, many beginners (and not-so-beginners) will be drinking that Classic kit at 4 weeks + 2 minutes. [To be fair, we all do it -- anything that doesn't fit a 750 or 375 at bottling time goes into the glass -- waste not, want not!]

Those same beginners will be drinking a Private Reserve at 8 weeks + 2 minutes, but the extra 4 weeks of bulk aging produces a better wine, again justifying the price in the eyes of the consumer.

Aging is important, but perception sells the higher priced kits. This is not being cynical -- I think it's great marketing!
 

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