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Unbalanced Finished Wine

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CabSauv

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Life has finally slowed down (vacation, work, kids events, etc.,.) enough for me to get back to my winemaking. Batch 1 is almost 2 months into bulk aging in the basement and batch 2 was moved to the basement for bulk aging on Wednesday. My journal is located here if anyone is interested to catch up and see where I am and what I did, so I won't reiterate.

Anyway, one "issue" that I ended up with, specifically for batch 1 was a sharp bite and I have it narrowed down to tartaric acid. The pH appears good. But, since I omitted sorbate and therefore most of the sweetness was used by the yeast, the wine is a bit unbalanced. It's a bit harsh and acidic.

I've determined that I have a few options and was hoping to get some opinions or comments on experience:

1. Just let it bulk age as is and eventually it will smooth out.
I am leaning this route but what happens when I get to a year of bulk aging, will it be too late to make adjustments?

2. Cold stabilize the wine and then rack to get tartaric acid crystals out and thus (hopefully?) remove some acidity.
I don't have a fridge or anywhere colder to put the wine, at least not until the colder months I could move them to the garage. I'm not sure a garbage bin with ice/salt and changing it out for the few weeks to get a decent cold stabilization cycle is effort that I really want to put forth at the moment. Maybe it's worth it?

3. Add potassium bicarbonate (acid reducing crystals), wait, rack.
I have no thoughts on this route really, except that I don't want to add stuff to my wine just because. I'd prefer to use non-chemical methods to fix my wine, unless of course it's the only/best option.

Thoughts/comments? Ok....GO!
 

Mismost

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that sharp bite could just be CO2...the wine is still very young.
 

salcoco

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bulk age some more . if acidity is to high,acid will still drop out out just slowly. additive correction can be made up to bottling.
 

Stressbaby

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I've never made a red kit. Is this a common problem with red kits, where you can't put the wine through MLF?
 

salcoco

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wine kits are balanced before starting fermentation. usually proper aging will soften wine characteristic of a young wine.
 

CabSauv

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I understand the wine is still young, but if according to the kit directions it could be bottled now, who wrote the directions and who would drink such an unbalanced wine? Maybe my wine is more harsh than others or I'm just a wine snob who can taste the "kit" taste? Not to mention I stirred and whipped the wine more than what the directions called for so I don't think it's necessarily CO2 as mentioned above.

I'm sure I'm just beating a dead horse and being a bit paranoid as I've had other conversations about it and I was assured that bulk aging will go a long way but the confusion for me, being new at wine making, is the fact that according to the directions it could be bottled now...? For me, bottling what I have now would be a disservice to anyone drinking it.

Does cold stabilization add any benefit that bulk aging doesn't? Is it used for anything other than helping kill off remaining yeast and prevent tartaric acid from forming into crystals?
 

NorCal

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Anyway, one "issue" that I ended up with, specifically for batch 1 was a sharp bite and I have it narrowed down to tartaric acid. The pH appears good. But, since I omitted sorbate and therefore most of the sweetness was used by the yeast, the wine is a bit unbalanced. It's a bit harsh and acidic.
Sorbate won't stop an active ferment. May slow it down, but the proper way is to ferment dry, like you did, then add sorbate and backsweeten. Since you didn't do this, there was no need for sorbate, so I would take sorbate out of the equation of what is causing the perceived imbalance.

Some kits are just thin, you don't get the phenolic extraction, flavor and body to balance out the acidity and alcohol. Backsweetening now could balance the flavor out, but you end up with a sweet wine. If this flavor profile works for you, it's a good solution. If you want to keep it dry, I would do mlf and then wait 3 months or so and see how it develops.
 

ibglowin

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Don't mess with it. It's just a green wine that needs time to settle down. You need a dose of the 3 P's of winemaking. Patience, Patience, Patience grasshopper.

Yes they do say you can bottle it at 6 weeks or whatever but it doesn't mean its ready to drink. 3P's........
 

CabSauv

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Sorbate won't stop an active ferment. May slow it down, but the proper way is to ferment dry, like you did, then add sorbate and backsweeten. Since you didn't do this, there was no need for sorbate, so I would take sorbate out of the equation of what is causing the perceived imbalance.

Some kits are just thin, you don't get the phenolic extraction, flavor and body to balance out the acidity and alcohol. Backsweetening now could balance the flavor out, but you end up with a sweet wine. If this flavor profile works for you, it's a good solution. If you want to keep it dry, I would do mlf and then wait 3 months or so and see how it develops.
What I meant by the sorbate comment was, I figured the lack of using it allowed the yeast to take out all the sweetness which led to the acidity. At least that was my theory. I'm curious about MLF since it's intended for dry red wines but being a newbie, I'm not sure I want to try it just yet but I do want to learn more about it. The only thing I know about it is, after fermentation is complete, MLF uses bacteria to turn malic acid into lactic acid. That's the extent of what I know. Of course I can google to learn more but are there any good threads/sticky on here specific to MLF how-to worth reading? I think for these 2 batches I'll just wait and see how they end up. I planned on waiting until around December for the first batch and February for batch 2.
 
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sour_grapes

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Consensus is that you cannot successfully do MLF on a kit wine. They are already acid-balanced, and MLF will screw it up.

Agree 100% with Mike's comment: ready to be bottled in XX weeks does NOT mean ready to drink in XX weeks!
 

CabSauv

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Consensus is that you cannot successfully do MLF on a kit wine. They are already acid-balanced, and MLF will screw it up.

Agree 100% with Mike's comment: ready to be bottled in XX weeks does NOT mean ready to drink in XX weeks!
Fair enough, and makes sense. I guess the directions don't really say much else after bottling so I assumed it was intended to be consumed thereafter. Let the waiting continue :h
 

jgmann67

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Have you tested the wine to see if it still has co2? Even after you whip the snot out of it, it could still be loaded with co2.

Try the "poof" test. If you have co2, get the temp of your wine above 70* and degas. Let it sit a while (weeks or months) then taste.

Just because you "can" bottle, doesn't mean you "should." Patience is the hardest lesson of winemaking. [emoji12]
 

CabSauv

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I'm sure I've annoyed the dickens out of everyone with all my questions and concerns with my wine. Everyone's told me the same thing: be patient and wait. I know I'll listen eventually...after reassurance every month and a year of bulk aging goes by LOL. So everyone has to play along and keep my head on straight. I'll trust all the experience from everyone, so I appreciate it.
 

ceeaton

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I'm sure I've annoyed the dickens out of everyone with all my questions and concerns with my wine. Everyone's told me the same thing: be patient and wait. I know I'll listen eventually...after reassurance every month and a year of bulk aging goes by LOL. So everyone has to play along and keep my head on straight. I'll trust all the experience from everyone, so I appreciate it.
You haven't annoyed anyone, the reason this forum is here is to help people make the best wine from the ingredients they purchase. So just stash your worry on a shelf somewhere, the people answering your questions are glad to help. I just started making wine a few years ago, and patience will come with time. Once you bottle a batch and it later is carbonated when you pour it for a friend or two, you realize that time is on your side, so to speak, and that age is your friend. Just don't lose your resolve to make wine, we all make some mistakes along the way. Learning from your mistakes will pay dividends down the road, and your wine will just keep getting better and better!
 

FreddyC

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What I meant by the sorbate comment was, I figured the lack of using it allowed the yeast to take out all the sweetness which led to the acidity. At least that was my theory. I'm curious about MLF since it's intended for dry red wines but being a newbie, I'm not sure I want to try it just yet but I do want to learn more about it. The only thing I know about it is, after fermentation is complete, MLF uses bacteria to turn malic acid into lactic acid. That's the extent of what I know. Of course I can google to learn more but are there any good threads/sticky on here specific to MLF how-to worth reading? I think for these 2 batches I'll just wait and see how they end up. I planned on waiting until around December for the first batch and February for batch 2.
The yeast using up all the sugars does not make a wine more acidic. It just makes it dry. Acidity is present in the grapes (or kit) when it starts fermentation. It is directly measured as TA, and indirectly measured as pH. I work exclusively with grapes, so my kit wine experience is very limited. However, the Syrah grapes I grow in our cool climate are always high in TA and measure low for pH. In other words, I work with high acid grapes. I find that I need to harvest based on pH because the sugars always get high enough and I have to wait for the acid to drop before I pick. I then ferment to dryness and put the wine through MLF. This will typically raise the pH and TA a bit because 1 Malic Acid molecule turns into 2 lactic acid molecules. But the wine tastes softer. To drop the acid further I cold stabilize the wine which will drop out some of the tartaric acid. Because there is now a lower ratio of tartaric acid to lactic acid, the wine tastes softer still. I NEVER add calcium or potassium carbonate because so much changes for the worse. Its like taking a hammer to your computer, it will never be quite right again. And of course patience is key. Allowing the wine to sit allows the acids to integrate and some of the more subtle aromas and flavors come to the front. The acid is a backbone and it will not stay the dominant characteristic for too long.
 

guarddog

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unbalanced wine

You con desolve more sugar in the wine or add grape consentrate to the wine
 

CabSauv

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The yeast using up all the sugars does not make a wine more acidic. It just makes it dry. Acidity is present in the grapes (or kit) when it starts fermentation. It is directly measured as TA, and indirectly measured as pH. I work exclusively with grapes, so my kit wine experience is very limited. However, the Syrah grapes I grow in our cool climate are always high in TA and measure low for pH. In other words, I work with high acid grapes. I find that I need to harvest based on pH because the sugars always get high enough and I have to wait for the acid to drop before I pick. I then ferment to dryness and put the wine through MLF. This will typically raise the pH and TA a bit because 1 Malic Acid molecule turns into 2 lactic acid molecules. But the wine tastes softer. To drop the acid further I cold stabilize the wine which will drop out some of the tartaric acid. Because there is now a lower ratio of tartaric acid to lactic acid, the wine tastes softer still. I NEVER add calcium or potassium carbonate because so much changes for the worse. Its like taking a hammer to your computer, it will never be quite right again. And of course patience is key. Allowing the wine to sit allows the acids to integrate and some of the more subtle aromas and flavors come to the front. The acid is a backbone and it will not stay the dominant characteristic for too long.
I'll be honest, I don't understand much of the second half of your post. I'm trying to follow along but I'm a beginner. While I won't try to challenge you, sweetness of the wine affects if you taste the acidity, does it not? A lemon and Coca Cola have the same pH yet one is sour/acidic and the other is sweet. That's what I meant about my wine, had I not let it get so dry the acidity wouldn't be so dominant, right? I meant that it was an indirect result. But, since I want a dry cab, I just need to let it age to finish properly.

EDIT: Also forgot to mention that I am curious on the cold stabilization and looked at that option but I don't have an available fridge or way to keep them cold. Right now they're in the coldest place in my house which is the basement and in the mid to low 60s.
 
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Arne

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Try drawing a little wine and add a little sugar to it. Taste it and maybe add a little more sugar if it needs it. If sweetening helps, make sure the ferment is done and stabilize the wine (add k-meta or campden tabs and potasium sorbate). After stabilizing you can sweeten the batch if you like. If you do not stabilize the wine and add sugar, you will most likely get a referment. Might take a while but any leftover yeasts will try and consume the sugar. If it gets bottled that way, you can have some suprises in store like corks blowing and big mess where the wine comes flying out. Arne.
 

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