Unimpressed with top line kits?

Discussion in 'Kit Winemaking' started by baron4406, May 23, 2019.

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  1. Jun 3, 2019 #41

    kuziwk

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    I just brought a bottle of Australian Cab Sav by vineco to a family dinner....it's the traditional vintage kit so their mid tier kit without skins. I used additional American oak cubes and additional tannin as I do with all my wine now...even with the kits with skins. When I served the wine, my dad wasn't paying attention and he just grabbed the first bottle which happend to be my wine bottle. Typically He will grab the commercial bottle over my wine as in his mind he believes if you pay alot for a bottle it should be good and it's scalable to what you spens. At any rate he said "hey that malbac is pretty good" (I had the old wine label on) and he liked it. Once I said that was the one I made, he said "well not bad for fruit juice I mean". He likes to joke about the wine I make.... In either case point is these kits make some decent bottles, my parents are experienced wine drinkers that drink some expensive stuff and even they like it and obviously didn't even know it was homemade. I think when we make our wines we are very critical, or perhaps have it engrained in our minds how the wine tasted when fermenting or very young. I think we need to appreciate these kits for what they are and the fact that we are making wines from around the world at very cheap prices.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2019
  2. Jun 4, 2019 #42

    joeswine

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    KK your correct, a decent bottle of wine at a decent price, more than that it's yours ,you put time and work in to the process.
    Keep thinking outside the box.
     
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  3. Jun 4, 2019 #43

    jsbeckton

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    Someone might have already mentioned this but it might be worth looking at aerating. Just yesterday I received a $15 one from Amazon that attaches right to the bottle and tried a side by side on a 2016 WE old vine Zinfandel. I was pleasantly surprised what a difference it made and am eager to try it on so others I have found kind of meh.
     
  4. Jun 4, 2019 #44

    tjgaul

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    I'll give some more Kudos to ceeaton. His Brunello (16L w/skins) inspired me to make the same kit. I just racked it at 11 months old and it's pretty darn good already. I've made the Eclipse Stag's Leap Merlot and Lodi OV Zin and both came out great. Yes, I tweaked them with extra oak and tannin complex & riche extra, but they had plenty of flavor on their own. The Merlot is 2 years old and the Zin is 18 months. Can't wait to see how these guys taste this time next year. Already re-ordered the Merlot to get the next batch going so it will have plenty of time to age properly. This time I plan to do an extended maceration and substitute BM4x4 for the standard EC-1118.

    Personally, I find the upper end kits to be worth the money if you have the patience to wait them out. I love being able to tweak the flavor to my personal taste. If a red kit doesn't seem to be living up to the standard then it gets the full treatment . . . homemade raspberry F-Pac, dark chocolate, tannins and oak. That'll put some flavor in it!
     
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  5. Jun 5, 2019 #45

    MiBor

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    Could you please elaborate on how you enhnce the flavor of a so-so wine? What additives and about how much do you add?
     
  6. Jun 5, 2019 #46

    joeswine

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    Have you read the thread, Tweaking cheap wine kits on this forum, that will give you a good base to work from.
    We're always hear to help
     
  7. Jun 6, 2019 #47

    kuziwk

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    He pretty much explained what he was adding, although I have never added chocolate to wine I have added black pepper to a really cheap cab sav. In my opinion the mid tier and high end kits just need tannin and possibly some oak since not all of them come with cubes. I don't spend less than $90-$100 CAD on a kit anymore though...which I think is considered mid tier. The wines I've served from the traditional vintage (vineco) line is in this neighborhood and they seem to impress alot of people, they are also cheap enough to give away as gifts. I find anything cheaper is just not worth the effort in making. I used to buy those costco Kits but can't stand them anymore and typically just use them for topping up just to get rid of them. There is only so much lipstick you can out on a pig.
     
  8. Jun 6, 2019 #48

    Lwrightjs

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    What's the difference between tannin complex and tannin riche?
     
  9. Jun 6, 2019 #49

    kuziwk

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    Tannin Riche is strictly a finishing tannin (several weeks before bottling), tannin complex is a cellaring/finishing tannin (use during the bulk aging process and up to bottling aswell). Really the main difference and according to the description tannin Riche imparts its own oak flavors and toasted flavors. Tannin complex is more nuetral and is strictly used to add bulk structure and astrigency to the wine. I have never tasted tannin Riche nor have I purchased it as I prefer to get my complexity from oak cubes...also I don't have a source in Canada that sells it in small bags. Tannin Riche is also pretty pricey. Tannin complex is not very bitter at all actually and tastes sort of like astrigent coffee or dark chocolate with a bit of oak. I typically use cheap chesnut tannin while fermenting and cellaring tannin while aging and before bottling.

    I'm not against using tannin Riche, however in my opinion and by my logic I would be selective of which wines to use it on otherwise you may find that all your wines taste more of the same (coconut and vanilla)...again according to the description. In that note since I can't imagine using a 2LB bag selectively in a few years I haven't bought it or tried it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2019
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  10. Jun 6, 2019 #50

    tjgaul

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    I probably go lighter than most on the tannins. I generally add 1 tsp of generic tannin powder to the primary as sacrificial tannin to be consumed in the fermentation, then I add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of complex at the first 3 month racking and 1/4 tsp of riche extra at the next racking (per 6 gal carboy). Oak additions are highly variable depending on taste tests along the way, but a typical dose would be 2 oz. cubes and 1/2 spiral at the first racking out of primary and then additional 1 oz. cubes at each racking afterward until I achieve the flavor I'm looking for. Since I'm aging a year or more in the carboy I have multiple opportunities to evaluate the oak and adjust. Normally, the oak is where I want it at 6 months. It's okay if it's a little bold at 6-9 months because it seems to integrate over time. Plus, I like some oak and it's MY WINE!

    For the F-pac I saute a couple cups of berry mix (red & black raspberries with some wild grapes - gathered on my property) in a basic red wine with some sugar added, volume depends on the wine - I like reds dry to off-dry, not sweet so typically 1/2 cup of sugar or less (I generally sorbate if using F-pac). I'll run 2 cubes of dark unsweetened bakers chocolate over the grater and sometimes throw in 1/3 - 1/2 of a vanilla bean (pricey).

    I did a real cheap Merlot kit this way and it came out pretty good, especially at less than $2.50 per bottle even with the additions. I also give my homemade "port" wines this treatment. I have a Nebbiolo kit that I split in half at 6 months. I bottled half and aged the rest to 12 months before deciding to give the 2nd half the treatment. Just racked the treated 3 gallons and it's much better than the early bottling.

    A word of warning. IMHO . . . . raspberries in primary give a much different impact on the wine (tartness) than when added later as an F-pac. I don't put raspberries in the primary anymore, except for Dragon Blood.

    Hope this helps. Would love to hear alternatives to my method.
     
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  11. Jun 7, 2019 #51

    MiBor

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    Thank you @tjgaul. I've been looking for ways to enhance the taste of my wines and you pointed me in the right direction. I like going easy on the oak because someone in my household gets headaches after drinking my wines, if I use too much of it. Usually 1/2 spiral is all that I can get away with. The F-pac is something new to me, since I never made a fortified wine. I ought to do more reading on the other threads on the subject. I like getting as much info as I can before doing something that can potentially greatly enhance or ruin my wine.
     
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  12. Jun 7, 2019 #52

    kuziwk

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    I believe the headaches are due to tannins and histamine in red wine. There are some on the forum here that don't add additional tannin as they claim it's a source of headaches for them. That said you do get some tannin from oak. Do they get headaches from Chardonnay which is mostly oaked? I don't add nearly as much oak as mentioned above, typically I add about 50g of cubes during aging and 30g - 60g chips during fermentation. I find much more oak than some cubes during aging overpowers the nuances of the grapes...it depends on the grapes of course but I find it's easier to over oak wine than adding too much tannin. I typically use 1 tablespoon in the primary and 1tsp while aging for cheap wines...a little less for the 16l kits with skins. 1-2 tsp in kits with skins while aging only.
     
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2019
  13. Jun 17, 2019 #53

    MiBor

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    I know that the headaches some people get after drinking wine can have a variety of causes (not including the hangover after getting smashed the night before). I used the process of elimination and figured out that the person I'm talking about gets headaches from most commercial wines, both reds and whites, and from homemade reds that I treat with more than about 50g of oak or 1/2 tsp of tannin after fermentation. I'm starting to believe that also sodium sorbate and sodium metabisulfite may have a role in this as well (I use the potassium sorbate and meta). That's why I was looking for a way to enhance flavor, without adding more tannin or oak to my wine.
    I've decided to give a try to the f-pack that Tim described in his post. I also have a weak tasting Pinot Grigio from a kit that I'm going to treat with an f-pack made out of pears and nectarines. I'll report my findings when I reach a conclusion. If anyone has any experience with flavoring dry white wines, please chime in.
     
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  14. Jun 17, 2019 #54

    joeswine

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    Have you read making an fpac on this forum?
     
  15. Jun 18, 2019 #55

    MiBor

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    Yes, I have. I understand the basics explained in the document uploaded to that thread and I will follow them.
    But what I was really looking for was a detailed recipe that somebody tried and had good results with. So far, the only post I found like that was Tim's (#50), in this thread. Everything else I looked at in the other threads is general info and guidance. If you know of other posts like Tim's #50 in any of the other threads, please point me in the right direction.
     
  16. Jun 18, 2019 #56

    joeswine

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    Do you understand the difference between adding an fpac to the primary as oppose to adding it to the secondary?
    I'm trying to understand your question , if you have the basics then all you need to do is try.
     
  17. Jun 18, 2019 #57

    Kantuckid

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    While I've not made nearly as much wine as your 30-40 buckets-Why would you make that many to such a poor result? Seriously, maybe just not make wine that way or buy store wine? I really don't understand on a logical note.
     
  18. Jun 19, 2019 #58

    Bill McNab

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    We get so excited about making wine, so when juice comes available we forget that most juice gets watered down.
    Essentially we have poor memories and forget about our dissapointments .

    I agree with juice buckets being last, all on their own.
    The only success I have had with juice is when we make a trip th o Canada where we used to live, near Niagera Falls.
    My grape supplier of 30 years foes not water his juice. Watsons Barrels is his grape farm, check out his web page.
    Unfortunately it's not always a trip we can make.
    Last year I bought Chilean juice, never again, after 1 year it's mostly tasteless.
     
  19. Jun 23, 2019 #59

    baron4406

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    Thats actually easy. It was red wine so the time from making it to drinking it was 2 years. Well in that time I also made wine a bunch of different ways and I'm here to tell you juice buckets are downright horrible unless you manipulate the heck out of them...........and why bother doing it with a heavy bucket you can only get twice a year? Kits are easier and according to many taste tastes have much better flavor. I agree totally Bill. I'm going north this fall too, gonna try grapes from Wilkerson's.
     
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  20. Jul 9, 2019 #60

    CabSauv

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    Not that my opinion matters here much compared to the great wisdom of these experienced winemakers but I agree that it's the lack of tannin, at least that's what it is for me. Now I've only done 2 beginner level kits and just started my first kit with skins, but I personally found my beginner kits to be severely lacking tannin until I doctored them. I had to double the oak chip pouch that came with the kit in primary fermentation, used cubes for months as it aged in the carboy, and even added tannin powder to get it where I wanted it. So I think the recommendation of oak barrels and tannin is what you're missing out on. The other thing might be the buttery mouth feel, but I think that involves MLF which is out of my league and I'm not even sure if it's really recommended with kits. Maybe you need to go to crushing your own grapes and get away from the kits?
     

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