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Use of Grape Skins in Fermentation

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FrontenacMan

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Hi All,
Back again this year in this forum having just picked and crushed grapes - about three gallons each of Frontenac and Frontenac Gris. Not much this year I know but it gives me enough to keep it interesting. The rest of the year I get kits (maybe a juice pail from Chile next spring). Having made so many mistakes last year I want to make some corrections this year. One mistake I think I made last year was with the crushed grape skins. Last year I just included them in with the juice during fermentation in a mesh bag. I'm getting ready to start fermentation and I'm not sure if having the grape seeds included in the must is a good idea. I thought maybe it contributed to a "green taste" in the end. I know that grape stems are certainly a no no and thus the reason for destemming but I'm wondering about seeds which are also a woody part of the grape. Any advice on this? I've also seen discussions on cold soaking and maceration and its effect on color and body. Thoughts on that are also appreciated. Thanks!
 

salcoco

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if the seeds have not been crushed you should be okay. seeds add tannin along with the grape skins. if you experienced a green taste last year , which I assume you mean a grassy taste the grapes may not have been ripe enough to ferment thus the off flavor. use good yeast hydration techniques and yeast nutrient and wine should come out pretty good. donot forget to punch down at least once per day.
 

jgmillr1

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The seeds are fine and are typically left in during the skin fermentation. You won't be leaving the wine on the skins for a long enough time for it to make a difference. A few days is enough to extract all the color you can without over-extracting any hybrid flavors. Frontenac is very pigmented, unlike Pinot Noir, so a cold soak is not necessary. I made a Frontenac rose last year (or at least attempted to) and left it on the skins only long enough to get from the crusher to the press. The 1 hour of skin contact was enough to make the wine dark enough it was difficult to see through.

I like to add some granular oak to the must during fermentation as a hedge against green vegetative flavors.
 

FrontenacMan

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Thanks for your feedback. It eases my mind that it won't be a mistake to keep the seeds in the must. Yes, last year I picked the grapes too soon, another mistake I made. This year I got a refractometer and tested brix. I'm at 24 on my Frontenac and 23 on my Gris and my pH is surprisingly good at about 3.5. And I did get some medium toast french oak chips for my Frontenac. I'm hoping it will turn out well.
One more question. I have the juice in a pail right now ready to ferment and the skins in gallon zip lock bags in the fridge. The juice is starting to fizz a bit. Should I drop in a little MetaK to kill off the wild yeast and then how long should I wait if at all before I inoculate?
 

salcoco

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I would add the skins to the juice and hydrate a yeast and inoculate. the cultured yeast will take over.

I would recommend your next wine just crush grapes with a destemmer/crusher, it will separate out the stems , retain the skins with the juice for better color extraction and tannin addition.
 

FrontenacMan

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Thanks. I (and my wife) actually destem by hand :h. Takes us a half day and a bottle of wine. It's good therapy. And then I crush and juice with a little fruit press. Then skins go into a mesh bag with juice and I inoculate. I press out the mesh bag after primary.
 
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