RJ Spagnols Vino del Vida Merlot (Noob, First Kit)

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MRM

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Hi all, new here as you can tell. This is our first attempt at kit wine making and everything is going well I hope. The beginning SG was spot on according to directions. Primary fermentation only 1 week. Instructions said 2 weeks but the SG was right and no sign of fermentation. Temperature in this period 78 degrees. Siphoned into carboy, cleaned primary, moved wine back to primary, degassed, added sulfites and clearing agents per instructions and siphoned back to carboy.
First question. in less than 2 hours after moving to carboy there was already about 1" of sediment formed on bottom. I wish I had know there would have been that much sediment so soon and I would have left the wine in the primary for a few hours before racking to carboy. Would this have been OK?

Now the wine has been in the carboy for 2 weeks. Using a wine thief and getting sample to look at it seems to be clear. The instruction said 4 weeks at this stage so I will wait the four weeks before bottling. The wine taste harsh at this point as expected. Temperature 72-74 degrees. Best I can do.
Second question. How long should this wine age in the bottle? Minimum and Maximum time.

Third Question? Looking to start another kit soon as I have 2 carboys. any suggestions for a RJ kit in white that would do well for a beginner.
 

Dugger

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MRM - first of all, welcome to the forum - this is a great site to share knowledge and experiences - very entertaining at times as well!!
Most RJS kits, like yours, use a complete fermentation in the bucket process ( some kits use a partial ferment in the bucket and completion of fermentation in the carboy) so it's important not to rush your transfer to the carboy, even if the SG readings are met. Some additives such as oak, berries, etc, need the contact time in the bucket to do their thing. In your case it is probably just oak, so you will be okay and shorter oak exposure means it should be drinkable earlier, which is good, this being your first kit!
Don't worry about the sediment in your carboy, this is normal. You probably have less than an inch - the sediment tends to stick to the sides and appears to be much deeper than it really is.
Checking clarity of red wine is not always easy - most times you can shine a light behind the carboy and if you can see the light clearly through the wine it is clear. If it is extremely dark, take a sample, as you have done, and hold it up to the light to check ( which you probably have done).
It's important to top up the carboy once you have stabilized, to prevent over exposure to air in the carboy. If you haven't topped up, do so right away. Most people top up with a like wine - if you don't have some, you can buy a cheap wine ( any red will do) - these kits are designed to allow a top up of water ( about 700 mls) but most are reluctant to water down their wine - this is your choice.
For aging, I think they recommend minimum 3 months or so - 6 months is better. For maximums, I would suggest 2 years, although this is subjective and depends on corking and storage conditions. If you feel you may want to keep some bottles for more than,say, a year, you should add a quarter teaspoon of potassium metabisulphite to your carboy before bottling. Since this is your first kit, it probably won't last long! Try to save a few bottles to note how the wine changes over time.
A white wine? That depends on what you like - dry or sweet, fruity or grassy. What type of wine would you generally buy for a white?
Good luck - sorry for the long post!!
 

MRM

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Dugger,
Thanks for the long reply!! Very informative. I'm glad I found this forum.
I was wanting to try a white wine because I have read they are ready to drink sooner. and we have friends who only drink white wine (Pinot Gris maybe?). My wife and I have only bought red wines, however, both of us do not like a sweet wine so we would be looking for a dry-ish white. Years ago I used to drink a little Liebfraumilch wine and remember it to be Ok. Since we are beginners and learning maybe a kit that is "forgiving" of beginners mistakes would be the most important factor at this point. By the way, we did not chose Vino del Vida Merlot, we only specified "merlot" when we ordered the "complete" kit that included bucket carboy etc. so I am not stictly look for a RJS kit but since I have one I am familiar with the instructions etc.
 
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