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CBBaron

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I just received a Wine Expert Reserve Mezza Luna Red kit. This is described as a very full bodied dry red wine. The kit included some ingredients I was surprised about.
1. First was Ksorbate. I thought sorbate was only used to stabilize wines that would be back sweetened. This wine should finish dry and there is no back sweetening. Is the sorbate really needed?
2. Next it includes a fining agent called Chitosan. It is a good sized packet of clear liquid. If I allow this to bulk age in the carboy is the fining agent needed?
3. It has 2 packets labeled oak wood chips. Is it common to oak dry red wines?
4. There is a packet labeled Bentonite. I don't see this product talked about much with any wine making literature I have read so far. What is the purpose and is it needed.

I bought this kit to hopefully make a good wine and learn about the process. So I'm hoping experts here can help me with understanding why the kit instructs you to do what it does. A local winery sells fresh juice during the season for home vintners and I may be interested in attempting a batch on my own if I feel I understand the process.

Thanks for your help

Craig
 

smurfe

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Follow the directions and use everything that came with the kit. Sorbate is an insurance package to assure fermentation will not occur particularly after bottling. We bottle kits much sooner than a winery would.

Use the Chitosan to clear your wine even if bulk aging. I never consider mine actually bulk aging until the wine is clear and no longer sitting on any lees.

Oak chips are quite common in almost every red kit. The oak adds tannins and body to the wine. It is a flavor preference most prefer. I have made a couple reds that were not oaked and have been mildly disappointed. They seemed thin to me.

Bentonite strips large proteins from your wine and aids in clearing. There are some that refuse to use it but the small amounts offered in the kits will impart no off tastes to the wine.

You could make a kit without these ingredients but it will take much longer to complete and you will have many rackings to clear the wine and hence probably loose a significant volume to these rackings. These kits have been scientifically studied and formulated to produce an enjoyable wine in a shorter time frame than from scratch with much less effort or winemaking knowledge. You have picked a fine kit to make. Follow the directions, learn, and enjoy and of course ask all the questions you want here.
 

CBBaron

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Smurfe,
Thanks for your help. You really answered my questions fully and clearly. I'll follow the directions.

Craig
 

smurfe

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Glad you found that article as that was the exact info I was trying to remember. That author is one of the main brains behind the science of your Wine Expert kits. I was fortunate enough to meet him last year at Winestock and he was the key speaker and covered the information that article extensively as well as all the other science behind wine kits. He is also a great guy and very funny. You won't find anyone that knows more about a kit wine than Tim.
 

cpfan

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Craig:

First, I agree with everything that smurfe said. In particular, inexperienced wine makers should follow the kit directions exactly with the exception of time frames. Don't be afraid to stretch the time frames once it is in the carboy.

As a general statement, wine making books & some of the wine making sites are about making wines from fruit not from kits. In particular they are not up-to-date with the best procedures of modern kits.

Steve
 

CBBaron

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One thing I've learned from brewing beer is not to try to rush fermentation. So I didn't try to rush my wine kit. After 9 days in the primary instead of the 7 days the instructions call for I transfered to a 6gal carboy. However my SG was already 0.996. The instructions seem to suggest that the wine should still be above 1.000 at this point and that the kit I am making (Mezza Luna Red) would not go below 0.998.
Should I change anything in how I handle this wine since it will not be fermenting in the carboy? Should I add the stabilizer and or clarifying agents earlier to prevent oxidation? Or should I just leave it rest for the suggested 10days (or longer) and stop worrying?
My gut feeling is to stop worrying and leave it sit but I wanted someone with more experience to give me their opinions.

Thanks
Craig
 

cpfan

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Craig;

Go with your gut. My earlier comment was "Don't be afraid to stretch the time frames once it is in the carboy". So I will state what may not be obvious...don't shrink the time frames. Patience is a winemakers best friend, once the wine is properly in a carboy.

I haven't made the Mezza Luna, and probably won't because BIG REDs aren't our wine, but I have heard MANY MANY positive comments about it. So plan to really enjoy this wine in a few months.

Steve
 

CBBaron

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Steve,
Thanks, I plan on not touching this until at least Christmas and trying to save most of it until next year. It looked pretty good last night when I racked it I just wanted to make sure I didn't screw it up. I'll give it a couple weeks then add the stabilizer and clarifier and then leave it for a month or so before bottling. I intend to add 6 Campden tablets to the wine before bottling which is what I understand to be the recommendation if you are going to let it age for a while.
Craig
 

cpfan

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Steve,
I intend to add 6 Campden tablets to the wine before bottling which is what I understand to be the recommendation if you are going to let it age for a while.
Craig
DO NOT DO THAT.

I am not in the habit of adding extra K-meta to my wines, so I'm not positive what the recommended range is, but I think 6 tablets is WAY TOO MUCH.

I have the WE Selection LE instructions in front of me. They say 1/4 tsp K-meta added to the batch.

Steve
 

smurfe

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1/4 teaspoon for a 23 liter / 6 US gallon kit is the recommended addition of extra K-Meta if any extra is added. That is the powder and not just a 1/4 tsp of crushed tablets. I'd have to find my chart to calculate the dose using tablets. You do add 1 tablet per gallon for a fresh juice wine though. Kits are pasteurized and concentrated and do not require as much sulfite's though.
 

CBBaron

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Thanks for your reply. I thought I was supposed to add one tablet per gallon a day to two before bottling to prevent oxidation with long term storage. From some online sources it appears that it takes 10 tablets to make 1 teaspoon. So adding 1 per gallon would be equivalent to adding 1/10 tsp per gallon. 6 would be .6 tsp. So it looks like I need 2.5 tablets to match your recommended 1/4tsp. Would 3 tablets be too much or should I just go with 2?

Craig
 

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