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Old 08-18-2013, 08:44 PM   #31
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Day 3: Gravity down to 1.047, well on track. The must is losing its sweet grape juice character and is definitely more wine-like now. Still very aggressive bubbling and carbonation. It takes some diligent stirring and prodding to knock the gas out of the grapeskin bag so it will submerge. It never completely sinks, but I call it good when I can just see a little of the muslin bag at the surface of the wine.

The mass of the grapeskins is greatly diminished. When it went in initially it very much resembled a large fruit pie filling, in mass as well as consistency; very sticky with sugar and very little juice. It seems that most of this sugar is getting out into the wine as intended.

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Old 08-19-2013, 08:55 PM   #32
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Day 4: Down to 1.019! Lalvin EC-1118 is a beast! The must is running on the warmish side, about 77F vs. the recommended 72-75F range, not anything to worry about. There seems to be less gas in suspension; a few stirs of the paddle make it fizz like soda, but it drops flat pretty quickly.

Supposed to rack on day 7 if gravity is less than 1.010 - looks like there won't be a problem with that.

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Old 08-20-2013, 05:13 PM   #33
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Day 5: Down to 1.004!

Definitely tasting like wine now. The grape juice sweetness is all gone, and the oak is very noticeable.

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Old 08-21-2013, 04:38 PM   #34
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Day 6: Gravity is 0.998! This is the stated FG. No airlock activity but a lot of gas came up when I punched down the skins, but it falls flat pretty quick.

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Old 08-22-2013, 08:09 PM   #35
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Day 7: SG 0.997, first racking into carboy. Left most of the yeast and the oak powder in the bottom.

10 days to the next racking.

merlot-racking.jpg  
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Old 08-26-2013, 10:54 PM   #36
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Keep this thread going. I am primarily a beer brewer, with a few batches of cider under my belt, and would like to dabble in wine as well.

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Old 08-26-2013, 11:20 PM   #37
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Will do. Ferment is pretty much done at this point, wine is just sitting quietly in the carboy, hopefully clearing. Next racking will be probably Sunday or Monday next week, adding stabilizers and clarifiers.

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Old 08-27-2013, 12:25 AM   #38
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I have the same kit; I started mine in March. It is still clearing, but it looks delicious. I do not plan to bottle until after Christmas, I've got to many in the pipeline before then. Maybe we can compare. Notes next year!

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Old 09-01-2013, 08:23 PM   #39
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OK, 10 more days and a racking. I racked to my plastic primary, added the provided k-meta dissolved in a 1/4 cup of water and the packages of chitosan clarifier. Whipped it pretty hard in the bucket, then racked it back into the glass carboy and continued to whip it until no gas foamed out. Then I added the three bags of oak cubes. The oak is slightly toasted and has a very nice aroma.

With good racking and the volume added from the liquid chitosan and the 1/4 cup of water with the k-meta there was no need to top up. I'll break out a good Merlot for the next racking as I'll probably have to make up for volume lost in racking and absorbed by the oak.

A couple of notes - I bought a wine whip that has two little paddles like this, which tended to just make the wine whirlpool.



I'd recommend maybe getting one like this:



The paddles work, but you had to really slam it with the drill at high speed to get it to cavitate, then you had to sit and wait for it to stop whirlpooling. Pulse...wait...pulse...wait....It also tends to dance around and bend and ding off the sides kinda uncontrollably. It works, but I saw the 3-prong used on BrewingTV and it seems better and easier to use.

Also - if you don't have the luxury of 2 carboys and need to first rack into your plastic primary and then back into the cleaned carboy, you probably want to wait to add the chitosan until the wine is back in the glass carboy. The chitosan puts an electrical charge on all suspended solids and it appears that plastic attracts all these bits really well. It was a pain to clean out the fermenter and all my plastic racking equipment as you couldn't just rinse it, everything needed a wipedown. The good news is that chitosan appears to do a hell of a job clarifying.

Anyway, all looks good. It's definitely wine. 8 more days or so for a final racking, then 28 days or so to bottling.

merlot-stabilizing-clarification-001.jpg   merlot-stabilizing-clarification-002.jpg  
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Old 09-10-2013, 10:42 PM   #40
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According to the directions I was supposed to rack yesterday, but today was more convenient and I don't think an extra day is going to hurt anything. I pulled a nice sample today. It is surprisingly clear, and the color is very deep.

The taste is quite good. Right now it tastes pretty much like a good commercial Merlot, which might be an indicator that some of the stuff you see on the shelves of the store might be better with some ageing. The oak is definitely there but not overbearing, something I had worried about when I started the kit.

I'm going to finish dinner then do the final racking before bottling. I intend to let it age so, per the instructions, I am going to add additional metabisulfite (Campden tablets, 1 per gallon) when I rack it out of the carboy.

I will probably not bottle this in 28 days as the directions say is possible, but I'll probably wait until the Thanksgiving holiday (or perhaps even Christmas) when I have some time for a bottling session. From what I understand bulk ageing in the carboy is not harmful and is probably beneficial. If this is a bad idea, you wiser oenophiles have 28 days to talk me out of this idea.

tasting-001.jpg  
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