First wine kit

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Seamonkey84

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After making several fruit wines and meads, I decided I wanted to make some Cabernet since thats all I’ve been buying. I got a Cellar Craft sterling California Cabernet. Of course I’m not going to follow the timeframe outlined in the instructions, and I won’t be using the clarifying agents besides the Bentonite. I see that the nutrients have already been mixed in as well, so I guess I won’t be doing any SNA.
I’ve read a few suggestions of making it a 5gal batch instead of 6. I may split the kit and make half close to the instructions, while playing around with the other half. It came with medium and heavy french oak chips to throw into primary, should I try something different? Different yeast? Maybe turn half the batch into a pyment? Blend some black currant in? Any suggested alterations to the kit?
 

RPh_Guy

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I recently made a Pinot Noir from a cheap kit. It came out really well.

  • I followed the instructions for reconstitution to 6 gal and it came to 1.085 if memory serves, which is plenty high enough for me. (It finished at 12.7% ABV, FG 0.993)
  • I used RO purified water so as not to add a bunch of minerals and alkalinity.
  • I aerated thoroughly with my Vortex stir tool.
  • I used RC-212 yeast, rehydrated at the proper temperature using Go-Ferm and then attemporated. Great yeast, check it out.
  • I fermented at a controlled wine temp of 74-75°F
  • I used SNA with Fermaid O. There was still some H2S production, so I would definitely recommend SNA.
  • Along with that I added a slightly lower amount of bentonite, and I added it after the lag/growth phase.
  • I degassed & aerated it daily for several days.
  • It finished fairly quickly but I left it in primary for several weeks, leaving it closed/sealed air tight and swirling occasionally.
  • I then racked to a 5gal secondary filled to the very top. I used the included finings kieselsol & chitosan, with the chitosan added after 24 hours.
  • I added way less sulfite than the kit recommended (and I threw their packet away since I didn't know how old it was), and I based the amount on pH and my low aeration process.
  • I degassed it a little, very gently to minimize aeration. The CO2 was pretty much gone anyway because of the Bentonite in primary and I had swirled the carboy a lot (keeping it closed).
  • I added 2oz of Stavin medium toast French oak cubes. I love their product; it's toasted and then cut so you can get the whole spectrum of flavor. I added the cubes without soaking or boiling them.
  • It was in secondary for only 8-9 days when it reached a good level of oak character - wood, vanilla, coconut, & cinnamon/spice.
  • The kit came with sorbate but I laughed and threw that away.
  • TA was fine and acidity level tasted good so I didn't adjust the acid.
  • At that point it was ready for bottling and it's immediately pleasant and drinkable without any aging. !!

I tasted the must and wine at all points in the process. In agreement with other sources, I believe the finings did not strip any desirable flavors (I'm a super taster).

Hope this helps. I believe these methods are all sound and they produced a wine quickly (under 2 months) with no off flavors or oxidation.

If you want to experiment half and half, there's no harm in that. I really enjoy quality grape wines so personally I didn't feel the need to add any adjuncts or flavors.

Cheers
 
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Seamonkey84

Seamonkey84

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Yea, I was thinking about switching yeast at least, it came with E.C.-1118. I was planing on doing my daily degassing, and I have goferm, Fermaid K and O. Part of me wants to do a batch as directed (prob with RC-212), and make a pyment BOMM out of the rest hehe.
 

Bubbles2

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I'd try the split batch but with only one deviation so you know what is what when it come to influence. I'd be inclined to only use a different yeast. This way you know the "value" of the juice sent.
I like the Red Star "formerly known as Montrachet compared to the Champagne 1118 with grapes. I have about 20 gallons going now of different fruits and grapes, (end of summer harvest) hence me noting the yeast. The 1118 is great with my Guava, and the Côte des blanc I think it is with the Pear Fig I got going now.
 

bernardsmith

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I suspect that the yeast the kit includes is provided as the yeast with the least likelihood to produce any problems for those who have never made a wine but that yeast is the yeast that is also most likely to result in the least noticeable flavor characteristics of any yeast. For the cost of wine yeast I would replace the yeast you got with a yeast strain the spec sheets for the yeast suggest best suits the varietal of grape.
 
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Seamonkey84

Seamonkey84

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Yea, the kit companies try to make these as user friendly as possible for the beginners, hence the “bullet proof” ec1118. So far I’m leaning towards RC-212 and 71B. Not sure if I want to use the included wood chips in primary, or use Xoakers I just got in secondary.
I also have decided I’m indeed going to do at least a gallon, if not half the batch, as a Pyment BOMM (using wyeast 1388). Not sure how I would account for what they already added to the juice mix. I’ve read that kits are supposed to be ph buffered already, so maybe just skip the potassium bicarbonate addition?
 
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