Winexpert Super Tuscan: Any improvements?

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Mekpdue

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We do like the Winexpert Super Tuscan (Private Reserve), it is dry, fruity, and nicely rounded. Better than many higher end kits. That said, when put in the fermentation bucket this weekend, the Specific Gravity was a little low (1.072-which falls outside the recommended SG readings from Winexpert), so I added around 2 lbs of sugar to bring it up to 1.090 SG (within range). I didn't want to raise it much more due to my desire to keep as close to the manufacturers recipe as possible on SG.

That said, I am wondering 2 things:
1) Has anyone been creative with this kit and 'improved' on the recipe by adding any new ingredients, extending or reducing any fermentation/racking times, or any other ideas? I was thinking about extending the bulk aging process by a couple of months in the carboy....but bottle aging is recommended by Winexpert.

2) How high will the 'cap' grow (yes, the grape skins are bound in the muslin bag)? With the 6 gallons of juice, and skins, it looks tight for a bubble rise in my 7.9 gal Fermentation bucket. As info, I am just sitting the lid on the bucket and am not using the airlock until maybe day 7, when I'll close it up and add the airlock after most of the primary fermentation has completed.

Thanks, all.
 

Brooothru

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We do like the Winexpert Super Tuscan (Private Reserve), it is dry, fruity, and nicely rounded. Better than many higher end kits. That said, when put in the fermentation bucket this weekend, the Specific Gravity was a little low (1.072-which falls outside the recommended SG readings from Winexpert), so I added around 2 lbs of sugar to bring it up to 1.090 SG (within range). I didn't want to raise it much more due to my desire to keep as close to the manufacturers recipe as possible on SG.

That said, I am wondering 2 things:
1) Has anyone been creative with this kit and 'improved' on the recipe by adding any new ingredients, extending or reducing any fermentation/racking times, or any other ideas? I was thinking about extending the bulk aging process by a couple of months in the carboy....but bottle aging is recommended by Winexpert.

2) How high will the 'cap' grow (yes, the grape skins are bound in the muslin bag)? With the 6 gallons of juice, and skins, it looks tight for a bubble rise in my 7.9 gal Fermentation bucket. As info, I am just sitting the lid on the bucket and am not using the airlock until maybe day 7, when I'll close it up and add the airlock after most of the primary fermentation has completed.

Thanks, all.
Couple of thoughts.

1.072 SG seems really low. Are you sure the measurement was accurate? Two pounds of sugar seems like a large amount to chaptilize. What was your OG after adding sugar? Did you measure OG before or after adding the supplemental grape skins? Also, was this one of the new format kits (14L?)

I've done this same kit a number of times and it always comes out very nice. The lowest, by far, OG was around 1.084. I reconstitute the must to achieve volume rather than worry about OG, and the wine always comes out good with ABV anywhere from 11.5% to 13.5%. Take whatever fermentables the grapes give you and don't worry so much about ABV.

I let "primary" fermentation go to completion, usually 2~4 weeks, looking for FG around 0.994 +/- 0.002 points. Then stabilize and clarify 1 to 2 weeks, rack to a carboy, add 1/4 tsp NaMeta and an oak spirals of your choice. Cap it with an airlock and bulk age for up to 12 months, sampling occasionally and checking water levels in the airlock frequently. When you're happy with the flavor (but no sooner than 2~3 months), bottle and cork, then bottle age for at least 2 months. THEN, enjoy the fruits of you labor and patience. Rome wasn't built in a day, and quality Italian wines weren't vinted in 8 weeks!

If you really like the Super Tuscan style wines, you owe it to yourself to try the RJS Rosso Grande kit. There are two "quality levels" that RJS offers, and the En Premier kit is definitely better (and of course more expensive). It's equally as good as the Winexpert offering, which is to say, they're both great.
 
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Mekpdue

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Afternoon, Broo Brother. Yes, I thought that was an odd reading too. I stirred, then got busy and took the reading a few minutes later after my mix with the skins in the container. 1.072. I left it alone for about 5 hours and then took the measurement again. It was the same, after stirring. I got a little alarmed, so I added just short of 2 cups (.8 lb) of juice and sugar syrup (cooled to room temp +2deg). Stirred and got 1.080 SG. I didn't feel safe being on the low side of Gravity/Brix, so I added 2 more cups dissolved. This brought it to 1.090, where I stopped. 1.072 was the lowest reading in my short home winery career. It is now proceeding nicely with the yeast starting to reproduce and chomp away at the sugar. I'm not playing with the must anymore as I don't want to overpower the wines characteristics. I must have measured over 6 times.

Thanks for the hint on the Oak Chips. I may just use their Oak Cubes (French) in the stabilization phase. Placing Oak in the aging carboy is interesting, as I thought Oak in with wine for several months was going to affect (negatively) the flavor, as it is a small size (6 gallons)?

As for the RJS wine kits, I would like to make one of their En Primeur kits...I was torn on the Rosso Grande or the Amorone. With your suggestion, I'll likely go with the Rosso. Thank you! And as a perk, the price is $20 cheaper than the Winexpert! Yes, both more expensive than the base kits, but worth it to me!
 

Brooothru

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Afternoon, Broo Brother. Yes, I thought that was an odd reading too. I stirred, then got busy and took the reading a few minutes later after my mix with the skins in the container. 1.072. I left it alone for about 5 hours and then took the measurement again. It was the same, after stirring. I got a little alarmed, so I added just short of 2 cups (.8 lb) of juice and sugar syrup (cooled to room temp +2deg). Stirred and got 1.080 SG. I didn't feel safe being on the low side of Gravity/Brix, so I added 2 more cups dissolved. This brought it to 1.090, where I stopped. 1.072 was the lowest reading in my short home winery career. It is now proceeding nicely with the yeast starting to reproduce and chomp away at the sugar. I'm not playing with the must anymore as I don't want to overpower the wines characteristics. I must have measured over 6 times.

Thanks for the hint on the Oak Chips. I may just use their Oak Cubes (French) in the stabilization phase. Placing Oak in the aging carboy is interesting, as I thought Oak in with wine for several months was going to affect (negatively) the flavor, as it is a small size (6 gallons)?

As for the RJS wine kits, I would like to make one of their En Primeur kits...I was torn on the Rosso Grande or the Amorone. With your suggestion, I'll likely go with the Rosso. Thank you! And as a perk, the price is $20 cheaper than the Winexpert! Yes, both more expensive than the base kits, but worth it to me!
That Amarone is a very nice kit as well. I'm a real sucker for Italian wines available in kit form, as well as Aussie and NZ ones though the ones from 'Down Under are getting scarce due to wild fires and drought. So far Oregon, Cali and Wash. State offerings appear stable, but for how long? Prices are sure to go up at some point. Most of the U.S. West Coast kits make some very nice, approachable wines at a very reasonable (though not inexpensive) price point, especially the higher end kits.
 
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