This batch was made from a kit of Winexpert Selection International Series: Italian Montepulciano ($124) and a $6 bag of Hungarian Oak Cubes with “House Toast” (I’m guessing it’s a lighter toast than “Medium”).

After tasting a good result from soaking oak cubes in the recent Cabernet Franc vintage I’ve decided that every red wine kit should use these soaking cubes. The “sawdust” that comes with some of these kits is just not sufficient. I think the kit makers put too much of an emphasis on quick production. They could just as easily include a bag of these oak cubes and have a better result (in my mind). I’m even starting to think that I should use the oak cubes on every batch of wine I make.

Status Date Specific Gravity Fluid Temp. Air Temp.
Primary Fermentation 2010-10-03 PM 1.080 70°F 70°F
Secondary Fermentation 2010-10-08 AM
Clearing 2010-10-19 PM
Second Clearing 2010-11-15 PM
Tertiary Clearing 2011-01-22
Bottling 2011-02-13

Primary Fermentation

Business as usual except for using a yeast starter rather than just sprinkling the active dry yeast packet across the top of the must. I didn’t start the yeast starter as far ahead of assembling the must this time, but even this limited head-start provided a faster fermentation.

Secondary Fermentation

As of this racking it seems like the fermentation is mostly complete. These kits always seem to finish early.


Spent more than twenty minutes trying to stir all of the carbon dioxide bubbles out of the wine. They never seem to stop coming to the surface, so I just stop when I get tired. I added the clearing materials provided with the kit during this stirring. I ended up having about 4 cups of wine extra after making room for the oak cubes. It was a good opportunity for a taste test and I am quite pleased. This and the Cab Franc both seem to have more depth and character than their less expensive brethren that I worked with previously.

Secondary Clearing

Racked the wine off of some pretty thick and deep purple lees into a fresh carboy. Stirred the wine vigorously on and off for 20 minutes to evacuate any dissolved carbon dioxide. Re-added the oak cubes after rinsing them off. Topped up the carboy with fresh water.


2011-01-14: Did a taste test and, though decent, I wanted to try to make the wine better. It tasted thin so I added the recommended quantity of grape tannin. This might be a huge no-no, but I’m speculating that the tannin will improve this wine after a few months of aging in the bottle. Will do another taste test in two weeks.

2011-01-22: Racked wine.