Cutting back on the Water
Every so often, we are questioned on the idea of cutting back on the amount of water added to the wine kit in order to increase the body. We do not endorse nor recommend this. Why? Tim Vandergrift, Winexpert’s Technical Manager answers this issue quite well.
The problem with this sort of manipulation is that it makes rough, unbalanced wine, with plenty of power but no finesse or elegance. The finished wine takes a very long time to age to drinkability, and few people can manage more than a couple of glasses before the acidity and tannins catch up with them.
By deleting 20 percent of the volume of the kit, you increase the acidity, tannin and total solids by 20 percent. Yes, this makes a strong wine, but think of making frozen concentrated orange juice. Does leaving out half the water make better orange juice, or just thicker, sweeter, stronger juice?
There are other considerations as well. The wine will take longer to ferment, and may not clear well. Some kits with high specific gravity (typically ones that emulate styles such as Amarone or “big” Chardonnay) already start with a specific gravity in excess of 1.100. Failing to dilute them correctly will give them a starting specific gravity so high that they will quit fermenting with several percent residual sugar remaining, resulting in hot, sweet wine – not everyone’s cup of tea.
People who are attracted to this technique would be better served by using a higher-quality kit instead. The juice-concentrate six week kits contain single-strength grape juice and very flavourful concentrates. Smaller kits (those that contain more concentrate and less fresh juice) make good wine, but tend to express less character. The big kits cost more money, but when you consider that you are getting nearly 25 percent more wine – making the full 23L you get 29 or 30 bottles, compared to 24 or 25 bottles from 19 L, the difference, particularly the difference per bottle, is very low.