Cantina kits - use a different yeast?

Discussion in 'Wine & Cider Discussions' started by Rodj, Dec 2, 2018.

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  1. Dec 2, 2018 #1

    Rodj

    Rodj

    Rodj

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    Does anyone have any experience or thoughts about using a different (non-kit) yeast with Cantina kits?

    I have bought two Cantina 21-litre kits from a local HB shop, cut price (£20 each) because they are short-dated (end December 2018). The kits are Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz/Merlot.

    Cantina’s marketing propaganda says they have bred a particularly vigorous strain of yeast, so the kits will ferment out in 5 days. That’s what concerns me. Various posts suggest the “5 days” claim should be disregarded, a more realistic timescale being a couple of weeks, and this sounds more reasonable. Posts also suggest making the kits to about 19 litres rather than 21 litres, which I accept. However, how good is the yeast?

    Horticulturalists breed roses by repeatedly selecting for size and colour, with the result that they produce some beautiful large roses. However, the beautiful large roses have no scent, as it was not selected for and was consequently bred out of them. I suspect the same has probably happened with Cantina’s vigorous yeast: it has been selectively bred for vigour and speed of action, i.e. to convert sugar into alcohol, carbon dioxide and water as rapidly as possible, and has probably lost the ability to produce all the tiny amounts of more complex substances which give all the nuances of taste and scent to wine.

    Hence my question. My thoughts are to use Young’s general purpose wine yeast (because I have a good supply of it), or to buy a couple of sachets of more specific red wine yeasts.

    Does anyone have any comments, suggestions, or experience? Thanks.
     
  2. Dec 2, 2018 #2

    tonyhibbett

    tonyhibbett

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    A quick fermentation tends to drive out more of the volatile subtleties with the co2. However most of the 'damage' occurs when the grape juice is concentrated by prolonged heating, which is why the expensive kits contain some unconcentated juice and even grape skins, along with oak chips.
    Having said that, I tried their cabernet sauvignon which proved very popular. The renown character of cab sauv derives from the high tannin content which mellows into something special when matured in oak for long periods, followed by bottle ageing. So you would get a better result by adding tannin and oak chips at the outset and leaving it to mature in bulk with the oak chips and also a thin layer of yeast sediment. I estimate that these and similar kits work out at the equivalent of 40% grape juice, only some of which is pure varietal, the rest is sugar and water. As a result, they are deficient in body, tannin, acid and aroma.
    I was once fortunate to harvest 30 kilos of cabernet sauvignon grapes from a single large vine in Kent in early December. The resulting juice was part fermented with the skins, using the natural yeast present. The wine was matured in oak for a year and then bottled. Best red wine I ever made!
     
  3. Dec 3, 2018 #3

    Rodj

    Rodj

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    Thanks for that, Tony. A very useful response. I think I'll do as you suggest, with Young's GP yeast, tannin and oak chips and mature it in bulk, then bottle it and age it some more. Thanks again.
     
  4. Dec 4, 2018 #4

    tonyhibbett

    tonyhibbett

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    Another tip - for the merlot. You can get pure merlot juice from Waitrose at £1.60 a litre, 9£4.50 for 3). Add this to replace 1 litre of water to improve body and flavour.
    I went the whole hog and used it to make pure merlot.
     
  5. Dec 5, 2018 #5

    Rodj

    Rodj

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    Thanks for that. I might get three as they are cheaper. If I use one to replace one litre of water, what do you suggest with the other two: replace two more litres of water, or simply add them to increase the total volume by two litres?
     
  6. Dec 6, 2018 at 11:28 AM #6

    tonyhibbett

    tonyhibbett

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    Some people reduce the amount of added water by 2 litres to improve quality but you get less wine. You don't actually get 30 bottles of wine anyway because half of the volume of sugar gets lost as co2 and some wine is lost when racking. If you are getting 3 litres of juice, bear in mind that each contains 160 g of natural grape sugar. For best quality improvement and increased alcohol, use the other 2 to replace 2 more litres of water. As a compromise, you could add all 3 but reduce the water by 1.5 litres, giving you an extra bottle. I estimate that these kits comprise of 40% grape juice concentrate and 60% syrup.
     
  7. Dec 6, 2018 at 12:10 PM #7

    Rodj

    Rodj

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    Many thanks Tony.
     

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