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Brewer thinking of trying wine

So I have a NB beer brewing kit and have been really enjoying brewing. My wife however likes wine so I was thinking of trying to make wine. My question is what additional equipment would I need in addition to what I already have from brewing? I have primary and secondary carboys and small batch bottles, hydrometer and all the various siphons, hoses, airlocks, etc. Looking at the wine starter kit they look very similar but not sure if I’m missing any items. Thoughts?

Ok clearly need a corker and corks…what’s the big spoon for and what is the thing that looks like a stick with a string on the end?

Big spoon is for stirring. The stick & string sounds like a stirrer to put on a drill for de-gassing…an important step before bottling (probably the hardest part of making a wine kit). Assuming you will use wine ingredient kits, you will be dealing with 6 gallons, which may be too much for your fermenters.

Read up on some kit instructions here: http://www.winexpert.com/kit-instructions

Other than a corker you won’t really need much else.

All wine kits are measured in Canadian gallons (5) so make a full 23l of wine. BUT they ferment differently than beer and don’t need as much head space for krausen and gas etc. So for most kits without skins the smaller 24l pails can be used - you might start them with a little less volume and top up your secondary with a littre or two of water later.

It is more ideal to use the full 30l pail, which is standard here in Canada for beer and wine, but may not be as common where you are. If you want to make a big red wine with skins this is what you would need.

I’d agree the larger 30L pail is preferable, particularly for the mentioned reds wines that come with skins. Been brewing longer and more frequently than I’ve done wines but I started doing a bunch of kits with a friend that we then split. From kits wine making is way easy, I literally laughed at how easy it was when I started.

Only other thing I’d add after only being into making wine kits for a few years, in my opinion stick with the premium wine kits. Some of the cheaper kits are fine but at least for me given the time invested in cellaring the wine for the proper amount of time it seems well worth it to pay more for the wine kit than wait all that time and have a wine that at its peak won’t be as good as it could have been if some extra money had been spent up front. We are now only sticking to the Eclipse, LE kits or their equivalent. Perhaps we’re just picky but that is the realization we’ve come to after tasting how a variety of wine kits have aged.

[quote=“Flip”]I’d agree the larger 30L pail is preferable, particularly for the mentioned reds wines that come with skins. Been brewing longer and more frequently than I’ve done wines but I started doing a bunch of kits with a friend that we then split. From kits wine making is way easy, I literally laughed at how easy it was when I started.

Only other thing I’d add after only being into making wine kits for a few years, in my opinion stick with the premium wine kits. Some of the cheaper kits are fine but at least for me given the time invested in cellaring the wine for the proper amount of time it seems well worth it to pay more for the wine kit than wait all that time and have a wine that at its peak won’t be as good as it could have been if some extra money had been spent up front. We are now only sticking to the Eclipse, LE kits or their equivalent. Perhaps we’re just picky but that is the realization we’ve come to after tasting how a variety of wine kits have aged.[/quote]
Agree with everything above. With wine kits, you get what you pay for. That applies to time as well as money; the “faster” kits will typically not be as good. Which brings up the point of more carboys. You’ll want something that will hold 6 US gallons without having much headspace that will allow air to oxidize the wine. And you’ll need a second container of the same size to allow you to rack the wine. And you’ll need to bulk age the wine for a few months (with the better kits). Which means that you’ll need to get more if you want to keep brewing beer at the same time. I’m not a big fan of glass carboys, but for wine they work well if you are careful about handling them.

Ten years ago I was in the same boat as you. Enjoyed making beer, and the wife liked wine better. So I expanded my activities and made her very happy. If you want to take it up a notch from there, learn to make sparkling wine.

So it definitely sounds like I don’t want to tie up my beer carboys for months at a time with wine…

The small batch kits on NB caught my eye as a way to get started, any thoughts? Does the size of the batch have any bearing on the resulting wine?

I would generally agree with this with a few extra points…

  1. Whites usually come out more comparable to commercial wine and you can move down the quality scale a bit and get solid results. Many Selection series whites are just fine.

  2. LE series kits are the best value for the money.

3)Make what you like - I personally would only stick to Eclipse/LE reds and Selection or better whites - but I also know a lot of people who LOVE the cheepest crap imaginable. Whatever floats your boat. Just don’t expect miracles for $2 per bottle.

  1. There are a few of the lower end wines that are surprisingly better than I would have thought, but are usually sweeter whites and island mists. Some are also terrible.

[quote=“JoeHockey”]So it definitely sounds like I don’t want to tie up my beer carboys for months at a time with wine…

The small batch kits on NB caught my eye as a way to get started, any thoughts? Does the size of the batch have any bearing on the resulting wine?[/quote]

What kits are these? All wine kits I know of make 23l.

[quote=“JoeHockey”]So it definitely sounds like I don’t want to tie up my beer carboys for months at a time with wine…

The small batch kits on NB caught my eye as a way to get started, any thoughts? Does the size of the batch have any bearing on the resulting wine?[/quote]
You could try it. I often make 5 or 10 liter batches using jugs when I am experimenting with a new recipe that I don’t know how it will come out. The only issues with small batches is that the % waste from rackings is going to be proportionally larger than with a bigger batch, so you’ll end up with less than you might initially think, and of course after all that time you’ll only have a few bottles to enjoy. The amount of work to make a small batch or a large batch is pretty much the same.

Just checked out those small batch kits- interesting. New product. Normally I would be pretty cautious. But it looks like it was developed in part by Tim V (formerly of Winex). So they should be fairly well made.

But it is really hard to find any other info on them. So no idea what the quality would be like. Judging from the price it should be good - but you could also be paying a premium for the small size.

If you end up making one of these, give us a report.

My other suggestion would be just to add another carboy to your collection and dedicate it just to wine making. If you are going to go out of your way to make the stuff, you might as well get a full volume and make it worth your effort.

That’s the route I took. I bought an extra carboy for wine, then another, then a couple more, etc. But other than the bulk aging tanks (and the need for a corker), pretty much the rest of the equipment is the same if you are making kits. Graduate to fresh grapes, and you’ll need a press, a crusher and a chemistry lab.

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