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Wine Kits and Big Reds

Greetings all,

My wife and I have been making wine kits for a few years now. We enjoy many varieties, but our favorite wine to drink is rich, full reds. Cab sav’s, malbecs, etc. To date, I’ve found the wine from kits to be bland compared to store-bought. I’ve done a number of things to try and make better wine from kits with some success, but still have not achieved a full, rich red:

  • Age it. This does indeed help and make it better, but does not seem to take it to the level of store-bought wine.
  • Fermentation temperature. Some kits that fermented too warm did have off flavors, and correcting this did help.
  • try kits with skins. We did manage to get one kit that had a pack of skins and although this one was a while ago, I remember we liked it more than the others.

Still, with all this, the homemade wine just does not taste the same. To me, it’s not as good. It has led me to a theory that perhaps the issue is that reds are usually made by doing the primary fermentation on the skins to get all the flavors and colors going, then pressing them.

One other thing to note is that we also have made a white kit or two, which came out wonderfully. Much like what you’d expect to find commercially. The issue here is solely with red.

I am planning a spot in my garden to grow some vines so we can make wine that way. I may also try to source whole grapes to get the process to match.

All that said, I wonder what others think on the matter. Am I on the right track? I know when it comes to beer, my all grain batches are hands down better than anything you can get in the local mega mart. I know I should be able to make wine at home that is great too.

Thanks for any thoughts in advance, and have a very happy thanksgiving everyone!

You’re on the right track with thinking the skins have a lot to do with it. The varietal flavor is in the skins, as well as the color. There is absolutely no way you can ferment without skins and get a wine equal to one fermented on the skins. Also bear in mind that the juice is pasteurized to make it last. Heat extraction of the color and flavor absolutely has to effect the final product. I make both myself but I pretty much stick to whites when using kits. They seem to come out pretty close to the whites I make from grapes. If I were you I would look into learning how to make wine from grapes and then purchasing either frozen juice, or frozen grapes from one of several distributors. It’s more expensive, but the final product is (hopefully) much more rewarding. :cheers:

Thanks for the response! I’ve been reading a book on growing grapes and I just came across a chapter that discussed this too, so this confirms it. Sounds like it’s time for me to get some grapes going in the garden so in a few years we can hopefully achieve the kind of wine we like. Next fall I will have to try and source some grapes from around here (Long Island). Just like going all grain with beer, it seems going “all-grape” is going to be the way to go with this as well.

Thanks again!
Mike

Oh and I’ll look into frozen grapes, I didn’t even realize they sold that. Thanks for that tip.

Welcome! This a a wonderful and rewarding thing to do. A bit of caution. It’s not like using the kits. Buy a good book(preferably from our hosts) and read it cover to cover. Most of your suppliers will test the grapes and put the ph, TA, and brix on the container. Most will also add sulphite to stabilize the grapes. Make sure of this. I don’t want to scare you off but these are some of the goofs I’ve made over the years.
Again; Welcome. :cheers:

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