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Wine Kits

Hi all… after watching the Brewing Tv episode on wine making it got me thinking about well… making some wine. I started brewing beer vs making wine mostly because I wasn’t to sure about the quality of wine kits. I have been into wine for almost 15 years, collecting, tasting, etc. I was worried that making wine from a kit I would end up with basically something I could get in the store for $5 or $6 (total assumption on my part). I live in a one-bed room apartment so don’t really have the room to go with grapes etc.

So I guess my question is, if made correctly, what kind of quality could I expect from one of the better wine kits? I am looking at just a straight ok table wine (which I consider most, though not all, wine under $10) or maybe something a bit better, with at least some complexity.


IME most of the high end kits produce a very nice quality wine. However, I feel that the kits that include grape skins give it that little extra push.

+1. BB hit it dead on the head. I must admit though that some of my favorite white kits have been quite inexpensive. :cheers:

I have found that white kits tend to be really good and red kits not so much. I have yet to find a red kit that is as good as a finer commercial product, even after significant aging. They all have come out with little body, watery, and just generic tasting.

I’ve had the same experience with kits so far. Looking forward to trying it with some grapes at some point, though.

Good to hear this as I’ve got my first wine kit in secondary currently, did a Shiraz that included grape skins and was one of the more expensive kits. Figured I’d give it a shot with the best wine kit I could find, if it didn’t produce wine I looked forward to drinking I’d at least know it wasn’t the kit’s fault.

Quite a bit more waiting compared to brewing but on the order of doing sour beers so at least I’m familiar with having to be that patient. :cheers:

A little late to the party…but here goes…

I make red wine using the bottom dollar kits, about $70 a kit The “Mezza Luna” is a favorite. It makes such a huge difference in the quality of your home wine if you top off with wine, instead of water. I’ve shared batches with family and friends, everyone just ‘wows’ about it, saying it is better than blah de blah $30 bottle from wherever. Because I have all the equipment, it costs me less than $3 a bottle.

  1. Top off with wine.
  2. Take your time, don’t rush it. I leave it in primary for 2-3 weeks, secondary for at least a month. And I wait 6 months before opening a bottle.

But, yeah, $3 a bottle? I can’t see paying even $10 a bottle anymore.

I top up with a “like wine” instead of water as well.

As mentioned above, whites tend to match up much more easily to comercial varieties right from the outset. Anything mid-high quality range works fine.

Reds just by their nature are much more dificult to make at a high level. I tend to go with the highest quality kits I can get (most with skins - Cellar Craft Rosso Fortissimo is my favourite) and age them well. Even then, they tend to be my day to day table wine. I have no quams laying down a few extra loonies for a massive commercial wine if I’m going all out on a great meal.

As mentioned above, if you top up - use wine. In many cases I would say just don’t top up at all. For a 23l red wine kit, I would expect about 21l or so to make it to the end. If you plan on aging it in the carboy for longer periods you can always move the lot to a smaller carboy.

I also tend not to add any sorbate to my kits. It is debateable whether it is necesary at all. and sorbate definately can add “kit wine” flavours that I’m not fond of. Kit makers will never admit to this, but no commercial winery would ever use sorbate in a million years.

If you are picking up off flavors from the use of potassium sorbate, you are not using the proper dose.

Simply not true. Its used by numerous wineries for the production of fruit wines and wines that are bottled young.

If you are picking up off flavors from the use of potassium sorbate, you are not using the proper dose.

Simply not true. Its used by numerous wineries for the production of fruit wines and wines that are bottled young.[/quote]

The dose I would be using would be the dose that the kit comes with. But again, I don’t use it. In some cases it would be necesary - for example when adding any amount of artificial sweetness to a wine. But for the most part, as long as proper sanitation is used throughout the process top tier kit wines can age for up to seven or eight years with no need for extra preservatives, so why bother with it?

I don’t see why you would be using it in a kit that is not backsweetened or uses an F-pack anyways.

Exactly how I see it. There really should be no need for it but all kits that I am familiar with come with a sorbate addition. As well, there is so much sorbate already in an f-pack, or the new sweet reserves, that the extra dose at stabilization is actually irrelevant.

Regardless of if its used or not the you should not be able to pick up on the flavor. I use sorbate in most of my country wines as well as some kit wines and have placed in MANY competitions with them. They contain no noticeable off flavors from the use of potassium sorbate when used at the recommended dose.

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