Wine from a kit? Really?

January 6, 2008 at 6:24 am (Kit Wine, Thoughts, Winemaking, Winemaking Tips) (, , , , )

Yes, really. I made my first wine kit about seven years ago. My thought at the time was something along the lines of “it’s going to cost me $3 a bottle, how good can it be. The first kit was just okay. I was a little impatient and I didn’t wait long enough for each of the steps. I also didn’t let it age very long in the bottle. And I chose a red wine as my first. Reds tend to do better after a little time aging in the bottle. I should have started with a white.

The key to making wine is always having enough other wine so that you don’t need the one you are cooking up at that moment. When you purchase your first kit, do yourself a favor and plan on doing two or three different wines right away. In a few short months you have 100 bottles of wine. That’s too much wine you say, well then split it with a friend. Trust me, it won’t be hard to find a friend that is willing to chip in $40 for 15 bottles of wine, especially if you are doing the work. It also isn’t hard to find friends who will help you drink it.

So here’s the trick, purchase one fermenter, but two or three carboys. The wine is only in the fermenter for about a week. As soon as the serious fermenting is over, you move the wine to the glass carboy. At that point, you need to clean and sanitize the fermenter. That’s the perfect time to chuck the next kit in the fermenter. You need to sanitize before starting a batch and you just did it to clean up from the previous one.

So how good are they? Well, my last post gives a hint. Damn good. Way better than any of my attempts to make wine from winery purchased grape juice. I don’t plan on buying grapes, that’s just too much work and the small buyer has almost no control over the product. The folks at Winexpert do a great job getting the acid, tannin, and sugar content right. Follow the directions, don’t improvise. Let me know how you do.



  1. Russell koch said,

    My first try is a kit from paklab out of Canada aka “Vino Italiano Merlot”. I’m letting it sit in the carboy but I believe it is a little poor. Maybe I should not have filtered it, but the instructions recommended it.
    I’m trying to have patience before I declare it crap.
    I’m working on a paklab Riesling kit from pure juice…I hope it’s good. Like you said, start with a white!
    Next up is a Winexpert Cabernet; I really want a good red.

  2. Scott said,

    I’m not familiar with Paklab, but I think you will find most of the kits come from Canada. It is how they get around a really high alcohol tax. As for the Merlot, follow their directions, bottle it, and give it at least 3 months in the bottle before judging it. Reds in particular take a little while to recover from bottling.

    I am familiar with Winexpert and their stuff is always excellent. For a white, try Piesporter. I haven’t made any Cabernets because I don’t care for them. Too much acid for my taste. The French Merlot is very good though.


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