Making Wine Kits
Wine kits are a wonderful option for those who are interested in making wine at home. Not only do they make very high quality wines, they are also a much easier and less expensive than making wine directly from fruit. Kits also give the winemaker the option to make styles that would otherwise be very difficult if you were to try to acquire the grapes directly. One of the largest benefits of wine kits is that everything you need to make the wine is all together in one box.
Wine kits first became available in the early 1970’s to alleviate many of the hassles that came with wine making. For the home wine enthusiast to make a six gallon batch with whole fruit, they would need to purchase and ship up to 90 lbs of grapes as well as have specialty equipment for crushing and destemming the fruit. Because of this, wine kits were a great option. Over the years, the quality of these kits has steadily improved. Much of this is due to innovations in packaging that have helped to ensure a fresh product for up to three years.
Wine at Bargain Prices
Even the most expensive kits are a bargain when compared to the cost of buying wine by the bottle in a store. An average kit makes approximately 6-gallons or 30 bottles of wine and can vary in price from $70-180. This equates to only $2.33 – $6.00 per bottle of high quality wine.
The price range is based on a number of different factors such as the type of grapes used, Where the grapes are grown, how concentrated the juice is and whether or not grape skins and oak are included with the kit. Kits that have higher percentage of pure juice will traditionally be of higher quality and more expensive.
The equipment that is used to make wine can also be used to make beer, mead and cider.
- Primary fermenter
- Two 6 gallon carboy fermenters
- Long-handled plastic spoon
- Two Airlocks and rubber stoppers.
- Auto Siphon and tubing
- Wine Thief
- Stainless Steel Stir Rod
- Triple Scale Hydrometer
- Spring Tip Bottle Filler
- Bottle Corker
- Cleanser and Sanitizer
Making Your First Wine
The first thing that you will want to do is to clean and sanitize all of your equipment. Then you can go ahead ahead and open your kit. The items supplied in each kit may vary dependent upon the style of wine that you have chosen. The first step is to carefully pour your juice into the primary fermenter. You will then need to add a measured amount of water. Then you will just follow the recipe by mixing in the supplied ingredients. This may include items such as Bentonite for clarifying, yeast nutrients, wine tannins, sulphites etc. Once you have finished adding all of the ingredients, you can then sprinkle your yeast on top and close the fermenter. The yeast provided with the wine kit ferments best at room temperature. It may take a day or two before you begin to see signs of fermentation.
After about 7 to 10 days in the primary fermenter it will be time to transfer or “rack” your wine to a secondary carboy. Using your auto siphon, place the primary fermenter on a table with the sanitized secondary fermenter on the floor. You can then place the auto siphon in the primary fermenter with the tubing running to the bottom of the secondary fermenter. Now when you pump the auto siphon once or twice, it should start a nice smooth flow. You can then put an airlock and stopper on it.
In another 7- 10 days, you will want to rack the wine again. The style of wine that you have chosen may include having you add oak and fining agents at this time as well. Now you can leave the wine alone for awhile. After approximately 4-weeks it will be time to bottle.
It is usually recommended that you rack the beer one more time prior to bottling to ensure that there is no residual sediment. You will then make sure that all of the bottles have been sanitized. You can use the auto siphon with a spring tip bottle filler on the end of the tubing. This will give you more control when filling the bottles. Now it is time to cork.
There are many different types of corks from synthetic, blends, and pure cork. Each of which will need to be sanitized or prepared in a specific manner. Synthetic corks can just be dipped and sanitizer and placed right in the bottle. When using real cork or a blended cork, you need to both sanitize and soften the cork prior to bottling. The best way to do this is to steam them over hot water. They should only be steamed enough to slightly soften which should take about 2 to 3 minutes. It is important not to over soften them to the point that they become sponge like.
Now We Wait
It can take some time for wines to age properly and get to their ideal condition. The wine will continue to change and mature in the bottle. Unfortunately there is not an exact time in which the bottles are ready to drink. On average we suggest letting a red age for about a year in the bottle and white can age for approximately 6-months before they are ready. But there is an old saying with wine that your last bottle is usually your best bottle..
For more information on winemaking, the staff at The Brew Hut is always happy to help with any questions that you may have.