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Old 12-09-2009, 11:43 PM   #1
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Default Another first time Wine maker

I am a long time brewer and a soon to be first time Vinter. I checked out the kits at my LHBS and see that they are all roughly +$100. Is there a way to get the cost down by buying the ingredients separately? I have seen the cans of concentrated juice etc at the LHBS. I am going to have to get a corker as well. I was looking at the floor models. any and all thoughts are appreciated

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Old 12-09-2009, 11:50 PM   #2
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In my opinion, with wine kits, you definitely get what you pay for. A kit has already had the pH balanced, the correct acids titrated, etc. Some of the better kits have winery grape skins included to provide fuller flavor and tannins. Some of the cheaper kits have more concentrated juice, but turn out ok.

In order to approximate a kit, you'd have to buy the grape juice in pails from a homebrew store, but then they wouldn't have the skins.

Unless you were buying the grapes, and crushing, testing acid, etc, you won't be able to approximate the wine you get from a kit.

That said, some of my best wines were NOT kit wines. Grape wines are tough to get right, unless you have a friend who is a vintner who owns a winery. But other "country" wines are easy, and great tasting. I love my crabapple wine, and my chokecherry wine.

Floor corkers just can't be beat. If you're only making a little wine, a double level hand corker will do, but it's hard to do more than about 3 gallons at a time with it. Sometimes LHBS rent out corkers, or loan them, so you might not have to buy one unless you decide you want to continue with winemaking.

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Old 12-09-2009, 11:54 PM   #3
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Are you talking about wine concentrate kits? If so, there's really no cheaper alternative and, generally speaking, you get what you pay for. The cost is usually proportionate to the quality of the kit. That said, some $80 kits are as good as some $100 kits and some $125 kits are as good as some $200 kits. You should look at the amount of concentrate and, again, generally speaking, 10 liter kits are better than 8L kits and 16L kits are usually very good. If the kits has a grape pack with it (red varietal - not white) it's usually better than one without a grape pack.

Yes, you can buy cans of Alexander's concentrate but they won't make a varietal wine the quality of a $100+ 16L kit. Considering each can is only 1L of concentrate (it takes 3 cans to make 5 gallons) and that you can buy an 8L kit for $60 you can see why. You can use the cans in conjunction with fruit, like blackberries, to make a very, very good wine but it won't be a Merlot or a Pinot Noir.

The double lever corkers are good enough for a casual wine maker. I used one for three years before breaking down and buying a floor corker. I love it but I could get by fine with the double lever corker.

Yooper posted while I was typing - sorry for any duplicated info

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Old 12-10-2009, 12:08 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by summersolstice View Post

Yooper posted while I was typing - sorry for any duplicated info
Wow- it's like summersoltice and I put our heads together and came up with the same reply!

I've made some $60 Vintner's Reserve kits, and some $150+ "crushendo" kits, and there is a huge difference! The VR kits are comparable to a "Two Buck Chuck" quality, or up to a $5 bottle of wine. (And since each kit makes 30 bottles, my cost, without corks and bottles, was $2 per bottle)

The Crushendo kits (drinking two right now) have a much longer aging period, and a fuller depth of flavor. It came with about 25% more grape juice or more, as well as the skins to use in primary. Now that I'm starting to drink them, I'd say they are like a $15-$20 bottle of wine. My cost was about $5 per bottle.

My crabapple wine is my favorite- it tastes like a pinot grigio or the like, and is my best non-grape wine in my opinion.

My grape wines from local grapes are more of a headache. The acid is too high, and adjusting it is a pain. I've done MLF on them, which improved it marginally. Trust me, if you want a grape wine, buying the grapes themselves, or a bucket of juice from the homebrew store would be the only "better" way than buying a kit. Of course, that would be more work with MLF, acid adjustment, etc, but it would provide a good wine with enough time and effort. I think a good quality kit bridges the gap, and makes wine that is more than acceptable.
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Old 12-10-2009, 12:13 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YooperBrew View Post
In my opinion, with wine kits, you definitely get what you pay for. A kit has already had the pH balanced, the correct acids titrated, etc. Some of the better kits have winery grape skins included to provide fuller flavor and tannins. Some of the cheaper kits have more concentrated juice, but turn out ok.

In order to approximate a kit, you'd have to buy the grape juice in pails from a homebrew store, but then they wouldn't have the skins.

Unless you were buying the grapes, and crushing, testing acid, etc, you won't be able to approximate the wine you get from a kit.

That said, some of my best wines were NOT kit wines. Grape wines are tough to get right, unless you have a friend who is a vintner who owns a winery. But other "country" wines are easy, and great tasting. I love my crabapple wine, and my chokecherry wine.

Floor corkers just can't be beat. If you're only making a little wine, a double level hand corker will do, but it's hard to do more than about 3 gallons at a time with it. Sometimes LHBS rent out corkers, or loan them, so you might not have to buy one unless you decide you want to continue with winemaking.
What kits would you recommend?
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Old 12-10-2009, 12:57 AM   #6
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What kind of wine atre you looking to make or like? If you; like big reds then a RJS Winery Series or a Cellar Craft Showcase collection are the best kits IMO. If you like whites wines you can go with the Mosti Mondiale Vinifera Noble or RJS Grand Cru. If you like sweete wines then maybe a mist style kit like RJS Orchard Breezin, we need more info.

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Old 12-11-2009, 05:07 PM   #7
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What kind of wine atre you looking to make or like? If you; like big reds then a RJS Winery Series or a Cellar Craft Showcase collection are the best kits IMO. If you like whites wines you can go with the Mosti Mondiale Vinifera Noble or RJS Grand Cru. If you like sweete wines then maybe a mist style kit like RJS Orchard Breezin, we need more info.
I recently got into wine and would like to do a Pinot Grigio and maybe a a Merlot or Chianti first. I prefer wines on the less sweet side. I tried a Port and that was waaaayyyy too sweet!!
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Old 12-11-2009, 09:18 PM   #8
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I make mostly reds, and the Cellar Craft series, particularly the "crushendo" packages have worked great for me.

My friend likes lighter reds, and she did the Vintners Reserve valpollicella, and she loved it. I thought it was a bit thin, but the taste was very good. That was a very inexpensive kit.

I absolutely loved the tannat/merlot (limited release) and the malbec kits.

I'd suggest picking the one style that you like best, and making it. A cheap kit may be ok (like the valpollicella I mentioned), but the ones that are $115+ tend to be better.

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Old 12-11-2009, 11:50 PM   #9
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Around here, we have Water2Wine, there may be a similar "custom winery" in your area that does the kit wines. If there is, check them out, you can pay to buy bottles of the various kit wines you are interested in and maybe even get free samples or at least buy by the glass to try before you buy. We are frequent visitors to our local custom winery and are friendly and open with the folks who work there, who will sell us cases of empty used bottles for $15 since by law they aren't allowed to wash and reuse them. Overall the quality of the kits is excellent, a $120 kit will produce a $15-$20 per bottle quality of wine which is a real bargain!

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