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Old 09-04-2008, 05:19 PM   #1
KENfromMI
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Default Calling wine kit experts

I've always made wine from fresh pressed juices and have no experience with wine kits. I purchased my first one yesterday to see how the concentrates compare to the fresh juice etc and having them do all the work as far as acid content etc. I'm a bit confused on the racking to the secondary, it says do not top off at this point to save room for the clarifying agents which I have never used before, I just do multpile rackings while bulk aging. Looking at the pack of clarifier there is no way it will top off the 6 gallon carboy to proper height. So when do I top off with a similar wine or do I use water? Do I rack once more after clear and top off? Ken

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Old 09-04-2008, 05:27 PM   #2
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I'd say that for a kit, Follow the directions exactly. I'm not an expert, but we've made a few wine kits, and as long as I follow the directions, they work out fine, when I try and improve them, they suffer.

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Old 09-04-2008, 05:46 PM   #3
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Its to give headspace for when you degass the wine. It will help in not having a blow-over when degassing.

-Todd

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Old 09-04-2008, 09:55 PM   #4
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Thanks, What about the oxidation from leaving almost 1/2 a gallon head space on top of the wine for the 10 days they recommend? I will admit I usually bulk age my wine for a year before bottling, maybe they figure if you bottle in 6 weeks like they say to do you wont have to worry, Ken

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Old 09-04-2008, 10:09 PM   #5
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Also, you'll have enough addatives and c02 in there to controll oxidation.

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Old 09-04-2008, 10:16 PM   #6
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Exactly- kits are meant to be made and drunk quickly. They have you not top up, so that the degassing can be done. Believe me, when you degas, it'll be like a volcano. If you use a mix-stir and a drill, start slowly and gradually increase the speed until it doesn't foam up out of the top. You may want to rack to an ale pail for degassing- it's that voluminous. After degassing, you add the clarifiers and top up. I know it's different than country wines, but the kits are designed to work and work quickly.

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Old 09-04-2008, 10:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YooperBrew View Post
Exactly- kits are meant to be made and drunk quickly...
Some kits are made that way to be sure, others are big beefy wines that need significant aging. I've done 4 week kits and I've got some that have been sitting for a year and a half now and still need another 6 months before I'll even consider digging into them.

That said, even the 4 week kits I find reach their peak at 6 months (but are excellent at 3 months), after that they don't improve anymore so you may as well start enjoying them.

To top off or not to top off - I always top off with a similar wine after the first finings are added and I've racked once. I do a hard racking the first time to get all the CO2 out which creates a really nice blanket and no oxidation worries. The second racking is when I will do my topping off.

As for kits vs fresh juice. If you buy a good kit instead of an [often] cheaper concentrate I seriously doubt you'll see any difference (I know I haven't but I can't speak for everyone obviously).
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Old 09-04-2008, 10:46 PM   #8
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Some kits are made that way to be sure, others are big beefy wines that need significant aging. I've done 4 week kits and I've got some that have been sitting for a year and a half now and still need another 6 months before I'll even consider digging into them.

That said, even the 4 week kits I find reach their peak at 6 months (but are excellent at 3 months), after that they don't improve anymore so you may as well start enjoying them.

As for kits vs fresh juice. If you buy a good kit instead of an [often] cheaper concentrate I seriously doubt you'll see any difference (I know I haven't but I can't speak for everyone obviously).
Bradsul is absolutely right- I was assuming you're doing a 4 week kit, based on the instructions to not top up. And quick drinking to me means a year or less- but no longer for those "quick" kits.

The good kits have grape skins and juice packs, not all concentrate. If you're used to making wine out of fresh grape juice, a less expensive kit may be disappointing to you. That said, I like the cheaper kits for a quick, easy, decent table wine. I've compared the $60 kits to a $5-8 bottle. The $150 kits may be more like a $12-15 bottle. Of course, with the $60 kits, I can get them on sale and save quite a bit. I bought the last kit for $47- which works out to $1.57/bottle. For that price, it's a great table wine. If you are accustomed to better wine, though, you may not be thrilled with that price kit.
In this case, you do get what you pay for. The better (more expensive) kits tend to be fuller flavored and more like "real" wine.
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Old 09-04-2008, 10:54 PM   #9
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I agree with Yooper, any kit I've paid less than $100CDN for I've found disappointing. Still quite drinkable, just not up to what you might be expecting.

I have no idea how your wine prices compare to ours, but up here the $100CDN kits give you about a $16-20CDN bottle of wine. These are the kits I generally do because they match my budget well and the quality is excellent. I do really enjoy harvest season however and I've got an order in for some fresh Niagara juices again this year.

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Old 09-05-2008, 07:17 AM   #10
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Like so much of the home brewing scene stateside, wine kits are - to me - somewhat mind-blowing. Taking things at face value I've seen some prestige kits on offer from Australia and NZ that we simply can't buy down under.
I won't go on about hardware and brewing adjuncts. I'll only get depressed and drink more!!

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