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Old 12-13-2011, 03:48 PM   #1
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Default From grape or kit?

I am an experienced all-grain brewer looking to start wine making. I have an upfront and elementary question for you experienced wine makers: can you get an equal quality wine from a kit or is it advisable to go through the rigors of acquiring and processing grapes? In the beer world, guys make some uber high quality extract beers although I vastly prefer all grain brews for better control of the process. I would imagine there is some similarity amongst the 2 worlds. Thank you for your time.

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Old 12-13-2011, 03:59 PM   #2
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You can make some very nice wines from a kit, and I'd say they would probably come out better than starting out with grapes, at least for a new winemaker. Grapes require pH adjustments and the like, and it's probably more encouraging to get a few kits under your belt first.

Kits vary from about $55-$200. In the case of wine kits, you do generally get what you pay for. Some of the ultra premium kits ($150+) make excellent wines. The ultra cheapies make ok wine, as in drinkable, but like a $3-$5 bottle of commercial wine.

I do a wide range of kits, from the "ultra cheap" to the excellent. I found a couple of kits at our local "Dollar Plus" store, for $19.99 and made them. Since they make 30 bottles, I figured even if it was pretty bad that we'd drink them. Actually, they are pretty decent- very much like those $60 "Vintner's Reserve" kits.

The most expensive kits come with more juice, less concentrate, and grape skins to ferment on. The cheapies have more concentrate and no (or little) juice and use more water. They all make 6 gallons.

The nice thing about the kits is that the pH adjustments and OG adjustments are already made. That makes the kits fool-proof and it helps with learning about winemaking.

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Old 12-13-2011, 05:28 PM   #3
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I'd have to say that as a beginner you would be extremely lucky or just plain blessed with skills to make a wine from grapes that was as good as a high end kit. The kits are well balanced and they have done most of the hard part upfront for you. I'd do one good kit, see if you like the process and then consider doing wine from grapes and learning the process. Only negative for me in using grapes is that it takes so long to know if you did it right. I've tasted many local efforts from people and they aren't all that drinkable. I have one neighbor who has a side business that is "pro" and they sell a lot of high end wines that aren't any better than my Spagnols high end wines.

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Old 12-13-2011, 08:44 PM   #4
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I appreciate the intel guys! When I started brewing, I decided to, for some reason, start with all-grain. I read and read, listened to podcast after podcasts, and the like...1st batch...all screwed up. The second was much better and Im glad I did learn that way but with wine, I was thinking I wouldnt "catch lightning in a bottle" twice. Of course, I wouldnt say that I brewed a good batch of beer until around the 5th batch. By good, I mean, tastes to style and people couldnt tell it wasnt made in a brewery. With wine, like you both mentioned, I want to get familiar with wine making, have stuff that I want to drink, and slowly learn rather than the "batism by fire" methodology I took when learning to brew. Thanks for all of your help. Is there any particular equipment that is crucial for wine kit making that I wouldnt already have in my all-grain brewery?

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Old 12-13-2011, 08:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhenry41h View Post
I appreciate the intel guys! When I started brewing, I decided to, for some reason, start with all-grain. I read and read, listened to podcast after podcasts, and the like...1st batch...all screwed up. The second was much better and Im glad I did learn that way but with wine, I was thinking I wouldnt "catch lightning in a bottle" twice. Of course, I wouldnt say that I brewed a good batch of beer until around the 5th batch. By good, I mean, tastes to style and people couldnt tell it wasnt made in a brewery. With wine, like you both mentioned, I want to get familiar with wine making, have stuff that I want to drink, and slowly learn rather than the "batism by fire" methodology I took when learning to brew. Thanks for all of your help. Is there any particular equipment that is crucial for wine kit making that I wouldnt already have in my all-grain brewery?
You should have everything, but you may want to check and make sure you have a large enough primary (usually the bigger "ale pail" is great) and a 6 gallon carboy (for kits- they make 6 gallons and you need the correct sized carboy). I have a few other things, like a floor corker, since I make a lot of wine, but a hand corker is fine (or LHBS will often rent one). A cool thing to have for kit wines (and others, at times) is a wine whip degassing device. Not necessary, but nice to have!
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Old 12-14-2011, 03:16 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper

You should have everything, but you may want to check and make sure you have a large enough primary (usually the bigger "ale pail" is great) and a 6 gallon carboy (for kits- they make 6 gallons and you need the correct sized carboy). I have a few other things, like a floor corker, since I make a lot of wine, but a hand corker is fine (or LHBS will often rent one). A cool thing to have for kit wines (and others, at times) is a wine whip degassing device. Not necessary, but nice to have!
Thanks. I have numerous 6.5 gal carboys as I like two always have 3 or 4 beers fermenting. Although, tying one of my beer fermenters up could hurt my feelings...better get another one.

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Fermenting: Lambic and Dry Orange Blossom Mead
Conditioning: Brett Drei Golden Strong
Next: Nut Brown, Wee Heavy, & Rye IPA
Drinking: Brett - Aussie Blonde, Black IPA, Belgian Stout, Munich Helles

Follow My Brewing Excursions at:

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Old 12-14-2011, 11:43 AM   #7
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A 6.5 gallon carboy is NOT the same as a 6 gallon carboy. You will have way too much open headspace with a 6.5'er.

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Old 12-14-2011, 12:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoctorCAD
A 6.5 gallon carboy is NOT the same as a 6 gallon carboy. You will have way too much open headspace with a 6.5'er.
Good tip, thanks DrCAD. I will make sure I purchase a 6 gallon Carboy. Due to degassing, etc, is it safe to assume primary fermentation is better served in a bucket rather than doing primaries in glass like I prefer for beer?

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Fermenting: Lambic and Dry Orange Blossom Mead
Conditioning: Brett Drei Golden Strong
Next: Nut Brown, Wee Heavy, & Rye IPA
Drinking: Brett - Aussie Blonde, Black IPA, Belgian Stout, Munich Helles

Follow My Brewing Excursions at:

http://<br /> <font size="5"><font ...</font></font>

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dracon...58343357538490
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