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Old 10-16-2007, 12:17 AM   #1
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Default Want to make a good Merlot

for the wife but have never tried to make wine.

BTW I don't know what qualifys as "good" since I really don't drink wine.

What would the best kit be for your typical merlot drinker?

Are there any items I'll need beyond what I have for homebrew? I have plenty of glass carboys.

How long do most wines need to age before they are good?

Are there any sites like Palmer's book that describe the wine making process?

Thanks,
Al

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Old 10-16-2007, 12:42 AM   #2
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I'm no expert on kit wines, but I've made a couple so I know what to expect. First of all, there are some decent cheaper kits that say "30 days" or something on them. While they are ok kits, 30 days isn't realistic. But still, maybe 4 months is a realistic time frame. I've done the lower end kits called Vinters Reserve and the valpollicella I did was about $57 on sale and it was pretty good. No one would ever say it was a world class wine, but I think it would be comparable to a $12 or $15 bottle. The kits make 6 gallons, so that's about 30 bottles.

All the ingredients are included, except for the basic brewing equipment. You will need corks and a corker, though, and of course the 30 wine bottles. Sometimes LHBS rent their corkers or let you use them for free. A cheap corker is about $25, but it's well worth it to get the $60 Portuguese Floor Corker if you can swing it. You can do primary in a regular 7.5 gallon bucket and then secondary in a 6 gallon carboy. I didn't have a 6 gallon at the time (now I do) so I used a 5 gallon carboy and a 1 gallon jug. They make stoppers to fit those Carlo Rossi jugs (a #6) and an airlock. The yeast in the kits is fine to use, and they also include clarifiers and detailed instructions that are simple and broken down well. The sanitation issues are all the same, so you already would know all that.

The best site I've found for winemaking is here: http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/basics.asp
His site is a little hard to nagivate at first, but it's well worth it.

Good luck!

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Old 10-16-2007, 03:05 AM   #3
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I've also made a Vintner's Reserve kit, for a white wine, a Pinot Blanc. It came out great! The instructions say "Your kit will take between 4 and 6 weeks to produce." We put the kit together into the bucket and pitched yeast etc. on Easter day. We bottled it in early August, and it was still "young". It tasted great, but needed time to "breathe" - had a touch of sulfur smell to it when first poured. Now, for the last couple of weeks, that's gone and it's a nice nice wine. We used no extra potassium metabilsulfite, only used what came in the kit.
I just ordered 3 more wine kits. Two of the lesser-money kits - about $65/ea (I can't believe how much these have gone up, our kit last Feb was around $40. And one of the higer end kits. I will say if you want a really nice wine, supposedly the pricier kits are the way to go. I'll let you know in a couple of years! Anyway, what I was getting at is this:

You will not screw this up. You brew beer. This is WAY easier! Don't buy a "low end kit" just because of fear that you'll mess up --- you will not mess up. I am buying both price ranges because I know that the cheaper ones will be more of "daily drinker" types and they won't need as long to age, especially the white one. The higher end red will be more of a "special occasion" wine, so no big deal to age those bottles for 1 to 2 to 4+ years.

Go for it, good luck!

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Old 10-16-2007, 03:33 AM   #4
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Thanks much for the info. I'm curious how long a nice merlot or cabernet sauvignon would have to age to be good? There will be no problem setting this one aside for the proper length of time since i don't drink wine and the wife does'nt drink near as much as me.

Lou, do you just pour it into the fermenter and pitch the yeast ala Edworts apfelwein or is there more to it?

Seems too easy.

Thanks again,
Al

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Old 10-16-2007, 04:14 AM   #5
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Well, the one kit I bought that was expensive said to age minimum of 1-4 years in the Northern Brewer's "blurb" about the kit.
I bought the special 7.5 gallon wine bucket w/lid w/o-ring seal. Basically the step by step on how to do this can be found on this guy's website, it gives you a great idea of what's involved: http://www.finevinewines.com//Wiz/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=1136

Yes, it's so simple, aside from the being sanitary part, my 10 year old could probably do it, 15 year old could definitely do one of these kits. Very easy. If you aren't in a rush, I think next months issue of Winemaker magazine (companion mag to BYO) is the issue where they rate the kits. I kind of used the ratings to help me pick, along with kit descriptions at the LHBS/winemaking store.
Good luck!

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Old 10-16-2007, 04:52 AM   #6
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Wine is very easy to make. What isn't easy is giving it the time it needs. For example, I just picked up 250 lbs of Cab Sav, 250 lbs of Cab Franc, 250 lbs of Merlot, and 100 lbs of Petit Sirah. All have been crushed, fermented, pressed and racked into beer kegs where they will live for the next few months These will all be blended together to make a Bordeaux style blend. I will probably put it into the barrels (one 30 gallon barrel and one 15 gallon barrel) after Christmas. I don't expect to be drinking this wine until 2009 at teh earliest. I've also got 200 lbs of Zinfandel that is quite nice and may be ready a bit sooner. But it does take time and patience.

Whites are faster. I have 600 lbs of Seyval field blended with 200 lbs of Muscat fermenting now. It will go into a couple of beer kegs and some carboys and we will be drinking this stuff by next spring/summer.

Just like making beer from all grain is cheaper and better than using extract, using grapes is cheaper and makes MUCH better wine than kits. Once you taste a few batches from kits you can pick out kits wines with your eyes closed and your tongue behind your back. There is still time to get fresh grapes if you hurry. The best of the California vineyards are just about ready to pick the primo stuff. Ask at your LHBS, they can probably hook you up. And Jack Kellers site is great. His primary focus is on country wines and wild grape wine making but his advice is sound and his site is an incredible source of information.

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Old 10-16-2007, 12:09 PM   #7
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I thought around here you need to preorder all your grapes - nice you got what you need!
Cool quote/sig!
I would like to get into making wine from scratch but with only one kit under my belt so far, and minimal free time right now, it'll be down the road a bit before I do this. I have also been hoping to find someone that makes their own (good, not crap) wines to kind of show me the ropes - not many relatives left, if any, that make wine anymore.

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Old 10-16-2007, 01:22 PM   #8
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I have bought the cheaper kits on sale at Costco (merlot, shiraz, sav, chardonnay, semillion), and can tell you that they aren't much different than the $10-$14 bottles at the liquor store. And I buy a lot of wine and the SWMBO does a lot of wine events and parties and she agrees about the quality.

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Old 10-16-2007, 03:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr x
I have bought the cheaper kits on sale at Costco (merlot, shiraz, sav, chardonnay, semillion), and can tell you that they aren't much different than the $10-$14 bottles at the liquor store. And I buy a lot of wine and the SWMBO does a lot of wine events and parties and she agrees about the quality.
Costco sells wine kits now!!??
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Old 10-16-2007, 04:22 PM   #10
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They do in Canada. Seems to be about 15 different types of wine. They really seem to be a good quality for the price.

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