Originally Posted by eppo
do those cheaper kits make good wine?
Well, it depends on how you define "good", I guess. With wine kits, you generally get what you pay for. A $60 kit (makes 30 bottles, as they all do) is probably comparable in quality to a $5 of commercial wine. Not bad, but not "good" wine. The kit has about 3 gallons of concentrated grape juice and you add water to it. They have oak dust that you add to primary. I've made several. The Winexpert valpollicella was pretty good, the chianti was good, the shiraz was better than a $5 bottle of wine but only just. Ok for dinner, if you're not a wine snob. Or if you're like my friend who makes wine spritzers, it's perfect. She mixes it with 7-up anyway, so good quality isn't important.
A $150 kit comes with more wine juice (not just concentrate), and wine grape skins. Usually, those kits need to age a bit (a year or two is common) and have oak spirals for secondary. These kits can be excellent. I made a tannot/merlot that was wonderful, and is getting even better with age as it's only about 2.5 years old now. The malbec is a bit younger, but also excellent.
There is also a group of kits that are inexpensive and pretty good that are called "mist" type kits. They are wine cooler-ish kits that make flavors like "Mango Citrus Symphony" and "Kiwi Pear". My friend absolutely loves those, and would highly recommend them. I'm not a sweet wine drinker, so I will have one very occasionally, like at a pool party, and I've found them ok.