I just splurged on my first wine kit, a Selection Estate New Zealand (Marlborough) Sauvignon Blanc. It was a little pricier that I might have liked, about $150, but my wife, who generally supports/tolerates my beer brewing hobby, is skeptical about home wine making. I figure I have one shot to win her over with a good, home crafted version of her favorite wine. Was I right in thinking the pricier kit would result in a higher quality wine? She specifically prefers New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, and this was the only kit that guaranteed juice from vineyards in the Marlborough region of New Zealand.
In reading the instructions, I'm shocked by the short times for each stage of fermentation: five to seven days in the primary, 10 days in secondary, eight days tertiary (stabilising and clearing stage)? The only one that makes sense, given what I know of wine making, is 28 days for the clarification stage. Are these times the equivalent of the beer kit instructions we always warn new brewers to ignore, you know, the ones that say to transfer the beer to a secondary after seven days? Or are these times accurate and appropriate for kit wines? I'm willing to go longer if it will improve the wine.
Secondly, I'm a bit surprised by the yeast selection, Lalvin EC-1118. I've always thought of this as Champagne yeast. The product information sheet on this wine says,
The expression of this amazing explosion of fruit is aided by our special proprietary yeast: by careful management of the yeast strain, Selection Estate New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc casts long, rich flavours, redolent with grass and currant leaves, and a crisp dry finish.
However, I was under the impression that Lalvin K1V-1116 was specifically a Sauvignon Blanc yeast, so I was surprised to see EC-1118 in the kit. I'm okay with a dry wine. My wife prefers them that way. Should I swap the yeast out or give the kit maker the benefit of the doubt that they selected the correct yeast for this wine?
Thirdly, the instructions call for sanitation with metabisulphate. I have some that I've used in cider making before, but is this a task my usual Star San can handle equally well? I suppose the real question is if there is anything wine-specific about using metabisulphate that makes it more appropriate than Star San for sanitation?
Thanks for the help, folks. I appreciate it.