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Mr. Awesome

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Hey all,
I'd like to get in to start making my own wine. I'm already making my own beer and hooked. My wife likes a Chardonnay and we both really like a Pinot Grigio. What would be a good recipe/kit for us to start with?
 
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Mr. Awesome

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Is it absolutely necesary to do the primary fermentation in a bucket, or can it be done in a carboy? What size carboy is best, 5 or 6 gallon?
 

Rick_R

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Is it absolutely necesary to do the primary fermentation in a bucket, or can it be done in a carboy? What size carboy is best, 5 or 6 gallon?
I have my first wine kit working, so take what I say with the understanding I'm a beginner, but:
The kits seem aimed at six gallons so go with six on the size. I used a six gallon primary, racked to a six gallon secondary, and then topped off the secondary. The wine kits and online seem to always suggest topping it off to get the carboy full.

One other thing you need with wine making that I didn't have is something to degas the wine -- basically stir the snot out of it. The suggestion from the kit is a long-handled spoon but we didn't have a three-foot-handled spoon lying around. I used a racking cane but plan to get a "lees stirrer" prior to the next racking. Also, based on reading, ignore the time-frame of the kit and go longer in primary, secondary, and in bottles.

Edit: I plan to rack to a tertiary in a couple of weeks, degas and clarify, then wait three or four more weeks to bottle. Current time-line is in my signature below.

Rick
 

Yooper

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There are different kits, and I've had good experiences with them, but I've never made a white wine kit. In the $50 range, the Winexpert Vintner's Reserve kits are available. To my taste, I could guess that these are equivalent to a maybe $8 bottle of wine as far as quality. I've done a couple of them, and been very happy. I have a shiraz right now in secondary, and we've been drinking a valpollicella for a while. I'm sure their pinot grigio would be a nice kit as well.

There are some higher end kits, like Winexpert's Crushendo series ($160) which even include grape skins. I've never tried them, but I've heard from experienced wine kit makers that these are great. They would be like a $20 bottle or so, to compare to commercial wines.

There are other kits, too, available. There are even kits called "Island Mist" or something like that to make sweetened wine cooler type wines.

All of them make 6 gallons, I believe. I think a Winexpert kit that comes with all of the instructions and ingredients is a great way to start. You can buy a bucket of grape juice from a winemaking shop, but then you have to deal with ph, MLF fermentation, etc. that you don't deal with when you purchase a kit. I would recommend the kit to start, and if you like doing it, then get into grapes and grape juice.

I make a lot more "country" wines than grape wines. My favorite has been rhubarb wine, believe it or not! To me, it tastes very much like a pinot grigio, and turns out to be a white wine.

Let me know if you have any specific questions about wine kits, and I'll try to help!
 
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