A few Kits Under My Belt--Next Steps?

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Apr 25, 2010
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I have worked on a few kits over the past year with some increasing complexity. Unfortunately the product of the kits is less complex. Comparing my home-made to some of off the grocery shelf reveals the disparity.

In short, I still consider my self to be a beginner and am looking to make the next few steps. Below are a few questions I was hoping to get some seasoned guidance on.

1. My first kits were vineco Calif. Connoisseur and Ken Ridge. What kits should I consider next? I am looking for a more complex Riesling and Bordeaux styles. Can you only get that long lasting complexity from Fresh Fruit?

2. Equipment--I would like to invest in some equipment to measure PH and Sulfites but not sure where to start. What is most reliable?

3. Inert Gas and Topping off--I have a number of 2 plastic fermentors, 6G carboy and a 5g carboy. Keeping Air off the wine is a constant battle without losing any yield. Should I worry about this? I have been using Argon which seems to do a great job. Is nitrogen better? Or always top off?

Thanks for your help. Im looking forward to being part of the community.
Well I can't help you with #1 or #2 aside from a basic test kit. I have never used any gas with my wines. I've made @100 gallons this season already and just follow the basic procedures and have never had a problem like that.

Be clean and sanitary, fill your carboys to the top just under your bung. Keep your wine off the gross lees etc. If you were aging a long time and as a commercial wine maker maybe but not like what we are doing IMO.

Remember the old addage. KISS Keep it simple silly, or stupid depending how you view yourself.

Welcome to the forum. Give us some more details on how you make your wine so some of us can help you.
I was advised to use compressed co2 to blanket a must in a larger carboy. topping up with boiled water but too much will thin your wine.
djrockinsteve--Great advice. Thanks. Out of curiosity, where do you source you fruit, juice etc?

Lloyd--Boiled water, good idea, I think I need to invest in a few more carboys so I have a variety of vessels to top up to. The kits are 6 gal but my carboy is bigger, and I also have a 5 gal which is too small. I dont want to discard any of my precious work. :)

Wade E--in you opinion, aside from a hydrometer, what are the 3 most critical instruments?

thanks again for you help.
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as far as equipment, with kits a hydrometer and/or refractometer and a method to measure free SO2 levels (strips, accuvin kit, titrets or a $100 A/O method lab kit) are probably all that is really necessary.
a Ph meter is nice to have but is sort of not needed for kits as they are Ph balanced/buffered already.
same with Acid test kits.

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