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Senior Member
Jan 18, 2010
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Hi group,

I am a new member and new to wine making. For the past three weeks I have studied wine making like a mad man, so I can relate... that's about all I can do at this point.

Reason for my interests? I really do love wines, dry, especially the dark, heavier red varietals and red blends. I also enjoy a nice glass of New Zealand Sav Blanc. I spend between $150 and $200 per month on wine with about half that going for everyday box wine. The balance goes to $10 to $14 bottled wine, which we drink on the weekends and special occasions.

My problem is that every once in awhile I get to drink a better wine. You know, relatively speaking, something in the $30 to $50 range and/or something 10 years old. I have gotten to the point where I am really getting tired of boxed wine altogether and even of much of the $10 to $14 wine. Guess I am getting spoiled, huh?

What is a guy to do... well, I got to brain-storming and thought, "Maybe I could start making my own wine and have a better wine for the price." My issue here is that I really don't have a feel for the quality of wine a good kit will make, assuming I do a good job and make the kit the way it is intended, of course.

This issue was partially put to rest last Saturday evening (01/16/10), when my wife and I had dinner at the home of a really nice couple we meet at the wine making store. They understood my confusion, so invited us for dinner. (How special is that? !!!) They gave us samples of four of their own homemade wines:
1) an apple wine.
2) a black cheery wine
3) a Super Tuscan
4) a RJS Brunello (Don't know which kit is was exactly)

The first two were sweet, of course, but seemed, with my inexperience in fruit wines, to be OK. Would be nice on a warm summer day.
The Super Tuscan was about 1 yr old, but tasted chemically to me. To tell the truth, it seemed to support my fears of what a wine kit might produce.

However, the 2 yr old Brunello was really nice and smooth. Also, we sampled a 6-month old version of the same Brunello and I could hardly believe the difference! The young one was more acidic and rough; didn't even seem like the same wine.

All that said, I am still not sure what to expect, but I am about ready to try anyway. I figure the best way to get the best in kit-form is to buy something all juice. I am sure there are exceptions but it also seems that the better (expense-wise) kits, within a given producer's line, should produce better wines. Yes, I am sure all of you have your favorites at many different price levels.

I would like to try the MM Meglioli series. I am interested in trying the amarone and/or the barolo, neither of which I have ever tasted. However, I went to the liquor store to buy a sample of each, only to discover they were each over $60 a bottle. ... I still haven't tasted either.

Amarone and barolo sound great on paper... what do you think, considering I like reds like Cab sav. and sarah; not much on pinot noir? I also especially enjoy red blends.

Any advice would be appreciated.

No more boxed wine!!!
Welcome to the forum Dancerman. It sounds like you need to begin making wine with some of the better kits, bypassing the cheap ones. In order to get some good wines a bit earlier than waiting two years, I would start with a Mosti Renaissance Amarone- hopefully George has them back in stock or will soon. They make a great fairly early drinking wine and come with raisings for better body. That will get you drinking some of your own in about 6 months. At the same time, start some better kits like the Mosti Meglioli you mentioned. I'm sure others will chime in with some alternative kits, but the Mosti Ren Amarone really is a tremendous value in a great early drinker.
Dancer....My advice would be to give George a call and let him lead you into this on a path that will ensure your sucess and long term love for making your own wines.

Welcome to the forum too.
That Super Tuscan was young and if you taste it in another 2 or 3 years you'll see the difference as you did with the other. I have not made any of the Meglioli Series (over my budget) but I have made the Rojo Encantando with Raisins from the All Juice Masters and it is fantastic. The thing to remember is any kit you buy will need aging, as you noticed with the brunello. I would give George a call and get on the list for the Meglioli since that is a limited edition and I don't know if he is still taking preorders. He can also guide you towards wine kits you would enjoy.
Welcome to the forum!
I would start with the lesser kits and learn the process. It would not be good to spend a lot of money and not get the product you want because of the lack of experience. I have been doing this for less than two years and have yet to do a Meglioli Kit. I do have one on order though. I see my flaws in the early kits. Equipment can cost a lot and you should buy the best you can afford. As always George can guide you through this enjoyable hobby.
I doubt seriously that you would like the taste of any red kit wine at 6 months so you would need to ask yourself if you are willing to wait a minimum of 12-18 months for the kits to mature? If you go the Meglioli kit route you are talking almost $10 a bottle after shipping. Most people say the Meglioli kits need almost 2 years to come into their own but the results are worth the wait.

I would start with a good mid to higher end kit such as Appleman suggested or any of the Cellar Craft Showcase kits with grape packs.

George is an excellent place to start for suggestions. You really do need to "try" before you buy if you have never had an Amarone. It would be sad if you had 30 bottles lying around and didn't like it. Of course I am sure you could find a few people on this forum that would take them off your hands!

Oh and welcome to the forums!
I'll second appleman's Mosti Renaissance Amarone suggestion! mine is 3 years old now and is fantastic. I just bottled (yes I really did this time) a Cellar Craft Showcase Amarone and while its good, it is very young (at a year old) and will need time to mature. Thankfully I have plenty of the Mosti one to help pass the time.
Thanks for the support and suggestions. I am (probably) like most of you, I doubt I could wait several years to get a taste, but am sure (???) I can try a few early, but hold most of it for when it is well aged. Of course this means that I will be drinking boxed and other commercial wine for some time to come... I can live with that.

I have a friend who finds a good 2-year old commercial red he likes; if it will age well he buys a case or two and stores it away. He has done that now for over ten years and is now regularly enjoying the fruits of his patience. (Hope he put it away as fast as he drinks it, huh.)

Question - if you are not going to bulk age, do any of you ever bottle a small portion of a batch into a few of the smaller half-bottles? Outside of the cost of the smaller 3xx ml bottles, seems it would let one try the product every six months or so without sacrificing a whole 750 ml bottle.

I don't know, maybe that is overkill. In addition to the longer maturing wines, I am sure I also will make some of the reds, which get tasty at an earlier age. They could still beat most boxed wines..
Absolutely, bottle some of them in 375's for samples. You can even bottle in beer bottles and cap for early drinkers- I do that sometimes, but now that I make 1000 bottles a year , I don't worry so much about it. If I get my licenses for commercial winery this year it will be more like 1000 gallons this year and hopefully 3000 next year-maybe more.

The point is, it is easier to get some age on them if you make more than you intend or should drink.
I concur with most that has been said. These bigger kits are where its at IMO but they do need lots of aging. I only make the RJS Winery Series but have tried a bottle of the Meg Barolo and it was awesome!
Welcome aboard, Richard. As you can see, this is the place to get your questions answered. I agree with the above advise. I would add though, as someone who has only been making wine for a year, that there is a huge pleasure in drinking a wine that you have made. I make mostly high end kits but I have also made some early drinkers like the MM Vinefera Noble Cabernet and another of the Zinfandel. Those kits resulted in wines that were quite drinkable at 6 months. Were they big and chewy like the reds I like to drink? No. But, they tasted like the varietal they were supposed to taste like, they went very well with food, my friends liked them, and best of all, I had the pleasure of making them. So I guess I am saying that having great wines to drink is wonderful but the process of making the wine yours is priceless. Enjoy one of the greatest hobbies/obsessions that I know of.
Welcome Richard.
Admiral just posted pretty much what I was going to add.
For us that "tend" to over engineer and sometimes "micro- manage" I reccomend considering starting with one of the "Mist" kits like Orchard Breezing or Island Mist.
For me it was the perfect way to learn to use and acquire the many little extra tools in a short time frame while accumulating wine to drink and try as I learned and gained confidence in the wine making process.
It would have been hard for me to wait 2-3 years to see if I did it right. The best adviceI received on the long term bottle aging that I use in every conversation about drinking the good stuff is; " Yeah! we can drink some of it now, but when we get to the last bottle in two years; wewill wish we had waited."
Thanks again, everyone.

You are right, I should start out with something I can drink in 6
months. That I will do. I'll get some earlier drinkers aging, then do
a 2 or three year wine afterward.

You are right, Mike, some of those high-end kits are expensive I know, but I see it as a
long term investment into my future (of enjoyment). If one intersperses drinking
those 30 bottles with other types and quality on wine, they could last
a longtime and bring a lot of enjoyment. Once I retire, and I am getting close, I might not be
able to afford good wine, so if I start them now, they will be ready
for me by then.

I guess I am a little worried, though. I tend to be a compulsive
person and I know that if I really get into this wine making, I could
gungho. Hey, I need a good hobby anyway!!! After all, I could still
come up out of my basement every once in a while and say hi to my wife.

Hey Appleman, a thousand bottles of wine a year is a lot of wine. I
noticed that you and a few others on this forum sometimes have 10 or
more batches going at one time. Surely you can't drink all that
wine!!! From your posts, it is obvious to me that your passion for
that farm/vineyard and getting your license is extremely important to
you and to your future. You are still growing and it doesn't sound like you are close to slowing down. I think it's super to have such a passion.
God speed in your getting everything you are seeking.
I thought I would "only" make 3-4 kits when this all started. I now have 10 full carboys bulk aging and 2 kits bottled and on the cellar racks plus 2 more kits waiting in the wings.

George should adopt me.........
Seriously, what are you going to do with all that wine?
I know - DRINK IT!

You know of course that you are never going to stop making wine, so in a few years you are going to have thousands of bottles of wine.

Wait, what am I saying! That sounds kind of nice.

Seriously, it sounds really cool to have several different wines all ready at the same time, so you could say, "Well, what is Mike in the mode for tonight."

What is that saying ... "Varietals are the spice of life". As long as you throw in a few blends here and there.
Its more than I could/should drink for many years so here's hoping they all mostly get 2 years age on them or most of them anyway.

They are all different so yes I will have lots of variety which will be very nice to have.

It keeps me busy!
Welcome to the forum and the fun. Wow, I wish I had room to keep 10 carboys going all the time. Unfortunately, I don't. At least not until I convice the wife we need a new house just so we can get a wine cellar or workspace. I think most anything you make will be better than the box wine. Good luck.......
I started less then one year ago and I am working on my 5th batch. I am not gaining too much because I drink faster than I make it. But I am building a small wine celar to store it bacause my wif e wants her closet back. Yes this "hobby" can get out of hand very fast.

Welcome and have fun. This is a great place to read and learn. A great group here.
I'm in!!!
Placed my initial order for equipment and wine kits with George. I talked with him on the phone. Nice guy and very helpful.
This is going to be interesting and, I know, lots of fun.

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