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Wine&Ale

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Hello all, Im would like to buy a wine kit for my wife and I to make together and thought maybe you could help me pick out the rite one. She prefers sweeter red's like Stella Rosa and Lambrusco (sp?). I know very little about wine so Im not sure what kit will be the best for her tastes. Checking on line it looks like my local supply shop has Winexpert kits but I am open to all suggestions. I am a brewer so I should have most if not all of the equipment needed to complete the kit. Thanks in advance, Al
 

arcticsid

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Welcome to the forum Al, I assume that is your name. I don't know a thing about kits so it will not be me who offers you or your lady a recommendation.

I do want to welcome you and her all the same. We have recently had this topic come up whre the ladies would like to brew their own wine because the hubby makes his own beer.

There are some great guys/gals in here who are quite familiar with kits and am sure you will get a response real quick.

You are right in saying almost all of your brew equipment is already on hand.

Kits can vary in complexity and price through a large scale, so asking which one can also vary in the answer. It is like asking, " we enjoy salads, what is the best green to use"?

I am confident someone will pop in and send you in the right direction. because you are already a brewer you have the advantage to understand some of the basic procedures as far as sterilization, SG, and some of the other things required to make a nice fermented beverage. Stepping out side of my realm I would say stay away from the Island Mist kits. They make a nice product, but they will be sweet and fruity but no alcohol.

I am looking forward to seeing what some of the others toss your way for suggestions. It is great to see the ladies involved in the brew process.

St Allie is one of our moderators, and she makes mostly fresh fruit wines, but she will be tickled to see another lady in here interested in wine making! I am sure she will be along to contribute to this post. Don't be afraid to let YOUR lady take a look at the responses as your involvement continues.

Glad to have you on board, you have come to the right place to get an experieced friendly group to help you along.

So other than that, tell us about your brewing experience and what you know about wine.

Quite a few brewers in here too!! We try to keep the topics seperate, but it is sort of all in the same.

Take care.

Troy
 
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wyntheef

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While i'm certainly not a kit expert, i think just using some common sense will probably get you in the right area.

Since your wife likes the reds, and you don't care so much at this point in time, stick with that type and you will have something close as far as taste goes. (read the descriptions of the kits)

Most of the kits i have looked at finish dry, but offer suggestions for sweetening such as adding syrup prior to drinking. Sweetening prior to bottling can also be an option, but is more involved. There are also ice-wine kits that sound like they finish sweet, but i don't know anything about them, like if they are more complicated to make for us 'newbs'. :r

On the financial end of it, it seems a lot of newer winemakers tend toward the lower costing kits because if something goes way wrong, your'e not out a bunch of money. You can always spend more later if you want to pursue the hobby further. Besides, unless someone is kinda fussy about their glass of wine, the lower end kits seem to be fine in most cases.

My understanding is, the main difference in quality of kits is the level of condensation from the pure juice.
(more juice + less water = more money + better wine.)

Finally, if you search this forum, there are quite a few threads from people basically reviewing the kits they have done.

imho, there really isn't a 'wrong' choice. Just a matter of if you decide to do it or not.

Good Luck and welcome. :b
 

Dugger

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My understanding is, the main difference in quality of kits is the level of condensation from the pure juice.
(more juice + less water = more money + better wine.)
:b
While this is true about the ratio of juice to juice concentrate,you must also consider that the quality of the juice is generally better in the more expensive kits. Just as orange juice can vary from your no name brands to your top of the line brands, wine kit juice varies also, with your top kits sourcing juice from better grapes or better vinyards or better harvests.

Al, regarding an appropriate wine, a sweet red is generally not offered in kits, so you will have to go to a mist kit, a blush, or backsweeten the red of your choice. One easy way to do this is to save a cup or two of the kit juice and add it back at stabilization to suit your taste.
Good luck .. Doug
 

cbw

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It's not a "sweet, sweet" kit ... but it's a kit that most folks agree is an "early drinker" (meaning you can make it and drink it a month later) ... but most folks (me included) feel that the Winexpert Vintners Reserve Messa Luna Red is a really good "first" kit.

Yeah, yeah, I know. It's cheap. It's thin. It's ... it's a solid starter kit that most folks who make it enjoy.

Since your local shop carries Winexpert ... they should be able to get it in if they don't have it in stock.

Try it ... you'll like it. Your wife will like it. Mine did.
 

cbw

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Just noticed you are in Central Illinois. Fryer Tuck carries Winexpert kits ... in Peoria and Bloomington.

"Harrington Press" is a cheap online retailer .. he's located in Central Illinois and will allow local pick-ups in Peoria
 

fuzzmeister

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[:f
Al, regarding an appropriate wine, a sweet red is generally not offered in kits, so you will have to go to a mist kit, a blush, or backsweeten the red of your choice. One easy way to do this is to save a cup or two of the kit juice and add it back at stabilization to suit your taste.
Good luck .. Doug[/QUOTE]

Dugger I heard about someone else saving a little juice and adding it back to the wine after it was done fermenting but I did not have time to get the details would you mind explaining your procedure for sweetning a wine thanks.
 

Dugger

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Fuzzmeister - all you do is save some of the juice from the kit ( I used to dump the juice in the bucket then dip out enough to fill a 500 ml water or pop bottle and keep in the refrigerator) and then add it back into the wine just after stabilization but before clarifying ( just like an F-pack that comes with some kits). You can experiment with the amount but I am guessing that each cup (250 ml) of juice would increase the sweetness number by maybe 1 or so.
Of course, you can do the same thing with sugar and water (simple syrup) but I liked the idea of using the same juice.
Hope this helps .. Doug
 

fuzzmeister

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Doug Thanks for the info, I have sweetened wine with wine conditioner on occasions, but I would like to try sweetning it, with the same juice that was made into wine sounds interesting.
 

Wine&Ale

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Thanks you all for the welcomes and suggestions. I am going to see what Fryer Tuck has tomorrow. I e-mailed Harrington Press asking about a store front and he indicated that he was internet only, never mentioned any thing about local pickup. I may have to check into that a little more as it looks like he has a good selection of kits. I would like to surprise my wife with the kit for Christmas so I have to move fast......lol I bet Fryer Tuck will have something that will work. :b
 

Wine&Ale

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It's not a "sweet, sweet" kit ... but it's a kit that most folks agree is an "early drinker" (meaning you can make it and drink it a month later) ... but most folks (me included) feel that the Winexpert Vintners Reserve Messa Luna Red is a really good "first" kit.

Yeah, yeah, I know. It's cheap. It's thin. It's ... it's a solid starter kit that most folks who make it enjoy.

Since your local shop carries Winexpert ... they should be able to get it in if they don't have it in stock.

Try it ... you'll like it. Your wife will like it. Mine did.
Any tips on making this kit? Is the yeast that come with these kits good or should I get a better yeast? Is the time frame for fermentation/aging/bottling as out lined by the directions good or would we benefit from stretching it out a little? Hoping that Frier Tuck in Bloomington will have it. Thanks again!
 

Wine&Ale

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While this is true about the ratio of juice to juice concentrate,you must also consider that the quality of the juice is generally better in the more expensive kits. Just as orange juice can vary from your no name brands to your top of the line brands, wine kit juice varies also, with your top kits sourcing juice from better grapes or better vinyards or better harvests.

Al, regarding an appropriate wine, a sweet red is generally not offered in kits, so you will have to go to a mist kit, a blush, or backsweeten the red of your choice. One easy way to do this is to save a cup or two of the kit juice and add it back at stabilization to suit your taste.
Good luck .. Doug
Nice tip! Thanks, I am going to try this.
 

cbw

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I was at Fryer Tucks in Peoria last week ... they had a big supply of Winexpert kits.

The kits come with every thing you need as far as juice, yeast and additives.

You do need a basic wine making equipment set-up (bucket. etc). The Peoria Fryer Tuck also carries a starter kit

Harrington Press used to have a store in Peoria ... but closed a year or so ago and is now mail order only. He used to offer to meet locals a couple times a month but may have discontinued that ... email him and ask.
 

Wine&Ale

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I was at Fryer Tucks in Peoria last week ... they had a big supply of Winexpert kits.

The kits come with every thing you need as far as juice, yeast and additives.

You do need a basic wine making equipment set-up (bucket. etc). The Peoria Fryer Tuck also carries a starter kit

Harrington Press used to have a store in Peoria ... but closed a year or so ago and is now mail order only. He used to offer to meet locals a couple times a month but may have discontinued that ... email him and ask.
I know the bloomington store has some kits but I never paid that much attention to them. I will check it out this morning and see what they have. If I don't see any thing I like there I will make the drive over and check out the Peoria store. I think the only thing we will need is a bucket as I ferment my beer in carboys and my 6 gal ones are usually full.....lol These kits are 6 gal rite?
 

arcticsid

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Youll be fine and dandy in what ever you choose just to get her excited into brewing her own. Yeah all you will need for now is a bucket and some cleaner/sanitizer. There is absolutely no need to buy a "starter kit", etc, if you are already brewing, you have all of that already. Choose a kit close to the type of wine she enjoys and you will be fine.

Like Doug mentioned earlier, some of these kits can get spendy, but where in the world can you come up with some of the wonderful grapes, fruits, and spices to do this from "scratch"? You sure can't run down to the supermarket and buy them. Hell, its hard enough to buy fresh fruit at the store to make wine from! usualy it is under ripe, etc.

I think most of the kit makers would agree, spend as much as you think you can afford. because you are a brewer already your chances for sucess are almost guaranteed. I didn't say go flippin nuts on price, but whatever you choose will turn out excellent. just be sure to get something she will like. Obviously, if she doesn't like white wine for example your choice , although great at heart, may not be the best choice.

Please keep us posted, sure looking forward to seeing what you choose and how the lady likes it.

Happy Merry at ya!!!

Troy
 

wyntheef

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dugger said:

"While this is true about the ratio of juice to juice concentrate,you must also consider that the quality of the juice is generally better in the more expensive kits. Just as orange juice can vary from your no name brands to your top of the line brands, wine kit juice varies also, with your top kits sourcing juice from better grapes or better vinyards or better harvests."



I've heard this before, so i'm wondering, do these upper end kits or any kits for that matter, have some kind of description or documents or any way of determining what exactly you are paying more for?

It seems to me that if they are asking you to pay more for 'something', it should be spelled out on the box. :a1
 

cpfan

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wyntheef:

Does a $75 bottle of commercial wine have such a description on it's label? No, you go by brand name and/or recommendations of others.

It's basically the same with wine kits. A company develops it's brand name to represent a certain value and/or quality. In the case of Winexpert, you know/learn that Selection kits are better than Vintners Reserve, and that Selection Estate is better than Selection Original.

If you read the box ingredients carefully, you will see some differences between brands and this can help to determine the quality. But, if you love Washington State Merlots and hate California State Merlots, then the above will probably not matter.

There are kits available from a few retailers called **fill-in-blank** (sorry the name escapes me), that are really designed for wineries and include the necessary government documents.

You have only been a member here since Dec 2009, but I think I recognize the name, so perhaps you came here because winepress is down. Regardless, you should study the opinions of the knowledgable folks on the forums, much the same as you might read reviews of commercial wines.

Steve
 

cpfan

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Any tips on making this kit? Is the yeast that come with these kits good or should I get a better yeast? Is the time frame for fermentation/aging/bottling as out lined by the directions good or would we benefit from stretching it out a little? Hoping that Frier Tuck in Bloomington will have it. Thanks again!
Wine&Ale:

A beer maker's question...should I change the yeast?
Short answer...No.

Long answer...it depends on the kit, but probably not. In particular, I would not switch the yeast in most Winexpert kits, as I feel that they do a lot of testing to determine the best yeast. Other manufacturers use the same yeast (usually EC-1118) in every kit. I don't think yeast variety makes as much difference with wines as with beers. In particular some yeasts do not work well with concentrates, and nearly all kits have some level of concentrate include. Also, different yeasts have different nutrient requirements, and until you understand some of these differences, it is bestnot to fiddle.

An excellent question...timelines.
Patience is a wine maker's best friend. After the wine is in a carboy and protected by an air-lock, go ahead, stretch out the timelines.

Steve
 

Wine&Ale

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OK guys, I got a kit, had to take what I could get but I think it will be ok. Im am dragging butt rite now so I will give the full report tomorrow. Merry Christmas or happy holidays (how ever you like) to all. Catch up with you all on the flip side!
 

cbw

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Any kit is better than no kit.

A day without making wine is a day without sunshine.

Fryer Tuck will order any Winexpert kit you want, no shipping charge.

Start thinking about that special Valentine kit for your sweetie.
 

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