How to improve kit wines

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atarlecky

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Hi...
I was wondering if anyone had some hints on how to improve my kit wines. The instructions are very basic and they seem very rush-rush. I am perfectly willing to wait a year or two to get a great wine - I don't need my wine to be "drinkable" in 3 months.

Are there changes that can be made to the basic instructions or ingredients to make an "inexpensive" kit wine into a "fantastic" wine above and beyond what is packaged without going to the extreme of making wine from scratch?

Thanks!
 

Luc

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I never make kit wines, only wines from fresh fruit or juices.

However I read a lot :p

So I suggest you read this:
http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/extended.asp

These are: Extended Instructions for Making Wines from Kits
from Jack Kellers website.

Luc
 

cpfan

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I am a kit wine maker. As much as Jack Keller has a wonderful informative web-site I do not agree totally with his Extended Instructions for kit Wines. I am too busy/lazy to re-read them so can't really explain what I didn't like.

Before making too many recommendations, I would prefer to know what kit you are making. (PS two things you should do. 1 - update the location field. 2- always tell us what kit you are talking about.)

In general, I follow the instructions. After the wine is in carboy, I extend the time frames. So a 28 or 42 day kit might actually be bottled after 120-180 days. Where the time is added isn't real important to me. I usually wait at least a month for whites and two months for reds before drinking any of those bottles.

Some people add raisins, tannin, bananas, elderberries, or other goodies to their kits. I am not in the habit of doing those things. I do modify the oaking, and omit the elderflowers.

Have you made any "inexpensive" kits? If so which ones? And what didn't you like about the results.

BTW, one of the best ways to improve the results is to make a better quality kit (ie usually more expensive).

Steve
 

atarlecky

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The kit currently aging is "Orchard Breezin' Mist Wine Seville Orange Sangria". Previously we made the "Vino del Vida Chianti" and "Wine Expert Australian Shiraz".

The Chianti was bottled the middle of February and the Shiraz was bottled the middle of March. Both lack body and seem over-attenuated, very dry, and with very little follow-through.
 

cpfan

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Which Winexpert Australian Shiraz? Selection? World Vineyard?

Spagnols VdeV Chianti should a nice easy drinking red. Doesn't need a lot of aging. The body can be improved by adding bananas (although I have never done this). Spagnols Cru Select Italian Chianti Riserva is a much nicer wine, but it's more expensive and probably requires more aging.

If you are making the OB as per instructions, it should be a sweet refreshing summer drink. Not much aging required. Drink it over ice cubes, possibly with club soda or 7UP.

BTW, why did you (as do a lot of other people) say Winexpert the manufacturer rather than Selection the brand? While for VdeV and OB you said the brand rather than the manufacturer (RJ Spagnols)?

Steve
 

atarlecky

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Which Winexpert Australian Shiraz? Selection? World Vineyard?

Spagnols VdeV Chianti should a nice easy drinking red. Doesn't need a lot of aging. The body can be improved by adding bananas (although I have never done this). Spagnols Cru Select Italian Chianti Riserva is a much nicer wine, but it's more expensive and probably requires more aging.

If you are making the OB as per instructions, it should be a sweet refreshing summer drink. Not much aging required. Drink it over ice cubes, possibly with club soda or 7UP.

BTW, why did you (as do a lot of other people) say Winexpert the manufacturer rather than Selection the brand? While for VdeV and OB you said the brand rather than the manufacturer (RJ Spagnols)?

Steve
I just read it off the instructions... it says Wine Expert in the corner and Vintners Reserve and I wrote "Shiraz" on the form... so Wine Expert Shiraz.

I am curious about the kits that I don't have to add any water to... $125 to $150... are these kits worth the money?
 

cpfan

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I just read it off the instructions... it says Wine Expert in the corner and Vintners Reserve and I wrote "Shiraz" on the form... so Wine Expert Shiraz.
OK for most purposes VR is the same as VdeV. And it is not likely to be an Australian Shiraz, unless VR and World Vineyard have the same instructions.

I am curious about the kits that I don't have to add any water to... $125 to $150... are these kits worth the money?
Do you have a brand name, because "it depends", and price may not help. Don't know where you live, but here goes. Paklab OPUS V from Costco in Canada is bottom end and costs about $60-70. Spagnols Bolero is probably better than VdeV and VR, same as WV. Spagnols Premier Cru and Vineco Vinterra are better than all of the above but should be $125 or less (I think). Some of the Mosti Mondiale 23 litre kits are expensive and supposed to be very good but I know very little about that brand.

Steve
 

atarlecky

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That's great cpfan... thank you for the info.

While I am glad started making my own wine, I think I short-changed myself by trying the less expensive kits. I mean - why wait a year for a mediocre wine when you can wait 2 years for a fantastic wine?

We have costco here but I am not sure they sell kit wines.
 

cpfan

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We have costco here but I am not sure they sell kit wines.
Don't know where you live, but if it's not Canada, don't bother looking for wine kits.

You should update the Control Panel to give your location.

Steve
 

PBechthold

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Canada Costco

Don't know where you live, but if it's not Canada, don't bother looking for wine kits.

You should update the Control Panel to give your location.

Steve

I have got an Exclusive Membership to Cost-co! I get great prices because I buy everything in bulk, you see.

Costco Canada definitely stocks wine kits. I wouldn't recommend them the way they are. My friends did me a favour by drinking it all... so it must not have been too bad. But I couldn't stand it.
 

Cannew

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One can add sugar (diluted in water) to increase the alcohol content.
 

PBechthold

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detective work

So that you can have a high alcohol poor wine?

Thanks, but no thanks.

Steve
Maybe this was your issue with Keller's advice. He suggested adding sugar if you plan on topping up with water (Which I think most people who buy costco kits will). The idea behind it was when topping up you will end up with the proper level of alcohol. Sadly, this won't help the fact you just watered down the body of the wine.

I liked Keller's advice for the most part though. I wouldn't do it on a really nice kit; I have trust in the manufacturers producing 19L juice kits. But next time I get a wine kit as a gift from some unknowing friend or relative I will probably be following Keller's advice. Might add some :db Bananas too.:db
 

Rocky

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Improving kits depends on what aspect of the wine you are trying to improve: mouth, ABV, color, taste, etc. There are a number of things one can do depending on that, e.g. add oak, add tannin, add sugar, add an f-pack, glycerin, fruit juice, etc. I have found it a lot easier and more rewarding to buy the better kits, i.e. at least 15 liter and the "onliest" things I am now adding is a grape pack, other f-pack or raisins.
 

cpfan

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Maybe this was your issue with Keller's advice.
You're commenting on my post from July 2008. I had a number of issues with Jack Keller's modified instructions for kits. Starting with the fact that his mods (at the time) were already a few years old and kit instructions had been updated quite a bit by 2008.

I like Jack Keller's site as there lots of info there. But he's not a kit guy.

Steve
 

shoebiedoo

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Adding to what Rocky said, "Grape Packs' are not going to be around anymore so I would look for kits that come with grape packs. RJ Spagnols Winery series, En Premeur. WineExpert has some grape packs in some of their International serries and Mosti Monsadiale has their Renaissance Impressions serries. All of these come with grape packs which will add body to your wine.
 

ibglowin

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Lets not forget the Cellar Craft Showcase series of kits. They were one of the first to introduce the grape pack into the industry.
 

cpfan

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and the Ken Ridge Founders Series reds come with grape packs.

Steve
 

edv

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Regarding grape packs, one of the things I frequently do is stagger a couple of kits...starting with a Winery Series, then a week later starting a similar (Cru Select) variety into which I dump the grape pack from the first. Maybe I do this because I'm so cheap, but it seems to help.

As for bananas..I've done this a few times, too. Just remember to squish down the banana and give it 30 seconds or so in the microwave to kill any bacteria.
 

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