Kit Wine Taste

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Brian55

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So, pulled a SLM today that was made before I had the AIO and immediately put the VacuVin on to see if there was any CO2. Nothing. Maybe I’m not describing it correctly but something is just off/missing on the finish especially compared to commercial wine, even cheap commercial wine...

Also, all of my reds have finished about 0.995-0.996 and I measure with a finishing hydrometer so it’s pretty accurate so that isn’t it. I don’t want to be part of the ‘kit taste’ club but to me something is just noticeably different and I wish I could pinpoint it.

Maybe next test to make sure I am not biased is to have my wife give me 4 blind samples of a varietal with just 1 being a kit. I have no doubt I could pick the kit!
We've done dozens of similar tastings with friends, with consistently similar results. I have no doubt you'll be able to pick out the kit wine, I was able to every time. What you won't expect, is how many moderately priced commercial wines will be rated lower than your measly kit wine in said blind tasting by others. Is it better, worse, or just different? Unless there's an issue in your process, which it sounds like there shouldn't be, your wines will do just fine in a blind tasting.
 

Ajmassa

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We've done dozens of similar tastings with friends, with consistently similar results. I have no doubt you'll be able to pick out the kit wine, I was able to every time. What you won't expect, is how many moderately priced commercial wines will be rated lower than your measly kit wine in said blind tasting by others. Is it better, worse, or just different? Unless there's an issue in your process, which it sounds like there shouldn't be, your wines will do just fine in a blind tasting.
About a year ago I put this to the test. Had a kit wine that I thought was good but had that taste in the finish. Also had some grape wines I considered much better- albeit younger than the kit. Still young with Fruity flavor but had an overall fullness in the body, the bouquet, and the finish. To me the grape wines were clearly superior.
Sent them into an amateur winemaker contest— and I’ll be goddamned the kit earned a silver while the others bronze! Didn’t change my mind or anything. But still was very interesting.
 

winemanden

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One thing you must remember with Kits, they're concentrated. Must need heat to do that. How many of you juice winemakers heat their juice before fermenting it, Nahh, didn't think so.
 

Ajmassa

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One thing you must remember with Kits, they're concentrated. Must need heat to do that. How many of you juice winemakers heat their juice before fermenting it, Nahh, didn't think so.
That was considered. A few posts back @Swedeman posted a link https://www.midwestsupplies.com/bottled-knowledge/wine-recipes/how-to-make-wine-at-home/wine-skins-in-recipe-kits of Tim Vandergrift saying exactly this. And making the point that mass producing commercial wineries (Gallo, Mondavi etc) also concentrate no different than kits. But no perceived kit taste there ever.
I’m not sure of the exact process the wineries use to store their concentrate before use, but the main difference seems to be kit concentrate also goes through pasteurization.
 

jsiddall

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I think what Tim is arguing is that some big wineries use some concentrated juices in their wines. I guess it is possible that those wineries make some of their wines entirely from concentrates (which is theoretically comparable to kits), though I really doubt that. Regardless, I never drink those wines so I cannot comment on how much like kits they are.

What I do know is the wines I enjoy are definitely not from big wineries and definitely not from concentrates. In Ontario, VQA wine is not allowed to contain any concentrates. The first thing the law talks about, from Regulation 405 under the Act, is:

(a) ...produced by the complete or partial alcoholic fermentation of fresh grapes, juice or grape must and that does not include grape concentrate...​
 
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Interesting discussion. As a newbie, I just finished a 5 gal. wine kit and I don't like the results. The wine seems to have little "body" and is a bit sour. The SV is a little more than 0.990. I'm wondering if I allowed the batch to be exposed to too much air??? And, I assume there is no way to correct these results.
 
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jsiddall

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Interesting discussion. As a newbie, I just finished...
I have never had a kit wine that tasted good right after making it. However, left for a few years all the red kits I made have definitely improved. Do the same and hopefully it will become something you like eventually.
 

jsbeckton

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Interesting discussion. As a newbie, I just finished a 5 gal. wine kit and I don't like the results. The wine seems to have little "body" and is a bit sour. The SV is a little more than 0.990. I'm wondering if I allowed the batch to be exposed to too much air??? And, I assume there is no way to correct these results.
If it’s received too much O2 it tends to get a brownish hue. As was said before it may improve with time, but not if it’s been exposed to too much O2. If it was a cheap kit the lack of body is not surprising. Can try tannins but they will only mask this.

Can’t say that I’ve ever perceived a kit, new or not, as ‘sour’. It may have been infected if you were not careful about sanitation.
 

Venatorscribe

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That was considered. A few posts back @Swedeman posted a link https://www.midwestsupplies.com/bottled-knowledge/wine-recipes/how-to-make-wine-at-home/wine-skins-in-recipe-kits of Tim Vandergrift saying exactly this. And making the point that mass producing commercial wineries (Gallo, Mondavi etc) also concentrate no different than kits. But no perceived kit taste there ever.
I’m not sure of the exact process the wineries use to store their concentrate before use, but the main difference seems to be kit concentrate also goes through pasteurization.
Excellent article - that settles the mind on the question of wine kits.thanks for adding the link.
 

mainshipfred

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I'm not sure this kit taste thing is ever going to get fully agreed upon. My thoughts on AJ's post about his kit receiving a higher award than his grape wines is who is sponsoring these things. I think you will find the majority of the sponsors are in the kit wine industry. I don't do kits except for an occasional white juice bucket and have nothing against kits but if awards aren't given to the kit wines I would think the sponsors would pull out, it's marketing. Tim Vandergrift is also associated with the kit industry and although I'm sure he is very knowledgeable he has to defend his industry. Personally I don't consider the majority of Gallo, Mondavi and the likes quality wines. I'm sure they make some higher quality wines but not the ones they are referring to in the article, and I like jsiddall don't drink them.

So here is what I have to offer on the kit wine taste:

I think it is generally agreed upon that most people don't get the kit taste in whites, or at least the majority of the complaints are coming from reds. Set aside the processing of the juice, whites don't generally go through MLF. Reds on the other hand mostly do. Since a kit wine cannot go through MLF what happens to the malic and where if it even exists is the lactic. As I said before aside from the processing of the juice the malic/lactic conversion is the only other variable.
 

ceeaton

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Having five red kit wines at 36+ months (four of them are 48 months or older), I'd have to say that aging is the best solution to kit wine taste, unless you go to all fresh grape wines, which many here have. I have to admit I haven't started a red or white kit in quite some time, not because I don't like them but because I have more than enough wine to keep me inebriated for the next few years. I think if you are concerned about kit taste in a red wine but still need to make kit wines because of the difficulties in getting fresh red grapes, I'd think about using the extended maceration technique described on other threads. Patience and good corks can also help alleviate the problem. Just my opinion.
 

sour_grapes

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I'm not sure this kit taste thing is ever going to get fully agreed upon.
I am quite sure it never will be!! :)

My thoughts on AJ's post about his kit receiving a higher award than his grape wines is who is sponsoring these things. I think you will find the majority of the sponsors are in the kit wine industry .... but if awards aren't given to the kit wines I would think the sponsors would pull out, it's marketing.
I just want to be clear about what you are proposing. You are speculating that, in a contest, the judges detect a kit taste, and so reckon that a certain wine is made from a kit. They then opt to give the wine with a kit taste high marks, so as to appease/encourage kit manufacturers? Just so I understand, is that a fair summary of your thesis?
 

Ajmassa

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@mainshipfred The competition was one of the more established events - the 2018 Kansas City Cellarmasters Wine Classic. Sponsored by all the heavy hitters- kit makers included.
Though I’m not so sure the scoring is biased. It’s still standard UC Davis scoring. The wines were in different categories but that’s just groupings for best in class and really just to be organized. I don’t think they’re handicapping the kits.
And I’ve heard arguments on the flip side. That kits give unfair advantage in contests and should be kept separate. Who knows. I guess it’s all relative. The kits did score better on average than red vinefera wines.

Here’s a good article explaining in detail what’s involved in making the kits. (Keep in mind it was written by ‘them’. So ya know, grain of salt & stuff)

https://winemakermag.com/technique/how-wine-kits-are-made
 
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bstnh1

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Interesting discussion. As a newbie, I just finished a 5 gal. wine kit and I don't like the results. The wine seems to have little "body" and is a bit sour. The SV is a little more than 0.990. I'm wondering if I allowed the batch to be exposed to too much air??? And, I assume there is no way to correct these results.
If you "just finished" the kit, you shouldn't expect a great tasting wine. I never consider any of my kits to be drinkable until they've aged at least a year for whites and usually a minimum of 2 years for reds, and often quite a bit longer. Give it 6 months to a year and sample it then. You may be in for a nice surprise.
 

tjgaul

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So here is what I have to offer on the kit wine taste:

I think it is generally agreed upon that most people don't get the kit taste in whites, or at least the majority of the complaints are coming from reds. Set aside the processing of the juice, whites don't generally go through MLF. Reds on the other hand mostly do. Since a kit wine cannot go through MLF what happens to the malic and where if it even exists is the lactic. As I said before aside from the processing of the juice the malic/lactic conversion is the only other variable.
Fred, that's funny . . . I only detect the kit taste in whites. The red kits taste young to me early on, but I don't get the peculiar chemical taste that I associate with the white kits. That being said, the red kits get many more additives like tannins and oak which may be covering up the underlying KT. I've given up using the clearing agents and rely on age and continual degassing (AIO pump) to clear the wine and I still get KT in the whites for quite a while. At about a year to 16 months old the KT seems to fade.
 

tjgaul

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Really enjoyed the article on how wine kits are made. I work for a dairy processing company and there's some overlap between the wine kit process and ours. We both use HTST pasteurization and condensing under vacuum.

It seems like a lot of the high end winemakers have been moving toward facilities built to take advantage of gravity to minimize the amount of mechanical handling (pumping) of the wine. The kits seem to be on the opposite end of the spectrum in this regard. Between the clarifying, pressing, chilling, warming, condensing and re-hydrating that's a lot of roughing up of those poor grapes/juice. I have wonder how much impact that has on the final product that comes out of my home fermenter.
 

mainshipfred

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I am quite sure it never will be!! :)



I just want to be clear about what you are proposing. You are speculating that, in a contest, the judges detect a kit taste, and so reckon that a certain wine is made from a kit. They then opt to give the wine with a kit taste high marks, so as to appease/encourage kit manufacturers? Just so I understand, is that a fair summary of your thesis?
Not exactly, I just can't help but to believe there is not some kind of influence in the decision making. Not saying it's as much the kit taste but perhaps some other indicator. Studies and surveys more often than not lean toward the ones footing the bill or I could be dead wrong.
 

Cellar Door

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I’ve really enjoyed this thread. I’m a relatively new vintner, exclusivity using kits. I’ve found it difficult to store wine for several years before sampling, but after reading the entries from the experienced wine makers, I’ve committed to some self discipline and plan to wait for at least 18 months on my big reds. I’ve adopted one of the recommendations of “experts” on this forum and I’m bulk storing 11 carboys now; it’s just too easy to open bottles before they’re ready. Another “trick” that I’ve adopted is to bottle several 375ml bottles as “tasters”. Great idea! Thanks to all that contribute to this forum, I’ve really learned a lot.
 

kuziwk

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One thing you must remember with Kits, they're concentrated. Must need heat to do that. How many of you juice winemakers heat their juice before fermenting it, Nahh, didn't think so.
They use an extreme negative pressure tank which lowers the boiling point to about 75 degrees f, not enough to cook or alter the must. It’s the very same reason water boils at a lower temperature at higher altitudes, they use far more pressure though.
 
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