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Where should I order a Wine Kit from?

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jtd1216

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Are there better places to order a Winexpert or RJ Spagnols ingredient kits from online? This is my first time making wine, and I haven't found any local places. I'm from RI, and the only winemaking store around here is owned by an old Italian guy and he would probably shun the idea of ingredient kits. I think you might only be able to order grapes/juice through him.

Either way, I have decided on going with a Winexpert or RJ Spagnols ingredient kit. I would like to order from a reputable company and hopefully one that moves their product! Any ideas or suggestions for me? I don't know if the forum allows posting of businesses, but that would be nice!! Thanks in advance! :h
 

Malkore

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Did you even ask the local 'Italian guy' what he stocks? I'd be very surprised to see any small business owner 'shun' a customer that wants to spend money in his establishment.

Many home winemakers never stray from pre-made kits. They are not 'just for noobs'...they are mainly convenient...the juice is already acidified, and you get all the finings and additives, pre-measured. They make a respectable wine (moreso than Mr. Beer compared to someone brewing non Mr. Beer kits).

You can definitely buy online, but remember these kits contain 2-4 gallons of juice. That's 16-32 pounds to have shipped...I think you'll find the price for shipping will make you want to give the local guy a quick call.

That said, www.williamsbrewing.com and www.northernbrewer.com both stock wine kits.
 

jtd1216

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I took your advice and called the guy. Surely enough he does carry kits and he says he has Cellar Classic and Cru kits. I'm not exactly sure which ones these are, but I can do more research.

If I go in there, is there something I'm able to check to make sure I'm getting new product?? Is there something I should be looking for?

Do you have any recommendations or comments about the kits he carries???
He says they both do well selling in the store.

Thanks, any help from anyone would be great!
 

St Allie

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Hello and welcome to the forum jtd,

Go in and talk to the guy.. have a look online at the kit names to see what people who have made them think of them, quite often people post reviews.. I'm not sure if your cellar classic is a cellar craft kit or not.

If you have a look under the wine kit forums, some of our members have posted the kits they are doing, along with some helpful comments and questions. Also there is a message there on how to read the date codes on kit wines.. each company has their own system for the best before dates on the boxes.

What type of wine would you like to make?

Allie
 
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jtd1216

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I'm going for a medium to full bodied red with little oak as possible, which I think narrows it down quite a bit.

I only have looked at the Winexpert kits which I've heard get very good reviews from people.

I want something as simple as possible. I've heard of the crushendo kits, and they seem interesting, but perhaps I will wait until the next batch to try it out. I'm a first timer!! :h
 

St Allie

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The crushendo kits are the top priced ones here.. I've been looking at those too.. am currently waiting for my port kits to arrive in the post, when they are done, i might splash out on a high end red kit..

However I bought a cheaper merlot kit ( cellar craft 7.5 litre) and will tweak it up a bit with raisins and bananas to up the body and a bit more oak. This is something I like to mess around with.. I'm not suggesting you fiddle with your kit at all hehehe

Buy a good kit as your first one, I didn't, I bought a cheap kit because I was worried about ruining it..( it came out fine and yes I did fiddle with that kit too hehehe) as the guys say in here.. it's pretty hard to kill a kit.

We are all here to give you a hand..

Allie
 

jtd1216

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Is it truly "you get what you pay for" though? How are these Cellar craft and Cru kits?

And I'm not one to fiddle, I know i'll follow the directions to a T.
 

smurfe

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Welcome aboard. Hopefully Wade will pop in here in a bit and give you advice on the RJ Spagnols kit to look for. He has made many. I have made many Wine Expert kits but if your local shop has RJS I can't help you a whole lot as I have never made a RJS kit.

If I were to suggest a red kit from WE that you describe I would suggest the Napa Valley Stags Leap Merlot. Of the Crushendo's the Castellina Supertuscan Di Siena and the Corvina Classico di Veneto would both make you happy. They are fantastic wines.

I always recommend you support your local shop but if you can't get what you are looking for there I always recommend The Winemaker's Toy Store at www.finevinewines.com for you winemaking supplies and kits. George is top notch and wont steer you wrong. He is in Dallas Tx though so that may be too far from you for shipping to be feasible but I would definitely check it out though. The first administrator of his forum lived in RI as well and shopped from him so he still may have been the best bet even for your region. He has a great selection of kits. Wade the other administrator here lives in Connecticut and shops there as well. Definitely support your local guy though if he has what you need.
 

smurfe

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One more thing to add to my above post. Please be ready to give your wine plenty of time to age. Do not go by the manufacturers statements that this wine or that wine is ready to drink in 6 months. While it may be consumable, it isn't going to be at its full potential or even like anything you will get down at the corner store. Most all of my red wines get 2 years minimum before the first bottle is ever even opened. Also, always go for the highest level kit you can afford.
 

St Allie

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The more expensive kits are often a 6 week kit with up to 18 litres of concentrated juice in them, yes you get what you pay for, especially in the red wines. Most here say that the lower end ( 7.5 to 12 litre) kit reds are thin, watery and lack the body of the more expensive kits.

I'm sure some of the others will chime in on the details when they pop online a bit later in the day. There are quite a few kit wine makers here.

Allie
 

jtd1216

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I think most of the kits I'm looking at, Winexpert and RJS, are 15-16 liters. Is that one good gauge of quality?

Smurfe, thanks for the link, I'll definitely check them out. Most of the kits I'm seeing are 6 weeks though, definitely not as long as you say. And you say to wait longer? I thought that if you go stray from the directions you chance screwing up the batch? And by longer do you mean in the bottle or in the carboy?

Thanks again in advance to all of you; everyone seems so welcoming and helpful here.
 

diggerdan17

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I,m very new to this wine making thing and so far have only made one kit into the bottle and have 2 more bulk aging in a carboy.One kit is currently fermenting in the primary .The kit i bottled was a wine expert vintners reserve chilean malbec ( one of the lower end kits)and although its drinkable and i,m sure will be much better in 6months to a year i am not very happy with it.On a positive note , i just cracked a chilean malbec that a friend gave me from RJS. it is a grand cru with grape skins and its only 3 months old and i find it very drinkable ( this kit is going to be very good in a year if i can resist opening the other 11 bottles he gave me)good luck with your wine making.
 

smurfe

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I think most of the kits I'm looking at, Winexpert and RJS, are 15-16 liters. Is that one good gauge of quality?

Smurfe, thanks for the link, I'll definitely check them out. Most of the kits I'm seeing are 6 weeks though, definitely not as long as you say. And you say to wait longer? I thought that if you go stray from the directions you chance screwing up the batch? And by longer do you mean in the bottle or in the carboy?

Thanks again in advance to all of you; everyone seems so welcoming and helpful here.
6 weeks is to get it into the bottle. Or lets say totally ferment and clear. Many, myself included bulk age after the wine is done. You then need to let it age appropriately to develop and smooth out. The average for me is two years. Think about it. Most every red wine you buy at the store is at least 2 years of age. White wines peak at about a year on most styles. If you read your directions most say after bottled let age appropriately. That isn't straying any from he instructions. They just hold your hand to get the wine into the bottle. What you do after that is on your own. Do yourself a favor, let it age. I see to many people get into the hobby and drink the wines young and then slam the kits. They make great wines if you give them time like the wineries do. I had a bottle of the Wine Expert Crushendo Super Tuscan with dinner tonight. It is to die for.
 

cpfan

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jtd:

You said that the local guy carried Cellar Classic and Cru. These are rj Spagnols kits. They have three Cru brands...Grand Cru, Premier Cru, and Cru Select. See http://www.rjspagnols.com/en/catalogue.aspx

Cellar Craft products are from a totally different manufacturer (called Cellar Craft). Crushendo kits are from a company called Winexpert.

Spagnols kits should have a variety sticker on them. The manufacturing date is on that sticker and is of the formay yyyymmddx. IMO, don't buy a kit that is over a year old, especially for your first couple of batches.

Steve
 

Wade E

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Im with Smurfe for FineVineWines.com. How much are you looking to spend and are you looking at a white or a red wine.
 

jtd1216

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Smurfe - I understand what you're saying now. I read somewhere that if I were to age longer than a year in the bottle, I should add another 1/4 tsp of meta right before bottle time, is this correct?

CPfan - thanks for the info, I will check out these kits in person. I told me over the phone. Are there different grades of those RJS kits? I'm assuming I can go by price. Are there better varieties within those "lines"?

Wade - I'm looking at a decently full bodied red, and I expected to spend about $100 give or take $20. I'd rather spend $100 than $80 if I know it's going to be much better.

If any of you can give recommendations on the lines my local guy carries, that'd be great. As mentioned before, he carries the cellar classic and cru by RJ spagnol. I'm not sure which Cru it is, he just said "cru" over the phone haha-- old school greenhorn -- "yeah, i got the cellar classic an' I got the cru kit." I do not wish to try the crushendo by WE or any other grape skin kit as of yet. I will do that on my second batch once I'm used to this whole process.

Thanks again for all your help.
 

smurfe

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Smurfe - I understand what you're saying now. I read somewhere that if I were to age longer than a year in the bottle, I should add another 1/4 tsp of meta right before bottle time, is this correct?
Yeah, you ought to do that and always keep a mess of K-Meta around. You can use it as your sanitizer as well.
 

jtd1216

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Well I went to the LHBS finally and checked out their selection. All that he carries is RJ Spagnols in a few different "brands": Grand Cru 10L kits, Cru Select 15L kits, and Cellar Classic 15L kits. He also had a couple En Primeur kits which I think are RJS's top of the line kit.

He suggested to me that I tried Brunelo, Old Vine Zin, Amarone, or the Vieux Chateau du Roi (chat du pape). I'm not sure which ones were Cellar Classics and which were Cru Select, but he said they are equal in their results. Have any of you had experience with these specific kits or even these specific brands?

Thanks!!
 

Wade E

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RJ Spagnols is what I buy. I typically only buy the grapeskin kits and will say they are awesome. The EP;s are as good as they come and cold stabilizing is prefered with these as they will drop wine diamonds because the juice is so good. I also buy the Cellar Classic Winery Series, does your guy have these or just the Cellar Classic traditional? The Cru Select is also awesome at least with all the ones Ive made.
 

jtd1216

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Wade, they had one California Old Vine Zin, and after doing some research, I believe that only came in the Cellar Classic Winery series. If I'm not mistaken, they have the grape skins? I can double check if he has any more of those.

Which Cru Selects have you tried? And how'd u like each of them? He had mostly Cru Select.

Anyone is welcome to chime in on this one, too! Thanks again!!
 
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