Wine Kits Vs Orange Wine

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Mar 1, 2023
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Manchester (UK)
I've been making wine for 16 months now and I'm on my 20th batch, but I do still class myself as a beginner!

I started off making orange wine and making it as strong as possible. The best result was 17.93% ABV using Youngs Super Wine Yeast compound, made in a 10L bucket. The stars must have been in alignment or whatever, because it never quite got that strong before or after that batch.

As far as wine kits go, I only tried using one quite late on into those 16 months at around 13 months into it.

What a difference! The orange wine was disgusting in comparison, so I have stuck to using wine kits (SG Gold Chardonnay Style).

The thing I have noticed though, is that yeast just doesn't seem to get on as well with these kit juices as it does with orange, whether that's orange from concentrate (my best ABV result at 17.93%) or pure orange juice.

Has anyone else fermented orange juice Vs a wine kit and found the same? It seems impossible to make these wine kits get above 16% ABV even with EC-1118. That seems to be about the limit, whereas I've had close to 18% using orange juice as the base juice. There has to be something "better" about orange compared to grapes?

Of course some fruits, I really struggled with like cranberry and it seems every fruit is going to be different.

Since these wine kits (even the cheapest ones like these SG Gold kits) produce wine that is far better than the stuff made from orange juice and at around the same cost, I've learnt to just make the OG at around 1.110 SG and that comes out nearly dry (0.993 SG) in 9 days, giving an ABV around 15%.

What I mean is, there's not much point aiming for 18% with these kits because it just doesn't ferment to that and it ends up too sweet if that's the aim. I think the max ABV I have got is about 16% ABV from these kits, always using this same brand (SG Gold) and their "Chardonnay Style".

I just wonder why yeast copes better in orange juice than it does in these kits, where they must make and sell millions of them, specifically aimed at making wine.

Conspiracy time: Could it be that because these Chardonnay kits have 10.5% ABV on the box as the aim (and I'm going way past that or trying to) they are putting something in the juice that mildly inhibits the yeast?
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