Article and photos by Rich Weaver
Imagine going to your favorite wine shop and paying $20 for your treasured British Columbia Meritage. You pour the wine and take in its aromas of vanilla, chocolate, and leather. You swirl the wine over your tongue and detect flavors of plum and black currants. Now, what if you could make that same wine for $5 a bottle?
Why Make Wine From Wine Kits?
There are several reasons why to make wine from wine kits. One reason is that you love wine and want a cellar with a nice selection of wine without breaking the bank. The equipment needed to make wine from a kit runs in the $100 to $200 range. And if you’re a homebrewer, you probably have most of it anyway. From there, you can always purchase more carboys to increase your capacity to make more wine to meet demand. Kits themselves vary from “budget” kits, starting at around $60, to premium kits that cost up to around $200. A kit makes 6 gallons (23 L) and yields 30 bottles of wine, so your wine will actually cost around $3 to $7, depending.
Another reason to make wine from kits is that it only takes about 30 minutes to put a wine in the fermenter. A kit contains juice that, once diluted to working strength, is ready to be fermented. All the additives and processing aids are measured out in sachets and ready to go. Making a kit really only involves some mixing and stirring and it will be fermenting the next day. Making wine from grapes takes several hours and involves much more (and more expensive) equipment. Once you start making wine, you’ll love the smell from your fermenter. This can be a starting point to winemaking, and you can decide later if you want to make the move to making wine from juice or grapes.
Finally, the technology for making wine kits has improved since the ‘80s when do-it-yourself wines from canned concentrate first became popular. Today, the higher end kits produce wine that really does stand up to commercial wines costing $10 to $20. Much of the reason is that modern, high-end wine kits contain juice that has only been slightly concentrated, avoiding the cooked jam flavors from old school wine concentrates.
With the knowledge of the time it takes to make wine from kits (4-8 weeks), which wines should you make during which time of the year? This is truly up to you the home winemaker and the climate you live in. Personally, I’ve found that I really enjoy a cold white wine in the summer time, so I’m more apt to make white wines in the late spring and early summer for those evenings when a cold wine satisfies the thirst after a glass of water for rehydration purposes. Aging time on white wines is not as long either.
I enjoy full bodied red wines, so I’m more inclined to make those the other time of the year to enjoy during times of cooler weather. Considering the people of Argentina enjoy their fullest bodied wine on Dec. 25th during the heat of their summer, the best wine for you to make really is the one which fits your budget and your taste. Cheers!
Author Rich Weaver owns and operates Dr. Fermento’s Beer and Winemaking Supplies in Casper, Wyoming, which opened its doors on April 1, 2009 (no foolin’). Rich is a homebrewer and a winemaker that has been making kit wines for the last 4 years. He has a BA in Chemistry from Augustana College. Go Vikings!