There isn’t much to say about making wine from a kit. It’s often been compared to a paint by numbers kind of thing. I can agree with that, but it’s still fun to try something different, plus I like wine, and I’m ok with some cheap wine at that. I’m hoping this would be drinkable for those times when I just want something cheap to drink rather than dipping into the “nice stuff”. I’m not that picky with cheap wine, but I do have my limits. I came from the bottom, now we’re here.
I would like to get more into making wine with grapes from a vineyard. I know there are ways to get about getting these, but I haven’t followed through yet with a possible contact I have, which isn’t really a contact, more of a polite conversation I had with a wine maker about wine making at home.
The kit I bought is called Mezza Luna Red Wine Kit (Vintner’s Reserve). The reviews were good and it wasn’t too expensive. I was very very tempted to get a 1 gallon kit for my first attempt at this, but I opted for the 6 gallon one and figured I can just make a shitload of sangria out of it if it went truly south and tasted terrible.
Followed the instructions. Every wine kit will have one. After the yeast was pitched, it was put in the chest freezer being held in the mid-to-low-70s.
2/8/16: Bubbles going in the airlock.
2/15/16: Gravity at .997. Transferred to a secondary 6 gallon carboy. There is about 1/2 gallon of headspace left. I stirred with the racking cane a little after transferring to aid in releasing CO2.
2/28/16: Per the instructions I added a packet of potassium metabisulfite (wild yeast killer) and a packet of potassium sorbate (yeast stopper) dissolved in distilled water (though I maybe should have let these dissolve a bit longer, some chunks of white powder were floating on top of the wine after), and then clarifying gel. Swirled for about 2 minutes after each addition.
According to the kit, they insisted that the troob on the bottom be swirled back into the solution so the finnings could latch on and do their job with flocculating everything out. It was also a way to make sure more degassing occurred if there was any CO2 left in the solution. From what I had gathered in initial research, a lot of wine kit’s instructions required a tertiary step around this time, but this kit’s instructions did not say to do that.
3/10/16: Set the chest freezer to 53F.
3/13/16: Bottled. Before I bottled though I made a solution with 4 teaspoons of potassium metabisulfite added to 1/2 gallon (2 liters) of water then rinsed the bottles with the solution. I was torn on what to use for sanitizing bottles, but it seemed very common to use potassium metabisulfite. I did not boil the corks, rather just sprayed each one with Star-San right before corking each bottle. I stored these upright for a few days before putting them all on their side. The average temp in my garage is probably mid-70s. So be it.
4/21/16 First tasting notes:
Truly awful. I can only suspect that those who reviewed this as a good wine kit are only into beer and don’t know much about wine? Or they followed more traditional better wine making practices than I did? It’s also very possible there are no good wine kits. This one tastes really sweet and super one dimensional…kinda like if I just fermented grape juice purchased from the grocery store. The only thing I will say as a possible positive is that it is very young, but I hardly doubt age will fix this. It doesn’t taste young, just gross. There are definitely ways to make good wine at the “homebrew” level, and following these kit insurrections is probably very similar to a first home brew kit recipe where making good beer out that is extremely rare.
Like with more advanced brewing techniques, making good wine has all sorts of more advanced stuff like acid levels to watch, oxidation ingress post aging, proper use of chemicals if using them, blending, good grapes (obviously), native or not native fermentation, aging on lees, and other stuff I probably don’t know about.
Looks like I’m going to make a shitload of sangria after all, but I will store a few bottles in the unlikely event anything changes for the better.