Choosing a Wine Kit – Part 1 Overview

Choosing a Wine Kit – Part 1 Overview

Selecting a wine kit can be a little daunting especially if it’s you’re first one. A lot of factors come into play including the type of wine, cost, kit complexity, processing time, minimum aging time and feedback from other kit winemakers. In this two part series I’ll try to demystify the process. In this first article we’ll start by identifying the key characteristics that separate one product line from another. In part two we will use these key characteristics to analyze each product line and compare the different categories of kits. Then we’ll finish up by discussing how to select your first wine kit and how your kit choices can help build your wine cellar. I’ve used the Winexpert product line for examples because those are the kits I am most familiar with. However, the same basic guideline should apply to other kit makers product lines as well as long as they start out with approximately the same number of liters per kit. Does size matter? One of the things that puzzled us the most when we first started making wine kits was – other than the price, what is the difference between all these different kit product lines?  The short answer is 1) the quality/cost of the grapes used to make the kit and 2) the physical size of the kit.  The quality of the grapes seems obvious but does size really matter?  The answer, at least in the case of wine kits, is an emphatic “Yes!” The more expensive kits are roughly twice as large as cheaper kits yet both kits produce the same 6 gallons of wine.  This is only possible because the smaller kits have a much higher percentage of juice concentrate (juice with a significant amount of water removed) than larger kits, as a result you have to add a lot more water to make 6 gallons of wine with a small kit. The use of a juice concentrate provides two benefits. The first and most obvious is that it reduces the size of the package and the weight of the kit thereby saving on storage and shipping cost. The second less obvious benefit is that the concentrate has a much higher sugar level which acts as a preservative to protect the juice in the kit and extend the shelf life. This may seem counter intuitive at first that sugar would protect anything from spoiling but if you think about things that are high in sugar like the sugar bowl on the table, honey, jelly and fruit preserves. They can all sit out for weeks or months without spoiling because of the high sugar content. The downside of juice concentrates as we all know from experience with things like orange juice and other concentrates is that a little bit of the flavor seems to get lost in the process. Larger kits have a lower percentage of juice concentrate and a higher percentage of regular juice. Basically there is a lot more “stuff” in the juice bag for a “big kit” which gives the wine a richer, more complex flavor. If you take a small...

Read More