If you’re thinking about making your own wine, consider a winemaking kit as your starting point. It’s more cost-effective and requires less work than making wine from real grapes. The best thing about these kits is that many of them come with everything you need, a full set of instructions, and the wine tastes just as good as the bottles sitting on the shelf at your local winery.
Since wine making kits have been around for ages, its hard to decide which kit to buy. Which is why I’ve created this buyer guide to help narrow down the choices for you. Whether you’re an expert looking to step out of the winery or you’ve never made anything past a cup of coffee, these kits will have you brewing your next bottle of wine in no time.
|Winexpert Eclipse Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel Wine Ingredient KitEditor's Choice||6 gallons||Red|
|Midwest Homebrewing and Winemaking SuppliesEditor's Choice||30 bottles||Red|
|WILD GRAPES Premium Wine Kit||6 gallons||Red|
|Cabernet Sauvignon Master Vintner 1 Gallon Small Batch Wine Making Kit||5 gallons||Red|
|Fontana Wine Making Kit Premium||5 gallons||Red & White|
Winexpert Eclipse offers one of the best premium wine making kits, packaged and delivered right to your front door. This kit produces a bold, rich wine that boasts a unique combination of ripe berries, french oak, and a touch of spice. As a dry bodied wine, you get just the right amount of sweetness, without having an overpowering sweetness or being too sour.
The process of making this wine is fairly straightforward, even for novice winemakers. The step-by-step instructions make it easy to follow and all the ingredients are pre-measured for your convenience.
I would recommend this kit to anyone who already owns the basic equipment needed for wine making.
The Midwest brewing kit gives you all the ingredients you need to make 6-gallons, or 30-bottles, of high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon. This kit creates a medium bodied, red wine that’s infused with black fruit, oak, and a touch of spice. Its robust combination of flavors delivers a pleasant aroma and a unique treat for your taste buds, without being overwhelming.
Inside the box, you’ll find 2.6-gallons of fully concentrated grape juice, sealed inside a bladder bag. Since the juice gets sealed inside of a bladder, it has a shelf life of up to a year, giving you plenty of time to gather all the supplies you need, before you begin brewing. More so, this kit also offers oak chips coated with a tannin powder, other flavorings, and other additives that improve the wine’s clarity, color, and flavor. Each step of the wine making process breaks down into easy-to-read steps in the instruction booklet, making for a hassle-free experience.
While the directions to make this wine are simple, they’re misleading for some customers. This kit claims to give you a fully drinkable wine within 5-weeks, however, many customers found that it took up to 6-months for their wine to get the desired taste they enjoyed. In addition, during the wine making process, many customers found they needed to rack their wine 3 times, as opposed to the 2-times the kit recommends, to remove all the sediment from the wine.
I would recommend this kit to anyone who enjoys red wine that falls more on the sweeter side. Additionally, the simplicity of this kit makes it a good choice for both beginning and expert brewers.
Wild grapes premium wine kit boasts a ruby-red color with a tantalizing plum and blackberry aroma. As a medium-bodied Merlot, you’ll enjoy a combination of spice, fruit, cedar, and earth tones that’s easy to pair with a variety of foods. This wine falls on the drier side, reducing the sweetness without giving it too much tang, and it has an alcohol content of 13%.
Inside the box, you’ll find a set of instructions on how to make your wine and a bag of concentrated grape juice. In addition, each kit has oak chips, yeast, tannins, and other additives that give the wine its unique flavor. While this kit doesn’t come with any equipment to make the wine, it does include over 30 bottle labels to customize your wine after its aged.
I would recommend this kit for anyone looking for a wine that has a short aging time. It’s one of the few kits that need only 4-weeks to age, compared to the 6- to 12- month required by other kits.
Master Vintner’s small batch wine making kit is this manufacturer only 1-gallon start kit on the market. This kit offers several wine recipes to choose from including Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay, letting you pick the wine you want to make. Each kit includes all the ingredients you need to make the wine such as a bladder of grape juice concentrate, preservatives, additives, and oak chips.
Aside from having the ingredients needed for a premium batch of wine, this kit also comes with its own primary fermenter and a carboy for racking your wine and letting it age. Additionally, this kit has a hydrometer, test jar, and wine thief, allowing you to test your wine throughout the fermentation process. All of the equipment included in this kit is capable with any standard wine making kit.
I would recommend this kit for beginners because smaller batches are less overwhelming to make. Plus, this kit includes all the equipment a beginner needs for future batches of wine. It’s also a great for experts looking to step away from a traditional winery.
Fontana Hand Crafted Kit – Best Combination Kit
The Fontana Hand Crafted kit creates 23 liters of distinctive, full-bodied wine in just 4-weeks. Each kit has a bladder of pure grape juice and a separate bladder or concentrated juice, giving you better control over the color and flavor of your wine. All of the juice comes from long-standing vineyards in California, promising of only natural ingredients with no artificial flavoring added.
In addition, both containers of juice get sterilized before packaging and vacuum sealed to prevent the growth of bacteria and giving it a shelf life of up to a year. Also inside the box, you’ll find oak chips, yeast, preservatives, and tannin that help improve the wines taste, add clarity, and enhance its color. As an added bonus, this kit comes with an easy to understand instruction booklet that teaches you everything you need to know about making good wine.
I would recommend this kit to anyone who wants a little more control over the flavor and color of their wine. It offers more customization than a standard wine making it and it uses unaltered ingredients.
Wine Making Kit: Buyers Guide
Why Choose A Wine Making Kit?
A wine making kit has a lot to offer, especially to novice wine makers who’ve just started their wine making journey. For starters, to make a batch of wine using fresh grapes, it costs well over $300 just to purchase the grapes. This doesn’t include the cost of buying or renting equipment, additives, and other necessities. With a wine making it, the costs cut in half, without sacrificing taste or quality. Many of the kits include all the additives you need and they’re pre-measured for your convenience. Each kit includes easy to read recipes that breakdown each step into an easy to follow manner.
Types of Wine Making Kits
There are four types of wine making kits to choose for your wine making adventure. These kits include fully concentrated grape juice, partially concentrated grape juice, pure juice, and kits that contain a mixture of pure and concentrated. Regardless of which kit you choose, they all take the same basic steps for brewing. However, each type of kit has distinct differences that affect the wines purity, flavor, ingredients, and other important elements.
Pure Juice Kits
A pure juice kit uses pure grape juice and doesn’t need any additional water during the brewing process. These kits typically cost more than the other options because of its ingredients are purer. Aside from purity, these kits tend to cost more for manufacturers to transport and need more packaging materials, increasing their overall price. Moreover, some pure juice kits need refrigeration that adds extra costs for both the manufacturer and for you.
When you buy this type of wine making kit, the juice gets prepared at high temperatures and then sealed inside of a bladder-like bag or in a pail. All of the air inside the juice containers get sucked out, keeping the ingredients fresh, and it guarantees a leak-free experience. Since these juices get sealed inside of a bladder or pail, as opposed to other packaging methods, they typically last longer.
Moreover, if you choose red wine, pure juice kit, you’ll get some stems and pulp included in the kit. The added pulp and stems give you control over the flavor and color of the wine as your brewing it. Most importantly, due to the juices purity in these kits, you get a richer, bolder tasting wine that gets better as it ages.
Pure and Fully Concentrated Grape Juice Kits
The only difference between a fully concentrated and a partially concentrated kit is the water content. A fully concentrated kit has all the water removed, and a partially concentrated kit only has some of the water vacuumed out. Both these kits fall in the same price range, but they’re cheaper than wine making kits made from pure grape juice. Since the water gets removed from these concentrated kits, you may need to add water as your making the wine.
Additionally, a partially concentrated juice requires less water than a fully concentrated one, giving you a better quality of wine than a fully concentrated one. However, you can adjust the water content of a fully concentrated kit, similar to what a winery calls “bleeding the vats”. Giving you a bolder, more distinguished taste and a richer color. More so, some of these kits require you to add extra sugar to the must, before you begin making the wine. This added sugar acts as a preservative for your wine, and it helps improve the taste and consistency of your wine.
If you choose a concentrated kit, the juice comes sealed inside either a bladder or a can. Juices sealed inside a bladder have a shelf life of 3-years, and any juice bottled in a can has a shelf life of up to a year. It’s important to note that the more aged it is when you drink it, the better the overall taste is, especially when the juice’s stored in a can.
In a combination kit, you receive a bladder or pail of pure juice and a can of either fully concentrated or partially concentrated juice. These kits tend to cost more than a fully or partially concentrated kit, but they’re cheaper than a pure grape juice kit. Depending on the concentration level, you may need to add some sugar and water before making the wine.
There are several items you’ll need before you can start making your wine, to make the process go by smoothly. Some kits have all the items required to make the boxed kit you purchased, and some don’t. One of the most important items to have is a hydrometer. A hydrometer tells you the specific gravity of your wine, which should sit at a final rating of .992 and .996. In other words, this tells you that there’s enough alcohol in the wine to keep it from spoiling.
Another important item to buy is a fermenter. A fermenter is a plastic bin that you’ll use in the first few steps of the wine making process. Make sure to have a hard plastic lid or sheet to keep the pail covered. Other basic necessities you’ll need include:
- 2-Quart Measuring Cup
- 2-Cup Measuring Cups
- A Large Plastic Spoon
- Measuring Spoons
- Large Plastic Funnel
- 2-Glass Jugs
- 5-Foot or Longer Siphon Hose
- Labels and Corks
Moreover, you’ll need to buy at least 2 plastic or glass containers, commonly known as carboys. Plastic carboys are cheaper than glass ones, but they leave your wine open to contamination and leakage. You’ll need to buy the 19-liter or 5-gallon sized containers, or buy the closest size available. These carboys get used to house the wine and transfer it towards the end of the fermenting processes.
Lastly, you want to invest in a wine thief, a device used to add or remove must, wine, and other samples to and from your various containers. Keep in mind that each kit has its own special pieces of equipment and others may call for equipment, not on the list. Always check the wine kit to see what the kit comes with and what you’ll need to buy.
Checking The Ingredients
Before buying a kit, it’s important to check the ingredients to make sure it has everything you need. The ingredient list tells you what you need, what’s included, and what you need to buy. Due to the vast differences in wine, each kit requires its own unique set of ingredients including, but not limited to:
- Grape Tannin
- Tailored Yeast
- Wine Acid
- Additional Water
Keep in mind that if you buy a kit without all the ingredients included, you’ll need to buy and measure the ingredient according to the recipe. It’s important to measure the ingredients precisely as the recipe states, otherwise, you compromise the wines integrity. However, you can add less water than suggested on fully concentrated wine, if you want a wine with a bolder flavor.
Quality and Purity
The general rule of thumb is that the purity of the ingredients in a wine making kit should reflect in its price. The purer the ingredients, the more expensive the kit is. Another way to tell the kits purity is by the color of the juice. Good quality white wine has a pale gold color, and red wine will have a deep red color with a bluish hue. With red wine, the more brown tint in the red, the worse off it is in regards to purity.
The Aging Process
All wine making kits have an approximate aging time listed on the recipe. This aging time gives you an estimate of when you should consume your homemade wine for the best overall results. Red wines take longer to mature than white wines, usually requiring a 50- to 100-percent more time to mature. As the wine ages, the taste of the wine begins to change, creating a complex, richer flavor. Regardless of the quoted aging time on the recipe, the longer the wines left to age, the better it will taste. However, it’s important to note that the aging time is merely an estimate and you should judge it according to your taste preferences.
The First Step: Sanitation
Before you begin making your wine, you must sanitize all of your equipment with a sanitizing solution. One of the best sanitizing solutions for your equipment is a mixture of potassium bisulfite dissolved in cold water. Coat each piece of equipment in the solution, allowing them to air dry before using them. Since this mixture emits a strong aroma, it’s advised that you wear a protective mask during the mixture and sanitation process.
Once you’ve finished using your equipment, perform the sanitizing process over again. To save time on the sanitation process, you can make a large batch of the solution and store it in an air-tight, plastic container. The mixture remains in usable condition as long as it emits a strong odor and isn’t discolored.
How The Process Works
When you begin making your wine, the first step involves placing the juice, oak chips, and grape skins in your fermenter. For kits that require you to add water or extra sugar, you’ll place those items in the fermenter as well. Once the items are in the fermenter, you must mix the ingredients together vigorously. This step is very important because the yeast won’t set well if the other ingredients aren’t mixed together.
After you’ve mixed the ingredients in the fermenter, its time to add the yeast. Gently spread the yeast across the top of your juice, but do not mix it in. Afterward, remove a small portion of the juice to test its specific gravity. Once you’ve removed some liquid for testing, place the lid or sheet over the fermenter to prevent contamination. Carefully move the fermenter into an area without sun that’s consistently between 65- to 80-degrees.
In about 24 to 72 hours, your wine should start fermenting. A good indication that your wine has started the fermentation process is by a layer of foam across the top of it. If you’re still unsure, take another sample of the liquid and see if its specific gravity has decreased, another indicator that the fermentation process has begun. You’ll then need to let the wine stand for an another 8- to 10-days before moving it into one of your carboys.
While in its first carboy, the wine will continue to ferment for several weeks, typically stopping around 21- to 30-days later. At this point, your recipe will recommend you to add other ingredients such as preservatives, flavoring, fining agents, stabilizers, and anti-oxidants. These ingredients get mixed into the wine and left to sit for an additional 7-days. After which, you’ll transfer the wine into your second carboy where it will sit until its ready for consumption.
When your wine reaches the second carboy, the only thing left to do is let it age. The aging process depends on the kit or type of wine you’ve made. Typically, aging falls between 6- to 12-months. At the end of the aging process, you can pop open the carboy and consume, transferring it to individual bottles as you see fit.
Whether your a first-time winemaker or an expert, there’s a wine kit available to meet your experience level. Plus, with all the different types of wine, you can create your favorite flavor, right in the comfort of your own home.