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Wine made from fruit or a kit — it's all good!
by Robert Linder

I must admit I have a little prejudice going on that tends to bias my winemaking approach. It's all because I live in one of the world's best places to make wine from fresh fruit, specifically grapes. I live three hours from some of the best vineyards in North America and therefore I tend to think in terms of making wine in the months of September and October, when white and red grapes from eastern Washington are available. But the truth be told, thanks to a wonderful array of wine kits available, you can make some very good wines any time of the year.

I just received a catalog of wine extracts made from great sources of grapes from all over the world. Whether it's a Chardonnay or a Merlot, you have a choice of wine kits made from grapes from Northern California, Australia, Chile or Spain! You can choose dozens of styles and once you buy the kit, you can customize it by adding oak additives, or using a different type of yeast, or not letting the kit ferment to a dry wine, which will make it slightly sweet, if dry wine is not your choice. The point I would like to make is winemaking is both an any time of the year endeavor and the choices available really allow you to experiment or design your own style of wine. The sky is the limit

Wine Extract Kits are created by producers taking the grapes at the vineyard and crushing and eventually pressing them for the pure juice. The juice is then slowly evaporated to create a condensed syrup of the grape varietal. When you purchase a kit, you are buying approximately 196 ounces of syrup, some yeast and possibly some oak chips. You take the syrup and mix with 5 gallons of cold water to reconstitute the juice. You essentially bypassed the crushing/destemming/pressing phases of winemaking. Once the juice is reconstituted you simply add the yeast and the fermentation process will begin. In one to two weeks your juice will be wine! But don't be tempted to drink the newly created wine. Just like sourcing good grapes and making wine from scratch, the wine extract kits require the same testing, tweaking and aging that making wine from grapes will take. Don't be fooled by ads that read "Great wines in weeks!"

The benefits of Wine Extract Kits are many;

  • Broad selection of grape varietals and style.
  • Make a wine anytime of the year — but some varietals/styles are only available on a limited basis when the supply is gone, that's it for the year.
  • It may be cheaper to make a wine from a kit than from fresh fruit, but that depends on your sources.
  • A wine kit can be used as a "blending wine" in the event that you want to add a little Merlot to a "Rhone-style" blend.
  • It might be the best way to start making wine — your investment in equipment is much lower than working with fresh fruit.

As I briefly mentioned before, making wine from a kit still requires the due diligence of cleanliness, good record keeping and testing your wine. I have written several other short articles that highlight the beginning aspects of making wine. I encourage you to read them at Winemaking Radio website:
How do I begin?
What equipment do I need?
Why test wine?

If you every thought about making wine, but harvest season has passed and sources of fresh, low-cost fruit has passed you by, it might not be too late to still try your hand at this fascinating hobby. I hope this article was informative and has peaked your interest. Winemaking is a hobby that is fun to partake in and it's always easy to share the end result with the people around you.

Cheers!

How do I begin?

What equipment do I need?

Why test wine?

Recipe for Army Worm Wine

Read Wine Making Radio Episode 1

Read Wine Making Radio Episode 2

Read Wine Making Radio Episode 3

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