Monday, October 14, 2013

Holiday Shopping for the New Wine Maker

Do you have a special person who would love to learn how to make wine at home?  Do they stare at their Wine Spectator magazine with visions of Chianti dancing in their head? With the holiday season quickly approaching, I thought it may be helpful for folks, who are interested in giving the gift of home wine making but don’t know where to start, some guidance.

First, while so many people would love to receive a gift like the ability to learn how to make homemade wine, it pays to do a little homework! You wouldn’t want to give the ability to make Alcohol to a person with dependency challenges.
All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Wine Kits
All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Wine Kits

Wine making doesn’t have to be hard. While many are intimidated by the idea of stomping on grapes or growing / picking / buying fresh fruit, these days, there are other options that are much easier for the beginner. Wine Kits are a great option for someone just starting out, and many make excellent wines.   

Most of the things I will recommend here are available from your local Home brew shop. But, many don’t have a local home brew shop, so I am putting in links here where everything comes from Amazon has a great selection, and often time has free shipping, which is a huge plus. If you are getting these things as gifts, you can even have Amazon ship the gift directly to the person you are giving it to, saving you time, money and lines at the post office…

There are lots and lots of options, so I would suggest doing a little snooping to find out a few things like:

     Does the person like Reds or Whites?

        What kinds? Do they like a Cab or Pinot Noir? Chardonnay or Riesling?

    Do they like Dry, Slightly off Dry, or Sweet Wines?

 After you do a little research, you next need to know this very important fact:

Wine Kits are like Cake Mixes! A Wine Kit is a Wine Ingredient Kit! Wine Kits don’t come with the equipment to make the wine (most of the time). Let us compare this to a box of Brownie Mix. The Brownie Mix doesn’t come with pans, mixers, spoons, bowls or the oven, right?

Most Wine Kits come with:

  •     A Bag of Grape Juice Concentrate
  •     Yeast
  •     Packet of K-Meta ( to stop fermentation )
  •     Packet of Bentonite
  •     Packets for clearing (Most use Chitosan, a shell fish derivative )
And some come these things in addition:
  •     Oak Chips – Oak Sawdust or both
  •     Sorbate ( Used to prevent fermentation if back-sweetening wine )
  •     Corks and Caps ( Only included in PakLab Kits, such as Vino Italiano )

That is it! You will most likely need to add water (unless you are doing a port). There is no equipment included here, except for the one thing I will recommend that comes with everything. More on that later….

Now you will need to add the wine making equipment to the equation. You don’t need a lot of equipment to make wine, but a few things are essential. The equipment is a buy once and use over and over investment.

For equipment, this is a basic starter kit:

But, I would recommend adding these things:

If you want a better equipment kit, I would recommend this:

Now that you have wine making equipment out of the way, you can look at the wine kits. Based off of your research, I would recommend getting the person the type of wine they like. If they like big red wines, get them a Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot. If Pinot Noir is their thing, go for it…. If they like white wines, go with their preference.

For starters, I would recommend these wine kits:

Lower Priced:

Medium Priced:

Premium Priced: 

This is something entirely new. Amazon now has a wine kit AND equipment kit all in one package! The kit comes with the basic equipment you need AND two wine kits!
This comes with a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Chardonnay wine kit, each producing about 25 bottles of wine. For the price, it is very attractive. This it includes a food grade Plastic carboy, similar to the Better Bottle style carboy. While many folks prefer this style carboy, I still prefer the glass carboys. Sure Glass can break and is heavy, but I am old school that way. If you want Glass, then I would pass on this. Otherwise, it is an awesome deal.

What is nice about it is that it comes with everything but the bottles… It makes for a more complete gift. I would still order extra cleanser, K-Meta and Oak. And if you are following along with my videos, I would make these to 5 gallons each, instead of 6. Just like the Vino Italiano.

So, I hope this article was helpful for you to put a smile on a new winemaker’s face, when they find these things under the tree this year.

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