Given how expensive some wines can be it is not unreasonable to ask whether wine making kits are worth the cost in comparison.
Most wine-making kits are worth their cost as they can help you create several gallons of good quality wine for the price of just a few store bought bottles and the equipment can be reused over again.
This is not to say that wine making kits do not require money, time, and effort, but if you are looking to save money on quality wine then investing in a good winemaking kit could save you money in the long run. This article will discuss the benefit and limits of winemaking kits, as well as how to use them and what to look for when buying.
What is Included in a Wine Making Kit?
Before asking whether or not a wine making kit is worth the cost, it is important to understand what a wine making kit is and what it does.
A wine making kit is a set of tools, premeasured chemicals, and containers needed to create wine at home with little to no training. These kits contain detailed instruction manuals and almost all of the materials needed to create wine, missing only crucial grape juice and empty bottles.
Most wine kits have the chemical ingredients needed to create five to six gallons of wine, as well as the equipment needed to bottle this wine for storage. The materials found in a kit are also portable, durable, and reusable meaning they can be used to create multiple batches of wine, with most sets even featuring a bottle cleaning brush.
On average wine making kits cost between $40 and $100, and depending on the bottles and grape juice you use a full five gallons of bottled wine might only cost just over $100 dollars. Of course it also takes time, effort, and some practice to get the most out of a wine making kit, and this should be factored in to any decision to buy a kit.
The Benefits of Using Wine Making Kits
Wine making kits offer a wide range of benefits to wine enthusiasts, and in some ways they can even be superior to store bought, professionally made wine.
The primary benefit of an in-home winemaking kit is how inexpensive it is to make wine at home compared to buying it. While the initial cost of a kit, grape juice, and bottles is more expensive than most vintages on the market, the ability to create gallons of wine in one batch and reuse the kit for later batches means saving a lot of money in the long run.
Despite their low long-term costs, wine making kits can easily compete with most off-the-shelf vintages in terms of flavor and quality. As long as you follow the instructions or recipe and keep your equipment clean you can easily create wines at home that can match, or even beat, even expensive bottles in stores.
Wine kits can also be used to recreate almost any wine flavor on the market, from reds to whites to blushes. Recipes can be found for free online and the ingredients for almost any vintage can be bought in some form to create your favorite wine. And again, unlike store bought wine, wine kits create each recipe in gallons rather than individual bottles.
Of course wine making kits also offer a great chance to experiment with new ingredients, concepts, and techniques to create new and exciting flavors. If you have some knowledge of the wine making process, or are just interested in playing with wine chemistry, then a wine kit will let you explore new styles of homemade wine.
In summary wine kits are an inexpensive source of quality wines, either famous and beloved vintages or your own personal wine experiments.
Common Issues with Wine Making Kits
While wine making kits do offer many benefits to wine enthusiasts, they are not a perfect system.
The biggest problem with wine making kits is that, while they can make wines that compete with store-bought wine, they will never compete with the most expensive or prestigious vintages. Professional vintners have expertise, equipment, and resources far beyond any wine making kit, and this is reflected in the quality of their wine.
Wine grapes are one of the most important ingredients vintners have over in-home wine makers, as vintners live and work closely with grape growers. Unless you live in wine country and can afford to buy wine grapes, you will have to use grape juice or juice concentrate, which lack natural chemicals like tannins which come from the stems, skins, and seeds of grapes.
Wine making kits might also be cheaper in the long run but have much higher initial costs, especially if you are looking at expensive kits and fresh wine grapes. A top of the line wine making kit can cost $100 and wine grapes fresh from the vine can cost over $500 for five gallons worth.
These kits also require more time, effort, and patience than buying a bottle of wine ever will. It can take more than a month for kit wine to properly ferment, and after that it still needs to be bottled and, in some cases, aged. Throughout this process the wine needs to be regularly monitored and stored in a safe place since, if anything goes wrong, weeks of work may be lost.
In short, wine making kits have high time and cost barriers to entry, and will not give you the knowledge or tools needed to compete with the best wines on the market.
Should you get a Wine Making Kit? Is it Worth It?
Wine making kits are a fantastic way to create store quality wine, or better, at home, but they are not for everyone.
Wine kits are great for people who enjoy or share wine regularly and who have the time to spare making wine at home. Wine kits are an inexpensive way to keep a sizeable stock of wine at home without having to go out and buy it, especially since wine kits can create multiple gallons with each batch, and multiple batches with one kit.
Wine kits are also great for those with an interest in the wine industry or in experimenting with wine making. Wine kits contain all the chemical ingredients and knowledge needed to create a batch of wine, while at the same time giving amateur vintners enough tools and creative freedom to try new wine recipes.
At the same time if you are an infrequent wine drinker or prefer very expensive, very rare vintages then a winemaking kit may not be for you. Wine kits are designed to create multiple-gallon batches of wine in each sitting, and unless you have access to special equipment and knowledge this wine will not compete with the most prestigious vintages.
The Basics of Using A Wine Kit
If you are interested in creating wine at home, there are a few steps to keep in mind when using a wine making kit.
First and foremost be sure to have all the ingredients you need before you start brewing your wine. Wine making is a very involved process and if you are missing any ingredients or equipment the entire process might be ruined. You should also take some time to ensure you have a cool, dry, dark place to store your wine as it ferments, like a clean basement or closet.
Also be sure to thoroughly clean all of your wine making equipment, empty bottles included, before and after you use it. Since this equipment is used for making food and will be undergoing a lot of chemical processes you should be sure that every surface is gently yet thoroughly cleaned to prevent contamination.
Once you’ve started making your wine, unless you are trying to experiment, be sure to follow the recipe exactly. Wine making is a complex chemical process so be sure to thoroughly measure ingredients, calculate times, and use equipment in the right way. If you don’t follow directions and accidentally create a bad batch of wine, you may not realize that for weeks.
The last and most important rule of wine making is simple: enjoy yourself. Whether you want to make wine for friends and family, develop a fun hobby, or master a new skill, using a wine making kit should be an enjoyable experience.
Where to Get Juice for Wine Making?
Grape juice is the most important ingredient in the creation of wine, since it is the ingredient that becomes wine after fermentation. However, wine grapes are not easy to get a hold of and store-bought grapes are not the same as wine grapes, meaning you can’t make wine out of them. There are other ways to obtain grape juice, however, if you are looking to make wine at home.
You can buy containers of grape juice, not the kind kids drink, but pre-packaged grape juice designed to be made into wine. This juice is cheaper and easier to obtain than wine grapes while still having many of the natural chemicals found in grapes. However, grape juice needs to be refrigerated and comes in a vacuum sealed container that cannot be resealed.
Grape concentrate is a powder made from pure grape juice after the water has been extracted, creating grape powder. Grape concentrate is cheaper and survives much longer, without the need for refrigeration, making it great for long-term use. At the same time, however, grape concentrate has to be carefully rehydrated and apportioned to work in wine making.
If you are not interested in pre-juiced grapes and live in or near wine country you can buy wine grapes directly from the source. While this gives the freshest, most natural wine flavors it does have a few drawbacks. Not all vineyards will have grapes to sell, and even if they do you will need to juice and use your grapes quickly to preserve their freshness.
To Wrap It All Up
The rise of at-home wine making equipment has led some wine lovers to ask if wine making kits are worth the expense.
If you are a frequent wine drinker, an experimenter, or someone with an interest in wine creation, then winemaking kits are an inexpensive way to create store quality wine by the gallon. If, however, you are a less frequent drinker or prefer top-shelf, prestigious vintages, then wine kits may not be for you.