Red, white, sweet or dry, no matter the wine, I’ll try a glass. Even my late recuse puppy had a pension for wine. I had to be very careful where I left my glass when she was around. I still laugh when I think about the first time I discovered she was a wino. What I like most about wine is trying different blends from different countries because you never know what you might discover. When I was offered the chance to try my hand at home winemaking I knew it was an adventure I couldn’t pass up.
I tried two different kits, the Chardonnay Make Your Own Wine Kit from Craft A Brew and the Cabernet Sauvignon Weekday Wine Start Kit from Master Vintner.
The first thing I learned upon opening each kit is I would have to wait about 4 weeks before my wine would be ready to drink. So, if you are looking for a quick wine fix, you might want to crack open a bottle you already have while you wait. Next, I learned the process would require a learning curve and patience. To me, this was part of the adventure of it all and I couldn’t wait to test my skills.
I decided to give the Craft a Brew kit a go first, as it was the smaller of the two kits. My chardonnay kit came with every ingredient and tool I would need to make my wine. The only item I was required to provide were five empty wine bottles, which I would need to bottle my finished wine.
One of the best aspects of this kit was the very detailed instruction booklet. It provided fairly clear instructions for each step, as well as pictures to help identify each item in the kit. The additional diagrams for siphoning and bottling were a nice a added resource. I also got a kick out of the winemaking jug. It reminded me of the “Little Brown Jug” song my granddaddy used to sing. Granted the jug he was talking about didn’t contain wine.
I did struggle a bit with this kit. One of the pieces (airlock) cracked because I didn’t realize how fragile it was or that I didn’t need to push down so hard when placing it. I also never really got the siphoning to work correctly. Not sure what I did wrong there since I did follow the directions. Regardless, my Chardonnay turned out pretty well. It was bold and dry, just like Craft A Brew said it would be.
Next up, I gave the Master Vintner Weekday Wine Kit a try. This kit makes 30 bottles of Chardonnay, Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon. Since I already had a Chardonnay kit, I opted for the Cabernet Sauvignon. From the minute, I opened the Master Vintner kit I was overwhelmed by the size of everything, including the two 7.9 Gallon buckets. Who knew you could make so much wine at home.
I struggled with this kit from the beginning. The instructions weren’t very clear, items weren’t clearly explained so I didn’t know what was what, and I felt like I was missing pieces. I was in way over my head. This Master Vintner kit is probably more suited for someone who has winemaking experience or greater knowledge about winemaking tools. Needless to say, my Cabernet didn’t turn out at all.
I couldn’t understand the directions, nor was I able to accomplish some of the instructions or steps. For instance, I couldn’t lift the 7.9 gallon buckets once they were filled with liquid because they weighed over 60 pounds. I didn’t have the required shelf storage space needed to store the wine 3 feet off the ground. I also couldn’t figure out how to read the hydrometer or calculate the gravity in my winemaking buckets. At the end of the month, I was kind of bummed when I discovered the Cabernet was undrinkable. In hindsight, I should have asked to try a smaller or less involved kit.
Winemaking kits can be a lot of fun and unique adventure. They also make great gifts for winemakers or DIY enthusiasts. My only recommendation, do some investigating before picking a kit so you choose one suited to your skill and knowledge level. No matter which kit you pick, remember to have fun, enjoy the process, and have those wine bottles and glasses ready.
What’s your favorite wine? Have you ever tried a winemaking kit?
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