Selection Premium Wine Kits contain 15 liters of 100% pure varietal juice and varietal grape concentrate, with perfectly balanced pH, acid and tannin levels. The large volume of pure grape juice in the blend provides more of the subtle characteristics than grape concentrate alone. Certain kits contain “F-packs” or finishing packs designed to enhance flavor and round out sweetness in those styles which require it. The F-packs are style specific and will be noted on the outside of the box if one is included. They are packaged in an aseptic, nitrogen purged bag placed in a very attractive outer box. Each kit makes six gallons.
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4/25/2008 -- I have a Vintner's Reserve kit that is about 5 years old - I got out of winemaking a few years ago and am getting back in to it. Is it safe to use this kit after so long? I haven't opened the juice packages but they appear normal from the outside.
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: The first thing to check for is the bag. Is it the mylar type or plastic? Plastic will allow a transfer of oxygen slowly over the long term while mylar (the silvery material) will not. If it is mylar, then check to make sure that no air has leaked in around the nozzle. Do this by applying a mild pressure to the bag and see if it holds up or starts to sag under the pressure. If it "exhales" (no matter how little), then ambient air has been able to leak in over time. In general, more than a year of oxidation will render the liquid unpleasant as a finished wine, but can still make a decent "cooking" wine.
2/27/2007 -- When would you add the oak chips if you are making a cab wine from juice?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Vintners Reserve kits recommend adding the oak chips in the primary and allowing them to sit for 7 to 10 days. I prefer to add the oak chips in the secondary, since the rapid fermentation taking place in the the primary will reduce the impact of the oak flavor. Plus, the secondary allows up to 3 weeks for the oak to make more of an impact.
11/18/2006 -- I'm making a batch of red raspberry. I was racking the batch into the carboy this am and needed approximately 2-3 quarts of spring water to top off the 6 gallon carboy. I mistakenly picked up my jug of sanitizer solution and used it instaed of the spring water. I realized this as soon as I set the jug down. I did go ahead and put the bubbler in the carboy and it seems to be fermenting,(bubbling). The sanitizer was your easy clean in a solution of 1 tbsp per gallon and I had just made it. Is there anything I can or should do? Have I ruined my wine?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: The no-rinse cleanser is inert after about 30 minutes to an hour in solution, so should not pose a health risk by the time your wine is finished. A couple of people I asked suggested using a clarifier such as gelatin or isinglas to try to pull any residue out of the wine before finishing. Several also said they feel that the continued fermentation process was a good sign. Just about everyone agreed that without the health risk, taste-testing would be the ultimate determination.
I'd let it go through primary fermentation, and when you rack to secondary, save out a sample to do a pH test on. Do a taste test at the same time. It should taste harsh and slightly acidic. Do it again at the end of secondary ferment. If the acid level is approaching normal, and it tastes okay, your wine should be fine.
9/30/2006 -- I am stuck waiting for my specific gravity to go to .998 or below to start my stabilizing and clearing process. It has been 20 days and my hydrometer still reads 1.000. What is the problem? Can I continue on?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: From the sound of it, your wine is finished. A .002 drop in SG should only take a few days. However, the good news is that .002 is only 2/10ths of a percent of alcohol. The instructions give an exact number when a range would be more appropriate (e.g. 0.997 to 1.000). In short, you should be able to proceed with the next step with no adverse effects. You will probably not even notice the difference in flavor as the residual sugar is such a small amount.
9/4/2006 -- If I am making wine from concentrate, is it recomended I add the bentonite at the pre-fermentation stage?
Secondly, should I add yeast nutrients at the same time I add the yeast?
Thirdly, should an acid blend always be added to help in the fermentation period?
Lastly, what should the brix level be at so that I know how much water to add to the concentrate?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Several manufacturers of 28-day or 6-week wine kits recommend adding the bentonite in pre-fermentation. However, I have found that I get a better result if I add the bentonite in the secondary.
You should dissolve the yeast nutrient in a small amount of warm water, and add it to the must prior to pitching the yeast.
Acid blend is not always necessary. If you are working from an established recipe, and it calls for some, then by all means add it. However, if you are building your own recipe or "winging it", you should do an acid test to determine if additional acid over and above that contained in the fruit is necessary.
The original specific gravity for a sweet wine should be around 1.120. For a dry wine, right around 1.090-1.095 works. I'm not certain what the brix equivalent is for those SGs.
3/19/2006 -- I have started a wine from a commercial concentrate, and I am in the secondary fermentation stage (8 days in out of 10). I've noticed that the water in the air lock is "disappearing" and I added a little more; but I don't see bubbles coming out like I did originally. Could I have done something wrong?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Actually, it's a very common concern, but normally nothing to worry about. The violent activity in the airlock is due to the yeast processing sugar at a very high rate, and reproducing to meet the demand. This violent period generally runs less than a week, even in wines and meads which have a longer fermentation cycle. Since you said that you were already in the secondary stage of fermentation, a much slower fermentation is normal.
The water in the airlock is simply evaporating, so refilling it is the right thing to do. I would suspect that if you watched the airlock closely for several minutes, you would see a bubble or two come through. If not, give the fermentor a quick swirl to stir up the yeast bed a little. If it settles out again with no activity in the airlock, you're simply done and can rack the wine to start the clearing process.
1/28/2006 -- I've gathered that less is better when it comes to having oxygen (outside air) in your carboy during secondary racking, and was wondering if dry ice could be used to purge the carboy (allow for sublimation so there's just fog filling the entire thing) of oxygen in place of argon, or if that's not really an option, if you could recommend places to look for smaller amounts of argon, as large cylinders are a little impractical/expensive.
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: It's great to have oxygen at the start of the fermentation cycle; but bad to have it after that as it will oxidize the finishing wine/mead/beer. I would discourage the use of dry ice, as even with something that cold, bacteria can be trapped in stasis in the ice and become active as it thaws. There are a couple ways to minimize the oxygen in the secondary or the rack.
First, I use a 5-pound CO2 tank and hose to simply blow carbon dioxide into the carboy. CO2 is heavier than oxygen, and will sink down to lay on the liquid. There are handheld CO2 chargers that are much less expensive (we carry one). However, we recommend against them, as these are designed to be fitted onto a cornelius keg and operate under pressure.
Second, you could top up the carboy with fresh juice or boiled honey/sugar water (some people will even ferment a mason jar or small jug of must alongside the fermenter for this purpose), thus minimizing the surface area that is exposed to oxygen.
Third, you can slow oxidation by adding a portion of ascorbic acid to the must when racking.
1/24/2006 -- How much of your yeast nutrient, by weight, should be added to 5 gallons of yeast and sugar solution to obtain optimum results?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: I measure it out by volume using 1/2-tsp per gallon for wines and 1-tsp per gallon for meads. Since basic sugar water is easier to digest than honey, I would go with the lower of the two. Figuring that 2-oz (about 55-gm) of nutrient makes up between 9 and 10 teaspoons, 2-1/2 teaspoons for a 5-gal batch would weigh out at about 14 grams, or about 6/10-oz.
8/2/2004 -- I am trying to make some muscadine/scuppernong wine. I am also interested in making some blackberry wine since I am limited on my frozen muscadines at this point. What type of yeast do I need for these types wine to give me the best taste and alcohol content?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: For any of these, the Red Star Montrachet strain will work well. It provides about an 11-12% alcohol content while balancing the high acid content of both blackberry and scuppernong.
If you use a Lalvin strain instead, I recommend the RC-212 strain for the muscadine/scuppernong and the 71-B strain for blackberries.
7/28/2004 -- Hey, it's been 3 days since I mixed up my batch of wine and the only thing I have done different from the instructions on the package was when I rehydrated the yeast I put a little bit of sugar in the warm water and left it in there for about 20 minutes instead of 15... but it's not fermenting and it's actually sucking water back up the hose... should I pour it out and start over????
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: Never pour out a batch of homebrew until all options for fixing a problem have been exhausted. Many times, it's a simple fix. In this case, there are a couple of problems that may be the cause.
The first possibility is that the fruit juice you are using may have preservatives. You didn't specify if you used fresh fruit, juice from a homebrew store, or other commercial juice. Whenever you use commercial juice (from somewhere other than a homebrew shop), check the label for the words "potassium", "sulphite", "sorbate", or "to preserve freshness". Any of these indicate that a preservative has been added. Overcoming preservative is a long and arduous process, and if you write back and tell me that's the problem, I'll send a complete answer.
Another likely problem is that the yeast was no longer viable. Dry yeasts usually last about 3 to 6 months in room temperatures, up to a year or more when refrigerated. However, yeast is tricky and these timeframes are just estimates. Humidity, changes in temp, and other factors can shorten yeast life. If you have a slow start or a stuck ferment, always try a new yeast starter with a fresh packet of yeast.
A third factor could be residual cleanser or sanitizer on the equipment. In this case, thoroughly sterilize and rinse a new fermenter. Siphon the liquid into the new fermenter, being sure to oxygenate it thoroughly. Then start over with a fresh yeast starter.
6/2/2004 -- I live in Hawaii and the temp in my place (no air conditioning) hangs out at around 65-75 degrees(F). Though the wine never gets as high as 75, it is still sending quite a lot of bubbles through the airlock on day 7. I just wanted to know if I should be worried about so many bubbles after the first week. I've already racked it into the carboy and I figured it would/should slow down quite a bit. What do you think?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: It shouldn't be any problem at all. The warmer temperature does stimulate the yeast, making it ferment at a higher/faster rate. It will eventually slow down as the sugars are eaten up. Although a faster ferment can also result in off flavors from fermaldehydes and other yeast by-products, that generally doesn't start to happen until the temps get up into the 80s and above.
5/12/2004 -- Once primary and secondary fermentation are complete, and you're ready to bottle, are bottles like the big 4-liter Carlo Rossi jugs (which have screw caps) possible? Or do you have to have bottles with corks?
Response From The Home Brew Store Dot Com: I routinely use the gallon jugs with screw caps - especially if I want to bottle some for parties or picnics. The large screw-cap bottles really make it easier to tote those suckers around.
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There are a few considerations:
1. Make sure the caps are in good shape. They will allow ambient air to leech into the bottle at a greater rate than corks, accelerating the oxidation process. If they are in good shape, a tight seal is more probable.
2. Fill the bottle up to within one to two inches of the top. This minimizes the amount of ambient air that stays in the bottle after capping.
3. Add a small amount of ascorbic acid or other anti-oxidant agent to slow the oxidation process.
4. Don't store the wine for excessive amounts of time in the gallon jugs... one to two years is probably the maximum I would go. And when you open the bottle, try to drink it all. That avoids oxidation of the remaining wine, and is the main reason I only use them for parties and other large gatherings.
My personal technique is to bottle half my batch in the gallon jugs and half in regular "5th" bottles with corks. Then I have enough to cover my "party" needs as well as about 12 to 16 bottles for romantic evenings, gifts to friends, or smaller gatherings.
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