Wine & Wine Kits

Why should I make my own wine?

The obvious answers…

It’s fun!
It’s easy!
You save money!

A deeper look…
Home wine making improves the standard of living of Canadians by making good wine affordable. For centuries wine has been a part of celebration, love and triumph, and like a good friend wine makes sorrow and defeat more bearable. Wine adds civility to the dinner table and warmth to conversation. Today’s homemade wine is not what your Grandma used to make. Quality wine kits are manufactured to the same standard of quality as commercial wine, leaving you the easiest part- fermentation. Wine Sense can help you choose and make a wine kit that suites your needs and assist you in producing a wine that you will be proud to serve your friends.

What should I look for when buying a wine kit?

A wine kit is a wine kit is a wine kit… a common sentiment in the world of home wine making, but not an accurate one. Just as you can buy a new car for $18 000.00 you can buy a new car for $150 000.00. In both cases you have a car, one just happens to be a lot nicer to drive. You can buy a $7.00 bottle of Chardonnay at the liquor store or a $20.00 bottle of Chardonnay. In both cases you get a bottle of Chardonnay, one just happens to have more body, aromatics and bouquet. The same logic applies to wine kits, a $60.00 wine kit will make a wine with more body, aromatics and bouquet than a $40.00 wine kit and a $100.00 wine kit will make a wine with more body, aromatics and bouquet than both the $40.00 and $60.00 wines.

When buying a wine kit in most cases, the larger the wine kit the more full-bodied the kit is. A kit that contains a volume of fresh juice typically has more body; aromatics and bouquet than a wine kit that is all concentrate. The larger the volume of juice: the better these characteristics.

Look for a wine kit with a production date code as opposed to a “best before date”. A production date code tells you exactly when the kit was made and allows you the consumer to know how old the kit is. A best before date does not tell you when the kit was made and even though a kit has not reach its so-called best before date it could be 2 or 3 years old. Wine kits do not last forever and the concentrates and juices will oxidise in the bag. This results in a wine brown in colour with a bitter aftertaste.

Not all grapes are created equal! Find out where the grapes are coming from that go into the wine kits that you buy. The grape juice and concentrate are the most important parts of a wine kit and play a large role in the price of a wine kit.

The nice thing about making your own wine is that it allows you to make a better wine than you would normally buy and save a significant amount of money over the commercial price of wine. Visit or call Wine Sense for more help when choosing a wine kit. Remember you cannot make a good wine from a bad wine kit.

What is the difference between a Selection wine kit and a Vintners Reserve wine kit?

The obvious difference is the size of the kit. The Selection kits are 16-18 litres while the Vintners Reserve kits are 10 litres. They both however make the same volume of wine- 23litres. The real difference is the finished product. Vintners Reserve produces high quality medium to medium-full bodied wines with good varietal characteristics. Selection kits, because of the large volume of raw materials, give you a more full bodied wine with more complex flavours and bouquet. The large volume of pure varietal grape juice gives you a wine with more of the subtle characteristics you would expect to find in a premium wine.

Vintners Reserve kits are ready in about 4 weeks and reach drinkability rather quickly. Selection kits take about 6 weeks to make and are drinkable young, but have the potential to develop into exceptional wine given with aging.

The best way to see the difference is to try one and compare for yourself.

How can there be a Red Zinfandel and a White Zinfandel and why is the White Zinfandel actually pink?

Both styles of Zinfandel are actually made by the same grape. The colour of a red wine is found in the skins of the grape. When the juice is given contact time with the crushed skins the colour is extracted to create a red wine. If the skin contact is minimized a light pink colour is the result.

Bumper-crops of Zinfandel created a glut of grapes in California in the 80’s. Red Zinfandel had not yet reached its current reputation as a fine wine and was considered a ‘jug’ wine. The marketing folks stepped in and said what can we do with these grapes. The vintners said we could make it into a ‘rosé style’ and appeal to a broad range of people. As a result White Zinfandel was born.

Also known as Zinfandel Blush, White Zinfandel is a popular summer wine and a great stepping-stone for those who want to go from white wines to red wines. Its fruity characteristic makes it great for casual drinking and a great wine to have salads and grilled fish.

Currently White Merlot is now appearing to make the same mark in the wine industry.

Try These Styles:

  • Selection White Zinfandel
  • Vintners Reserve White Zinfandel
  • Selection White Merlot
  • KenRidge White Merlot

What is a Mist kit?

Mist wines are a very popular alternative for the wine lover. By matching a varietal wine base with a splash of fruit flavour you get a wine beverage that is great for Winnipeg’s hot summer days or for casual drinking. Lighter in alcohol (7.5%) than a normal table wine Mist kits are great for those who enjoy a light, fruity alcohol drink. Mist kits are ready in about three weeks and can be enjoyed without any ageing. Wine Sense carries Niagara Mist and Island Mist with over 30 styles between them.

The Vintners Reserve & Selection instruction sheets refer to ‘if your kit has an F-Pack’. I have never had a kit with an F-Pack. What is an F-Pack and which kits have them?

If you enjoy sweet styles of wine you will want to try a wine with an F-Pack. Added after stabilisation when fermentation is complete, an F-Pack will give the appropriate sweetness to specific styles of wine. As a result F-Packs are only found in styles where sweetness is appropriate such as ‘blush’ wines and German styles as well as sweeter dessert styles.

Found only in Winexpert wine kits (Vintners Reserve & Selection). F-packs are formulated from a combination of varietal grape juice concentrate and selected special ingredients sourced from around the world which contribute to natural flavour and aroma. This method of sweetening is modelled on the German süss-reserve method. The benefit of making a wine with an F-Pack instead of sweetening with sugar or wine conditioner is that an F-Pack increases the aromatics, bouquet and flavour of your wine.

How do I read the production date code on my wine kit?

The production date code is found on top of your Winexpert or Vineco wine kits.

Winexpert codes read as the following example: 1319704

13 These two digits are an internal code used by Brew King- you can ignore them.

197 These three digits indicate the numbered day of the year in which the kit was produced. In this case it was July 10th (the 197th day since January 1st).

04 These two digits indicate the year in which the kit was made, in this case, 2004.

Vineco codes read as the following example: 4197 (the middle set of numbers)

4 This digit indicates the year of production. In this case, 2004.

197 These three digits indicate the numbered day of the year in which the kit was produced. In this case it was July 10th (the 197th day since January 1st).

These codes allow Wine Sense to make sure our stock is properly rotated so you the consumer can be confident that the wine you make is as fresh as possible.

How long should I age my wine?

The key to remember when ageing wine is that a wine is ready to drink when you enjoy drinking it. We do however have to keep in mind that patience is a virtue and most wines do definitely get better with age.

The amount of tannin (found in the skin) in a grape usually plays the largest role when ageing a wine: the more tannin in the wine the greater the ability to age and improve over time. Red wines have more tannin than white wines and as a result generally age better than whites. Wine kits that come with oak powder will require more age than kits without oak, as oak contains tannin. Different grapes will also need different amounts of ageing. For white wines, Chardonnay requires more ageing than most other white grapes due to the grapes character and because it often comes with oak (unlike most other whites). Red wines also differ due to tannin levels between different grapes. Look to age Cabernet Sauvignon longer than Merlot, also consider oak content. The type of wine kit that you buy also plays a role. The larger, long-term kits will benefit from ageing more than the smaller 4-week wine kits. The higher the amount of grape juice and concentrate the higher the tannin levels the more ageing required.

Taste your wine along the way, once you are not seeing anymore improvement- it has probably peaked. At this time you will want to start drinking it. You can expect most 4-week kits to age quickly and be consumed within a year. Premium 6-week kits will age within 3-6 months and last about 1-3 years with proper storage. Ultra Premium kits like Selection Estate Series can improve for up to 9 months and can store for up to 3-4 years with proper storage conditions. Proper storage conditions are 45o – 68oF (7o – 20oC). The warmer the temperature: the faster the ageing time the shorter the overall storage time. Keep you wine out of sunlight and with consistent temperatures with little movement.

I have a wine kit that I have had for sometime, should I make it?

Sometimes you buy or are given a wine kit that you just don’t get around to making, and are wondering if you should make it or if it is too old. Check the production date code. If it is less than a year since the kit was manufactured then you can make it without any concern. If the kit is over a year old than you may see some deterioration (oxidation) in the product. Anything past 16 months will likely not be worth making. Because oxidation is progressive even if you make the kit it will continue to deteriorate once you have made it. If your kit does not have a production date code (“best before” dates on wine kits can be deceptive) you will have to look for a browning in the concentrate. Browning is an indication of oxidation. If you are unsure of the condition of a wine kit bring it down to Wine Sense and we will be able to help you. Nobody wants to serve an oxidised wine to their friends.

What is the difference between wines from California, France, Australia, Chile and Italy?

The different wine countries of the world typically all put their own traditional signature on the wines they produce. The following list describes what you will typical find in wines from each country… Australia – Big ripe fruity wines with lots of oak California – Zesty, spicy wines with good fruit Chile – Warm approachable fruit flavours France – Well balanced wines with intensity Italy – Ranging from easily approachable to very zesty wines

The Selection Premium and Vintners Reserve wine kit lines feature wines from the California area of the U.S. Our Vintners Reserve Passport Series offers wines from France, Italy, Chile and Australia. The Selection International Series offers wines from France, Italy, Australia, Spain, Chile and Argentina. The Selection Estate Series has a Chardonnay from the Okanagan Valley in British Colombia.

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