Sweet Idea! Adding Fruit To Wine Kits

Adding Fruit To Wine KitsWe did a Chardonnay wine kit recently. The results were very good, by all accounts. What is your position on mixing peach, apricot or even persimmon into a batch of that? Wondering. Thanks in advance for your time.

Jeff
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Hello Jeff,

Adding fruit to wine kits is a great way to enhance any attractive characteristics that a particular grape may possess. For example: raspberries with Merlot grapes, strawberries with Zinfandel, pears with Pinot Grigio… The options are endless and there is always room for experimentation. It’s a great way to have even more fun while making these wines.

Usually when a home winemaker wants to make a wine in this style, they will mix the wine kit and fruits together in the fermenter and proceed with the fermentation from there. After the primary fermentation has completed, the fruit is then removed as the wine goes into a secondary fermenter. However there is another – more professional – way for adding fruit to wine kits. One that will give you much better control over the end product. In other words, less chance of messing up.

Shop Niagara Mist Wine KitsInstead of mixing the grape concentrate and fruit together at the beginning of fermentation, make the chosen fruit into its own wine, separately.

In the case of your Chardonnay, you could make some peach wine – one or two gallons of it. When it is time to bottle, you can experiment with blending some or all of the peach wine with it.

How much peach flavor you add is a matter of personal taste. You can add a little or a lot. You could do sample taste-testings with varying ratios of the two wines. This is the real power of making the two wines separately. You have complete control over the outcome. If you had added some fruit like peaches at the beginning of fermentation, all you could do is guess as to how much peach to add and hope for the best.

By adding fruit to wine kits in this way, you will have total control over how much fruit flavor is in the wine. This method will also allow you to safely mix blending samples together without risking your entire batch.

We have more information about blending wines together in an article on our website that you may want to take a look at: Blending To Improve Homemade Wines. This article should give you some better insights as to what you are look for when putting two wines together.

As far as whether to try peach, apricot or persimmon, all I can say is that I have seen the most success using peach verses apricot and I have never tasted persimmon added to a Chardonnay. But having said this, I would never tell you not to try any combination. There are no wrong answer when adding fruit to wine kits. Home wine making is about being creative, experimenting and seeing what you can come up.Shop Fruit Wine Bases

Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

3 Wine Making Starter Kits: Which One’s Right For You?

One Of The Wine Making Starter kitsMy husband asked me to write you and ask about which of your wine making starter kits he should get to make wine with. He does not really know the difference between them and would like you to advise on how to get started.

Brenda
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Dear Brenda,

We have three different complete home wine making starter kits for beginners. Each has a collection of the necessities you will need to start making wine. The equipment in these wine making starter kits are of the same quality items you can purchase from us individually, only this way they are packaged together at a reduced price. This makes these kits a great value for someone starting out.

Each of these starter kits were carefully put together with simplicity in mind. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for you to make your first batch of wine without a lot of confusion and frustration. Truth is, what want you coming back to make more.

We also spent a lot of time selecting the equipment that goes into these wine making starter kits. We wanted to make sure that everything is of high quality – not cheap stuff – but equipment that will last you for many batches of wine.

We also want your first batch of wine to turn out exceptional. That’s why we did not go for the cheapest wine making juices you can find. These a remarkable wine making juices that will make wine you can be proud of. Again, we want your wine to turn out so good that you cannot resist coming back for more.

 

  1. Your Fruit! Wine Making Starter KitYour Fruit Wine Making Kit As the name implies, this is a fruit wine making starter kit. It has all the equipment and ingredients you will need to make wine using fruit you already have. It makes 5 gallons at a time. It includes two books that contain well over a 100 different wine recipes. The wine making instructions you will use with this kit are very easy to follow. With this kit you can make wines from raspberries, peaches, dandelions, blackberries, strawberries, rhubarb, watermelon… The list is very extensive. You can also use the wine recipes on our website’s Recipes Page with this starter kit. If you are wanting to make wine from your own fruit then of the three wine making kits, this is the one your want.
  1. The SunCal Wine Making Starter KitSunCal Wine Making Kit This kit contains all the equipment and ingredients you will need to make wine using your choice of any one of our SunCal concentrated grape juices. Very simple directions are provided. Start off with your choice of wine. Each can makes 5 gallons. You will also have additional yeast and other wine making ingredients for making additional batches. All you need is more SunCal concentrate.
  1. Connoisseur Wine Making Starter Kit This kit will allow you to make wine, starting with your choice of Connoisseur wine ingredient kit. These ingredient kits contain the grape juice concentrate and all the additional ingredients you will need, Connoisseur Wine Making Kitpre-measured and ready to go. After you make your first batch, you will have all the wine making equipment you need to make wine using any of our 200+ boxed ingredient kits. If you are wanting to make a large variety of different grape wines, then of the of the three wine making kits, this is the one you want to get.

 

Each of these home wine making starter kits are designed with simplicity in mind. They give you exactly what you need, whether it be making wine from fresh fruits or from packaged wine juices. So now I ask: which of these wine making starter kits is right for you?

Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Do Wine Ingredient Kits Need Adjusting?

Wine Ingredient Kit That Does Not Need AdjustingI purchased a California Connoisseur Merlot concentrate kit. Do wine ingredient kits need adjusting of any kind. Like does this concentrate consist of tannins?  If it does, would it hurt to add tannin to help it’s staying qualities? Should I have an acid testing kit?  If so, does the tannin have to be added during/before fermentation or can I put it in at any time? Are there any other adjustments that need to be made to these wine ingredient kits?

Doug B.
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Hello Doug,

Thank you for this great question about adjusting wine ingredient kits.

All of the wine ingredient kits we offer have been adjusted and bench-tested with sample batches to produce a balanced, stable wine with great flavor. Any attempts to make further adjustments with various wine making ingredients such as wine tannin, acid blend or flavorings are completely unnecessary and more likely to be counterproductive.

These wine ingredient kits come complete with all the additional packets of wine making ingredients you will need to add to the wine along the way. All that is required of you to make a perfectly balanced wine is to follow the instructions that are included with these wine ingredient kits.

TShop Wine Kitshe producers of these kits crush the grapes and allow the juice to sit on the pulp until the right amount of flavor, color and body components are extracted from the grape skins into the juice. After the extraction process, the pulp is removed and the grape juice is concentrated, and sample batches of wine are made. It is at this time that any necessary adjustments are made to the grape concentrate for the sake of flavor balance and stability.

You can go ahead and make adjustments by adding other wine making ingredients to the wine must, however you will be running the risk of upsetting the stability and flavor balance of the resulting wine. In the case of adding tannin to a wine ingredient kit, you could be adding more than the wine will be able to saturate or hold within the liquid. This could result in the development of dark, dusty deposits in your wine bottles over time.

Shop Wine Making KitsDoug, I hope this answers your question about adjusting wine ingredient kits. I hope you can start to see, a lot of care goes into the production process of these wine ingredient kits, so much so that they do not need any further adjusting of any kind. Once they are packaged they are ready to be made simply by following the directions that come with them. Add the additional packets as called for, and you will be making a stable wine with great balance and flavor.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

The Ultimate Home Wine Making Starter Kit For Beginners!

Home Wine Making Starter Kit For BeginnersOkay, you’ve just gotten a wine making starter kit, but before diving head first into the fun of making some wine, it might be a good idea to get an understanding of what’s actually in the kit and what it’s used for – an introduction.

Of course, all of the wine making starter kits that you can buy are going to be slightly different, depending upon the brand and upon what type of wine you wish to make.  Here is a breakdown on some of the items found in one of these typical wine making starter kits, and how each item functions to produce your best homemade wine.

 

  • Tuff-Tank and Carboy:  The main purpose of these items is to ferment, hold, and store your wine throughout the wine making process.  Specifically, the Tuff-Tank is used for primary fermentation, and the carboy is used for secondary fermentation. These two items are the centerpiece of a home wine making starter kit.
  • Air Locks:  Just as the name suggest, these items keep air from penetrating your homemade wine and protects the wine against oxidation and other undesirable contaminants from spoiling your hard work and effort.
  • Racking Tubes and Hoses These function to help aid in the racking process: to transfer wine from one vessel to another while leaving the undesired lees behind in the first vessel.  Racking occurs on average between 2-4 times throughout the wine making process.
  • Hydrometer and Hydrometer Jar These items are a very important part of any of wine making starter kit.  The wine hydrometer helps you keep an eye on the fermentation process; telling you what the alcohol content of the wine is along the way.  The hydrometer jar allows you to measure the alcohol content of just a small sample of wine rather than measuring the entire contents of your carboy.  Fill the hydrometer jar to the desired level, and submerge the hydrometer into the hydrometer jar to determine how far along your fermentation has gotten.
  • Stirring Spoon: This is a somewhat more obvious piece of wine making equipment found in a wine making starter kit. It lets you stir your wine in order to maximize the surface area and contact time between the wine and the lees, increasing the overall quality of your finished homemade wine.
  • Wine Bottle Brush and CleanPro SDH Cleaner: You need to be working in an environment that is as sanitary as practically possible. The bottle brush and SDH cleaner will allow you to do just that. The cleaner functions as a sanitizer for all the equipment in your home wine making starter wine kit, giving you a clean environment for each and every batch.Shop Wine Kits
  • Capsules and Corks:  To close up the bottles of wine in a more traditional fashion, many home wine making kits will supply corks.  Finally, the capsules add style and sophistication to the presentation of your finished wine.
  • Wine Making Juice: Most starter kits for beginners do not come with the wine concentrate. They consist of the wine making equipment, only. Our wine making starter kit includes the wine ingredient kit for your first batch, as well. You get your choice of dozens of wine types to start off with: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, etc.

 

These are the basics of a home wine making starter kit. You can find more information about our wine making starter kit on our website.
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

The Benefits Of Wine Kits vs Fresh Grapes

Wine Kits vs Fresh GrapesWhat is the going opinion of making wine with fresh grapes and crushing them, as opposed to using a wine kit? Is one better than the other by default, or would you say either method can produce excellent or horrible results?

Phil B. – TN
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Hello Phil,

Thanks for bringing up this great question about wine kits vs fresh grapes. It’s a question we get from time to time, so I’ll be more than happy to answer it here…

Whether you are making wine from grapes or making wine from kits the quality of the wine starts with the quality of the grapes. There is an adage in the wine making industry that says:

“You can never make a wine that is
better than the grapes used to make it.”

 

What this means is that you’ll never make great wine out of poor wine grapes. The quality of the wine always starts with the quality of the grapes.

When making wine from fresh grapes the individual winemaker usually has a limited selection of grapes to choose from. Quality can suffer when dealing in the take-it-or-leave-it type of market that often arises for the home winemaker.

The quality of grapes that you will find in wine kits varies from good to outstanding. It is not in the interest of these kit producers to spend their time preparing and packaging poor wine grapes. It doesn’t make economic sense, so great care is taken to locate and acquire grapes that are above average quality.Shop Wine Kits

This is one of the major advantages to using a wine kit vs fresh grapes. You are able to rely on the wine kit producer’s expertise in selecting quality grapes. So on the whole you’ll be starting with a better quality grape when using a wine kit than when obtaining grapes on your own. Of coarse, there are always exceptions. Living near a grape growing mecca such as Napa can turn this point on its head, but for most home winemakers, this is a consideration that should be given some weight.

We offer an array of different brands of wine kits. As you go up the ladder in price, the finer your selection of grape – starting with our California Connoisseur wine kits which produces fine, everyday drinking wines on up to our Cellar Craft Showcase wine kits which features specially selected grapes from specific wine regions around the world. Currently, there are over 150 grape juices, and they’re available all throughout the year.

How much you spend depends on the level of taste. Some people are completely happy with the California Connoisseur wine kits and could not tell a difference even if they did choose a more expensive kit. For others, the California Connoisseur simply would not do. How far up the ladder one goes is very much a personal choice.

Shop FermenterUnfortunately, quality grapes do not guarantee a stellar wine, it’s just the first requirement necessary to get there. Between the grapes and the wine bottle is a whole host of other factors such as: acidity, alcohol, sweetness, etc.

Making wine from a wine kit alleviates you from these variables. This is because all these factors have already been taken care of for you by the wine kit producers. They balance the acidity, sugar content and many other features such as clarification and oak treatment to match the typical character of the wine you are making. By eliminating as many variables as possible they are helping to insure that you will make a remarkable wine every time. This is a very valuable benefit of using wine kits vs fresh grapes – especially for the beginner.

Now having said this, I understand completely that we are talking about a hobby, and for some, part of the hobby is the passion that goes into the picking, the crushing, the pressing, and so forth. I get that. And if this is you, I completely support your efforts to make wine from the dirt to the wine bottle. I’m just trying to bring total objectivity to the consideration of using wine kits vs fresh grapes.

So while both wine kits and fresh grapes holds their own rewards, by starting with a wine you are virtually eliminating any chance of producing a bad wine. Add to that the incredible selection that is now available to the home winemaker and it starts to become apparent that a wine kit is the way to go for the beginner.Shop Wine Making Kits

I hope this covers all your questions and curiosities about wine kits vs fresh grapes. Please realize that regardless of which path you decide to take, we will be more than happy to help you in any way you need.

Best Wishes,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Wine Concentrate vs Fresh Grapes

Napa Valley SignI have been making wine from top end ($200+) wine concentrate kits and really getting into it. I was wondering if I should continue with wine kits or jump into creating wine from fresh grapes. I guess my questions is: What will produce a better red wine, a high end wine kit or quality fresh grapes?

Best Regards,
Dominick S.
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Hello Dominick,

This is really a great question, and one that I’m sure is on the minds of many individuals who use these wine concentrate kits, so I’ll cut right to the chase.

As surprising as it may seem, your better wines are much more likely to come from our high-end, wine kits. There are two very compelling reasons for this:

 

1. You cannot make a wine that is better than the grapes used to produce it.

This is an adage that is well known and respected throughout the wine making industry. While adhering to sound wine making practices is extremely important, the quality of your wine is limited by the quality of your grape. Being a good wine maker does not trump having good grapes.

And that is exactly what you are paying for when you purchase our high-end concentrate kits. You are paying for select grapes. These are grapes from prized wine making regions around the world. So unless you are writing to me from Napa or Sonoma County, the quality of the grapes you can find will have to be taken into consideration. Most home wine makers do not have access to the caliber of grapes these kits provide.Shop Wine Kits

 

2. The juices in these kits have been bench-tested several times.

What I mean by this is the producers of these concentrate kits have already made the wine from them and have made the optimal adjustments before they are brought to the home wine maker market. All the controllable variables such as acidity, brix level, and others have all been taken care of for you so that you can have consistently good results.

 

All of the above does not mean that you shouldn’t make wine from fresh grapes. There’s always something charming about making something from scratch, and the case of making your own wine, is no different. It’s fun… It’s gratifying… It’s rewarding… It gives you a sense of accomplishment, just like any good hobby should do.

Making wine from fresh grapes is also a great learning experience. You get to acquaint yourself, first-hand, to what a winery has to accomplish to turn the grapes into a wine. So if you are in the hobby to learn more about wine, then by all means go ahead. Make some wine from fresh grapes. But, if you’re in it to make the best wine possible, the smart money is on wine concentrate kits.shop_wine_making_kits

Best Wishes,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

What Vineyard? You Can Make Wine at Home

In a world where you can DIY just about anything, why not try wine? There’s a good chance you already have some of the household items tucked away in your pantry. With the right tools, ingredients, and environment, you can bottle up a hefty batch of your favorite vino. Here’s how to get started:

Continue reading

How Many Cans Of Fruit Wine Base Should I Use In My Wine Recipe?

Fruit Wine Base For Wine MakingI would like to buy a kit, but would prefer to make a fruit wine.  So I’m planning on buying the Your Fruit! Wine Making Kit and then buying the County Fair Fruit Wine Base.  I’m confused about the number of cans (46 oz) I need or want… the catalog suggests using 2-4 cans.  So I guess my question is:  What changes when you add more fruit wine base?

Thank you very much for your time. I’m really exited to start making wine!

– Holly
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Hello Holly,

Thank you for this much needed blog question about fruit wine bases.

The primary difference you will notice between using two cans of County Fair Fruit Wine Base in your wine recipes and four cans is the body. The more cans you use, the more body the wine will have. If you don’t know what body means, it can best be described as the mouth-feel of the wine – the viscosity of the wine. Another way to look at it is to think of the difference between whole milk and skim milk.

There are other secondary differences as well. When using less cans in your wine recipes you get a more crisp, refreshing wine. When you use more cans you get a more robust, assertive wine. A crisp wine is more refreshing or thirst quenching. Some might call it a summer wine. A robust wine might be something you would drink with dinner. With a robust wine the flavors tend to linger on the palate longer, competing very well with the flavors of the meal.

Shop Fruit Wine BasesSomething else that should be pointed out is that wines made with two cans of fruit wine base will age out more quickly than wines made with four cans of the fruit wine base. A two can wine recipe might peak in 4 or 5 months, whereas a four can wine recipe might peak around a year. This is all very subjective, so each persons impression of these wines might vary, but on average this is true.

I hope this answers your questions. It’s a matter of style and the type of wine you like to drink. Many people assume that four cans of the County Fair fruit wine base will taste twice as good as two in their wine recipes, but this is not necessarily true. It will have the characters described earlier, but whether or not it makes it better is a matter of personal tastes.

Happy Wine Making,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Which Is Better: Wine Making Juice vs Concentrate?

Wine Making Juice ConcentrateHow does the flavor of a wine made from fresh wine making juice compare concentrate? I know this is a broad question but are there any drastic differences?

-Matt W.
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Hello Matt,

Thanks for the great question.

The advancement of concentrating wine making juices has jumped by leaps and bounds over the last few decades. It has finally gotten to the point that it is indistinguishable when comparing fresh wine making juice vs concentrate.

Today, the concentrating process is done by taking nothing more than water out of the fresh juice. This is accomplished by boiling the juice and causing the water to steam off the juice. Basically it’s distilling.

But here’s the twist: they are doing it at a very low temperature. In other words, they steam the water off of the fresh juice at room temperature. You may be asking yourself, how’s that even possible? And the answer is very simple. It’s done with air pressure… or lack of it.

You may remember from your high school science class that water boils at 212°F. But this is the boiling point for water at sea level, only. As you go up in altitude the boiling point becomes lower and lower. For example, water boils at 187°F on top of Pike’s Peak. This is because there is less air-pressure to hold the steam into a liquid as you go up in altitude.Shop Fermenters

The wine concentrate producers use this fact to their advantage. The juice is placed in a vacuum that is so strong that it begins to boil at 76°F. The water literally steams off of the juice at this temperature keeping it fresh and free from the effects of heat.

Any aroma or other volatile elements that escape during this process along with the steam are later extracted from the steamed-off water and put back into the wine concentrate as an essence.

This is the real secret behind why there is no difference between wine making juice and concentrate. There is nothing done to the wine concentrate that is negative or harmful.

A second consideration as to why you may want to consider using wine making concentrate is the fact that the grapes used to make these grape concentrates are usually superior to what you have available to you otherwise. What’s available to most home wine makers is usually very limited compared to what wine making concentrate producers have to offer. Which brings me to the last point I’d like to make…

shop_wine_making_kitsYou have an incredible variety of wine making concentrates available to you. When comparing fresh wine making juice vs concentrate, it’s not eve close. For example, we carry over 200 different kinds of grape juices collected from all over the world. These concentrates afford you the opportunity to make wines from grapes grown as far away as Italy and New Zealand.

Matt, I hope this clears things up for you. One common saying among winemakers is that, “you can not make a wine that is better than you grapes used to make it.”. That is why this subject is so important. You have to start off with a good foundation of produce to end up with a stellar wine.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

Do Wine Kits Need More Ingredients?

One of these wine kitsI’ve been making wine using wine kits such as KenRidge for several years. These kits seem quite complete with all the ingredients needed – but reading many of the posts on your site causes me to wonder. Should I, could I, must I supplement the ingredients provided in these wine kits with other ingredient such as Yeast Nutrients, Acids, Tannins, Potassium Sorbate, Wine Conditioner? Should I add Campden tablets between bottling?

Name: Paul
State: New Jersey
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Hello Paul,

One of the great things about using one of these wine kits is that the all of these wine making ingredients have already been taken care of for you. This has either been done directly by including the ingredient in the grape juice, or indirectly by eliminating the need for the ingredient, all together.

As an example, you mentioned acid blend. This is typically included in a wine recipe to bring the wine’s acid up to the proper level. If a wine’s acid level is too low, it will taste flat and flabby. With one of these wine kits, however, the grape juice has already been adjusted to the correct acidity level.

Not only is it been adjusted to a proper range for wine, it is adjusted to the optimum level for each specific type of wine. This is done by bench-testing a batch-sample of the juice with an actual fermentation beforehand, then test-tasting the resulting wine for balance and overall character. The optimal amount of acid is determined, then applied to the all of the grape juice. And, all of this is done before the grape juice goes through any packaging into one of the wine kits.

The same can be said about the yeast nutrient and the wine tannin. Each are already in the grape juice at a level that will result in the best possible wine for that wine kit.

Another aspect to this is the speed at which the wine progresses through the fermentation, then the clearing, and then the bottling. The wine kits on the market today are set up to get in the wine bottle so quickly, that they do not have a need for sulfites such as Campden tablets to be addedShop Conical Fermenter along the way. It should be pointed out that most wine kits do include a packet of potassium metabisulfite. This is the same thing as Campden tablets, but they only recommend adding it if you plan on storing your wine for longer than 6 months in the bottle.

The last item I will mention is the Wine Conditioner. This is essentially a sweetener designed specifically for wine. It is something that can be added to taste before bottling, but only if you desire to change the wine kit manufacturer’s intended favor. If you decide to do so, proceed cautiously. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out.

If you would like to read more whether or not your wine kits need more ingredients, here is another blog post that continues on with this subject, Do Your Wine Juice Kits Need Adjusting? It has some additional info on this.

With that being said, don’t’ feel left out because you are not concerning yourself with all these wine making ingredients. Feel fortunate. Wine kits have come a long way toward making the process simple, and the results outstanding.

Happy Winemaking,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.