How can I get more of a peppery taste in my wine kit?
Name: Anthony B.
Having a peppery taste or flavor in a wine is something that comes from the grape itself. It has little to do with the yeast you select, the temperature at which you ferment, and all the other little subtleties that can be played with during the winemaking process. It’s all about the grape.
Pepper is normally a note you will find in a Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a varietal wine meaning Cabernet Sauvignon is an actual grape variety. You can get hints of pepper in other wines — a Shiraz for example — but most wine drinkers will associate a pepper taste with a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Some Cabs are more peppery than others. This has to do with where the Cabernet Sauvignon grape was grown. The ground and climate both play a distinct role in how the grapes flavor profile develops. The French refer to this as the terroir.
For example, Cabs grown in the Old World such as France and Italy tend to produce Cabernet Sauvignons deep, earthy characters. The pepper flavor of these wines lean more towards an herbaceous, green pepper flavor. Their counterparts from the United States and Australia tend to be a little more fruity with the peppery leaning more towards black pepper. Of course there are many examples to the contrary, but this is what you can expect in general.
Another factor that can play into this for the home winemaker is time. Some flavors just need time to develop. By allowing your wine time to age, it may very well enhance the peppery flavors you are seeking. Unfortunately, this is not likely to be any help if the wine kit you made is not a Cabernet Sauvignon. There has to be something there to build upon for the aging to help you in this regard.
Anthony, I would suggest that you take a look at a couple of different wine kits we offer. They are both known to have great pepper flavor profiles. The first one is the Cabernet Sauvignon wine ingredient kit grown in Walla Walla Washington state. Not only does this one have a solid note of black pepper, it also has a complex layer of anise and coffee that balances well with it’s fruit-forward flavors.
The other wine ingredient kit is the Legacy brand Cabernet Sauvignon. It has a good peppery character, but not quite as fruity as the Walla Walla version — not quite as assertive. It more laid-back and rich.
One wine kit is not necessarily better than the other. It’s more a matter of personal preference. For example, many wine drinkers do not like a pepper taste in their wine at all. Others want their homemade wines to be bold and spicy. Just learn what you like and go with it.
Happy Wine Making,
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.