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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a Four Week Wine Kit and a Six Week Wine Kit?

Four week wine kits are between 7 and 7.5 litres of concentrated Grape Juice. You add 15.5 to 16 litres of water to make a 23 litre batch of wine. These wines are lower in acidity and/or tannin then kits that contain actual juice. They require the least amount of aging after bottling.

Five week kits are 12 litres of a combination of concentrated grape juice and some actual grape juice. You add 11 litres of water to the kit to make a 23 litre batch of wine. Some five week red wine kits also include grape skins and solids to be added during fermentation. These kits offer an excellent compromise between flavour and aging time.

Six week kits are either 15 or 16 litres of mostly grape juice with some concentrate. You only have to add 7 or 8 litres of water to make a 23 litre batch. Most of these kits will benefit from 3 to 6 months of aging after bottling.

Eight week kits are usually 16 or 18 litres and only need 5 litres of water added to make a 23 litre batch of wine. Many of the eight week red wine kits include grape skins and solids to be added during fermentation. Eight week kits need more extensive aging after bottling to realize their full potential, some of the reds require 1 to 2 years to reach their peak.

It is a general rule of thumb that four week wines made from concentrate will be drinkable sooner after bottling than wines that have a large juice component. You will also find that White wines are drinkable more quickly than Reds, most especially the German Whites, due to their characteristic sweetness.

The more juice that there was in the original kit the longer it will take to mellow into something enjoyable. This is more obvious with Red wines as they usually contain a fair amount of oak and are generally more acidic and tannic when freshly bottled.

What kinds of chemicals are in the finished wine?

Wine kits contain additives that are designed to assure that the wine is stable in the bottle.

Potassium Sorbate is added to prevent fermentation in the bottle. In other words, to prevent having a bottle explode in your storage area.

Potassium Metabisulphite is added to prevent the wine from spoiling during storage. Kit wines generally have lower sulphite levels than commercial wines. Target levels are between 35-45 ppm. If you intend to age your wine for more than a year, let us know so that we can add a little more sulphite to ensure long term stability.

A raw grape will have naturally occurring sulphite levels of around 8 parts per million (PPM). If you believe that you have an allergic reaction to sulphites, read this, by Technical Services expert Tim Vandergrift of Winexpert.

How clean do my bottles have to be?

As clean as possible if you want to avoid the disappointment of having a bottle go "off" while you are storing it.

As soon as you have emptied a bottle, it is very important to rinse it out thoroughly, so that there is no residual wine left in the bottle. Put it upside down until all of the water has drained out, then store it upside down in a wine box to keep dust and bugs out. Usually if you follow this procedure all you will have to do when come in to bottle is to give the bottle another rinse and then sanitize it with the Potassium Metabisulphite solution. If you do see mould in the bottle it is safer to just get rid of it then to try and clean it and re-use it.

When will my wine be ready?

At Bay Wineworks we do not rush your wine to completion. Most other Vint On Premise stores rely on filtering to clear your wine. If done poorly filtering can affect the flavour of your wine, and it does not guarantee that the wine will never drop sediment in the bottle. Wine will clear naturally if it is given sufficient time. We believe that simply allowing the wine to sit longer and clear on its own time results in a fuller flavoured final product. While your wine is sitting here clearing it is also aging, so the final result of being patient will be a superior tasting wine.

If you would like to know more about the fining and clearing process read this.

What is that stuff that you have me spray in my bottles?

A solution of Potassium Metabisulphite is used to sanitize your bottles before filling them with wine. The solution actually turns into Sulphur Dioxide gas in your bottle. It takes about 2 1/2 minutes for the gas to do its job, so it is important the the bottles sit on the bottle tree for at least that long for the process to be effective.

Does my wine get stronger the longer I age it?

No. The amount of alcohol in the finished wine is determined by the amount of fermentable sugars in the juice/concentrate. Once the yeast have consumed all of the available sugars they cannot produce any more alcohol.

Why is there "stuff" in my bottle of wine?

In white wines the only thing that might appear in your bottle are "wine diamonds", which are potassium bitartrate crystals. You might also know them as Cream of Tartar, the stuff you add to egg whites when making a meringue. They are harmless and are easily left behind in the bottle by decanting. They can form when a wine is stored in a very cool place. These crystals can also form in red wines.

Red wines, unlike whites, contain tannins, which can precipitate out of the wine over time. This a natural process and is no cause for concern. They will often leave a slight "stain" on the side of the bottle that was on the bottom during storage. A little bleach will remove the stain. In red wines that have been made with the addition of grape skins and solids it is very common to see some sediment in the bottle. We highly recommend decanting these wines to leave the sediment behind in the bottle; this procedure has the added benefit of allowing all of the flavour potential locked up in the wine to be released for your enjoyment.

How should I store my wine?

Ideally in a cave where the temperature and humidity are constant.

Wine does not like temperature variation. It especially does not respond well to high temperatures (over 26 C/80 F). Try to store your wine in cool dark place with as constant a temperature as possible. If your wine is stored in a very cold place it will age more slowly. 12 C/54 F is considered ideal.

Do the best you can, but don't get too obsessed with it. If you plan on drinking your wine inside of 6 months the storage issue is probably not a big deal.

How long can I keep my wine? Does it go bad after a certain amount of time?

In excellent storage conditions the wine will normally be fine for 1-2 years. If you intend to age it longer than that please advise us and we will add a little more sulphite to ensure a longer life span.

Keep in mind that only the very best red kit wines will take well to extensive aging. There is no point in aging a four week white wine made from concentrate for over 2 years, it was not designed for that. To age well a wine must constructed to have high acidity, lots of tannin, and usually a higher alcohol level. White kit wines have none of these things and should really be drank inside of a year to a year and a half.