How many bottles does a kit make?
Each kit yields approximately 30 (750ml) bottles. Specialty wines such as Vidal Ice Wine, Ports and Cream Sherry will produce approximately 30 (375ml) bottles. Any discrepancy in bottles per kit is due to the amount of sediment in the wine, which will naturally displace the liquid, and how full the bottles are on bottling day.
Can I make half a kit?
We cannot sell half kits. But if you are interested in taking home a smaller amount of wine, gather a few friends and split it up. The larger the group, the more types of wine you can make and the more you get to try!
How long does the process take?
The mixing process (the first step) takes 10-15 minutes. This consists of mixing the ingredients included in the wine kit with water in the primary fermenter. Fermentation takes 4-8 weeks depending on the type of wine kit you purchased.
- The Vino del Vida, Grand Cru, and Orchard Breezin’ wines are 4 week kits.
- Grand Cru International Collection wines are 5 week kits
- Cellar Classic and Cru Select (including Cru Select Specialty) wines are 6 week kits
- Cellar Classic Winery Series and En Primeur wines are 8 week kits
After the wine is finished fermenting, and racked off any sediment or filtered, you will be called and asked to set up an appointment to come in to bottle it and label it. We encourage the bottling to be an enjoyable time and do our utmost to have a nibble or two and appropriate music to add to the occasion.
Can I blend kits?
Blending wine kits requires the purchase of two or more wine kits. You are more than welcome to blend kits. However, please be aware that we cannot guarantee the outcome of the wine.
Do you add sulfites to the wine?
We must add sulfites to your wine in order to protect it from spoilage-causing microbes and oxidation. It must be added, otherwise it will go bad. RJ Spagnols wine kits are designed to have 35-50 ppm (parts per million) of Sulfite in the finished wine. This is low compared to commercial wines, which contain up to 70 ppm, or dried fruit like raisins, which can contain up to 250 ppm. This is part of the reason your wine will mature relatively quickly. If all or most of your wine will be aged past 12-18 months, ask us about adding additional Sulfite.
What about Oak?
Many wine kits include oak to be added when beginning primary fermentation. The oak can be as sawdust, chips, shavings, stakes or cubes. Depending on the kit, a specific oak is used (typically American, French or Hungarian) to help achieve the proper level and tastes from oak desired. Oak is what gives wines the “vanilla, or chocolate, or leather, or tar, etc ...” tastes. The added oak has usually completed its task within the first 48 hours after addition.
The oak flavourings usually mellow out over time (sometimes months).
If using Wascana Wine & Brew’s Premium Barrel Craft Service, oak is not added during the making of your wine. Instead your wine is oaked naturally by the imported Hungarian Oak barrel being used.
What else gets added to my wine before bottling?
On the first day (initial fermentation day), aside from the yeast, you will add Bentonite to your juice.
Bentonite is a fining agent. It helps to clear the sediment out of your wine, and it also works during primary fermentation to help your juice ferment. Bentonite is a type of clay composed of sodium and calcium. When used in winemaking, it is stirred into the wine to remove proteins and other haze-causing particles. It attaches itself to a particle and together they are too heavy to stay in suspension. Bentonite settles out so completely that it does not leave any residue of taste or color behind. Without the addition of Bentonite, wines could become very unstable in the bottle quickly, as a result of protein haze and other impurities.
During the stabilizing of your wine, we add 3.5 grams each of Sulfite and Potassium Sorbate. Sulfite protects the wine from spoilage-causing microbes and oxidation. It must be added, otherwise it will go bad. Potassium Sorbate inhibits the yeast from re-fermenting in the bottle. If your wine starts to re-ferment in the bottle, gas will build up inside and can push out the cork or burst the bottle, not to mention produce a very undrinkable wine! Fining, or clearing, is established with the use of Chitosan and Kieselsol. Chitosan is a positively charged agent derived from shellfish (Allergy information: Chitosan will not and can not cause allergic reactions in humans. Allergic reactions are caused by protein chains and Chitosan is 100% protein free.). It adheres to negatively charged tannins and works extremely well in conjunction with Kieselsol.
Kieselsol is a 30% solution of silicon dioxide. It is negatively charged, thereby adhering strongly to positively charged proteins. When used in conjunction with Chitosan, it creates a strong electrostatic charge, brings the bonded particles to the bottom of the carboy, and produces crystal clear wines within 2 weeks.
What about accelerator packs?
Accelerator packs do just that – rush the wine into being before it should be. The idea is anathema to professional wine-makers and wineries. At Wascana Wine & Brew, we believe quality wines take time, and if a wine requires 8 weeks to develop into the superb wine it is, then 8 weeks it is. Accelerator packs act by adding more chemicals to a wine, then cooking it for the week needed at much higher temperatures than yeast is comfortable with. We believe in old fashioned patience and time honoured methods for wine making.
Interestingly enough, the company promoting accelerator packs also promotes two other main stay wine kits – both of which are NOT recommended for use with these packs. Not one of the large quality and premium wineries uses these packs, so we figure neither should we!
When you say “award-winning wines” what do you mean?
RJ Spagnols wine kits have consistently surpassed the competition at the annual Winemaker International Amateur Wine Competition(s), with more medals and awards for quality than all other wine kit manufacturers. For more information click here. If you are interested in becoming an amateur competitor and/or learning more about the competition, please call Wascana Wine & Brew!
Does your pricing include bottles?
No, our pricing includes corks, shrink caps, and labels to give you a professionally finished wine on presentation. Bottles may be purchased separately, or brought from home.
Do you use recycled bottles?
No. WE do not use or sell recycled bottles due to health and safety concerns. That said, customers are always welcome to bring in their own bottles (remember, legal requirements state the bottle label MUST be defaced or removed) for refilling.
Where does the juice come from?
The juice in RJ Spagnols brand wine kits comes from the most top-quality vineyards all over the world. RJ Spagnols contracts to purchase grapes from growers by specifying conditions at harvest. These specifications tend to be very rigid, for although the grapes may change radically from harvest to harvest, it is essential that the kits maintain very high levels of consistency so you can be sure of what you are purchasing!
In addition, unlike some companies, all of our kits contain no added sugar, and all of our Specialty wine kits (such as Ice Wine, port and Cream Sherry) do not require the addition of any sugar or water.
How are the wine kits produced?
Please see the How Do I Make Wine section of this website.
Sweetening or softening my wines?
Sweetening and softening a wine are two different topics. Most red wines and many white wines are considered “Dry”. Off-dry white wines typically include most German wines. That said, any wine kit can be sweetened to taste by the addition of a wine conditioner. These conditioners typically include a liquid invert sugar and Potassium Sorbate (used to neutralize and kill off any yeast to prevent re-fermentation). Once a wine has been sweetened, it can not be made ‘drier’ again. We suggest adding wine conditioner in small amounts, tasting as you go to achieve the level of sweetness you like.
Softening a wine usually involves the addition of Glycerine to a wine. Glycerine is used by many wineries to add body to a thing or young wine and to achieve a softer, more lush “mouth-feel” to a wine. Glycerine when added to kit wines also increases the viscosity which allows wine legs to develop in the glass.
How long should I age my wine?
That depends on the wine. Generally, higher-end and larger kits need more time to age than introductory and 4 week kits. Reds should age longer than whites, dry wines longer than off-dry, and more full-bodied wines need longer than lighter, fruitier wines. If you can let your wine age for at least a month or two in the bottle, you’ll be surprised by how much it will improve. The flavour profile of a wine is like an arc; it improves over time and reaches a peak, at which point the quality will start to decline. One of the great things about kit wine is that you can consume your wine over time and taste the differences.
How long will my wine last?
Four-week wine kits will generally last 12-16 months, six-eight week kits average 2-3 years. If you want to keep most or all of your wine for more than 12 months, ask us about adding extra Sulfite. Red wines will typically last longer than whites. And remember, storage is important!
How should I store my wine?
Ideally, it should be in a dark, humid, cool (55°-60°F) place with little temperature fluctuation and no movement. That said, if a basement is all you have, so be it! Next best is a bedroom closet in the coolest part of your home.
Can I store my wine in the fridge?
Your refrigerator is not an ideal place to store wine long-term as it is too cool, too dry, and is generally vibrating. Open wines, with a proper seal on them (and this applies to both red and white wines) can last for a month or so when refrigerated.
What about serving temperatures for my wines?
Most of us are guilty of serving our wines at the wrong temperatures. Red wines are generally served too warm, and white wines too cold. A rule of thumb is to remove your white wine from the fridge (the best way to chill any white wine or Champagne is an ice bucket for 20 minutes!) about 20 minutes prior to serving; red wines, try placing the bottle in the fridge for 20 minutes just before serving. You’ll definitely notice the difference as flavours become alive with a slightly cooled red wine and slightly warmer white wine.
Don’t believe us? A simple test for you – Pour a glass of your favourite wine. Using the rule of thumb above, place the red in the fridge for 20 minutes, pour a glass then taste both the ‘room temperature’ wine and the ‘cooled’ red wine. White wine, try the reverse, take a glass of your well chilled white wine, set it aside, outside the fridge, and 20 minutes later pour a glass directly from the bottle in the fridge. You should notice the difference in bouquet and taste.
Can I use my own bottles?
We’re all for recycling bottles! That said, a few important guidelines for you:
If you plan on using your own bottles, please advise us prior to bottling day. Remember by law, all labels must either be removed or defaced.
Make sure the bottles are CLEAN! Residual wine in the bottle will turn to mould and ruin your wine. If you see or suspect any black spotting within the bottle, toss it out! At Wascana Wine & Brew, we will work with you to sanitize/sterilize your bottles on site just prior to bottle filling. We use a Sulfite solution that requires no rinsing of the bottles for sterilization.
Make sure you use the right kind of bottle. Screw top bottles generally have thinner necks and the threading can chip in the bottle corking machine. As such we can not guarantee the seal created by the cork is a proper one.
Can I use a dishwasher to clean/sterilize my bottles at home?
No. We do not recommend dishwasher cleaning or sterilizing. Placing the bottles upside down in the dishwasher will not guarantee sufficient water/detergent INSIDE the bottle to thoroughly clean the bottle (our trials indicate that approximately 3 out of 4 bottles retain dirt or sediment). Also, dishwasher products such as “Jet-Dry” will actually harm your wine.