the process

You can craft winery-quality wine for a fraction of the cost

The Value

You can craft winery-quality wine for a fraction of what you would spend on similar store-bought wine.

It’s fun!

Socialize with other winemakers while you bottle your wine at one of our on-premise locations* or craft your wine at home with a group of friends.  You’ll meet new  people, share your passion and quickly realize why thishas been a popular pastime for decades.

The Convenience

Have a cellar full of wine for every occasion and food pairing right at your fingertips.  No more last minute trips to the store!

First, you need to decide if you will make the wine yourself at home, or at one of our retailers who offer on-site winemaking.  On-site winemaking is available in most Canadian provinces. If you live outside of a region that offers on-site winemaking, or if you’d like to have a more hands-on experience, you can make the wine at home.

If you are making it at a retailer, you’ll first select your wine – our retailers can recommend a great style based on what you already like to drink. The retailer will prepare your juice and you’ll sprinkle the yeast.  Over the next several weeks your retailer will carefully follow all of the necessary steps to create delicious wine. When your wine is complete, you’ll return to bottle it.  You can either bring your own bottles that are clean, or purchase new bottles at the store. After bottling you can apply your choice of bottle label (offered at the store, or from many online label retailers) and top it off with a coordinating shrink.

Alternatively, If you make your wine at home you’ll find that it’s easy and rewarding. You’ll need a bit of equipment, which is inexpensive and pays for itself after your first couple of batches. Many of our retailers offer starter kits with everything you need all in one box.  All of our kits come with step by step instructions and take only about 4 hours total over the course of a few weeks. The process can vary slightly from wine to wine, but generally there are 4 basic steps: Primary Fermentation, Secondary Fermentation, Stabilizing and Clearing and Bottling.

Here are some wine storage tips to ensure top quality wine:

Do:
Store your wine upright for the first 3 to 5 days.
After that, store your wine on its side in order to keep the cork moist.
Store your wine in a cool, dark place.
Your wine should be stored where the temperature is CONSISTENT… Bright light, movement, and temperature fluctuations can negatively affect the quality of your wine.

Do Not:
Do not constantly turn your wine. Red wines will sometimes dust (leave residue on the inside of the bottle). This is normal. Simply decant your wine.
Do not store your wine directly on a cement floor. Put a thick piece of wood under your wine storage boxes.
Do not store your wine on heated floors.

 

*on-premise winemaking not available in all areas

How long does it take to make a wine?

Depending on the wine you choose, it will take between 4 and 8 weeks to complete the winemaking process.

Can I make wine that is as good as store bought brands?

Yes! Winexpert sources juices and concentrates from all over the world and follows the same process as a winery, but on a much smaller scale.  For the best wine, allow your wine to age in the bottle – the longer you wait the better it will become, just make sure you drink it within about a year.

Is it expensive?

Not at all. We offer a wine for every budget.  Because you are making the wine yourself, you save the high tax rates associated with beverage alcohol.  In fact, our wines can be made for as little as $5 per bottle, making it very affordable compared to store-bought wine.

How do I make my own wine?

First, you need to decide if you will make the wine yourself at home, or at one of our retailers who offer on-site winemaking.  On-site winemaking is available in most Canadian provinces. If you live outside of a region that offers on-site winemaking, or if you’d like to have a more hands-on experience, you can make the wine at home.

If you are making it at a retailer, you’ll first select your wine – our retailers can recommend a great style based on what you already like to drink. The retailer will prepare your juice and you’ll sprinkle the yeast.  Over the next several weeks your retailer will carefully follow all of the necessary steps to create delicious wine. When your wine is complete, you’ll return to bottle it.  You can either bring your own bottles that are clean, or purchase new bottles at the store. After bottling you can apply your choice of bottle label (offered at the store, or from many online label retailers) and top it off with a coordinating shrink.

Alternatively, If you make your wine at home you’ll find that it’s easy and rewarding. You’ll need a bit of equipment, which is inexpensive and pays for itself after your first couple of batches. Many of our retailers offer starter kits with everything you need all in one box.  All of our kits come with step by step instructions and take only about 4 hours total over the course of a few weeks. The process can vary slightly from wine to wine, but generally there are 4 basic steps: Primary Fermentation, Secondary Fermentation, Stabilizing and Clearing and Bottling.

What is the alcohol content of the wines?

The alcohol level in our wines varies by style and ranges from 11% to 14.5%. Our specialty dessert wines are as high as 17% and our Island Mists are lower at 6%.

Do Winexpert kits make sweet or dry wines?

We offer both dry and off-dry wines. Our retailers can help you choose a wine that’s as dry or as sweet as you like.

Gifts

Wine is a great idea for many types of gifts. Some people give a batch or a gift certificate for things like birthdays, anniversaries, weddings of close friends and family. Others use bottles from their batch to put in gift baskets, take to parties as a host gift, use as Christmas gifts or thank you gifts. Some also like to use bottles of wine as a gift for retirements, birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, post secondary graduations and many other celebrations.

Events

There are many events wine is good for. Any event you are personally hosting like, Housewarmings, Anniversaries, Birthdays, Christmas Parties, BBQs, Thanksgiving and many various religious celebrations to name a few.

Weddings

There are several ways to use wine for weddings. Some couples serve it at their reception, others use it as the guest gift, have it put in the rooms of out of town guests and some use it for the surrounding events like showers, rehearsal dinners and gift openings. Go to the weddings page for some great ideas.

Corporate

Many people find ways to use wine in their professional life by putting it in gift baskets for clients, using it as a thank you, giving it to co-workers at a holiday event, a reward for a job well done as well as many other ways.

Food & Wine Pairing

What you are looking for is harmony and balance in your pairing. Wine on its own tastes different than when it is paired with food. If it is complementary, wine can impart its flavours to a dish, thereby giving the food an added layer, or food can lend its flavours to the wine. If they clash, or if one overpowers the other, the experience will under whelm and disappoint and can sometimes lead to flavours that are not present in either, like an unpleasant metallic taste which can result from high tannin content and oily fish. With the right pairing, wine and food can combine to give your palate great pleasure!

One thing that books and courses on winemaking never seem to teach is how to build up a good cellar of home-made wine. If you’re like most home winemakers, you always seem to be drinking the last bottle of your batch just as it’s really perfectly aged. Here are some tips on how to build and maintain your ideal wine cellar:

1. Determine how much wine you use. This includes your daily glasses with dinner, weekend dinner parties, friends dropping by, birthdays, anniversaries, the holiday weekend, house warming presents, your thirsty brother-in-law, etc. Let’s say that comes to about three bottles per week, all together. Split it up as per your preference for red and white (don’t forget pink, dessert, and champagne as well).

2. Multiply your weekly consumption by 52 (for the number of weeks in a year). For the person consuming and average of three bottles per week, you’d total 156.

3. Add 15-20% for unexpected wine emergencies (there will be one). In our example case this would be 25 or 30 bottles. We’ll round our total to 180 bottles. That works out to six 23-litre (5-gallon/thirty 750ml bottle) batches per year.

4. Make twice your yearly expected consumption, in as short a period as possible, ideally all within one or two months. In this case, it would be 12 batches, all in one fell swoop.

5. Put half of the wine away in your cellar, and forget about it. Drink your young wine, as you need it.

6. At the end of one year start opening those fully aged bottles, and enjoy the tremendous improvement that good cellaring can bring. On the anniversary date of your big batch, make another six batches, all at once, and put them to the back of the cellar. In a year you’ll nearly dislocate your shoulder patting yourself on the back.

 

The problem with this plan is, while it is very rewarding, you need both the space and the cash to make 12 batches of wine in a very short period of time. Since many of us are not in a position to quite swing such an expenditure, another good strategy is to make two batches of everything, every time you make wine. Bottle one for your use, and put the other in the cellar (away from the prying corkscrew of your thirsty brother-in-law!) For the home vintner, try and stay on a regular schedule to maximize your use of equipment: idle carboys are nobody’s playground. Over the course of a year you should be able to get at least three or four batches salted away for ageing, making a good start on your cellar.

The essence of any cellaring plan is to stash away as many bottles as you can and allow them to age. If you can even take 5 or 6 bottles from each batch you make and squirrel them away for a year, you will quickly have a healthy stock of brilliantly aged wine to drink. The trick is to continually repeat this process – without cheating by taking a bottle here and there! 

You’ll also want to keep on top of your young drinking wine. Calculate when this supply is likely to run out and re-order in enough time for the wine to be ready to bottle before you drink your last bottle. For some this may mean starting a new batch every time you bottle. This will help prevent you from dipping into your wine set aside for aging and save you a lot of money by keeping you from those overly expensive commercial bottles of wine you’d end up buying to fill the void.

It’s tempting to start consuming your wine right after bottling it, and in fact, there are many wines that can be consumed right after bottling and be everything you want them to be. But if you really want to maximize your wine’s potential, a little time left alone in the bottle can make the difference.

With age, most red wines which begin life with obvious fruity aromas and some degree of astringency (‘bite’) will develop softer, gentler, more complex aromas and flavours. The wines become richer, as the fruit mellows and the astringent tannins relax and contribute to the body and character.

Many white wines also benefit with age. Whites intended for ageing may display exceedingly high acid levels which will soften over time, uncovering wonderful textures and flavours.

Components of wines differ by variety or blend, and thus react differently to ageing. Some wines require longer ageing periods than others. For example:

  More Ageing Some Ageing Little Ageing
Reds:           Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot All blush wines
  Barolo Style Pinot Noir  
  Luna Rossa    
       
White: Chardonnay/Semillon Sauvignon Blanc Liebfraumilch Style
  Luna Bianca Johannisberg Riesling Piesporter
       

Different factors exert influence on the rate of ageing and can contribute to a better ageing potential:

Storage – A very big factor, discussed in more detail under Storage (see below)

Cork quality – The longer and less porous the cork, the better the oxygen barrier, extending ageing potential.

Ullage – The amount of headspace in the bottle. Leaving 1 inch is best.

Sulphite level – Higher concentrations protect from oxidation.

So how should you treat the ageing period for different Winexpert products? The answer depends on many factors. For example, using a long, high quality cork or adding some extra sulphite at bottling will extend the maximum age period. Thus, use the following as a general guideline only:

  BEST AFTER BEST BEFORE
Selection Reds 3 – 6 months 3 years
Selection Whites 3 – 6 months 2 years
Vintners Reserve Reds 2 months 1 year
Vintners Reserve Whites 1 month 1 year
Island Mist Immediate 1 year

Origin of Wine Kits

Where Did Wine Kits Come From?

Arguably, the first wine kits were actually used in ancient Mesopotamia. People of the first civilization in this area would store a mixture of grains and dried dates against future need. When the time came, they would crumble this concentrated source of sugar into water, and allow it to ferment with the natural yeast present on the dates. In effect, it was the first wine kit.

Another argument can be made for the practice that became common during the US experiment with the Volstead Act (Prohibition). Grape producers in California would ship bricks of dehydrated Zinfandel grapes east, to Chicago and New York in railcars. These concentrated bricks of sugary grapes came with a strong warning label: CAUTION! Do not add these grapes to 5 gallons of water and five pounds of sugar with yeast, or it will ferment into wine, which is ILLEGAL. It was a strange time to be a winemaker.

In the 1970’s the first wine kits began to appear. They featured cans of pasteurized grape concentrate and packages of acid, nutrient and yeast. While complete, and capable of fermenting into a wine-like beverage, they were actually pretty awful.

Still, people persisted, and as the wine industry grew, so did Winexpert’s kit business. In the mid-1980’s Doug and Ross Tocher, founders of Brew King knew they could do better. They mixed carefully processed concentrates with fresh grape juice and adjusted it for perfect balance as a finished wine, eliminating the need for extra packages. Then they aseptically packaged it on a state-of-the-art system, into sterile bags, preserving all the flavours and aromas in the juice.

The modern wine kit was born!

How Winexpert Wine Kits are Made

From reading the side panels on wine kit boxes most people can figure out that Winexpert kits contain concentrate, juice and other winemaking staples like acid and sulfite. However, just how these things came together to make your kit is fascinating. For the most part, kits are made exactly like wine 75% at least in the beginning.

To start, Winexpert contracts to purchase grapes from growers by specifying conditions at harvest (acid, pH, brix, and color) and organoleptic qualities (flavor and aroma). These specifications are very rigid, for although the grapes may change radically from harvest to harvest, the kits must maintain very high levels of consistency, so consumers can make repeat purchasing decisions. When the grapes are ripe they are harvested and taken to a winery, where they are sulfited and crushed. At this point white and red grape processing diverges

White grapes are pressed, and the juice is pumped into a settling tank. Enzymes are added to break down pectins and gums, which would make clearing difficult after fermentation. Bentonite is added to the juice and re-circulated. After several hours the circulation is shut off, and the tank is crash-chilled below freezing. This helps precipitate grape solids, and prevents spoilage.

Red grapes are crushed, sulfited and pumped through a chiller to a maceration tank, where special enzymes are added. These break down the cellulose membrane of the grape skins, extracting color, aroma and flavor. The tank is chilled to near freezing to prevent the must from fermenting. After two to three days the red must is pumped off, pressed and settled much the same way as the whites.

When the tank is settled, and the juice almost clear, it is roughly filtered, the sulfite is adjusted, and it is either pumped into tanker trucks for shipment to the kit facility, or into a vacuum concentrator.
Vacuum concentrators work like the reverse of a pressure cooker. By lowering the pressure inside the tank, water can be made to boil at very low temperatures. By boiling the juice at low temperature browning and caramelization are prevented. The water comes off as vapour, leaving behind concentrated grape juice. Because some aromatic compounds can be carried away in this vapor, a fractional distillation apparatus on the concentrator recovers these essences, returning them to the concentrate after processing.

The juices and concentrates are then shipped to our facility where they are pumped into nitrogen purged tanks, tested for quality and stability, and held at very low temperatures. This both speeds up the formation of wine diamonds (crystals of potassium bitartrate from the tartaric acid naturally occurring in the wine), and preserves them until they are to be used.

After the Quality Control checks are passed, the juices and concentrates are blended into the formulations that make up the different kits in giant blending tanks. When the formulation is finally adjusted and approved the must is pumped through the pasteurizer. The pasteurizer is a type of heat exchanger that rapidly heats and then cools the must, killing yeast and spoilage organisms, but not burning or caramelizing the must. From there is goes into the bag filler which purges the sterile bags with a double flush of nitrogen, and then fills each bag to a very strict tolerance.

The bags are then automatically capped and loaded into the kit boxes that come from the box former, after which the packaged additives are placed on top. The boxes are sealed, shrink-wrapped and packed on a skid for a Quality Assurance microbiological hold.

Depending on the product, this hold can be from three days to more than a week, while the product is examined for signs of bacterial or yeast activity. If it passes, it is then shipped to the warehouse, and from there to dealers, and finally, into the hands of the winemaking customer

-With thanks to Winexpert, the world’s largest manufacturer of premium wine, beer, and other alcohol beverage kits.-