Started RJ Spagnols Cellar Classic California Cabernet Sauvignon kit

Having been to the local Home Brew store the other day to pick up corks and capsules which I used in bottling my Chateau d’Oc, I also picked up a couple of new wine kits. I got a WinExpert Australian Shiraz Crushendo kit, and an RJ Spagnols Cellar Classic California Cabernet kit. Though I’ve done several WinExpert kits before, this is the first time I’ve tried an RJ Spagnols kit, and I must say I am impressed.

Here’s what it’s like:

RJ Spagnols California Cabernet kit

RJ Spagnols California Cabernet kit

And here’s what you get:
RJ Spagnols California Cabernet kit unboxed

RJ Spagnols California Cabernet kit unboxed

The first thing I noticed which is different from the WinExpert Crushendo kits is that the grapes don’t come in a vacuum packed bag, they come in a big plastic tub. Also, they give you a mesh bag to put the crushed grapes into during fermentation, instead of having you use a little foam filter during racking. (This latter one is of no real consequence as I’ve taken to using nylon paint strainers from Home Depot for this purpose anyway.) The big bag of juice that you get comes in a container which appears to be identical with that used by WinExpert, down to the yellow plastic lid and the “neck” of the bag with that ridiculous groove that’s supposed to fit into a slot in the cardboard box, but doesn’t.

When I opened the tub of crushed grapes, the difference between this and the WinExpert kits became even more stark. The WinExpert kits give you a vacuum packed bag of crushed grape skins, but they are a little dried out, and there are some stems and seeds and what not in there. You are not really tempted to put any of it in your mouth, at least not by the looks of it. The RJ Spagnols grapes are a different kettle of fish. They appear to be much more hydrated, much less “mashed”, and the stuff actually looks, smells, and yes, tastes delicious (there was a spoonful of the stuff which didn’t make it all the way to the fermenting bucket. 🙂 ) I don’t know if it makes any difference in the quality of the wine produced, but it is certainly a much more appetizing and appealing way of packaging things than what WinExpert is doing.

My specific gravity started of at 1.085, which is a little low. I think it’s been low the last few times I’ve made wine, I may have to re-measure my bucket to make sure I’m not putting in too much water.

~ by scaryreasoner on August 30, 2008.

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