Red Zinfandel kit tasting

Dec 14, 2009

So, back in April of 2008, I began fermentation of a Winexpert Lodi old-vine Zinfandel kit, and bottled it in October. I should mention that lately, I’ve been kind of down on the home winemaking thing, just because all my wines have shared a similar flaw — a kind of “jolly rancher” flavor that shouldn’t be there. Tonight I opened a bottle of this wine. There is a faint hint of the “jolly rancher,” but, it’s faint, rather than in your face. I feel like that last sentence might need an exclamation point. This wine is actually not too bad. Damned by faint praise and all, but compared to the jolly rancher weird tasting failures I’ve had heretofore, this is big news. Maybe it’s the label I put on the bottle:

Still, the kit wine industry tries to tell you that the premium kits will deliver you 30 bottles of wine of a quality similar to what you’d get from a $10 to $15 bottle of commercial wine. Because you’ve got to age the wine for a year, or preferably two, and because this is very hard for the beginning winemaker to do, seeing how he’s going to be awfully curious how his first wine is turning out, it takes a couple of years to catch on to this “jolly rancher” problem. And when you do catch on, you still don’t know if it’s a problem inherent in the kit wines, or whether it’s something you’re doing wrong, and, if it is something you’re doing wrong, whether it’s something which is feasibly correctable.

My brother once visited a “ferment on premises” store which allows home winemakers to do all the fermenting at the store, and not have winemaking equipement and what not cluttering up their houses. He figured these people ought to know what they were doing, and so he asked them if their wines had any weird tastes compared to commercial wines. They told him “no,” of course. He also managed to get a bottle of wine they’d made, and tasted it, and, unfortunately, it wasn’t too swift, and had the same sorts of problems that I’ve found in my wines, and that my brother’s found in his wines. So here are people running a business fermenting kit wines who should presumably know how to get the best out of them, and they’ve got the same problems that we’ve got.

I’m on the verge of giving up on this whole kit wine thing. I’ve got a couple of kits I bought this fall that I’ll do, but after that, I may be done with it.

In the meantime, this “Zinfidel” is tolerable.

And here’s to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.


~ by scaryreasoner on December 15, 2009.

2 Responses to “Red Zinfandel kit tasting”

  1. I have heard from more than one source that the off flavor described is more of a problem with reds than with whites. This matches with my experience, but my sample size is low. I have a carboy of Riesling to bottle, but no corks to use so I will have to let you know.

    ps. Nice job on the cyclekart.

  2. The jolly rancher taint has always been a minor problem in my opinion. But then I generally drink swill and for that one can certainly get off cheaper. Your (pl) wines, once aged, and that is key, have been pretty good, the later batches even more so. The labels are especially great says Mom C.

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