Frequently Asked Questions
If you are making your wine kit at home you will need an equipment starter kit, as well as the wine kit. The equipment starter kit is approximately $100. Wine kits range from $60-$175. The Wine Cellar also offers Vint-On Premise which still requires the purchase of a wine kit, as well as a service charge. Both of these options require you to supply or purchase bottles and corks.
No, all Winexpert and Vineco kits come with excellent instructions. As a rule of thumb, if you can make kool-aid, you can make wine. Plus, our knowledgable staff is here to help you along the way if you have any other questions. Lost your instructions?
The quality of a home crafted wine is every bit as good as a commercial wine.
Yes, it does. We recommend you to age your wine to enhance its flavour. Each wine has its own characteristics and some will require longer aging than others. Ask us for details about your kit.
Most wine kits are ready to bottle in 28-45 days. At that point, they are not necessarily ready to drink. We recommend that you wait two weeks before you begin drinking it. This gives the wine a chance to get over the shock of bottling and begin to open up and release its aromas and flavours.
No. For years, winemakers were told to soak their corks prior to insertion. This has changed as a result of improvements in cork quality and a better understanding of the way spoilage organisms and bacteria work on the surface of the cork. Natural corks are made from the bark of the cork oak tree and come from Portugal. These natural corks have pits and channels in them. Soaking can activate spoilage organisms on the cork, which affect the wine, causing spoilage or off-flavours and/or aromas. All of our corks are treated with an inert silicone compound which produces a smooth surface and renders the cork waterproof. Liquid will bead on the surface and then run off when the cork is put into the bottle. This liquid can then pool inside your corker, causing erosion or, worse, it can drip into the wine bottles, carrying dust and bacteria from inside the corker.
The corks have been sterilized at the factory and are sealed in bags with SO2 gas to keep them sterile. Dry insertion ensures that you do not activate organisms and protects your corker from corrosion. Once you’ve opened a bag of corks, we recommend that you place an open container of metabisulphite solution into a large pail. Pour the corks around the container (not in the liquid) and close the lid of the pail tightly. The gas released by the metabisulphite will keep the corks sterile.
90% of all home winemaking failures are due to improper cleaning and sanitizing. Cleaning means removing visible residue. This is very important. Use an unscented detergent like Chloriclean on your equipment and rinse well. Sanitizing means treating the equipment with a substance that reduces or removes bacteria. Use a metabisulphite solution to sanitize all your equipment. Everything that comes into contact with your wine - fermenters, carboys, hoses, spoons - must be clean and sanitized. One single lapse could cause a failure of your entire batch!
The alcohol level depends on the type of wine kit you purchase. Mist wines are lower in alcohol, and heavy red wines tend to be higher.
No. You can supply your own but they must be well cleaned and sanitized.
The easiest thing to do is to rinse out your bottle well with hot water as soon as you have poured the last glass, turn it upside down to drain it and then place it upside down in your box to prevent dust and little critters from getting in. If, after rinsing it well with hot water, you notice that there is still something in the bottle (including any residue on the side of the bottle) you must clean it properly. Cleaning means soaking it with Chloroclean and possibly using a bottle brush. After that, the bottle must be rinsed well.
Shrink caps aren't just decorative. They actually keep out unwanted pests such as fruit flies and spider mites, while allowing your wine to breathe.
The shape of the bottle does not make a difference but we do recommend putting a red wine into a darker coloured bottle to protect the wine from sunlight.
It is your option whether you add the sulphite or not. Some people think they are allergic to sulphites, but from what we have learned, true sulphite allergies are actually quite rare. The problem is that when you don't add the sulphite, the shelf life of your wine is seriously compromised - it will oxidize and spoil quickly. According to Vineco International Products, without added sulphites your wine will start to go off in less than four weeks and can be undrinkable in less than three months. Also, if the sulphite is left out, but the sorbate is added, the wine can be attacked by lactic bacteria. They will convert the sorbate into the compound 'hexadienol', which smells like rotting geraniums and dead fish. Not too appetizing! Here's the other thing. If you don't add the sulphite, neither the producer of the wine kit nor we, the retailer, can guarantee the wine. You have to decide if it's worth it.
Nothing makes the future look so rosy as to contemplate it through a glass of wine.
- Napoleon Bonaparte
"When I walked into The Wine Cellar, I was prepared for the daunting task of choosing a red wine kit that I hoped would be close to my favourite wine. As a first time customer and not wine-savvy enough to even know what questions to ask, I expected to be given a couple of brochures and sent on my way. Instead, I was immediately greeted by a staff member who listened to my request and then proceeded to her computer where she accessed the full description of my wine. Then she matched those characteristics with kits that they have available. I was impressed with her knowledge, patience and detailed explanation as to the process and timeline of my order. She didn’t make me feel rushed at all and I left the store feeling I had been educated to make an informed choice. I would recommend The Wine Cellar experience any day!"
- Brenda Klarer