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Not All Wine Starter Packages Are Alike!

Our first and foremost priority at The Wine Maker's Toy Store is make sure your first batch of wine is not only a success, but a fun and rewarding venture. To assist you in the purchase of your starter package, whether you buy from us or another store, the list below provides the basic equipment you need to make wine with most of the Winexpert wine ingredients kits (Certain of the specialty kits like Port, Sherry, Ice Wine Style and Champagne use a 3-gallon carboy, but all of the other pieces of equipment are the same). If you want to make your wine from scratch, go to our Required Equipment page.

Customer Testimonial:

"I purchased my wine making kit (hardware) from you in May.  I have successfully bottled our first batch of Bergamais and will be trying it in a few weeks.  I want you to know that the equipment that we purchased from you was top shelf quality, and your instruction guide was invaluable.  My wife and I had a wonderful time with our first time ever wine making experience.  Our next attempt will be Pinot Noir later in the summer. Thanks for your help."

Ralph - Vermont

Starter Packages from Fine Vine Wines, LLC, The Wine Maker's Toy Store.

The following is the list of required equipment for making wine with a wine ingredients kit:

  • 7.9 Gallon Primary Fermenter with Drilled & Gasketed Lid
  • 6-Gallon Carboy
  • Drilled Stopper (bung) to Fit Carboy
  • Airlock
  • Hydrometer
  • Racking Cane (Siphon Tube)
  • 5 ft Siphon Tubing
  • Bottle Filler
  • Plastic Spoon or Paddle
  • Wine Thief
  • Test Jar
  • 30 Wine Bottles (750ml)
  • 30 new corks or screw caps
  • Corker (Not required if using screw caps)

Starting at the top of the list, the 7.9 Gallon Primary Fermenter with Drilled & Gasketed Lid is usually a food grade plastic bucket. A bucket is used as the primary fermenter as you want a wide top to allow plenty of oxygen for the yeast in their growth stage. You also want a primary fermenter at least 25% larger than the secondary fermenter to allow plenty of room for the fermentation process. During the rapid fermentation phase, the yeast create carbon dioxide which raises the level of your wine to more than 6-gallons. When this phase is finished the level will drop back to the 6-gallon mark. If you use a smaller bucket, i.e., 6.5-gallon, you run the risk of your wine overflowing the primary and creating a real mess!

The next item is the carboy and the the 6-gallon size is MANDATORY. I cannot stress this point enough! All of the wine ingredient kits (except the dessert wine kits which are 3-gallon kits) are designed to be made in a 6-gallon carboy, NOT 5-gallon. Anyone that tells you differently is not knowledgeable with these kits. If you make a 6-gallon wine kit in a 5-gallon carboy, you will throw off the balance and adversely affect the quality of your finished wine.

A drilled stopper and airlock are used together with the carboy to allow carbon dioxide to escape from the carboy while keeping oxygen out.

The hydrometer is used to measure the amount of sugar in your wine. It is important to make sure your wine has the correct beginning specific gravity (S.G.). Depending on the type of wine, the starting S.G. will be anywhere from 1.05 to 1.10. The kit instructions will tell you what the starting S.G. for your particular kit should be. Secondly, as the fermentation progresses, you will use the hydrometer to tell you when to perform the next steps.

A racking cane, also called a siphon tube, is a rigid piece of plastic with a cap at the bottom. You need this to transfer (rack) your wine from vessel to vessel. You attach the siphon tubing to the cane, place the cane in your wine and the tubing in the empty vessel. Then you start a siphon to rack the wine into the clean vessel. The cap at the bottom of the cane is to minimize the amount of sediment transferred as the primary reason for racking is to remove the sediment from your wine.

At some point you are going to want to bottle your wine, thus the need for the bottle filler. The bottle filler attaches the end of the tubing and has a trigger at the bottom to start and stop the flow of wine as you move from bottle to bottle.

The plastic spoon or paddle serves 2 purposes. One to mix your wine concentrate and water when you begin and when you add the stabilizers and fining agents. The second purpose is remove the carbon dioxide (CO2) from your wine. This is referred to as "de-gassing your wine".

Due to the small neck on the carboy, it is extremely difficult to take an S.G. reading by putting the hydrometer directly into the carboy. The easier way is to draw out a sample with the wine thief and put it into a test jar. Then you can put the hydrometer into the test jar to obtain the S.G. After you get your reading, you can pour the sample back into the carboy. You can also use the wine thief to draw a sample for a taste test.

Obviously, you will need bottles for your finished wine. Most people use the standard wine bottle which is 750 ml and get a little over 30 bottles. You will also need new corks as used corks WILL leak.

The last item on this list is a corker. You could try a mallet, but you will find the corker is much easier and less time consuming. You will find there are many different corkers on the market and included in starter kits. My only recomendation is to avoid the plastic models. From my experience, they are not as easy to use as the all metal varieties.

One other item of note is that some starter packages come with 5/16" or 3/8" racking canes, bottle fillers and tubing. Although that size works well for beer making, the flow rate is extremely slow for racking and bottling wine compared to their 1/2" counterparts. The flow rate for the 1/2" tubing is 77% faster than the 3/8" and 150% faster than the 5/16". For this reason, we only include the 1/2" size in all of our wine making starter packages.

OTHER USEFUL ITEMS:

The following items may also be included in various starter packages:

  • On/Off spigot for the fermenting bucket - This spigot is located about 1" from the bottom of the bucket and can be used to perform the first racking, in leiu of the siphon. I personally prefer the spigot as you can transfer more wine and less sediment using this technique.
  • Auto-Siphon - Instead of sucking on the tubing to create a siphon, this handy little "Toy" simplifies the racking process by creating the siphon for you.
  • Wine Thief/Test Jar Combo - This multi-purpose "toy" replaces the wine thief and test jar, giving you one less item to maintain. This product has a trigger-valve at the bottom to trap the wine and the diameter is large enough to accept the hydrometer. Just lower the Wine Thief/Test Jar Combo into your carboy and when it is about 3/4 full remove it. Then put your hydrometer into the Wine Thief/Test Jar Combo and take your reading. When you are though you can release the wine back into the carboy. You can also use this item to take samples for tasting.
  • Drill mounted stirrer - This particular item is extremely useful when adding the stabilizers and fining agents to your wine in the carboy and de-gassing your wine. Due to the size of the neck of the carboy, stirring with a paddle or spoon can be very difficult and tiring. A drill mounted stirrer makes this job much easier. The least expense drill mounted stirrer is the Whip De-Gasser. You can upgrade to either the Mix-Stir or Fizz-X.

We also recognize this purchase represents a substantial investment by you and a "leap of faith" trusting that you really can make quality wine at home. Although the process is fairly simple and straight-forward, you may have some questions or need some clarification. In that vein, make sure that the company from which you buy your kit provides free telephone and email support. You should also find out about their return policy in case you have a problem.

Click here to see what our customers have to say about our service and support!

I hope this helps in your purchase, but if you have any questions, please pick up the phone and give us a call. We are always ready to assist you, whether you buy from us or not. We will try to make sure you get the best value for your money!

I might also point out that The Wine Maker's Toy Store has a 100% money back guarantee on everything we sell for the life of the product, no questions asked. We will do everything we can to make sure that every Winexpert wine kit purchased by you, whether from us or not, is an unqualified sucess!

Starter Packages from Fine Vine Wines, LLC, The Wine Maker's Toy Store.

George Cornelius - President

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