I've never blogged on wine kits before so I figure I would give it a shot to lend some information on the process for beginners. These kits come in tons of varieties. I'll plug MD Homebrew here as usual as they have a nice selection of these kits and everything you will need to be successful at wine making. I have only done a few random kits over the years because wine making typically takes longer than making beer in terms of aging. In terms of the brewing or making process it is much easier. There is no boiling involved, just a bunch of racking back and forth into clean fermenters from time to time and putting in some additives here and there.
To get started I used a Pinot Grigio kit. I chose this kit because it's a white wine and they usually can be consumed a lot earlier than red wines. Most reds need to age at least 6 months before you open one and try it. The Pinot kit was a little over $100 but it makes thirst 750ml bottles of good table wine so it works out to be between $3-4 per bottle which isn't too shabby considering you'll pay double that at a wine shop for the cheapest stuff they have. Now, this wine will not sit up against a $50 bottle. It will however hold its on in the $15-$20 range.
The process is rather simple. Clean and sanitize a fermenter that is at least 6 gallons. You need the headspace for fermentation and also for some additional water later on. Once you have a clean and sanitized fermenter, you just add the juice from the bag in and add whatever water the instructions tell you. To be honest the instructions actually are quite good with these kits. Add in the packet of dry yeast and seal the bucket with a lid and airlock full of sanitizer. At this point just let the bucket sit for a week or so at room temperature. Fermentation will begin and you'll notice air bubbles coming from the airlock and you'll be able to smell the wine through the airlock usually.
The instructions say after a week or so to check the gravity with a hydrometer. The next step (which is the step I am on right no with this kit) is to transfer the wine off the yeast into another clean and sanitized fermenter. I did that Sunday and it ended up looking pretty cloudy. In a day or two however so far this week the top half of the wine has cleared and looks more polished. I will do the next steps this weekend which involve adding a little water and then some of the stabilizers and clarifiers. One thing I really like about these kits is they have little to no sulfates for preservatives. That's the stuff that usually gives you a headache when you drink wine. I'll post up again when I do the next racking with some pictures of the product.