Written by: Tim Edison

Updated on: July 18, 2022

What is the Best Wine Concentrate for Homemade Wine?

What Is The Best Wine Concentrate For Homemade Wine

If you’re not yet familiar with wine concentrates, this guide is for you.

We recommend our favorite wine concentrates for making great homemade wine!

Whites, reds, fruits, they're all here and they all taste great!

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Wine Concentrate Vs. Fruit

Quite often we’re asked whether it’s better to make wine from fresh fruit or wine concentrate.

While there are some differences between the two procedures, and also between the results, high-quality wine concentrate will still give you high-quality wine.

Traditional winemaking is a complicated process that requires time, dedication, and knowledge.

By simplifying the process, wine concentrate represents a great alternative solution for inexperienced winemakers. 

Making red wine in a barrel

A few years ago, wine concentrates were made of poor quality juice and were rich in additives and chemicals.

And for this reason, concentrates still have quite a bad reputation. Fortunately, things have changed and today it is possible to find high-quality fruit concentrates with little or no additives.

So how do you decide between the two?

If you have the time and resources we'd certainly recommend starting from fruit instead of using a concentrate.

It's the ultimate winemaking experience with no shortcuts!

However, unless you have a large basement or cellar, you’ll only be able to produce a small quantity of wine.

Why?

Because making wine from juice requires lots of fruit.

To make six gallons of wine you'll need between 60 and 85lbs of grapes.

At the same time, a packaged wine concentrate has about the same yield, and it comes in a small container.

Wine concentrates also have other benefits. 

You'll skip the whole fruit crushing, de-stemming and pressing stage which is quite physical work. You also won't need to worry about sanitizing the fruit.

Perfect for beginners, these wine kits come with comprehensive and detailed instructions on how to make wine. And in most cases, they don’t even require the use of other ingredients.

In summary, if you’re a beginner, if you're short on space, or if you have difficulty sourcing grapes then we'd recommend getting a wine concentrate.

Still Need Some Winemaking Equipment?

Don't miss our picks of the winemakings kits to give you the perfect start with your first batch!


How to Choose a Wine Concentrate

These days there's quite a lot of choice on the market. You can basically find any type of wine variety that you want.

Here's a brief summary of what to look out for.


Quality

The high-quality concentrate is obtained from the evaporation of water from the juice. This is usually done at room temperature, in a controlled and pressurized environment.

Another way of achieving quality concentrate is by distillation. In any case, the product shouldn’t have additives or preservatives.

The safest way is to buy concentrate made by a renowned winery or juice manufacturer.


Fruit

Another thing to decide is the type of wine you want to make. Grape concentrates are the most popular, but wine can be made of a host of different fruits.

For example, you can make strawberry or blueberry wine.


Generic or Varietal-Specific

As far as grape wine is concerned, you’ll find generic concentrate (i.e. white wine or red wine) or varietal-specific concentrate.

In the first case, the concentrate is made from a blend of grape juices and it’s almost impossible to track the provenience of the grapes. Yet, the manufacturer might disclose the varieties of grapes involved.

In the second case, the box should contain only varietal-specific concentrate. The concentrate might still be made of a blend of juices but they all come from the same variety of grapes.


Region Specific

Some selected wine concentrates are made from juice that comes from specific vineyards.

This allows you to obtain a specific type of wine, for example, Barolo wine from Piedmont or Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

These wine concentrates are usually more expensive but give the highest quality wines.


Size

These juice concentrates generally come in at around 6 gallons in size (once bulked up with whatever is needed). 

That usually equates to around 30 bottles of finished wine.

Do you have the equipment to handle a batch of this volume?

Do you have the spare space at home to accommodate the fermenters and bottles?


Our Recommended Wine Concentrates For Homemade Wine

These are the winemaking concentrates that we believe are worth your attention.


1. Winexpert Vintner’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

Winexpert is one of the most renowned brands when it comes to winemaking kits. 

They have a wide range of grape juices and their Vintner’s Reserve collection is probably the most appreciated in terms of quality and price.

As we said, there are many options to choose from. But we believe a Cabernet Sauvignon might be the right choice for beginners.

It is a wine loved by many, easy to make, and with great body and flavor.

The kit contains everything needed to make 30 bottles in about two months.

The concentrate has a rather short shelf life of about a year. However, this is more of an indicator of quality than a downside, as it proves the concentrate has few additives.

Pros

  • Choice: Winexpert offer a huge range of concentrates
  • Simplicity: Just follow the manufacturer’s instruction to get 30 bottles of delicious Cabernet Sauvignon in less than three months.
  • Directions: easy-to-follow directions. includes oak chips, which add more complex aromas and flavor to the wine.
  • Oaking: includes oak chips to add more complex aromas and flavors to the wine.

Cons

  • One of the pricier kits





2. Vintner's Best All Natural Fruit Wine Bases

If you're more interested in a non-grape wine then the Vintner's Best range of fruit concentrates are going to get you very excited!

They make a concentrate for every fruit imaginable and they're great quality too.

The blend of juice concentrates contain corn syrup and citric acid already mixed in and balanced.

This means they're already at the ideal sugar level and pH acidity to make great wine.

The resealable jugs will make five gallons of fruit wine. But what we really like is how easy to make this wine is. 

Besides being already balanced, the wine doesn’t need to be strained or placed in a mesh bag either; the concentrate doesn’t contain any fruit skins and you're pretty much ready to get started with fermentation.

Pros

  • Huge range: there's a fruit concentrate for almost every fruit.
  • Easy to make: already balanced and ready for fermenting.
  • Reusable jug: comes with a tamper-resistant seal and can be used to brew the wine.
  • Quantity: the wine base is sufficient to yield 5 gallons of wine or about 25 bottles.

Cons

  • You'll need to add a bit more sugar and use a hydrometer to get an ABV over 10%.





3. Fontana Wine Making Kit

Fontana are one of the leading manufacturers of wine ingredient kits and winemaking concentrates.

They offer a huge variety of wine bases. You'll find the usual suspects like Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignon but you'll also find some really interesting local varieties like Washington State Yakima and Walla Walla.

These kits come with everything else you need too. This includes potassium metabisulfite, bentonite, sorbate, yeast, chitosan and kieselsol.

This all-in-one solution is really convenient for first timers but it does make the Fontana kits a bit more expensive than most others. The quality of the grape concentrates is always really good though.

Pros

  • Great selection: you'll popular wine varieties and more unique blends too.
  • Quality grapes: the concentrates contain grapes from some of the world's top vineyards.
  • All-in-one kit: contains all the winemaking ingredients you needs to get started.

Cons

  • On the higher end of the price spectrum





4. Winexpert Grape Concentrate

Winexpert Grape Concentrate (for both red and white wine) is not exactly a wine concentrate, as it’s not recommended to use it to make wine from scratch, but more of a sweetener for already made wine. 

The concentrate is three times as sweet as regular grape juice and measures 68 Brix. Now, that's seriously sweet!

This wine grape concentrate is commonly used to increase the alcohol concentration and the body of a wine.

It's therefore great for making homemade Port,  Marsala or any other fortified wine. The strong grape taste will also add flavor and body to a dull wine.

Although some claim it’s possible to make wine from this kit, we wouldn’t recommend it. The concentrate doesn’t include any stabilizers and it can create carbonation if the bottles are not properly stored or stabilized. Sadly, this can happen even if you use it as instructed.

For this reason, it is recommended to stabilize your wine before adding this grape concentrate to the beverage and to store the bottles in a cool place, away from temperature fluctuations.

Pros

  • Flavorful: perfect for enhancing flavor, aroma, and body of homemade wines
  • Perfect for fortified wines: an excellent tool for fortifying wine

Cons

  • More of a wine conditioner than straight up wine concentrate





5. Cellar Master Chardonnay Kit

If you're a fan of Chardonnay (they do a few others too), then the Cellar Master wine ingredient packs are worth a look.

Containing a high-quality grape concentrate and all the additives needed to get started. These include stabilizers, clearing agents, and even some oak chips for aging.

These kits represent really great value for money too. A kit yields around 30 bottles of wine which is a great return for the price tag.

The 28 day kit has some great instructions but the ABV for Chardonnay is a bit light for my taste at 11.5%. You can remedy that by adding a bit more sugar prior to fermentation though


Pros

  • Great value: at around $3 per bottle it's represents amazing value
  • Additives included: besides a quality concentrate you get additives and oak chips too

Cons

  • ABV is a bit light for my taste




Conclusion

There might be dozens of choices out there, but in our opinion, Winexpert Vintner’s Reserve is the best.

This winemaking kit (like most others) yields 6 gallons of wine, which corresponds to 30 bottles at 750ml each.

The Cabernet Sauvignon kit contains everything needed to make the wine, including oak chips that add aroma and flavor to the wine.

The kit comes with comprehensive instructions that are easy to follow, while the wine will be ready in about two months. Compared with wine started from fruit, this is surprisingly fast.

Although the manufacturer recommends aging the wine, you’ll still be able to uncork the first bottle in less than a year, which is awesome. Moreover, this kit is perfect for beginners.

As for the downsides, the kit could have come with bottle labels and it has a short shelf life.

Ultimately, this is a guarantee of the quality of the ingredients and a sign that it's not too sweet, so this is definitely a wine concentrate to consider!


About the Author Tim Edison


Tim started Wine Turtle way back in 2015.
These days he contributes to Wine Turtle (and other renowned wine publications) while continuing his wine education.
Tim's wine of the month is the Coates & Seely Reserve Brut NV (from Hampshire, England).

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