When I started making wine I decided to make a few kit wines for red wine (Never tried white wine kits.) to get a feeling for it. I had to teach it to myself. It seemed the easiest way and the wine would be finished very quickly.
I tried to make the wine according to the manual but I missed 2 important points. The first and biggest mistake was that I did not fill the demijohns completely when fermentation was finished. My demijohns are 25 liter and there was 20 liter of wine inside. I had no idea how to fill them completely. So when I drank the wine it was obvious that something was wrong. It was no disaster but it was definitely not good.
The second mistake was again my mistake. It clearly is mentioned that you have to degas the wine at some point. I also had no idea what that meant. For people who have never made kit wines; Kit wines have very much CO2 in them. To get rid of this you have to stir the wine pretty violently. The process will get air in the wine and it feels really unnatural. I was never able to find out why the kits retain the CO2. I forgot to do this and you can taste this flaw in the wine. It is not a fatal flaw but when you know that it’s there you can definitely taste it. You can also see it because there is more “foam” in the glass when you pour.
These wines were not good. Still drinkable but that’s all. I mixed them with store bought wine.
I have tried kit wines since I started and most of the time I made them according to the instructions. I also have tried aging them. Some people claim that this can be a mayor improvement. I don’t have this experience. The wines start with little taste and remain that way. I have tried medium priced kits and once a high priced kit. So far all of them were a bit disappointing. The wines are of a low quality. No taste. Not worth the money and effort.
I decided that I would try to improve the kits. They are almost the only ingredients I can get to make red wine. And some with reasonable success. I tried to use a different yeast. I thought that the yeast might be the cause of the remaining CO2 in the wine. I used a little bit extra oak chips. I even tried a little bit vanilla. (Very overpowering) I added blackberry juice with some extra sugar to fill up the demijohn. I added a little bit of dried or fresh elderberries. I also added extra sugar because my SG measurement indicated that the kit would only produce 11% alcohol which is not enough for a red wine.
All these made the wines a lot better. Some would still have too much CO2 but because the wines have more taste it is not so noticeable. Because of all the new ingredients it became necessary to age the wines at least 6 months and probably more to get a good balance. But that is also what wine is about. You have to be patient.
On the internet I read some tips about kit wines. Apparently some people are very happy with the outcome as is. I have not tried all brands but the ones that I have tried are not good enough without modifications. You need to add some stronger tastes and wait until they have merged.