Wine Kit & Ingredients


Kit instructions can be found here. Follow the instructions and use them to record important information such as product date code (can be peeled from top of the wine box), wine style, and start date.


Use only fresh, clean, soft water.

  • If you drink it and you think it tastes fine, then go ahead and use it. Chlorine is usually not a problem unless it is high and/or you can smell it.
  • If chlorine content is an issue, allow the tap water to sit at room temperature in a sanitized container for 24 hours prior to use which will allow chlorine to dissipate
  • If the water is of poor quality, use bottled water (reverse osmosis is preferred)
  • RJS does not recommend using distilled (deionized, demineralized) or salt based softened water

The Wine Kit Bladder

  • RJS Craft Winemaking juice bladders range from 5.4 litres to 18 litres (approx. 2 gal – 5 gal).  They include juice and juice concentrate.
  • Juice = stabilized juice
  • Juice concentrate = juice from which some of the water content has been removed and must be reconstituted with fresh, soft water to required volume for making wine

Entry level kits are primarily concentrate. The higher the tier, the more juice and less concentrate. Juice generally contributes more varietal characteristics. The juice and concentrate are blended and balanced in our production facilities, pasteurized, and packaged.

Grape Skins

Select RJS Craft Winemaking red wine kits contain Genuwine Winery Grape Skins that come in two different varieties.

Genuwine Winery Dried Grape Skins are made through a patented process of gently drying crushed whole grape skins to retain original colour and nutritional integrity. These skins will contribute chewy and silky tannins to your wine along with added length and volume on the palate.


Genuwine Winery Crushed Grape Skins are a jam-like product made with whole crushed grape skins, juice, seeds, and stems. These skins will contribute a round and juicy mouthfeel giving the wine added length and volume on the palate.

Grape skins allow for further extraction of polyphenols and aromatic precursors for more complex and fuller-bodied wines. Aromatic precursors arethe compounds that give rise to aromatic compounds (responsible for aromas of berries, passion fruit, etc.) that you can only smell after yeast fermentation or wine ageing. Polyphenols are tannins and colour pigments.


Oak is used to add flavour, aroma complexity, and mouthfeel (increased body) and dramatically impacts the style of your craft wine. RJS Craft Winemaking kits generally used oak alternatives such as chips, shavings and powder. These oak alternatives act very quickly and do not require long periods of aging to get the desired impact. RJS Craft Winemaking kits use French, American and Hungarian oak alternatives to improve the outcome of your craft wine.

Dehydrated Fruit

RJS Craft Winemaking kits may also include other types of dehydrated fruit that contribute to the overall style and taste profile of the finished wine.

Dried elderberries will improve the structure and flavor of select wine kits that they are included in. The tannin content of dried elderberries helps to improve tannin and structure on the palate while raising the level of fruitness of the wine.

Raisins will improve the body and volume on the palate. This is attributed to the high sugar content of the raisins as well as other flavor compounds that are extracted from the raisins during the primary fermentation.


During the winemaking process, the yeast plays an important role in converting the glucose and fructose in the juice into alcohol. Yeast also plays an important role in releasing flavor compounds that are bound to these sugar molecules helping to improve the aromatic complexity of your wine.

Most kits are supplied with LALVIN EC-1118 Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. bayanus.

  • This is a very strong fermenting yeast in that it can ferment to high alcohol levels and under stressful conditions in a wide temperature range between 10° – 30°C (50°–86°F).
  • Using this yeast minimizes the risk of stuck or sluggish fermentation.
  • Always ferment within the recommended temperature range to avoid potential problems and possibly flawed wine.


Sulphites are a common (approved) food and beverage additives that when added to wine, release sulphur dioxide (SO2) to protect the wine from oxidation and microbial spoilage. The use of sulphites are effective in eliminating many kinds of yeasts and bacteria.

  • On the instruction sheets, sulphites are Identified as Package #2A
  • The addition of sulphites is done at the end of alcoholic fermentation during the “Stabilization and Clearing” phase.
  • If you choose to forego sulphite additions, your wine will oxidize within weeks and be at high risk for microbial spoilage.
  • Note that yeasts generate in the order of 10 mg/L of SO2 during fermentation. If you, or the ultimate consumer intends to age the wine, we recommend adding ¼ tsp of extra sulphite before bottling.
  • Health Canada’s maximum allowable total SO2 is 300 mg/L.

Potassium Sorbate

Potassium Sorbate is a salt of sorbic acid that is commonly used as preservative in food and wine because it inhibits yeast cell reproduction.

  • Sorbate does not kill yeast cells, i.e. it cannot stop an active fermentation but will prevent renewed fermentation when you sweeten a wine before bottling.
  • Sorbate acts on enzymes that would cause further assimilation of sugar and refermentation.
  • WARNING: During fermentation, yeast grow and multiply rapidly, much faster than sorbic acid would be able to enter yeast cells. As a result, yeast can actually start metabolizing sorbic acid into other undesirable by-products.
  • It must be used in conjunction with sulphite.
  • On the instruction sheets it is identified as Package #2B
  • It is usually added at the end of alcoholic fermentation during the “Stabilization and Clearing” phase.

Sweetening Blend

Sweeting blends are used to sweeten wine, especially white wines such as Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Muller-Thurgau.

  • Used in RJS Craft Winemaking kits to achieve a desired wine style that has a slightly higher Residual Sugar (RS)
  • May be used to balance higher acidity grape varieties
  • Addition is usually done during the “Stabilization and Clearing” phase.

Clarifying Agents

Clarifying agents are used to clear or “clarify” wine post fermentation by binding and precipitating colloidal matter, i.e. those large molecules, such as proteins and pectins, or dissolved metal ions that cause cloudiness, or “turbidity”, or other instabilities.

  • Binding occurs by electrical attraction between oppositely charged fining agent ions and colloids, by bond formation through chemical reaction, or through absorption where the substance to be removed becomes entrapped within the structure of the fining agents or adsorption where the colloids bind onto the surface of the fining agent.
  • Different types of wines may require different types of clarifying agents.
  • Most dry fining agents need to be rehydrated in water before being added to the wine; otherwise, the fining action may not work properly.
  • Follow usage instructions very carefully; RJS Craft Winemaking kits include kieselsol and chitosan that must be added in the correct sequence.

Additions are done during the “Stabilization and Clearing” phase.


Kieselsol is a liquid-form, silica-based (sand) fining agent and is negatively charged which binds to proteins in the wine which are typically positively charged. Chitosan is a polysaccharide which is positively charged and binds to the negatively charged kieselsol.

  • Once these two clarifying agents bind to each other they settle to the bottom of the wine pulling any colloidal proteins with them to the bottom.
  • Very efficient adsorption; acts relatively quickly.



A clarifying agent (most common in winemaking kits) used to ensure a crystal-clear wine and to prevent a clear wine from going cloudy.

  • Bentonite is a clay (sodium bentonite).
  • RJS Craft Winemaking wine kits call for an addition of bentonite (package #1) on day 1.
  • Large absorption capacity.
  • Very effective on proteins.
  • Proteins can cause a perfectly crystal-clear wine to become cloudy when subjected to high temperatures – the phenomenon is known as protein denaturation (that’s what happens to egg whites when cooked).


Isinglass is a protein-based fining agent.

  • Acts and precipitates very quickly.
  • Strips colour only minimally.
  • Effective at cellar temperature.
  • Produces very loose lees that tend to stick to the side of containers; may require a bentonite treatment.
  • DOSAGE: 0.25-1 g per carboy

Metatartaric Acid

Metatartaric Acid is used to help protect wine from the precipitation of tartrate crystals that could form if wine is exposed to cold temperatures.

  • Acts by interfering with bitartrate formation.
  • Not very stable; it slowly hydrolyzes into tartaric acid; inhibition potential diminishes and the potential of tartrate formation increases.
  • Suitable for wine to be drunk within 12 months.
  • Recommend storing treated wine in a cool cellar.
  • Addition is done just before bottling.

Treating wine with metatartaric acid is not a guarantee that crystals won’t form!