Technique

Maintaining fermentation temperatures: Wine Kits

When Ray Charles and Betty Carter sang the definitive version of Frank Loesser’s song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” it’s a pretty sure bet that home winemaking was the last thing on their minds. It’s a pity, because temperature control for kit winemaking is deucedly important, but it’s one of those things that never gets the attention it deserves, like international monetary policy, or when those jet packs and vacations on the moon I was promised back in grade school are going to get here. The bottom line is that most people make their kit wines too cold — far too cold — which leads to a large number of immediate concerns and downstream processing problems for the kit.     So why do they do it? There’s lots of blame to go around: partly it’s a misunderstanding of how wine kits perform best (that’s my fault for not explaining it better), partly it’s marketing pieces that trumpet the benefits of “cold-fermented in stainless steel,” or other such advertising-speak, and finally it’s because some people won’t read or obey instructions (hah, bet