Did you know you make wine at home? And for a fraction of the cost of the box wine you’ve been choking down? I’ve been sitting on this information for several months now. I’ve meant to share it with you, but damn it’s been a busy summer.
I started making wine this summer and it’s some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I caught on bit on Kare11 back in the spring. The hook was “if you can open a bag, you can make wine”.
I can open a bag!
Winemaking has changed a lot since my parents attempted in back in the late 70s. I really don’t know what they did, where they got the grapes or if they had to stomp them. All I know is that in the early 80s my brother and a couple of his friends found that jug of wine that had been sitting in the basement, forgotten, and proceeded to drink it.
It was nasty, that’s all I remember. Though that didn’t stop anyone from drinking it.
You Can Make Wine at Home
Now, it’s so much easier to make decent wine and you don’t have to stomp the grapes yourself. It’s not quite as easy as opening a bag (and the bag can be a little challenging to open, I have to use a huge ass wrench to get the cap off), but it’s a pretty uncomplicated process.
I wasn’t sure how the whole process would work so I started small. My first batch of wine was only one gallon. I did this because I figured if I screwed it up I wouldn’t be out that much. It’s hard to screw it up and it’s just as easy to make 6 gallons of wine (that’s 30 bottles!) as it is to make 1 gallon (about 5 bottles). If you like wine, just take the plunge and start with 6 gallon wine kits. You’ll thank me later, I promise.
I started with Master Vintner’s Small Batch Chardonnay. I’m not a huge fan of Chardonnay, but I can’t stand Moscato and they didn’t have a small batch of Sauvignon Blanc. So Chardonnay it was. The nice thing about these wine recipe kits is that they can be completed and ready to drink in about 5 weeks.
The directions were a little complicated, but only because I hadn’t made wine before, and they included really crappy directions. I later learned this was a mistake they were aware of and had corrected, I must have gotten an older kit. No big deal, there are plenty of YouTube videos you can watch to learn how to make wine.
Before you can crack open that bag of juice and start fermenting it, you’re going to need some equipment. Master Vintner sells complete wine making kits, these are a great way to start because you have all that you need (hopefully, I had a kit that was missing a few key items but the store was happy to provide them to me free of charge). The kits contain the carboy in your choice of plastic or glass, cleaning solution, sanitizing solution, the grape juice, yeast, wine thief, hydrometer and everything else I’m forgetting.
Glass or Plastic?
6 gallons of liquid is heavy, the glass carboy weighs about 15 pounds when it is empty. Filled, you’re looking at about 60 pounds that you’re going to have to haul around. That’s like lifting a 10 year old. If you’ve got the upper body strength, then go for it. If not, stick with the plastic. The downside of the plastic is that it can get scratched and bacteria get settle into the scratches. You’ll be replacing your plastic sooner and more frequently than glass, something to keep in mind. You won’t mind because that means you get to go to the brewery supply store.
I live in the land of craft brew and micro brews. Every male in this state over the age of 21 is making their own beer. Some with more success than others. If you’re a single woman you’ll love the brewing supply stores. I don’t know if it’s because they don’t see a lot of straight single women in these places or if they just think we’re awesome because we like to make alcohol too, but I get asked out every time I go to one of these stores. It’s better than online dating.
My first gallon of Chardonnay didn’t turn out that well. I racked it wrong and got all kinds of sediment in the bottom of the bottle. It tasted fine, and I drank it, but it looked like crap. I didn’t have an auto siphon so I got all the gunk in it. The Fermtech Auto-Siphon is a lifesaver. For $11 it’s well worth it.
1 Gallon of 6 Gallons?
It’s just as easy to make 6 gallons of wine as it is to make one gallon of wine, so you may as well make 6, you’re going to drink it anyway. You’ll also save a lot of money. If you make one gallon your wine ends up costing about $5 per bottle (including the bottles and corks). If you make 6 gallons it’s about $2.25 per bottle (Including bottles and corks). When you’re talking about 30 bottles of wine, that’s a significant savings. How do they compare to the wine you’d buy in the liquor store? So much better. The $2.25 bottle of wine you just made will taste as good or better than a $10 – $15 bottle of wine. Let it age a few months and you’ll have an even better bottle.