The Fruits of Our Labors

Wine is a standard beverage at table in our home. Dinners typically always include a glass or two of wine or a bottle of beer. We’re not a milk or water household when it comes to meal times. Every day wine is the very affordable stuff (in these recession era times, we make a case of three-buck Chuck do just fine) and we buy nice ones for occasional drinking. But making our own has always been of interest to me, and finally I’m doing just that.

Not all by myself though. A friend of mine has an interest in wine-making and DIY food projects, so we decided to team up and try it out. She bought the supplies and we went in half on the grape juice. The entire project lives at her house. We doing a very basic red wine for our first batch – it’s called “Luna Rossa” and is described as big, full-bodied, fruity and tannic. I like big wines, so it should be good – well, we’re hoping it will be good as we’re making 6 gallons of it, which will fill about 30 standard wine bottles.

I didn’t document our experience at the time, and we were imbibing a bit as we worked, so maybe I get some of this wrong, but it was actually a pretty simple process. First you sanitize everything. That’s easy enough. Then fill put a few gallons of water into the primary fermenter (we used a 7 gallon bucket). I think next we stirred in bentonite clay (known as a fining) that helps clarify the wine. After the bentonite was well dissolved, in went the juice concentrate, and then we topped it up with water. After giving everything another good stir, we had to let it come up to the proper temperature to add the yeast. As we had the bucket in the kitchen sink, we put the lid on the bucket so no additional water could get it, and filled the sink with very warm water. Once the wine had come up to temperature, we drained the sink and added the yeast. At some point (I think it was actually just prior to adding the yeast, but I’m not sure) we added oak chips as a flavoring agent. On went the lid, and the bucket got moved to a cool dark corner to ferment for about six weeks.

After it’s fermented for a month and a half, we’ll siphon into a glass carboy to age for awhile, and then we’ll bottle it. I’m not sure how long we’re going to age it for, but I’m fairly certain we’ll have drinkable wine by the end of the summer. A nice rich wine just in time for the fall, and then we’ll choose our winter wine.

We’re also thinking about which beer to brew – after I’m settled in my new place, I’m getting a home brew kit as well – one place as the wine headquarters and one place as the beer headquarters. What better project to share amongst friends than making your own drink?

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2 thoughts on “The Fruits of Our Labors

  1. Congratulations on joining the wine-making ranks! =)

    I just started this year myself and I’ve found that you can make some really great wines out of the dangdest things! The grape juice extracts are great, but I’ve had some good successes with Crab Apples (free!), Rhubarb (free!), Spearmint (free!), Honeysuckle (free!), and I even made a basil wine that would just shock you with it’s exquisite fruity flavor.

    I think you’d enjoy this website: http://winemaking.jackkeller.net.

    This is a great blog, I’m so glad I found it, and I’ll be coming back to read more soon!

    Cheers!

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