Everyone is known for something among their friends, and in my case, it is wine. Whenever someone has a housewarming party, a birthday, or an exceptionally bad day, I am there with a bottle of wine. I love having wine and cheese tastings on girly movie nights, and I often have a glass of wine with dinner.
I’ve been to enough wineries that I know a lot about the process of making wine. Of course, it was all in theory, none of it put to practice, until a few years ago, when someone asked me why I didn’t make my own wine.
That was all it took to get me thinking. If I made my own wine, I could give it to people as gifts. It would probably save me money in the long run, and it would also be more personal than a store bought bottle.
I could even make my own personal labels and make the bottles look really nice! So I started looking for wine making kits. For the first attempt, I decided to go with a pretty basic kit, starting with juice instead of grapes. I got the carboy, the wine bottles, and everything else I needed. I set aside an entire afternoon to make my wine. I started with a nice simple White Zin. The kit I bought came with 24 bottles, so I figured I’d have some great gifts for a while, and maybe I’d throw a party to celebrate my foray into the wine making world.
The wine wasn’t exactly party worthy, but I threw a party anyway. It wasn’t the best wine I’ve ever tasted, but I did learn a lot about making wine that can only be gleaned from experience. It’s really not that different from cooking. The first time you make something, you follow the recipe exactly. You don’t know the taste preferences of the person who wrote the recipe. You don’t know if your equipment is the same or if the altitude will change how things turn out.
So my first wine wasn’t my favorite. But I did learn that I enjoyed the process of making it, and I was definitely going to try it again. Since then I have made several batches, each turning out better than the last. Next I think I will advance to using actual grapes instead of juice. It will add some steps, but I’m hoping the final product will make it worth it.
Not just any grapes can be used for wine. There is a specific strain of grapes, dubbed “wine grapes” that has the right amount of sugar and will react correctly in the fermentation process. These grapes grow best in warm weather, which is why California has so many vineyards. Apparently scientists are working on developing a strain that will grow in cold weather. Maybe soon Minnesota will be able to grow wine grapes that result in non-musty wine, instead of being usable only for jams.
Have you ventured into making wine at all? What are some tips you’d share with those considering it?
This article was written by Kayla Stevens. You can follow her on twitter at Kaylaloveswine.