One of the first Christmas presents I ever gave my husband Dean was a starter wine making kit. At the time I thought it was a good idea – it would save us money on buying wine. Little did I know that wine kit would be the start of an out of control hobby!
The starter wine kit had the basics to make wine – a pail (primary fermenter with lid), hydrometer, siphon, thermometer, cleaning brush, bottle filler, wine thief, carboy, airlock & stopper. Did I mention getting a wine making kit meant learning a new language? We had never heard of most of the supplies we had to use to make wine.
Once Dean had the starter kit, all that was needed was the actual liquid and yeast to make the wine, a wine kit. There were so many kits to choose from. We asked the salesman which kit would be the easiest to make, being our first time making wine. He showed us a few and we picked white zinfandel. The wine kit has a bag of liquid concentrate, yeast, bentonite, other ingredients and sometimes oak chips, depending on the type of wine being made. The homemade wine making kit was getting more complicated as we read the directions. To start, everything that was to be used for the wine making process had to be cleaned. Not cleaned with regular soap and water, nope it all had to be sterilized with a special cleaner made specifically for wine & beer kits.
After the cleaning was done, it was time to mix up the concentrate and other ingredients in the pail. The first few times we made wine, it took quite a long time to get it mixed up. We read the instructions and reread them, we didn’t want to mess up the wine. When we were finished there was 23 litres of flavored water all ready to sit for a few weeks and turn into wine. It was going to make 30 bottles of wine. We were so excited!
If you’re thinking the wine making got easier after that step, you’re wrong. After waiting the few weeks for the wine to be ready, the next step was sanitizing 30 bottles and everything we’d need to get the wine bottled. After that, each bottle got filled with wine and needed to be corked. We wanted the wine to look nice so we put wine labels and caps on the bottles. Not too bad for the first time making our own homemade wine.
It’s been about 7 years since that first box of wine was made. Over the years we’ve made a variety of wines and have made beer also. We use the same supplies for beer making, we just have to buy the beer kits. There are lots of beer kits to choose from. It has gotten easier over the years. We’ve made wine for two weddings, for Christmas gifts and just to have wine and beer in the fridge if we ever wanted some. We’ve made merlot, mezza luna, diablo rojo, melon berry merlot, dark beer, light beer and lots more.
Last summer Dean decided he wanted to make wine from the cherries off our trees. Making wine from the cherries was a bit different. We had fun crushing the cherries in a pail, getting as much juice out of them as we could. Next step was adding all the other ingredients. This all had to sit for a few weeks to ferment. We bottled the wine and it has such a beautiful red color. We couldn’t wait and had to have a sip of the wine. Those first sips were delicious! We’ll definitely have to make cherry wine again.