Author Topic: Making wine?  (Read 1502 times)

dizzy

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Making wine?
« on: August 09, 2020, 10:10:04 AM »
So been starting to think a bit more about this party situation we will have eventually (me and my partner).  We were talking more again about how exactly we will formalize it (legal or not) and also the party we will have.  Definitely we don't want to spend typical amount; good food/drink, music, and laser lights (have! lol) are a must.

We're fairly DIY people and just bc of my network of people I know would likely do it at a friends' mansion (yes, incredibly some of my somewhat brokea$$ friends/colleagues live in an actual mansion?), can basically do what we want there, including food/alcohol.  My partner used to homebrew mead and cider, and I've been interested in some time even before I met him to learn about homebrewing.  He said we can try but he's always been hesitant towards beer since he thought it was too complicated comparitively.

THEN I learned that you could homebrew wine, and it's easy, and you can order grapes/must/juice off the internet even.  Although I am also considering to get locally too- there's a place I literally pass by going to work 10 minutes away that gets supplies in every September.  Another distributor is 45 minutes away close to an area we camp a lot in, and in the town my dad worked in growing up.

It seems like a cool thing to do, obviously cheaper than buying wine at a store, and we have all the supplies already except bottles, corks, and a corker (well, and grapes/yeast).  My partner thinks it's a lot more doable than homebrew, and well, it's going to be a long time before we can have our celebration, so plenty of time to age it.

Now, I'm a mostly food and wine snob, I don't want to "invest" in this to make swill ie a junky tasting sweet wine.  I want to make reasonably legit stuff.  Like, equivalent to a good $10 wine from a wine shop would be totally amazing.

Does anyone here have experience doing this?  Any recommended reads/things they use?  For instance, I'm guessing that yeast makes a big difference- would it be worth it to substitute a different yeast than came with a kit?  What about oaking (it looks like you can put in these cubes or slats or whatever)?

Allie

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Re: Making wine?
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2020, 01:07:36 PM »
Iíve never made wine myself, but my husband did once at one of those make your own wine places as part of a work related activity.  It was not awesome.  But, who knows what went wrong with it...

Making wine is certainly doable, but Iíd go for a test batch before you commit to a whole party worth. 

I do homebrew beer/cider and itís very easy.  The times when I have had the most problems has been when there has been a fruit addition, presumably because there are so many little things living on the fruit.  So, if youíre not getting pre-pastureized/sterile juice be sure not to skimp on any of the steps related to preparing the grapes/juice!

Botany Bae

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Re: Making wine?
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2020, 02:07:04 PM »
We make herb and fruit wines, but I have no experience with grape wines. I have a 3 gallon small batch of dandelion wine on the counter now.

You can make good wine in a food grade bucket with simple air locks (we use cheapie plastic locks, but even the glass ones aren't that expensive). Don't skimp on bottling, though. You need glass, preferably dark in color, and good corks. There are lids, but corks maintain quality much better.

You need the right type of yeast for the wine you are brewing. Brewing a white wine with a red wine yeast will really mess with the flavor, and usually not in a good way. Avoid beer yeasts for wine brewing, too. If in doubt, go with champagne yeast as it imparts the least amount of flavor to the finished product, IMO.

Flavor is develop via using quality ingredients, preparing them right, and then following through on proper aging. The forums over at https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forums/winemaking-forum.25/ are a good source.

NorCal

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Re: Making wine?
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2020, 07:58:44 PM »
Iíve been doing this on and off for about a decade. I have a batch of Malbec going right now, although this is my first batch in about three years.

The kits are pretty easy, and I would equate the quality to a $10 bottle from the store.

Similar to your idea, I made a batch for our wedding. I bottled it in half bottles, put out picture on the label, and gave it out as a present to the guests.

If your partner has done mead and cider, you probably already have all the gear you need except for maybe a corker.

I recommend looking up a local home brew store. Theyíre always a great resource for getting started (knowledge as well as gear).  Theyíll also rent you a corker if you need it.

I recommend trying a kit wine first. After that, the sky is the limit. Iím a fan of the homemade fruit wines. Itís fun to experiment.

Malcat

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Re: Making wine?
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2020, 08:11:38 PM »
We did high end kit wines with a company that does everything for you, we just legally had to pour in the yeast.

It was fucking dreadfully undrinkable...until it wasn't.
About 18-24 months after sitting in our basement, it was impressively good. At 6 months it was as good as decent table wine, but that extra 12-18 months made an enormous difference.

We also made sparkling wine, which didn't need to be aged and was lovely and mild. It was also about half the price to make, although the bottles were more expensive.

dizzy

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Re: Making wine?
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2020, 11:25:08 AM »
Awesome folks thanks for your experiences.

So I was looking into the how-to's more...also difference between juice, must, grapes.  My partner made melomels (fruit meads) before smashing the berries down himself, so I'm thinking if using a must instead of straight juice for a red it's something he has equivalent experience for.  So I feel encouraged by it.  I guess this is more relevant for reds, with whites I guess you just use a juice anyway?  I don't see how it's too much difference from making cider which again he has experience doing.

Malcat, what company did you use out of curiosity?

Malcat

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Re: Making wine?
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2020, 11:27:42 AM »
Awesome folks thanks for your experiences.

So I was looking into the how-to's more...also difference between juice, must, grapes.  My partner made melomels (fruit meads) before smashing the berries down himself, so I'm thinking if using a must instead of straight juice for a red it's something he has equivalent experience for.  So I feel encouraged by it.  I guess this is more relevant for reds, with whites I guess you just use a juice anyway?  I don't see how it's too much difference from making cider which again he has experience doing.

Malcat, what company did you use out of curiosity?

I don't remember the brand off the top of my head. It was a premium kit though, costing about $170 and included a big bag of skins, which made a huge difference. As to the how to, I couldn't possibly tell you since I did nothing but bottle it, which was fun.

NorCal

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Re: Making wine?
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2020, 06:28:24 PM »
Having made both meads and wine, it is 95%+ the same. If you can do one, you can do the other.

Try a kit. Many of them can be drinkable in about 60 days.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Making wine?
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2020, 06:47:53 PM »
It seems like a cool thing to do, obviously cheaper than buying wine at a store, and we have all the supplies already except bottles, corks, and a corker (well, and grapes/yeast).

While certainly cool, don't expect to save much money, if any at all. At least among my homebrew friends, the general consensus is that home brewing can be cheaper than an Ommegang class beer, but it's tough to have homebrew be less expensive than a beer produced in massive quantities. I imagine the same holds true for wine. Charles Shaw buys grapes by the truckload, so they have all the efficiencies of scale.

dizzy

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Re: Making wine?
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2020, 07:09:38 PM »
The costs though seem a lot less?

The two local places I priced out- cost of juice would come out to $1-2 a bottle.  I'm still not clear on whether the reds have the skins in them or not (ie is must).  These are long-time local places, apparently there is a big wine-making tradition around the area that I never really knew much about (just one co-worker over the years who her family made it annually).  I think there's a good chance I could make something decent.  Trying to find more info from people who have bought from them or about the wineries they source from.

There's a fancier place that's a bit of a drive, they have must/juice from specific wineries with good reviews, looks like it would be +/- $5 a bottle for must/juice.

Then a third place that would be more expensive, like $8 a bottle for must/juice including shipping, but from really high end vineyards.  One thing from them though is I could buy it from amazon since they put up there every year, I get credits a lot from some of my side hustles.

Either way it would be cheaper, though obviously if I go route #3 it would be comparatively cheaper and not necessarily actually cheaper, with more toil and risk (but maybe fun tho?  idk)

Other costs are bottles, corks, corker.  I know the two local places apparently will rent you or let you borrow a corker during bottling day.  I have amazon credits so can get the bottles and corks "free"

Malcat

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Re: Making wine?
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2020, 04:27:24 AM »
Mine worked out to $8/bottle, not including the cost of bottles. The sparkling wine was $4.50/bottle +bottles. There were $2/bottle options, but I couldn't drink those.

Store wine is expensive here though, very, very cheap wine is $7; drinkable wine, IMO, starts at $14; and decent is closer to $20. Once our bottles aged enough, they tasted like $20-40 bottles, so the savings was in the quality.

habanero

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Re: Making wine?
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2020, 04:38:36 AM »
As opposed to brewing beer where frankly a commercial producer don't really have any competitive advantages over a skilled home brewer making (good) wine is much more difficult. If only because the actual produce you use matters a lot and it cannot easily be sourced and part of the process might be more difficult - like aging in oak barrels (albeit doable as well). In most "local" beers the only thing that is really local is the water, the rest can easily be bought from all over the world so there is nothing really keeping, say a homebrewer in Tokyo, to make a german, belgian, american or britsh beer true to style.

YMMW but I have focused on brewing my beer and buying my wine. As mentioned. really good home-made beer can be a lot cheaper than fancypants microbrew. When making beer the cost is prediminantly a function of the amount of hops as they are quite expensive. So making a big, massively hopped double IPA is quite expensive while a strong, belgian beer is quite cheap as you need more grains (cheap) but use almost no hops (expensive). It's hard to make simple lager cheaper than industrial stuff (expect for here where taxes on alcohol are very high) and clean lager is btw also the most difficult beer to bre. If you can brew lager with success you can brew anything.

An hobby is an hobby, but if you are looking for bang for the bucks and time, I would rather focus on beer. Cider is also pretty easy to make with good results btw.


Greystache

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Re: Making wine?
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2020, 07:54:02 AM »
In my (admittedly limited) experience, this is going to end in one of two ways. You will try it and make some barely drinkable wine and that will be the end of it (my friend) or you will become completely obsessed with it and quit your day job to become a full time winemaker who makes some really great wine (my cousin).

mntnmn117

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Re: Making wine?
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2020, 10:51:53 AM »
I've been doing a batch every six months for a few years. I would stick to a kit wine to start with. Go for simple on the first batch or two. Buy fresh yeast that matches what you are making. Agreed that longer time really helps the red kits. Make sure to really get the CO2 out. That step takes a while but seems to help quality alot.

$2 a bottle wine kits are fine for home table wine, but I would not serve them for a party or major event. Wine is too subjective and even a "good wine" some people think will say it tastes bad. I have some family/friends who like my wine, but my wife is pretty opposed to it.

Side note on experiments: the nastiest stuff I ever made was POG juice based. Second place was a mead I tried to make way too strong, essentially 15% honey wine. Simple is best.

grantmeaname

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Re: Making wine?
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2020, 12:30:10 PM »
I have only made wine from juice kits, not fruit, but they have been extremely consistent for me and make wine I would call equivalent to a $10-15 priced bottle.

You would need a $115 set of equipment and 30 wine bottles to make a kit. You can save bottles you and friends drink, or make nice with a grocery store that does tastings or a bar/restaurant with wine and clean the labels off yourself (oxygen bleach does a really good job), or pay $2/bottle for new ones. Then a midrange juice kit runs ~$60 and makes 30 bottles, for $2/bottle of variable cost (plus $0.14/bottle for corks).

All in, $115 of fixed costs and you save $8/bottle on variable costs, so the equipment pays for itself halfway through your first 30 bottle batch.

dizzy

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Re: Making wine?
« Reply #15 on: August 19, 2021, 12:39:06 PM »
Hey all, OP back in the house!

I ended up sourcing some high quality stuff a local store was selling- some nice Riesling juice out of Yakima Valley, and some Red Mountain cabernet sauvignon grapes.  Started those last fall.  They taste f'ing awesome.  Decided to make another batch in the spring, this time of a rose method- used mix of the leftover cab skins and some South African semillon juice.  Also dope.

We are go to serve it at our wedding!  I bought the bottle-in-bag bags to make it easier- my fiance volunteered to do bottling day, yay!  So much easier for cleanup too and we got bags that are reusable a few times.

Spent about $450 all in (we didn't need supplies, but we got premium grapes/juice) for 16 gallons of wine, but I kid you not, the Riesling is easily a $20+ bottle, came out GOOD...the Cab could use more time but could be in the $12-15 range if not more...the rose probably around $10 but I haven't sampled in a bit, just at the 3 month mark.

16 gallons is about 79 bottles= $5.70/bottle.  I don't think you can buy ANY swill that cheap in PA so a definite win...and nice personal touch to our wedding.  I will be making wine again in the future for sure.

NorCal

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Re: Making wine?
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2021, 08:55:49 AM »
Good work! 

I'm glad it's working out for you.

Serving at the wedding is a great idea.  In our case, we bottled a bunch in half bottles and used our engagement pictures on the label, and handed them out as wedding gifts.  It was very well received.

I've started getting back into the hobby myself.  I just started a peach mead with some local "slightly bruised" peaches I found at the farmers market.  I'm also trying my first apple cider kit sometime in the next few weeks.

dizzy

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Re: Making wine?
« Reply #17 on: November 13, 2021, 10:31:57 AM »
Just as a followup people COULD NOT believe we made the wine.

A couple more months really made a huge difference.  Probably $15-25/quality bottles in the end.
Once more a win for my philosophy of getting great ingredients.

Unfortunately/fortunately people don't know how to party so we have A LOT left.
I brought some to a end-of-season farm hang at this new farm in our town...got offered to sell it at the stand next year and maybe brew for someone's wedding?  I think the legality is gonna be a $$ problem but who knows, a fun thing to research to see how much it actually would cost to sell homebrew, maybe less than I think?

Anyway 10/10 will try to brew again.