Just over two months ago, we embarked on what is probably our most ambitious new recipe yet. After nearly two years of brewing beers and ales, we decided to try wine. In one sense, it is easier, since no cooking is involved, but the stuff is rather more finicky than beer, so I was nervous.
As with the beer, we work from a kit, so this is really a paint-by-number activity for us so far. Mostly care in cleaning and measuring are needed, along with a tremendous amount of patience. After all, what is technically wine today will not be ready for real enjoyment for three to six months. For our first batch, we prepared Baralo from a kit from winexpert. We did not know this grape, but it had many positive reviews, and I later learned from a local wine seller that it is considered a fairly high-end wine. I hope our effort does it justice.
We followed a kit recipe, variously blending, racking, and storing the liquid as it was transformed from juice to wine. Tonight, we siphoned the wine out of a 6-gallon carboy, filling 30 bottles and sealing them with our new floor corker. Cleaning bottles was the most difficult part, as the labels were often much harder to remove than beer labels. We managed to fill all the bottles with very little spillage, and learned some tricks that will make it a bit easier next time, when we put up some Chardonnay. As a white wine, we expect it to develop more quickly than the Baralo once it is bottled. It also will not last as long, so we might have used -- and shared -- much of our second batch before this first batch is ready to enjoy late in the year.
Those interested in either hobby will find a lot of support from fellow enthusiasts, as home production of both kinds of beverages seems to be growing, and the experienced folks are generally quite willing to help novices. Local supply shops are a great source of information, ingredients, and the various tubes and buckets that make it all work. I also like two of the major online suppliers -- Northern Brewer and Beer & Wine Hobby. Each offers a number of books and magazines, their own know-how and of course those ingredients and supplies. The warehouse for Beer & Wine Hobby is just north of Boston in Woburn, Massachusetts, and I had a very enjoyable visit there last week to buy a wine rack and the juice for that next Chardonnay.