My parents are quite the do-it-yourself-ers. These handy folks built their own 3-car garage, two greenhouses (now home to orchids and year-round tomato plants). They have been beekeepers, bakers of artisan breads, the list goes on and on.
At one time, they were growing their own grapes for wine making. Water is an expensive commodity in the desert, so eventually the grapevines had to go. Now they buy wine kits at the home brew shop, ranging in price from $90 to $150 that yield 30 bottles of finished product. The kits contain the grape juice, yeast and all of the additives needed in the process.
I got to take pictures of a recent bottling session. I can share with you a few of the things I learned:
- They've collected a lot of gadgets in the last 10 years that make the process much faster. Bottling a batch used to take 3 or 4 hours; they now have it down to 45 minutes.
- Items worth having - faucet attachment for easy rinsing of bottles, One Step Sanitizer, bottle tree for sanitizing and draining, a siphon kit, bottle filler wand, and a compression corker. If you want to make wine, these should be on your wish list.
- Red wine needs to be in a dark green or yellow bottle. Otherwise you'll loose the color and flavor as the wine oxidizes from exposure to light.
- Wine bottles with flat bottoms are the easiest to fill.
- The wine will be nicely drinkable about a year after bottling. As it's going into the bottle, it reminds me of the wine we used to pay 35 pesetas (50 cents) for at the bodega in Spain back in the early 80s (provided you brought your own bottle, of course.)
My folks shrink wrapped a couple bottles of their wine for us to bring back to Poland. We had the 2009 Amarone last night, and it was wonderful. Amarone is the wine bottled the day we visited. It's made with a combination of partially dried grapes, yes, I guess you could say raisins!