I’m not really sure how I got into this one. Yes I like wine but surely it’s better to just buy it from the shops? I would agree most of the time after all the terrible failures I’ve had with this. However, once in a while there are excellent results. I made rhubarb and chilli wine which was excellent according to some. My favourite though has been strawberry, kiwi and vanilla. Delicious (and even better when made into the sparkling version). Essentially, I tried a wine kit a few years ago which basically turned out horribly. Recently I thought I’d give it another shot after seeing a discounted kit at a local garden centre. Soon I was hooked (on making the wine not drinking it!) It wasn’t long before I was trying to make wine out of everything. I’ve even made with hot sauce (although you need to eat a whole packet of antacids with this one if you want to survive the corrosive reflux!) It’s been great fun playing about with different ingredients and then subjecting friends and family to the concoctions. I’ve held a couple of “wine tasting afternoons” which have been well received although I think that’s mainly down to the endless free booze.
Time – Anywhere from weeks to years. Definitely not something you want to take up if you’re hoping for a quick turnaround. Better off just buying a bottle from your local wine merchant. It’ll probably taste better too!
Equipment – Initially you really only need a few things. A one gallon demijohn with an airlock, a 5 litre bucket with a lid, siphon tubing and 5 or 6 old wine bottles. You can reuse screw tops when you first start out. Sterilising agent is a must. A hydrometer is useful. Easiest option is just to buy a wine kit of your preferred style that comes with all the buckets etc.
Cost – ££ to £££. This is actually a very cheap hobby once you have all the equipment. You can essentially make wine out of anything. I’ve used flowers, fresh fruit, frozen fruit, sweeties, juices, herbs and chillies. I’ve even made one batch out of a famous hot sauce. It wasn’t pleasant.
Difficulty – low to moderate.
Partner annoyance factor – This depends on two things. 1. Does your partner like to drink wine? 2. Is the wine you make any good. This has been an endless battle in my house where this is wine making equipment lying all over the place but my wife doesn’t like the wine I make that much. So basically my antics are confined to the garage and that seems to work out well for both of us.
Family – Not really something that you can get the family involved in but my son has helped me cork a few bottles and name some of them eg “Tropical crocodile”. He also helped me design a few of the labels. However, if your family are old enough and enjoy your wines then this is a no brainer.
Rewards – Financially this is a great hobby if you can find a brew that you like. Providing they are drinkable they make good gifts for friends and family. Another reward is that you might end up involved in a local wine-making / brewers group. Our local on has quarterly gatherings for charity with local bands, a BBQ and more beer and wine than you can possibly imagine.