Your First Foray into Wine Fermentation

If you want to be a vintner but find yourself without a vineyard, processing plant, or wine cellar, say hello to a beginner’s best friend: the small-scale wine kit.

Photo by Shutterstock/oneinchpunch

You’ve probably seen the advertisements; there are countless variants. A vintner gazes lovingly at an upraised glass of wine. Behind them is a lush, green vineyard with bunches of ripe grapes hanging on vines. Or perhaps the backdrop is a stack of French oak barrels. It all looks lavish.

A lot of commercial wine is positioned as a drink for sophisticated palates, so you may not know that making wine at home can actually be affordable. All you need is some reasonably priced equipment, ingredients, and a little patience. With modern wine kits, you can make respectable wines that are ready to drink in a few months, no vineyard or barrel room required.

There are numerous beer-brewing and winemaking shops across the U.S., and most have an online store. These shops will have everything you need to begin fermenting; you’ll simply need to decide the scale of your venture. Kits for making 6 gallons (23 liters) of wine are common. If you’re an ambitious winemaker with a little money to spend, you can buy more or larger fermenters and make more wine than one family could possibly drink. However, some prefer a smaller-scale start — one that requires less money upfront and less space devoted to the hobby. For those people, small-scale wine kits are just the thing.

I recently made wine with a small-scale kit, and I found it to be straightforward. The kit contained enough concentrated grape juice to make 1 gallon (3.8 liters) of pinot noir. It also contained almost all the required equipment, much of which could also be used if the winemaker later graduated to the 6-gallon scale. But, before I describe how to make wine with this kit, let me explain how commercial wine is created.

Commercial Wines



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