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Old 10-25-2009, 05:40 PM   #1
peripatetic
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Default How good is homebrew wine?

Hey all,

I realize that the only reason this forum exists is that people make wine at home, and they are happy about how it turns out. My question is -- how does it turn out? I'm not skeptical as much as curious. I know how awesome homebrew beer can turn out, but i just don't have any experience with homebrew wine except for a couple neighbors who made sickly-sweet fruit wine that I could barely drink.

I'll be more specific. I love big-bodied Cali reds (Cab Sauv., meritage-syle). I really like high-end Shiraz ($20-25+ or typically it is too sharp for me). I've had some great temperanillos and Montepulcianos recently. A spanish wine called Clio (from Jumilla) is probably the best wine I've ever had. How close to those various styles am I going to be able to get at home, without having to buy a vineyard? (I'm looking for a cost/benefit analysis -- how good is a $90 kit that I see at my LHBS vs. a custom recipe where the component ingredients cost more (or much more)?)

Sorry for the complete newbie question -- I probably have all or most of the required equipment, and I want some encouragement from y'all so that I can give it a shot with confidence.

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Old 10-25-2009, 06:05 PM   #2
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I've not made any wine yet, however many neighbors are producing high quality wines. One of them has a license for commercial production and has moved to a warehouse for higher quantities of high end wines. So it can be done. Most however are going and buying grapes off the farms and crushing them (pick up truck beds filled). They might have started with kits but the feeling I get is they need the skins to get tannins and the process seems more involved than kit wine. Patience is also needed for the long wait!

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Old 10-25-2009, 09:27 PM   #3
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You can make good wine at home and it is heaps of fun and can also save money though thats not really the point.

However;
I work in the vineyard at a winery that makes high end shiraz and I can tell you it is highly skilled and takes a lot of work and equipment. The most important thing is the quality of the grapes but the winemaking is very important as well. If this is your expectation of home wine making you will be disappointed. But if you aim to have a lot of fun, learn a lot and eventually produce a wine that will surprise your friends you should have a go.

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Old 10-25-2009, 10:21 PM   #4
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while i have not ventured off into the reds as yet.. i have had good tasting notes in from many tasters of our Welch's White Grape fermented dry and barely sweetened. oaking is next with this recipe. a charrdonay lover commented that this taste and mouth feel was missing. I have had red wines made by friends that were just superb. cost effective?? hmm.. my white wines cost me around 5 to 8 a bottle. i use grocery store juices as i am in this for fun and enjoyment. I have a feeling that most winemakers are in for the fun and experience of the process ... oh and for the results.keep us posted on your progress

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Old 10-25-2009, 10:42 PM   #5
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I've had very good results with the Winexpert Selection series (Estate, International, Limited). They do offer kits that include skins (crushendo) - I tried one, but didn't like the results.

On the dollar side, you'll need 30 bottles for each kit, corks and I highly recommend a stand corker (about $100). You'll also need a 7.8gal bucket for initial fermentation and a pair of 6gal carboys for secondary/clarification. So, you're looking at a couple hundred dollars to get going but once you have what you need, you're looking at a cost of about $3-$6/bottle depending on kit/cork choice.

The one thing I don't like about the kits is that they're not really that "creative". Put everything in a bucket, add a bit of water and some yeast. Then transfer a few times and add a few more things along the way to stabilize/clarify. Then bottle. With beer, it seems like there's a lot more room for creativity and experimentation - from recipe to process.

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Old 10-26-2009, 03:45 AM   #6
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The stuff I have tried can be quite variable. There is a giant range of quality... Some folks want Alcoholic stuff to drink. Others compete for Awards and aim for the highest quality.

Just like Beer, wine is what you make of it.... Use high quality fully ripe grapes and fruit, carefully selected yeasts, and careful fermentation... and you get 1 product. Use unripe cardboardy tasting supermarket produce, miscellaneous old bread yeast out of the back of the cupboard, and brew it up in your dirty old trash can... and you get something different.

I think part of what you will find is that there is a whole lot of Fruit wine/country wine/local grape wine home brewing out there... because you really can't buy it in stores.... and because you have to figure out what to do with all the fruit you get off of trees and bushes and vines in your yard and the neighbors yards. If you like this stuff... Great. If you don't like wine made from stuff you can get locally cheap or free..... then making wine can get *VERY* expensive.

Then, for flavor. One of the final steps is "Sweeten to taste." Lots of people like sweet syrupy wine that tastes kinda like alcoholic fruit juice. They drink it ice cold and on ice. This is what they like... so this is what they make... kinda like how a whole lot of home brew beer is hopped to death... Those folks LOVE HOPS.. The more hops the better... and so the rest of the Beer may be incidental to their Hopped alcoholic beverage.

Now, consider this... How many supermarket Shiraz brands/varieties can you buy? Literally hundreds... and all of them slightly different. You may have a preference for 1 of those, but it still changes quite a bit with each vintage. When you brew a batch -- you are committed to that 1-gallon to 5+ gallons of whatever comes out.

Now... in your situation... I would get in contact with your local Home Brew Club. Find out if you can taste wines made by the members. You will like some, you will hate some.... Learn from the ones making wines you like... and if you don't like any of it... keep buying the stuff in a bottle that you do like!

Good luck

John

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Old 10-26-2009, 03:52 AM   #7
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From the relatively brief time I've been in this hobby it reminds me a lot of my days in amateur radio, in that there are any number of ways to approach it. I imagine that a person can replicate or better most any commercial wine, and maybe even at less cost, just as in ham radio you can spend the dough and assemble an amazing station with the latest in digital gear. Whereas I used to have more fun collecting older rigs that everyone else had abandoned, giving them a little TLC, and extending their life a while longer. Similarly, in winemaking I'm having a blast finding my own approach, making small batches of tasty beverages using inexpensive ingredients, and creating my own recipes--finding what I like to make and drink, and share with friends. I'll bet somewhere between that Clio and the nauseating stuff from your neighbor there's a wine waiting for you to make it, that will be worth however much or little it costs because it's uniquely your creation. That's when this gets really fun....

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Old 10-26-2009, 04:52 AM   #8
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I have made wines that were wonderful and I have made wines I have dumped out. Dont dump much any more, I haven gotten pretty good

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Old 10-26-2009, 05:03 AM   #9
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Some of the best wines I have ever had were made at home. Owning a homebrew store has its perks (but not many) Customers bring me stuff, loads of stuff! Some good, some GREAT!! Others....... not so much
Jay

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Old 10-26-2009, 01:25 PM   #10
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Home made wine can be just as good as commercial wine. I have made quite a few excellent batches over the years as well as many that were not top shelf worthy. I just received 4 medals at a competition that I submitted 5 wines to. Now you have to realize that I am an amatuer wine maker and the compitition was for amatuers, but many of the entries were very high quality wines, jusdged by competant individuals.

I have had some poor representations of wine that were commercially produced and I would never again pay money for that product. You get out what you put in with wine.

If you use a kit from WineExpert, Cellar Craft, or some other well known manufacturer and you follow the instructions closely, you will be rewarded with a quality wine worth your time.

Check out this site for more information and input: http://winepress.us/forums/index.php

Salute!

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