Wine making is something that most of us are content to leave to the experts. It seems like it’s probably a hard thing to do, and, besides, where is a person supposed to grow grapes when they live in an apartment in Canada? Plus, the idea that delicious wine can be made outside of a European (or American, or French, or Australian, etc) vineyard is likely to raise skeptical eyebrows. At least that was my reaction when Keith proposed we snap up a Groupon offering a discounted price on a batch of hand crafted wine. When he first brought it up, I could only think of the bad home made table wine I drank with an Italian ex-boyfriend several years ago. But, Keith assured me, this would be a much different and better experience. Not only would the wine taste great, but it would be so cheap! At $4 a bottle, this wine would be a steal even if it didn’t taste any better than a $10 bottle from the liquor store. And, so, it was decided: to The Wine Butler we would go!
The wine making process actually began several weeks ago, when we placed the order. We decided to make a batch of Italian Barolo, a variety I’d never tried before because it’s usually far out of my price range, and the first step is simply to add yeast to the grape juice. According to the company’s website, adding the yeast to the grape juice ourselves eliminates the obligation to pay liquor taxes, which is what makes wine so expensive here in Canada. After “dropping the yeast,” as the process is called, we waited. And waited. And waited. Then, six weeks later, our wine was ready to bottle.
The bottling process itself was very quick and a lot of fun to do. Step 1: decant the wine into the bottles.
I have to admit my lack of technical knowledge here, because I’m not exactly sure how this part works. Basically, though, the wine is siphoned from the large glass jug into the bottles. It also knows when to stop filling so that your bottles don’t overflow (like magic! Or something).
Once the bottles are filled, they are corked using a special pneumatic press.
(Yes, I look like I’ve been sitting in a car all day.)
This part of the process probably freaked me out the most because the corks are so huge compared to the tiny opening of the wine bottle, but it went off mostly without a hitch. The filled bottle is positioned on a spring-loaded platform under a metal chamber that holds the cork. Then, the door is closed and the cork is pressed into the wine bottle. Only one cork exploded on me (which was a bit scary) because one of the bottle openings was really narrow. With the help of the attendant, though, I eventually managed to stuff it in.
Finally, the tops were shrink wrapped using a special heating element (no picture–sorry!), the labels were applied, and we were all done!
Now, I know the question that you’re dying to ask is: is this wine any good? And I can tell you with great confidence that it does taste really nice! It was at least as good as some of the better-tasting, lower priced wines I’ve gotten from the liquor store in the past, and it was definitely miles ahead of that super bad table wine I drank with my Italian ex-boyfriend all those years ago. It’s still a very young wine, so there will be lots of improvement in its flavour over the next few months and (hopefully) years. I’m very excited to see what it will be like!
So, that was my long weekend. Well, one day of my long weekend, anyway. Next week, I’ll share with you a recipe for roast chicken that is so good, you’ll cry with happiness at having mastered the perfect roast chicken. Plus, it pairs well with some good, hand crafted Barolo, if you happen to have any lying around….