Even though I’ve been continuing to order wine ingredient kits, I’ve been thinking a lot about making my own wine from scratch. Something about making wine from scratch makes me feel like I am in complete control over how the wine comes out, while when I make wine from a kit, it’s kind of like I’m just going through the motions and my wine will taste almost exactly the same as someone else’s wine who made the same kit and followed the instructions to the letter just like I did.
Don’t get me wrong – I love how easy the wine ingredient kits are to use and how great the wines taste when they are finished (as long as I haven’t done something stupid along the way…), but part of me doesn’t really feel like a “real” winemaker if I didn’t make the wine all from scratch using ingredients I have already in stock in my little winery shelves.
At the same time, I am terrified of going about it on my own. What if I’m not ready to make wine without a kit and I end up wasting ingredients and my time? How am I supposed to just whip up a batch of wine without any pre-organized kit?
Well, that’s where wine making sites like E. C. Kraus can really come in handy. There are so many great resources for making wine online and folks like E. C. Kraus do a great job of answering common questions that plague home winemakers both new and seasoned.
Additionally, there are a ton of great wine making books out there that can help with making wine from scratch. I have a couple of books myself, so other than stocking up on “raw” ingredients, I really have all the resources I need to be able to set out and make a batch.
I feel as though the only way I’m really going to learn how to be a real winemaker is to do it myself from start to finish without having it all set out nicely for me ahead of time. I need to be able to think on my feet and one day know “oh, right, I need to add this ingredient now if I want the wine to do such and such”, instead of just checking off the boxes as I go.
In reality, I’m definitely going to continue using wine ingredient kits as they are pretty great and get you nice wines every time (if you follow the instructions and keep things clean and sanitized anyway), but I think from now on, in addition to making one wine from a kit, I’ll simultaneously make a wine from scratch on my own from “raw” ingredients to see if I really understand winemaking or if I’m just really good at ready directions and checking off boxes.
My name is Leigh Erwin, and I am a brand-spankin’ new home winemaker! E. C. Kraus has asked me to share with you my journey from a first-time dabbler to an accomplished home winemaker. From time to time I’ll be checking in with this blog and reporting my experience with you: the good, bad – and the ugly.
Leigh Erwin: Making Wine From Scratch
Erin, don’t be afraid of working from scratch. In the spring there are many fruit farms that will let you “pick your own” fruit and that is an excellent place to get fresh fruit for making “country wine.” I had a patch of raspberries in our old house and would make raspberry wine all year from berries I froze. When working with fresh or frozen fruit I usually make one gallon batches, so any failed experiments are small.
EC Kraus has a great recipe for making wine from Welch’s Grape Juice on this blog. When I back sweeten in with sugar and more grape juice it rivals any Concord Grape wine I have purchased. You can use the same recipe for other fruit juices.
Leigh, I have been making berry wines and other fruit wines for a long time, It does give you a satisfaction and yes you can make them as you find it suitable for your taste.Preparing the fruit ahead is a good way to pave the way. Like my rhubarb, I extract the juice and freeze it.Make it
when I have the time.
With the elderberrys and black current I use a steam juicer to prepare the fruit juice and freeze it.
Good luck, Kruse experts are always there to help with expert advice. Knute
Leigh, my husband and I are new wine makers also and have used 1 kit then I jumped right in trying fresh fruit. My peach & white grape juice turned out quite nice and is much like a chardonnay, I sweetened it back a little. I then tried a tropical blend using fresh pears, pineapple, strawberries, peach and some banana flavoring. It took a long time to clear and the flavor is pretty good but unfortunately I added too much sugar so the alcohol content is too high. We also tried sweetening it back. All in all it’s been a great experience and I figure I’ve spent more on bad commercial wine than what I’ve spent making some from my own fruit! I definitely need to purchase a pH kit. Also, thanks to E.C. Kraus for a wonderful information site!!!