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Winemaking – An addictive hobby

Winemaking has quickly become one of my favourite hobbies. I really enjoy it, and I think my family and friends enjoy me doing it as well. I love the fact that I put all these ingredients together and from it, I make something lovely. It takes time and dedication so it really is a labour of love, which makes the end result even more enjoyable.

Lockdown 2020 was the main reason I started making my own wine. I had always wanted to try winemaking but had lacked the time and money. Suddenly, I had both the time and an increase in my finances so I took the plunge and ordered a starter kit.

The starter kit that I brought included everything I needed to start off. It had two fermentation vessels, a syphon, a stirrer, bungs and airlocks and a hydrometer. It also included a kit to make the wine so that all I had to do was add water and follow the instructions on the box. I really enjoyed making that first wine, although it wasn’t the best one I’ve made.

After that, I knew I was hooked so I started buying equipment second hand to be able to make more wines. My spare room has now become a brewery! And it’s surprisingly simple to make really good wine, at less than £1 a bottle. All you need is time and patience.

Making wine is actually really easy. Alcohol is produced when yeast reacts with sugar. You add fruits to give it flavour. This is usually grapes but any fruit, or even fruit juice can be used to make the flavour. A basic wine recipe is water, sugar, yeast, yeast nutrient and fruit. You can add other things to improve the flavour and help to clear the wine. I add a cup of tea into mine as the tannins are good for the wine.

What equipment do you need?

Equipment-wise you don’t really need a lot either. Most people make wine in 5-litre demi-johns but a plastic bottle that has been used for water can work just as well. Drill a hole in the lid for an airlock and you can start brewing! A siphon is helpful at the end of the process as well. This can just be a clean piece of piping although it’s easier if it’s clear.

This is the equipment I have though:

  • 5 litre demi-johns
  • 25 litre bucket
  • 25 litre secondary fermentation vessel
  • Siphon
  • Thermometer
  • Hydrometer (to measure the alcohol content of the wine!)
  • Corker
  • Bottles

However, the kits themselves are pretty cheap and can be used over and over again. I think I paid £60 for mine and it included enough to make 30 bottles of wine. That works out at £2 a bottle, although it would be cheaper than that now as I’ve used it so much!

To start with I only stuck to kits to be sure that I knew what I was doing before branching out to more exciting flavours. My experiments have generally been a success, although most of them are still maturing. The one advantage of using the kits to make wine is that they are ready to drink in a week or two, although the flavour does improve with age. Recipe based wines can take up to a year to be ready to drink. Like I said if you want to get into winemaking you need to have lots of patience!