“ Brand: Youngs Home Brew / Type: Homebrew Wine Kit „
Wine is good for you. A bottle of wine shared between two people over dinner in the evening is a thing of delight.
Unfortunately, it's also quite expensive, and it can be quite a risky business because of varying quality between different vintages.
Happily, since 1963, it has been possible to cut down on the costs by making your own wine, beer and other alcoholic drinks at home (but, of course, you are not legally allowed to distil). It is perfectly possible to gather your own ingredients and make wine from these, but as Great Britain doesn't (yet) have the ideal climate for growing grapes (although there are a few very good English vineyards in production), then fruit often provides the best option, especially if combined with grape juice, or even raisins or sultanas. It's a lot of work doing it this way, though. I did once make some elderberry wine of legendary quality that somehow lasted for five years and was virtually like port by then, but the gathering and preparing of the elderberries took AGES.
Luckily, home wine kits are here to help. I have used Young's CWE fruit wine kits for many years, and found the results delicious. It comes in the following varieties:
Damson, Gooseberry, Strawberry, Blackberry,
Apple, Plum, Elderflower, Apricot, Black Cherry, Elderberry
Of these, the elderberry is the best red. It has a dark colour and a memorably rich taste. Blackberry is nice and a little more obviously fruity. the same goes for Black Cherry. Plum is OK, and I haven't tried the Damson for some time. The Strawberry is very pink and nice served cold.
Gooseberry is our favourite white. It used to be a pale straw colour, but now is almost amber in colour. It gorgeous and so is apricot, which has a hint of Viognier about it. Elderflower is very delicate, and suits plaice well. Apple is the least good - better to turn apples into cider, I reckon.
As well as fruit wines, Young's also do more traditional grape wines, some with plain descriptions of colour and style, such as Rich Red, or Dry Crisp White and others with grape descriptions, such as Chardonnay and Rioja. I've not tried any of these, as we like the fruit wines so much.
Here's a link to a website to give an idea of the range:
You need a bit of kit to make your own wine -
A fermenting vessel, which is usually a one gallon demijohn (carboy)
Food grade funnels, and siphoning equipment
Wine bottles and corks (you can get reusable ones). Screw-top wine bottles are excellent.
Gentle heating - either a good airing cupboard or a heated wine mat.
Sterilising fluid (cheap from the chemist) - THIS REALLY MATTERS!!
To make the wine you combine warm water, sugar (500g per gallon of wine for Young's kits) and the gooey mixture from the Young's tin, which is concentrated fruit and grape juice, and then add yeast when the temperature is right.
After about four weeks, your wine should be getting near ready. At that point there's a bit more to do with adding finings to clear the wine, and sometimes a stabiliser - both these are provided in the kits.
I tend to make about eight gallons at once- 48 bottles - and have found that on average it takes about 10 minutes of labour for every bottle I produce.
The cost? If you shop around (I get my kits delivered free by Brew Genie) you can find Young's fruit wine kits for £7.45 (August, 2011. Adding on the cost of sugar, water and washing up, etc. you are still paying less than £1.50 a bottle.
The white wines are ready to drink within about a month of bottling and are best consumed young, while they are at their freshest. The reds need a little longer to mature - 2 to 3 months - but improve with age: I don't know whether you can keep them for more than a year because we polish them off!