For a long time I held the narrow opinion of where good wine should come from; namely the liquor store. I’ve spent years turning my nose up at “homemade” versions and mostly because I had my share of lousy wines stolen from a friend’s basement in my late teens. I can’t be the only one who’s been exposed to wine that brings tears to your eyes and burns a little on the way down.
Years later when my Dad started making his own wine at a local winemaking store I gave it another attempt. No luck. The wine – red wine in particular – always tasted watery to me. Let’s just all pause for a second to remember that Jesus turned water into wine, not the other way around.
So when a representative from RJ Craft Winemaking approached me about making my own wine I only agreed because I thought if I didn’t like it I could gift it to my parents. How’s that for truth in blogging?
I visited local wine making store, Wine Bottega, in Ottawa in mid-April and met with manager Jonathan. My first fear — that this would be a lot of work— was immediately put to rest. It took under 20 minutes to put my RJS Pinot Grigio and Winemaker’s Trio down. As I talked to Jonathan, I also began to think that maybe my experience with this wine was going to be different. Wine Bottega guarantees the wine, so it’s in their best interest to only carry the best wine juices and concentrates. That they not only stand behind RJS Craft Winemaking Kits – but guarantee them – was a testament to this company’s reputation as a premium craft wine making supplier. Without even sipping the finished product, I was slowly being won over.
Jonathan walked me through the process, and long story short, you’re only there for the yeast. You can certainly participate more if you’d like to, but by law, the owner of the wine must be there to sprinkle the yeast into the juice. The yeast is what turns grape juice into wine. It’s also, I might add, one of those immensely satisfying moments in life where you feel you’ve truly accomplished something….because wine.
I left Wine Bottega with an appointment to return in July to bottle my wine. When all was said and done I would have thirty bottles of white and thirty bottles of red to take home. I started to do math on that and… it hurt, you guys. Really, really hurt because a) math is hard and b) there was an obvious cost savings I had been missing out on. My favourite California red runs roughly $14 a bottle, the red currently sitting in an oak barrel at Wine Bottega was going to cost me $7 a bottle. $7 savings per bottle x 30 bottles = $210. I’m not going to extrapolate any further on the yearly savings because we’re not that close but let’s just say it’s enough for Botox, highlights, and a smokin’ dress. (Every woman should look fabulous with a glass of red in her hand.)
When the wine was ready to bottle I returned to Wine Bottega, fully expecting more work than it was worth. You know the twist though; it was a snap. State of the art equipment and a super clean and organized facility made bottling not only easy but actually fun. The real test though was going to be in the tasting. Thankfully, I was up for the challenge.
The Pinot Grigio is a perfect summer wine; refreshing and light-bodied. Red wine is my thing though, and I’m pleased to report the Winemaker’s Trio made me very, very happy. Although it should sit a few months before being opened, Jonathan assured me that it would be fine to test right away. There’s a good chance the red won’t make it to October. I would not only be happy – but proud – to serve both of these wines to guests in my home. My parents are out of luck though, because as it turns out, I’m not gifting any of this wine.
My opinion on making your own wine has been drastically changed, but before you rush out and try the same make sure you are looking for a retailer that carries RJS Craft Winemaking juices and concentrates. It really does make all the difference.