Saturday, 2 January 2016

I Love Wine

My bathroom smells like a winery. I love it. I love to make wine. I love to serve it to my friends and family. I love to drink it. I love just about everything about winemaking. If I could, I would grow my own grapes, in my very own vineyard. I would hand pick them, carefully selecting only the best clusters, ripe and ready for the press.

Unfortunately my life has not gone this way. It's not necessarily a bad thing. I can still get a decent wine kit from my local vintner store, still smell the power of that first ferment as it bubbles away in my bathroom, stored as it is, under the linen shelves. I can still enjoy the racking, filtering and bottling process, even though I cannot do as much of the work as I did in times past. And I can most certainly still enjoy drinking it.

The biggest problem I have with making my own wine is the cost. Over the last couple of months I have lost more than half of my income thanks to depletion of my savings. I still get my pensions, yet even with this generous government support, I am still substantially less well off than I was only a couple of months back. This loss of income means I am now compelled to consider carefully what I can purchase when it comes to wine kits.

Wine kits come in five grades, at least that's how I see it. The first two are the lowest cost, the kind you can find in your local grocery store. It is my contention that these kits, which range in the $40 to $60 area, don't produce wine so much as they produce a badly flavoured grape juice with a marginal alcohol content somewhere in the 10% level. If I am compelled to buy these kits, I suspect beer will look a lot more attractive.

The kits I prefer to purchase are the next three grades. The lowest of these grades will be a kit with 10L of concentrate to produce 23L of wine, or about 30 bottles. They cost about $100 for a kit, and produce a modest quality wine with an alcohol content of about 14%. These kits, as you can guess by looking at the amount of concentrate, tend to be rather thin on flavour. They are often blends of  a varietal grape from a large region such as an Australian Shiraz or California Merlot. There's more water than grape in them. You can drink it, but it's not the best. Then again, it costs about $3.00 a bottle.

The next step up will typically cost about $150 to $175, depending on the style of wine. These kits usually have 15L or so of concentrate to produce, once again, 30 bottles of wine. The grapes in these kits are still fairly regional but are typically of better quality. The main difference, however, is the amount of concentrate, plus the fact that you get the grape skins in most of these kits, adding to the flavour. More grape than water means a richer, fuller wine. It's the classic scenario of getting what you pay for, ending up with a wine that costs about $5.00 to $6.00 a bottle. It's decent wine, very drinkable, and the kind I buy most often.

Then there are the top of the line kits, the ones with 18L of concentrate right up to straight grape juice. These kits virtually always include the skins. The provenance of the grape is excellent, always down to a specific region, sometimes even to a specific vineyard, always within the specific varietal, or blended with a specific outcome in mind, not just low cost. These kits can cost upwards of $200, giving you a superior quality wine for about $7.00 a bottle. A store bought equivalent might range in the $20 to $30 area.

My challenge is that all of these kits are expensive. Drinking anything alcoholic is expensive, even when it's home made wine. My other challenge is that I have, over the years, become spoiled with respect to taste and quality. There are very few commercial wines that stand up to the quality of what I make at home. So somehow I have to come up with $150 a month so I can have a bottle of wine each day.

My choice is simple; drink less wine or drink cheaper wine. I'm not thrilled with either. I wonder how I would do sitting on the street corner with a tin cup and a scrawled cardboard sign reading "Help a cripple get some wine." Hmmmm. Might work.

1 comment:

  1. I love the imagery...thanks for the smile you gave me. I, too, am living with ALS and I love wine, but by no means am I a connoisseur. I hope it works out for you. We lose so much as it is, we need to have our indulgences.