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The Allure of Home Vinting
The popularity of vinting, or the making of wine at home, has been rising steadily in recent decades. Hobbyists produce a wide variety of wines of all shades and flavors, using a wide variety of techniques and ingredients in order to make their perfect wine. The sale of winemaking supplies is a major hobbyist industry, with everything from individual tools and containers to complete nearly foolproof kits available for anyone who wants to try their hand at making their own wines. Even the yeasts that are used to ferment the wine have become highly specialized, with certain yeasts being preferred for making of red wines and fruit wines while others are better for white wines or champagne. With all of the work and waiting that’s involved in making a good wine, though, what’s the appeal of making your own wine at home?
The answer lies within that very statement… the very appeal of home vinting is being able to make your own wine, right in your own home. You can personalize it to your tastes and preferences, and can allow it to age to your exact specifications. Many home winemakers will create special batches to commemorate special events such as a marriage or the birth of a child, then allow it to age until specified anniversaries or birthdays… others will simply create their own signature flavors and give them as gifts to friends and loved ones. Some even turn their hobby into a business, getting the required licenses to be able to sell the wines that they make as a small vineyard. But this is all just the beginning… to truly understand the hold that home winemaking has on some people you need to take a look at the winemaking process and see how they can take it from fruit to wine.
The Miracle of Fermentation
As everyone knows, wine is made when the juice of grapes or other fruit becomes fermented… the process by which yeast turns sugar into alcohol when it’s lacking oxygen. Many home winemakers take part in their hobby simply because they’re fascinated with this process and the fact that they’re able to take the right ingredients and combine them together in order to make an alcohol from fruit juice right there in their very home. Even though it’s a completely natural process, it can still seem amazing to the wine lover to be able to create something like that themselves.
The home vinter shares much in common with any other hobbyist or do-it-yourselfer… they could go out and buy the things that they make if they desired (and often do), but there’s still a pride to be found in being able to stop and look at something and say, “I made this.” This pride can be generally swelled for the home winemaker even more when he creates a batch of wine that he’s particularly proud of, especially when sharing it with friends and loved ones who enjoy it as much if not more than he does. Receiving accolades from those you know and whose opinions you trust can be a great feeling, and can reinforce the desire of the winemaker to try new recipes and new techniques in order to see if they can create something even more spectacular the next time around.
Easy-to-Use Winemaking Equipment
Of course, one major advantage that the home winemaker has over some other hobbyists is the ease with which modern winemaking equipment can be used. Provided that proper care is taken while making the wine, the likelihood of a batch becoming soured or having some other problem is significantly reduced over what it would have been some years ago. Modern manufacturers create professional-quality equipment for home use, allowing even the most casual hobbyists to create amazing wines provided they’re willing to take the time necessary to do a proper job. Though bad batches of wine will still be made, more often than not it’s due to some user error or unexpected contamination. When used properly, most winemaking equipment feature a reasonably high success rate.
Just as important as the fermentation equipment, there is also professional-grade equipment available for the ageing and bottling of wines. The corking of wine bottles used to be a difficult task that required the cork to be soaked in water and then forced into the neck of the bottle; today it simply requires loading the cork into a corking machine and pulling down on a hand-operated lever or two. The cork is compressed as it passes through the mouth of the machine, and is deposited into the neck of the bottle as it begins to expand again. Different grades of corks and bottles are available depending upon what the winemaker wants and the type of wine that they’re making; it’s even possible to bottle your own champagne and seal it with proper champagne corks surrounded by a wire cage.
Another large part of the appeal of home vinting is the ability to personalize wines to your specific tastes. Perhaps instead of a standard grape wine you would like a wine made from Ranier cherries? It’s simply a matter of getting the fruit that you want and fermenting the liquid that you get from it. Do you think that you might like to try a certain mead, or some exotic fruit wine that you’d heard mentioned in songs but never have seen sold? So long as you can come up with a concept for your specific wine, there isn’t much that can’t be done. You can experiment with different fruits, perhaps making a wine from a blend of different flavors or simply something that you’ve never heard of being made into a wine before.
Once the wine has been fermented, you can still personalize it to your tastes even more if you so desire. Some home vinters will create delicate meads and then put a little bit of extra honey into the bottle just before sealing it in order to create a sweeter final product. Others may want to add certain spices to their wines so that they can accentuate the flavors of certain dishes that they plan on serving the wine with. When making your own wine, you can literally craft it into something unlike any wine that you or those you share it with have ever tasted… it can be as unique and personalized as you want to make it.
Properly Aging Wine
Of course, the key to a good wine is the way that it’s aged… there’s definitely more to making wine than just fermenting it and pouring it into a glass. The vinting hobbyist has a wide variety of barrels, casks, and bottles at their disposal so that they can age their wine in exactly the manner that they prefer. Some may choose to age their wine in a single type of cask, while others will alternate among different woods in order to see which changes the flavor of their wines the most. The aging of wine is a science, and home wine makers have the tools available to them to become master scientists who can craft the exact flavors that they want in their wine.
Once the wine has been aged perfectly, it can then be bottled in order to show it off or hide it from prying eyes. A bright, colorful wine might be bottled in clear glass so that someone enjoying it can see exactly how the light brings out the color of the liquid, while a robust, carefully aged wine might be bottled in customary dark green glass in order to prevent the light from damaging it’s carefully balanced flavor. Home wine makers have control over every aspect of their creation, from the choosing of fruits and yeasts to the aging and presentation of the final product.
With wine lovers being able to have so much control over the drinks that they adore, it’s clear to see that home vinting isn’t going to be fading away anytime soon. Even individuals who’ve never considered the possibility of vinting their own wine will occasionally run across a winemaking kit at a store or be offered a glass of a homemade blush from a friend and suddenly start getting visions of what they might be able to do if they were to try and make their own signature wine. The hobby can become addicting, but unlike most addictions it’s one that can bring great pride to the person who has the addiction and possibly even much acclaim from within their circle of friends.
When all is said and done, the increasing popularity of home winemaking is good for the commercial winemaking industry as well as the manufacturers of all of the home vinting equipment. As more and more people create their unique wines, it begins to open up their eyes to all of the possibilities that wine has to offer. They see beyond simple reds and whites and begin to understand the significance of ageing techniques and why some years are better than others. They gain a new appreciation for all that goes into making a truly spectacular wine and may even begin to enjoy the wine that they drink more. Some of them may even go on to become professional vinters, making their spectacular wines and selling them to wine lovers everywhere.
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