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Other than Brewing => The Pub => Topic started by: corkybstewart on December 30, 2010, 06:36:57 PM

Title: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: corkybstewart on December 30, 2010, 06:36:57 PM
I recently offended my wife when a cousin asked me if I also made wine at home and I answered no, it was just not challenging.  An ignorant response since I've never made wine but from what I've read wine making ON THE HOME LEVEL.is not a very complicated task.  She is from a small village in France that produces a distinctively dry light red wine, and since she is extremely picky about her wine I've never even tried to make something she'll drink. 
Is there much to making wine at home, and can truly fine high quality wines be made from kits since I will have no control over the pre-juice aspect of wine: growing, harvesting and processing grapes seems critical to me?
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: nicneufeld on December 30, 2010, 06:47:02 PM
I think its just a slight miscommunication...making wine, generally speaking, can be ferociously complicated and challenging.  But specifically making wine at home from commercial kits, well, its easier than homebrewing, I think most would agree.  It's basically dump and stir, like Mr. Beer, predominantly.  Personally I like making ciders and meads when I'm getting a little "all grain brewing fatigued", its just a lot simpler and quicker.  Maybe not quicker to drink, but the processes are easy.

The difference is as you allude, a great deal of the challenge of winemaking is in the growing of the grapes.  By the time you pour a package of must into a fermentor and pitch yeast, I'd say most of the formative work of the wine has already been done.  Which isn't to say one can't mess it up!  :D

I prefer brewing (I suppose I should say making, I don't boil honey must) meads because they are more given to creative ideas...with wine, you acquire must and ferment it, with typically little room for creativity, but mead can be almost a blank canvas, with the wide variety of metheglins and melomels one can produce.

Another reason I don't do home wine kits...they are bleedin expensive!!!  But if you want a challenge, try this...get yourself some welch's and some cane sugar, and make something palatable!  :D 
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: denny on December 30, 2010, 06:49:33 PM
I'd have to say that unless you grow your own grapes, winemaking is easier than homebrewing on some levels at least.  But I don't think that means it isn't still challenging.
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: BrewArk on December 30, 2010, 07:00:22 PM
Until you've made a really good wine, I think it can be a challenge.

To me one consideration is that wine takes so much longer to condition.  But, if your sanitation is good, then racking multiple times shouldn't be a problem.  Then, as long as you can follow the directions you can make good wine.

NM isn't known for it's wine grape production, so you're likely limited to kits?  Good wine can be made from them, but at what they cost, I can buy as good or better wine than I can make.

(Lucky for me, here in northern CA I can get grape juice cheap @ harvest time, so I can make wine that is good enough for me at a fraction of what it costs to buy)
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: dannyjed on December 30, 2010, 07:03:09 PM
This just reminded me that I need to bottle the Blueberry Wine I made in August.   
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: denny on December 30, 2010, 07:08:44 PM
(Lucky for me, here in northern CA I can get grape juice cheap @ harvest time, so I can make wine that is good enough for me at a fraction of what it costs to buy)

I think that's really the key.  Within 10 mi. of me, I've got 5 wineries and too may vineyards to count.
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: johnf on December 30, 2010, 09:35:54 PM
We can buy grapes here in Kansas City at harvest time through the LHBS. I know I've heard of people getting together to buy grapes in other cities without the involvement of a LHBS.
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: EHall on December 30, 2010, 09:39:56 PM
I hope you're not thinking about making wine just because someone was offended... especially if your wife is picky... but if you're going to go thru with it, try to at least find a kit close to what she likes...
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: lonnie mac on December 30, 2010, 09:42:23 PM
Speaking of kit wines, I think my wife would tell you that wine making is VERY easy, but making excellent award winning wine is altogether different.

The process is defiantly nothing hard, and after brewing, it's fun to make something inside that you can get in the fermenter within an hours time. We are making more of a move into fresh grapes, although down here we will pay a premium to have them shipped. This steps up the game considerably, as well as the process too...
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: punatic on December 30, 2010, 10:13:15 PM
I make "wine" with many kinds of tropical fruit.  There are literally tons of "waste" tropical fruit here that is fed to livestock because it is not pretty enough to eat out-of-hand. Fruit juice for fermenting does not need to be pretty. Unfortunately, the volcanic soils here are not right for growing grapes.

Tropical fruit mixed with honey from my hives has produced some pretty tasty beverages (and a few stinkers too).

Fermented pineapple juice (spike) is awesome when force-carbonated.
Lychee fruit/kiawe honey melomel is as good a beverage as I've ever tasted.

I raise bees, trees, and yeasts, with wine in mind; to boldly go where no man has gone before...   ::)

They may not be Premier grand cru classé, but they are very popular with the people who have tried them.  There is a lot to be said for the quality of beverages made on a small scale.
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: corkybstewart on December 30, 2010, 11:03:28 PM
I make "wine" with many kinds of tropical fruit.  
That was part of the follow up argument on the 18 hour drive home-Americans ferment anything and call it wine.  I don't but that didn't help my case.  I think most of the responses are basically what I told her-namely that I can make drinkable wine from kits but brewing is more challenging on the home production level.
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: punatic on December 30, 2010, 11:21:56 PM
Any suggestions for a name for fermented fruit beverages (other than the ones already taken)?  We need something catchy...
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: johnf on December 30, 2010, 11:43:31 PM
I make "wine" with many kinds of tropical fruit.  
That was part of the follow up argument on the 18 hour drive home-Americans ferment anything and call it wine.  I don't but that didn't help my case.  I think most of the responses are basically what I told her-namely that I can make drinkable wine from kits but brewing is more challenging on the home production level.

I think as others have said that wine can be as easy or challenging as you would like, just like brewing.

There are plenty of home wine makers starting from grapes (which they may have grown themselves), barrel aging, blending, doing methode champenoise etc who would look at the typical home brewer that is brewing extract kits and think that brewing at the home level is much simpler.

Unlike brewing, the availability of raw ingredients probably means that the advanced wine makers are geographically concentrated.

If you've ever seen Gary Awdey speak on cider you know there is at least one home cider maker out there that is probably more involved than the vast majority of brewers.
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: phillamb168 on December 31, 2010, 08:31:34 AM
Any suggestions for a name for fermented fruit beverages (other than the ones already taken)?  We need something catchy...

Hooch?

 ;)

[edit: Oops. Didn't see "already taken." Also please note that this was tongue-in-cheek. Lots of people getting offended on the board these days it seems, and I don't mean no offense.]
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: phillamb168 on December 31, 2010, 08:48:54 AM
Wine, at least good wine, is not something that can be brewed at home, IMHO - unless of course your home happens to be a chateau and/or located on the west coast. Kit wines, if I'm not mistaken, take leftover grapes from a bunch (no pun intended) of wholesalers. The problem with this is that wine is really, really, really about the terroir. Grapes produced at Nuits st George will just not going to be the same as grapes produced at Chamertin, 10 kilometers away. Even grapes from two domains situated right next to each other will not be the same - the wind may come down from the hills in a certain way and be just slightly colder on one property than on another. The soil in some patches may have the tiniest extra bit of sulphates, or maybe one owner has larger feet than the other and so the soil is more evenly compacted from his walking on it. The reason great wines shine is that they come from single vintages of grapes from a single property. You really can taste the difference between the two aforementioned cote de nuits.

Kit wine just can't do this without being even more prohibitively expensive than it already is. Even the "super premium" kits, while possibly coming from the same producer, are nevertheless not from truly good terroir - if they were, they certainly wouldn't be selling their grapes in kit form.
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: punatic on December 31, 2010, 10:10:27 AM
Any suggestions for a name for fermented fruit beverages (other than the ones already taken)?  We need something catchy...

Hooch?

 ;)

[edit: Oops. Didn't see "already taken." Also please note that this was tongue-in-cheek. Lots of people getting offended on the board these days it seems, and I don't mean no offense.]

I am sooo offended.  Hooch indeed!!

Eau de vie, perhaps?  (oops... did I say that out loud?)
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: tubercle on December 31, 2010, 01:48:02 PM
Tubercle makes wine every year.

 Plum, blackberry, peach, blueberry & muscadine. Some of the fruit is cultivated and some gathered from the wild.

 Over half of this is given away as gifts to friends, just because.

 Many of these friends are grape wine connoisseurs who speak in some unintelligible language when speaking of wine. A big mistake with wines made of fruits other than grapes is that folks try to compare them with some grape wine they are familiar with. That can't be done. Plum wine is not <insert grape variety here> wine, never was, never will be, and can only be compared to other plum wines; it's its own thing. Once this is explained and the fruit wine is enjoyed in this light, most like it very much. Most beg for more and many are very interested in the process.

 I have two friends that are among these long time grape wine consumers/experts that have asked me to show them how to make it for themselves, which I have. They still enjoy their store bought stuff but have added the challenge of the home concoctions to their arsenal. They make very good stuff of which I have had the pleasure to share.
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: markaberrant on December 31, 2010, 02:23:45 PM
Wine must kits are huge in Canada, with most folks just doing them at on-site U-brew stores.  I believe they are super popular here because they are easy to make, and our high taxes on commercial alcohol makes most wine quite pricey (the cheapest rot gut wines are $7-8/bottle, you are looking at $18-25 as an entry level price point for something decent).

I also feel their popularity has a negative impact on homebrewing.  The high profit margins on these kits means most LHBS don't bother stocking decent supplies (usually just pre-hopped beer kits, same as the wine must kits).  As a result, a lot of people who do try "homebrewing" just make one of these beer kits, then give up because the quality is poor (most of the beer kits are old and stale).  And because the kits they sell are "idiot" proof, this means that most of the people managing/working in these stores know absoutely nothing about brewing in general, even those that have worked there for 15-20 years.

Because these kit wines are so popular, you invariably get bottles of "homemade" wine gifted to you, and most of it isn't very good.  I did make a premium wine kit about 4 years ago that included grape skins, I added additional oak, and let it age 2 years before drinking.  It is actually pretty decent, and did favourably in some blind taste tests against some commercial wines we enjoy, but at $175/kit, and not being a big wine drinker, I haven't bothered to make another.

What makes me laugh is that if you follow the basic instructions and add all the chemical crap that is included with the kits, they are supposedly "drinkable" within 4-6 weeks... yeah right, but again the target market are people looking for a quick, easy and cheap alternative to low grade commercial wine, so quality really isn't at the forefront for these consumers.
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: oscarvan on December 31, 2010, 06:35:37 PM
There are five or six "vineyards" within  45 minutes driving of my house. Based on what I have tasted there, making GOOD gape wine is VERY challenging.
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: euge on December 31, 2010, 07:14:58 PM
I've made ciders and meads but never fruit-wine. Homebrew gives quicker results in most cases. Wines are a delayed gratification type of endeavor.

Tubercle how does fig wine sound? My neighbor's fig tree produces a lot of fruit and it mostly all goes to the squirrels and birds. Next year maybe wine?
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: tubercle on December 31, 2010, 07:22:13 PM
I've made ciders and meads but never fruit-wine. Homebrew gives quicker results in most cases. Wines are a delayed gratification type of endeavor.

Tubercle how does fig wine sound? My neighbor's fig tree produces a lot of fruit and it mostly all goes to the squirrels and birds. Next year maybe wine?

 Tried fig wine once and it had a very "thin body"; good taste but zero mouth feel and watery. Reading online seems to indicate this is normal for fig wine. A can or two of frozen white grape concentrate (make sure it has no preservatives) from the grocery store seems to eliminate this. Haven't tried it since but may since I have a huge fig tree in my backyard. :'(

 Hate to see good fruit go to waste...give it a try. ;)
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: tschmidlin on December 31, 2010, 11:34:17 PM
I'm definitely going to try something with figs, my plant is just a baby but we got one fig this year.  We ate it.

I think fermented fruit juice should be called wine, just put a modifier on it.  Blueberry wine.  Plum wine.  Fig wine.  I don't think anyone will be confused ;)
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: capozzoli on December 31, 2010, 11:40:31 PM
Im actually fermenting prune wine now.

Might as well be able to get drunk while I am keeping regular.
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: tubercle on December 31, 2010, 11:44:42 PM
Never tried prune but have used raisins which are nothing but dried grapes.

 As far as calling wine, well, wine. Usually wine by itself is grapes and other ones has the name in it; ie. date wine.
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: tschmidlin on December 31, 2010, 11:49:33 PM
That's my take too tubercle, not sure why winers would have their panties in a bunch.  Other than that is the default position for winers. ;D
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: punatic on January 01, 2011, 12:49:58 AM
That's my take too tubercle, not sure why winers would have their panties in a bunch.  Other than that is the default position for winers. ;D

Perhaps that should be spelled whiners? 

I enjoy wine very much.  I used to be a wholesale wine salesman back in the 70s.  It's a great buzz, but the worst hangover for sure!
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: tschmidlin on January 01, 2011, 09:09:22 AM
That's my take too tubercle, not sure why winers would have their panties in a bunch.  Other than that is the default position for winers. ;D

Perhaps that should be spelled whiners? 

I enjoy wine very much.  I used to be a wholesale wine salesman back in the 70s.  It's a great buzz, but the worst hangover for sure!
It's pronounced the same ;D

I like wine on occasion too, but the snobbery that goes along with wine is  . . . unwarranted IMO.
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: beerocd on January 01, 2011, 01:52:51 PM

I like wine on occasion too, but the snobbery that goes along with wine is  . . . unwarranted IMO.

I think there's quite a few beer drinkers headed in that direction too. I'm sure you've seen beer reviews given on Beeradvocate or RateBeer. Obviously some of those people think they are in some Elite category of beer drinker and don't sound that much different than the wine snobs.
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: capozzoli on January 01, 2011, 02:31:23 PM
Yeah that snobbery is some funny stuff.

If you are ever in Eastern Europe go to the Hungarian wine country. It is very rustic and un-snob like. They serve wine in clay cups from big clay pitchers. They draw the wine right out of giant wooden kegs. You sit and drink at heavy wodden tables with no table cloth. Nothing like a slab of fatty roasted pork, a big slab of fresh baked bread and a mug full of bulls blood. Man, I love it there.

Those french and Italian fairy pants have nothing on the Hungarians.

Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: nicneufeld on January 01, 2011, 02:53:28 PM
I think there's quite a few beer drinkers headed in that direction too.

This is true.  I love great beer and great wine as much as the next guy (unless the next guy is Mel Gibson...hat tip to Ricky Gervais), but at some point we have to realize, no matter how expensive it is, no matter how rare or special it is made out to be, wine and beer is little more than the urine and flatulence of a microscopic fungus in some sort of sugar water.   ;D
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: corkybstewart on January 01, 2011, 03:00:33 PM
My French inlaws are very laid back about their wine.  They normally drink it out of the same Pyrex type glasses they drink their coffee from.  I learned wine by standing around damp caves drinking from glasses taken off a bottle tree, rinsed once with water and filled repeatedly with delicious red wine.  At the end of the session you rinse your glass and put it back on the bottle tree.  I suppose once in a while somebody cleaned them properly but I never saw it.
I love good wine and really hate bad wine, just like I do with beer.  I don't review beer on sites like BA because I don't see why my opinion of a beer should matter to anybody else in this world, just like I see no value in anybody else's opinion.  Either I like a beer(or wine) or I don't and no amount of hype or people telling me I should like it will ever change my mind.  I will change my mind if I try it again later and decide I like it.
I may look into the wine kit thing some more and see if it's doable since I pretty much have everything I need to make wine, and I'm pretty patient.  Temp control over very long periods will be my biggest problem since I don't have a basement or room with consistent year round temp.
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: capozzoli on January 01, 2011, 03:17:29 PM
Some of the rules with wine bugged me back when I thought it was important. Like red wine with beef, white wine with seafood etc.

Now I dont care. I like a hearty deggo red with my Cioppino.
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: corkybstewart on January 01, 2011, 03:47:34 PM
Since the primary wine produced in their area is red, pretty much everything we eat goes perfectly with red wine, at least on the everyday level.  Fancy multi-course 6 hour lunches call for an assortment of wines chosen for their compatibility with whatever course we're eating.  But after lunch we may sit on the porch and drink beer.
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: punatic on January 01, 2011, 07:13:30 PM
wine and beer is little more than the urine and flatulence of a microscopic fungus in some sort of sugar water.   ;D


My son watches my brewing and meadmaking efforts and helps me wash vessles ("where are the nuclear wessles?") on ocassion.  He thinks it's hilarious, "Dad, you and Mom are drinking yeast farts and pee!  Ha, ha, ha!"
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: sienabrewer on January 10, 2011, 04:07:50 PM
I think it's really a bit hard to compare making the two.  In terms or being right out of the box process, wine is definitely easier to make.  Add juice, add water, some other stuff and let it sit.  Beer is kind of the same; add water, boil, cool, aerate, pitch yeast.  Both processes in my opinion make an "ok" product assuming they are both given an equal amount of respective attention during the fermenting process.  Malt extract beer is better than $75 box wine kit.  The real question is when you take it to the advanced level i.e. AG brewing v. crushing/pressing your own wine.  I'll leave out growing the grapes because in my opinion that's equivalent to growing and malting your own barely. 

That being said, as someone who has done both wine and beer, I believe it is far easier to make a quality beer along the commercial lines than it is wine.  The reason being, in my opinion, is that we as brewers pretty much have the same access to raw materials as the pros do.  After visiting several wineries in Sonoma and listening to them talk about the attention to detail payed to picking and crushing the grapes on a certain day, I cannot say that home wine makers have that same access.  Therefore, it really is difficult to make the same caliber of wine as comparable to beer.  And since grapes cannot be grown everywhere in the US how can one make a comparable wine.  In addition, as a wine maker you need a ton of space and need to pay very specific attention to the chemistry of your grapes and understand how to make the proper adjustment if something is wrong.  Or else you've spent all that time and effort crushing and pressing hundreds of dollars of grapes to make a year's worth of so-so wine.  As brewers, most of the time we had no idea our water chemistry was wrong until someone brought it to our attention.  All the while we were still making commercial quality beer. 
Title: Re: Homebrew vs homemade wine
Post by: nicneufeld on January 10, 2011, 04:41:30 PM
I'll leave out growing the grapes because in my opinion that's equivalent to growing and malting your own barely. 

True, up to a point, but that's a big difference in commercial brewing vs commercial winemaking...very few breweries are on estates that grow their own raw materials, but wineries typically do.  With wine, its more about the growing process, less about the fermenting process, and with brewing, for most home and commercial brewers, the growing process is taken as a given and we pretty much all start with the same set of available ingredients.