Michael (eumelosdrizzle) wrote in wine_making,

Getting Started ...

Hi I'm new to the community.  I joined because I'm interesting in trying my hand at mead/wine making.  I know next to know about the process and was wondering if people had any hints or tips - esp. if you have advice about doing this sort of thing in an apartment?

I'm also wondering if people could give me feedback on whether or not they find that making your own mead/wine is cheaper than purchasing it from the stores?  I want to start doing this sort of thing in order to get some experience in making my own mead or wine and to try to cut down on costs.  Our household typically buys about 3 or 4 bottles a month tops.

Any feedback is appreciated. :)

I've cross posted this to the mead_lovers  community.
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For me, winemaking and meadmaking are cost-effective because:

1. my husband makes beer, so we already had most of the equipment,
2. a lot of the materials are cheap or free (I raise bees and get honey that way, I make fruit wines of fruit I grow myself, etc), and
3. we go through a lot more than 3 bottles a month.

Winemaking kits produce a volume and quantity of wine that is a better deal than buying at a store (as in, a $120 kit will produce something like 30 bottles of wine of a quality that would cost $15-25 per bottle at a store, which adds up to $450-$750), but that's not counting the cost of equipment, the risk of screwing up a batch and having wasted the money altogether, or the supposition that you probably wouldn't buy thirty bottles of wine anyway.

I'm all for it- more people should have this hobby, in my opinion, and I find it extremely fun and rewarding, but I doubt it's cost-efficient, especially in the situation you've described.
It sounds like it could be cost-efficient over time though. Based on what you are saying, it soudns like volume would be key (otherwise the intitial equipment costs would outway the 5-10 dollar saving per bottle).
absolutely :)
1) start with small batches
2) don't be afraid to experiment
3) expect failure (I've ruined many a batch!)
4) don't be detracted by snobs
5) have FUN!!!

*raises glass* Welcome to the asylum club!
Thanks. :) I'm thinking of starting with mead, it (in theory) sounds a little easier...
If you haven't ever done any type of homebrew/fermentation, I recommend you start with beer. Beer takes a shorter amount of time and it's generally easier to get it right. Mead is often considered best only after 2 years of aging. The wine we've made has *always* tasted better after a year of aging and now we're experimenting with 2+ yrs.

I have to say that I really don't think that wine making ends up being cost-effective unless you are extremely gifted at it from the get go, you make a lot of wine, and you have the patience or incentive to continue the hobby over a long period of time (which plenty of people do. I'm not trying to discourage you, but I think people sometimes underestimate the duration of making and aging wine.) One of the best bits about wine/mead making is that you get to make wine that interests you and is suited to your palate (or the palate of your audience.) For example, we made a sweet sparkling grape wine that by traditional standards is kind of unimpressive, but my in-laws love it! We've also made a garlic wine, which is honestly kind of gross, but we'll turn it into garlic vinegar for my ueber-Italian dad and it will make his century!

When you do start, I highly, highly, highly recommend getting good equipment. Also, it's good practice to keep a wine log to keep track of what you did or didn't do, how much of x you put in, how long it's been aging, etc etc. It's kind of like a lab notebook for wine.

Finally, remember that wine making is actually a really complicated science. We have a textbook on wine making from a course offered at some university, and every time I open it up it makes me feel a little better about our success rate! Again, I don't really mean this to discourage you, but I think it's important to expect failure and welcome it as a way to improve your next batch.

We made wine in an apartment for a few years and it wasn't really all that difficult. We did add glass beads to our secondary fermenters to make racking less labor intensive, but I think that is good practice regardless of your work space. The only real issue we ever had was with temperature regulation as we lived on the top floor of a place with no aircon. We handled this by wrapping the secondary fermenters in blankets to insulate them.

Good luck and have fun!