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Making your own wine is not only a fairly simple process, it allows you to create good quality drinks for a fraction of the price of shop-bought alternatives, with equipment that can be reused time and time again.
As with home-brewed beer, beginners will most likely find a ready-to-go wine-making kit is the easiest way to start. These contain a concentrated fruit extract, which is diluted with water to produce a must, and yeast which is then added to the must and left to ferment. Depending on the kit, fermentation time will vary but many will be ready to mature after just one week.
Once fermentation has taken place, your wine should be transferred to a demi-john (either glass or plastic) allowing it to mature and develop its fabulous flavour. As with fermentation, maturation time may vary but your wine will usually be ready for bottling in just three weeks. Though most wine will benefit from a little extra time to mature in the bottle, it is nevertheless ready to drink once bottled.
Just as with beer, homemade wine offers tremendous scope for experimentation and improvement. This versatile process allows the home-brew enthusiast to try endless possibilities - fruits provide an excellent starting point as they are naturally high in sugars but sugar can always be added to other ingredients.
Elderberry, apple, rhubarb and, of course, grape make sensational fruit wines but similarly fabulous flavours can be obtained from potatoes, parsnips, broad beans and even dandelions. These 'country wines', as they are called, may not produce results quite so consistent as those from wine-making kits but they afford the amateur so many options that many find it hard to resist experimenting... and your wine drinking experience will change over the months, as new ingredients come into season.
Have you tried making your own wine? Have you got any tips for unusual flavours? Let us know below...