A Wine Ferments in Yonkers

Despite an inspired notion now and then, I’m not what one would call “a good gift giver.”

I tend to buy mostly gifts in boxes and I tend to buy them late. Sometimes I forget to buy them altogether.

This situation can add up to some pretty wacky gifts. Case in point: the make-your-own Chardonnay kit I got for my mom one Christmas (or birthday or Mother’s Day). It’s not that it’s a bad gift in general; it’s just that my mom really doesn’t drink too much wine any more and I don’t think she was ever a big fan of drinking Chardonnay, let alone making a few bottles worth.

Not surprisingly, the wine kit has spent the better part of a year in my parents’ garage, during which time we probably could have started a private label wine company. While combing through the aforementioned garage for stuff to sell, I came across the box, dragged it out, and decided to kick start the process myself.

The first step was sterilization of equipment. Using the included solvent, I scrubbed down every plastic piece as if each was a life-saving surgical tool. One thing to be prepared for is that there are a lot of little powders included in wine-making, so be sure you separate the sterilization stuff from the rest. This will ensure that your wine doesn’t kill you… quickly.

Next, you combine the viscous concentrate, which is stored in this funky looking space-age bag, with some filtered water to make the… let’s call it “pre-wine.” For some reason, the concentrate is really dark, which I found strange for a supposedly white wine mix. But maybe losing pigment is part of the fermentation process.

Regardless, the next step is to get the pre-wine into the plastic wine cube, as they say in the business. This involves the complex process of siphoning: putting liquid on one level and a container on a lower level, and adding a tube.

My parents’ kitchen was slowly transforming into Mr. Wizard.

To finish off the first day’s worth of activities, you screw on this other plastic doohickey, fill it halfway with water, and let the whole contraption stand for many, many moons (I think about 12 days).

The folks just today checked in on the stuff and siphoned it back out of the wine cube and back into it again. My mom reports that the liquid is now a mysterious amber color.

Check back in late August for another update.


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