December 29, 2010

DIY Wine

H&H food editor Amy Rosen and I have been hard at work making our first batch of homemade, or rather, office-made wine with the Artful Winemaker kit.

“3 easy steps, 28 days, 12 incredible bottles of wine — satisfaction guaranteed!” read the instructions. Amy and I were pretty excited by this promise, but as with all products and recipes featured in H&H, we felt it our duty to do a full product testing before we endorsed it.

For starters, the suggestion that you can make wine in three easy steps simply isn’t true. Upon reading the directions you’ll find that there are four stages: Assembly and sanitizing, mixing and fermenting, stabilizing, and finally, bottling. Each stage is comprised of about ten steps, and none of them would be described as easy.

Still, over the course of 28 days, Amy and I only put in a few hours of work, which isn’t much to end up with 11 bottles of quaffable wine! I say 11 bottles, not the promised 12, because on our first day on the job, we — okay, I — glazed over the directions and managed to skip step two, something about a red semicircular seal being properly positioned…what red seal? Oh, that red seal — the one that Amy accidentally tossed in her garbage can?!). The result was major leakage and some lost vino. Purple juice was pooling all over the kitchen counter until we fixed the leak. You must read all the directions — okay, lesson learned.

With the hard part over (the waiting), the wine was easily bottled and labeled using the cute labels included in the kit. Not to boast, but it all looks pretty professional. It tastes, well, not exactly professional, but definitely more than adequate. I might suggest serving this wine as the third bottle at a dinner party — or just keep it under your desk for those tough mornings!

I want to thank the folks at Artful Winemaker for sending us the kit (it retails for $100), and for giving our office the chance to have some fun with this project. Not a day went by without someone stopping at my desk with a quizzical look:

“What is it?”

“Should it be bubbling like that?”

“Are you sure you’re allowed to make wine in our office?” they asked.

And thanks to the Artful Winemaker, my popularity at H&H has skyrocketed, as I became the official wine sponsor at my department’s Christmas party. Here’s Amy and I enjoying the fruits of our labour.

“It’s not as bad as I thought it might be,” said one editor. Swirling their glasses and sniffing the bouquet, the others agreed it was the best homemade wine they had ever had.

And in the end, the experience gave Amy and I some serious bonding time, which is what good wine always does best.

Consider the Artful Winemaker kit officially endorsed.

See the Wine & Cheese Guide for wine serving tips and complementary recipes.

Photo credits:
1-4. Leslie Williams
5. Katie Gougeon