You can make wine at home using a plastic container or, if you want to get a bit fancy, a second-hand wooden barrel. The process involves getting real wine grapes (not your average table grapes) from a wine farm (or from wine.co.za for the landlocked), stripping them from their stalks and placing them in a container with some store-bought yeast to ferment. About a week later, you’ll separate the juice from the skins and transfer the juice to the barrel (or a second container) to mature. You’ll need to test-taste regularly, and keep topping it up with either distilled water or wine from a previous batch (this minimises the air at the top of the barrel – air spoils wine).
PROS? You can start with varietals that are more likely to taste great the first time you make them. The easiest varietals to start with are cabernet sauvignon or shiraz.
CONS? Sit tight; your wine will need to stay in the barrel for about six months before you can bottle it. Also, you have to pretty much babysit your wine, which will need topping up to make up for evaporation.
SETTING IT UP: The barrel or container must be kept in a cool area in your home, away from other fumes. All your equipment should be thoroughly scrubbed with citric acid and rinsed out before use.
INSIDER TIPS? Sara Webster, winemaker from JHB Wine, says, “It’s easier to make red wine than white as white wine needs large refrigeration units. Plus, it’s a little easier to mask colour faults in red wine – perfect for the first-timer.”
GET STARTED: Buy a kit to make 60 bottles for around R3 000 from winemakingkits.co.za. The kit includes grapes, an oak barrel, plunging and separating tools, yeast, containers and an instruction booklet.