The Grapes of Good Times

Any oenophiles up in the house?  That’s basically just a fancy word for wine lovers, but I think it’s a funny word so I wanted to use it.  Wine is one of the simplest, least fussy types of alcohol out there, and also lends an air of elegance, which may also be due to the fact that wine is never chugged 🙂

I like wine, and it’s been a part of my heritage and history for as long as I can remember.  Growing up in Europe, a glass of wine with dinner is a staple, not just for special occasions.  My father likes to make wine as a hobby, carefully and lovingly monitoring the juices as they ferment in the basement of their home, ensuring alcohol levels and sugar levels, until it’s just they way he and my mother like it.  Then there is wine country right here, found in the Niagara region, with plentiful vineyards opportunities for tours and tastings, as well as the exquisite icewine, which is basically liquid candy for grownups.

So for me, wine was always a nice drink to be enjoyed with friends, loved ones, and to relax at the end of the day.  When I was still living with my parents, they drank almost exclusively my father’s house wine. It was much cheaper than store bought, and had far fewer chemicals and preservatives added to it.  As a result, I was spoiled, and found it a bit hit-and-miss at first with store bought wines, since with many I could taste the chemicals – ick.  Well, wouldn’t you know it, an online coupon came to my rescue.

I subscribe to a lot of these Groupon-esque sites, so I get deals sent to me all the time, and one was for winemaking.  Nick and I decided to take the plunge, and we loved it!  These places are a decidedly less hands-on approach than what I saw my father do, since the wine ferments at the winemaking place.  You simply pick out your varietal, come in to drop in the yeast, and then you just come in at the very end for bottling, corking, and labelling.  I really like that part, since Nick and I get to work together to make something that we can enjoy long after, it’s a nice bonding experience.

Plus, since you’re a part of the manufacturing process, you get steep discounts – usually on an online coupon, it comes out to about $3 a bottle of wine, and about $5 or $6 a bottle at regular price.  Once it’s done, you have a nice sophisticated-looking batch of wine bottles, with pretty labels and decorative shrinks on the cork, which makes for a lovely and charming hostess gift and conversation starter.

We love deep, aromatic, but not overly dry reds with a hint of tannins, so one of our go-tos is Barolo, especially since it can be tough to find at the LCBO.  There’s a pic of our last batch of Barolo at the top of this post.  In warmer weather, or for a lighter drink, we like rose (blush), since we’re not too big on whites.  A nice rose is light, sweet, and maybe a tiny bit citrusy – and of course pink!  Here we are with the batch of blush we made this summer, a nice White Zinfandel.  We’ve also just finished our latest batch, our darling Barolo for the colder weather.

Have you ever made your own wine, or something like it?  Let me know of your experiences!

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