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How to make wine

No one believes how easy it is to make wine. My Cordon Bleu classes didn’t, and neither do most people when I speak to groups and do cheap wine book promotions. That’s because the wine business has done such a brilliant job of confusing the issue that everyone assumes you need a zillion dollars, a hillside vineyard, and a tortured genius pacing up and down the barrel room. Far from it: Get some juice, add yeast or sugar, shake well, and let it sit.

The only time a Cordon Bleu class believed me came when an ex-con, who was one of the students, vouched for the method. In the joint, he said, the inmates would sneak sugar packets and cartons of orange juice out of the cafeteria to their cells and follow just that recipe.

Now, will this be quality wine? Probably not. I’ve done it, and it reminded me why I like writing about wine more than making it. At best, you get a Kosher-style wine, sweet and grapey; at worst, and I know this first-hand, the fermentation fails and you have a slimy mess to throw out.

Having said that, this is something every wine drinker should know. Knowledge is power, and we don’t have nearly enough knowledge. The video below, courtesy of MiWilderness on YouTube, does the job in all its amateurish glory. The comments, with suggestions for improving wine quality, are also worth reading. My favorite part comes when he shakes the bottle, giving the concept of stirring the lees a completely different perspective.

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