Good Wine For Three Dollars a Bottle? It’s Not Impossible!

“I don’t recognize this label. How much did you pay for this wine?” my friend asked.

I had retrieved a bottle of Zinfandel red wine from my wine cellar earlier in the day and decided to open it in the evening when a friend dropped by. He had earlier remarked on the taste of the wine, “Mmmm… black cherry, anise, hints of pepper. This is lovely!”

“I paid about three dollars for this bottle of wine in 2005,” I told him. My friend was astonished. “How on earth did you manage to score this bottle of wine for only three dollars? Impossible!”

It’s not impossible to have excellent wine that will have your guests exclaiming about how good it is without paying exorbitant prices and taxes per bottle. In 2005, I had purchased a premium wine kit which included everything I needed to create this Zinfandel wine. The juice, the yeast, a few sachets of other ingredients including some fining agents, and even a package of oak. It took me about half an hour to start the fermentation process in a food grade plastic pail. A week later, another half hour and my freshly started wine was racked (siphoned) into a secondary fermentation vessel made of glass and fit with an airlock.

The wine kit was purchased for about $90.00 and produced 30 bottles. About 3 bucks a bottle.

Time did most of the work. I allowed the wine to age in the carboy for several months before bottling it. I do own a floor corker which makes the job of bottling and corking much easier, but others can usually borrow or rent a corker from their local wine supplies shop. After bottling the wine, I did keep back several bottles for my own consumption, but I also knew this wine would age further, very well. I put several bottles down in the cool cellar, looking forward to a future time when I’d open them and appreciate how time had acted upon the wine, bringing out it’s qualities and maturity.

Years ago, many people made their own wine from whatever fruit happened to be available to them. But over time, it became much easier to purchase wine commercially. When people made their own, often it would be “hit and miss.” Lots of vinegar resulted instead of good wine. Today however, with many companies offering wine kits that contain balanced grape juice and concentrate, making good wine at home is not only affordable, it’s almost guaranteed if you follow the directions. The biggest mistakes the first time home winemaker is guilty of are:

* Bottling and drinking it too soon

* Deciding not to use the sulphite that comes with the kit

If you drink your wine too soon, it will not have developed the characteristics that it is capable of doing. Your wine will taste like “young wine,” and that’s OK if that is how you like your wine. Young wines are usually very fruity tasting, but the other characteristics will not have developed yet.

Some people have a mistaken belief that they are allergic to sulphites and so will not use them in their wine. Most canned and processed foods contain sulphites in order to prevent oxidation. And prolonged oxidation is the enemy of wine. In time, the sulphites will wear off, and come out of the wine. Use the very small amount of sulphite that is provided with your wine kit, and add it at the time the directions tell you to, and you’re almost guaranteed one that will not go “off” or turn to vinegar.

Stay away from these mistakes, and you’re almost guaranteed to have very good wine!

If you enjoy tasting good wine but don’t like to pay fifteen dollars a bottle, have a chat with the owner of your local wine supplies shop and consider making your own. You might also want to look at this five part series on home winemaking and see how easy it is!

Ian Hugh Scott has been making his own wine for years. As well as wines from commercially available kits, he has discovered the pleasures of experimenting with other ingredients such as black currants, strawberries, blueberries, and even ginger and parsnip!

Follow along with Ian’s regular home winemaking activities at his blog.


Good Wine For Three Dollars A Bottle? It's Not Impossible!
Good Wine For Three Dollars A Bottle? It's Not Impossible!
Good Wine For Three Dollars A Bottle? It's Not Impossible!
Good Wine For Three Dollars A Bottle? It's Not Impossible!
Good Wine For Three Dollars A Bottle? It's Not Impossible!

Good Wine For Three Dollars A Bottle? It's Not Impossible!

Good Wine For Three Dollars A Bottle? It's Not Impossible!