This is a guest post by HBoy, a DIY personal finance and wine enthusiast, on the financial benefits of making your own wine.
Making beer, especially wine, is one of the highest after tax return DIY projects the average person can do. It typically pays $50 to $75 dollars per hour after tax.
Here are the rough figures for wine. One can get two 30 bottle kits at Costco for about $75. These kits include everything but the equipment: concentrate, additives, yeast, labels, corks, even capsules (the shrink plastic that goes over the top of the bottle after corking). In rough figures, an inexpensive wine is $10 a bottle, so your kits represent $600 at retail for your investment of $75. So with a bit of work you can save about $500 every 60 bottles of wine consumed.
A wine making specialty store will have a wide selection of kits available at double to triple the cost of the Costco kits for more advanced vintners and/or discerning palates.
I am not going to discuss beer making here as I have not done as much of it and it is a higher skilled process.
The Work Required
How much work does wine making require? About 4 to 6 hours spread over 3 sessions is typical per kit. Say it is 5 hours per kit or 10 hours for the both. You therefor pay yourself about $50/hour. If you were to make both kits concurrently, you would probably do it all in 7 hours thus getting up towards $75 per hour for your investment in time.
If you had to buy the equipment new, it would run about $100, but patient people with their ears to the ground can find gear for free. I personally have had equipment given to me from a friend, a grandparent, and a complete stranger. The stranger posted on a buy/sell internet group that he had all his wine equipment to give away and I was just lucky enough to see the offer within the hour.
There are beginners kits available in brewing specialty stores that have all the fundamental equipment.
The minimum equipment needed is:
- a plastic food grade plastic pail otherwise known as the primary fermentor,
- a sheet of plastic and string/elastic to hold it on the primary fermentor,
- a glass carboy (the secondary fermentor),
- an air lock,
- a siphon hose,
- and a corker.
The air lock allows the waste product of fermentation, carbon dioxide, to exit the fermentor while keeping out air and fruit flies. Wine plus fruit flies (or more correctly, the bacterium carried by fruit flies) = vinegar. For an additional $20 it would be useful to have a hydrometer and a thermometer. (A hydrometer measures specific gravity of the wine to monitor sugar content and fermentation progress). You also need some sodium (or potassium) metabisulphite (available as Campden tablets or in powder format) to sterilize the equipment. I sometimes use bleach to sterilize equipment if it is particularly dirty. It is always best to store your gear clean as dried wine gunk is extremely difficult to liberate from the inside of a carboy or bottle.
In the next installment, HBoy will discuss the process involved with making homemade wine. Stay tuned!
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