It’s like Christmas all over again at the Erwin residence!
Coming home from work today, I saw a package waiting at my doorstep, and I knew exactly what it was—my new order from ECKraus! I had such a fun time making my first batch of wine, that I couldn’t wait to get started on the second!
I was trying to figure out what to do next, when I decided that I would try something different than the wine ingredient kit. Don’t get me wrong—I really loved using the kit! I just figured ECKraus has so many products that it wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the items to only buy the same thing over and over again :).
Anyway, instead of purchasing the pre-packaged kit, I decided to instead purchase all the wine making ingredients separately and try to make it more “free style”. This may turn into a bad decision, as it’s only my second time making wine and I’m not sure if I’m ready yet to be “let loose” without the comfort and convenience of the pre-made kit. Oh well, only time will tell, I suppose!
So, what did I get, you ask?
Well, I still wanted to make grape wine, so I decided to purchase some grape concentrate. For this, I purchased the Pinot Chardonnay concentration from SunCal brand. I decided to stick with white wine for now, as I feel like red would be more complicated, and I didn’t want to throw myself under the bus too quickly. Next time, however, I will likely do a red, and I will do it from a kit to make it a little easier for myself.
One great thing about the ECKraus website is that within the product info for the SunCal concentrate, they included a link to the actual recipe required to make the SunCal! This way I knew exactly what other wine making ingredients I needed to buy in order to pull this off without a kit.
In addition to the SunCal Pinot Chardonnay grape concentrate, I purchased some Acid Blend, Yeast Nutrient, and Wine Yeasts. I also purchased Kitosol 40 fining agent , as well as Sodium Bisulfite, as these are items that I felt every home winemaker needs to have on hand.
In terms of the yeast, I made the decision to purchase the Lalvin ICV D-47 yeast strain based on the recommendation on the handy yeast profile chart on the ECKraus website. It was an incredibly helpful chart, as since I am still so new at the whole home winemaking thing, I had no idea which yeast strains were best for specific types of wine. So, I choose ICV D-47 since I plan to make a dry white wine, and the yeast strain chart indicated that this strain would likely be the best for this type of wine.
Next, I purchased some First Grade Size #9 Straight Corks, as I wanted something that was more substantial than the press-in, mushroom corks I used previously. Of course, those corks worked just fine and were fantastic because I didn’t have a corker at the time, but I figured this time I’d put a little more elbow grease into it and purchase the corks that required a little more finagling to get in the wine bottle. That being said, I also needed a corker! Due to my current small living space, I decided to go with the simple hand corker from Gilda brand. One day when I move into a larger house where I have much more space, I’ll get a floor-standing corker, but for now, my arms will be getting a workout.
Finally, I purchased the “Winemaker’s Recipe Handbook”. At first I thought I didn’t get it, because it is such a thin book (it was hiding in the fantastic packing job!), but I found it and all was right with my world! While the book may be thin, it is loaded with different wine recipes! 100 recipes to be exact! Everything from grape wine to rhubarb wine and then to tomato wine! It’s nuts how much diversity is in this wine making book, and once I move into a “real” house where I have space to process these other fruits or vegetables and I’ll try out some of this more “odd ball” wine recipes!
I’m looking forward to starting this Pinot Chardonnay wine very soon. I’ll definitely keep you all posted on my progress (good or bad!).
My name is Leigh Erwin, and I am a brand-spankin’ new home winemaker! E. C. Kraus has asked me to share with you my journey from a first-time dabbler to an accomplished home winemaker. From time to time I’ll be checking in with this blog and reporting my experience with you: the good, bad — and the ugly.