Friday, August 21, 2009

Operation Cheap-Ass Summer White

Cheap Ass White

Sherry has been wanting to make wine for a while now, but I've been reluctant. I just wasn't convinced that we could make a wine that we would enjoy as much as wines we can buy at the same price point. To be honest, I wasn't convinced that we could make a wine that we would enjoy, period!

But Sherry was persistent that she wanted to give making wine a shot. Surrendering to the inevitable, I theorized that the best path to success would be to do a simple, inexpensive white wine. My reasoning was that a style that generally isn't messed with much would be harder to mess up, and that the inexpensive end of the spectrum was more likely to give us a better value than we can buy. Not to mention that if it ended up being a complete bust it would at least be an inexpensive complete bust.

Thus began what I've dubbed "Operation Cheap-Ass Summer White". Sherry bought an Italian Pinot Grigio kit online from Fine Vine Wines, snagged some wine making equipment that a friend wasn't using, and soon had 6 gallons of grape juice fermenting away.

It is now ready to drink, and I'm happy to report that it turned out pretty well. I'd say that it tastes on par with the less expensive whites we buy, which run about 6 or 7 dollars a bottle. And how much did it cost to make? Here's the breakdown:

Italian Pinot Grigio kit: $67
Corks: $6
Shrink wrap capsules (foils): $4
6% sale discount: -$4.60
Shipping: $9

Total: $81.40

We got 29 bottles out of the batch (it was supposed to yield 30, but we lost a bit while racking off sediment at bottling time). That puts the per-bottle cost right around $2.80. Cheap-ass indeed.


  1. What sort of equipment did you borrow? For those of us who might be looking for the same sort of cost/benefit, but don't have winemaking friends.

  2. Hi Jeremiah,
    Since we make our own beer, we already had the racking system (auto-siphon and tubing), air lock, hydrometer, and bottle filler, but we inherited a food grade 7.9 gallon fermenting bucket and a 6 gallon carboy from a friend who was going to make wine, but changed his mind.... Key items I borrowed from another friend were a whip de-gasser (attaches to a drill) and a floor corker. You can get pretty good beginners' kits for just over $100 dollars from several online retailers. Unfortunately, most beginning equipment kits come with hand-held corkers which are rather difficult to use. Nonetheless, it doesn't take too much to get started, and the equipment will last for years. Cheers! :-)

  3. very nice. what's next on your to make list? =) and how long did all of this take?

  4. Hi Sawyer,
    Well, I think next up ought to be spirits, but that would probably be a bit of a challenge - both logistically and legally.... Instead we'll be doing another batch of beer since we just blew our first keg!

    As for wines, the Pinot Grigio only took about a month from start to finish and it was drinkable right away. We currently have a second "cheap-ass white" in the fermenter - a South African Chenin Blanc. Fingers crossed....