How to make wine at home for fifty cents per glass

Let’s face it, with the number of people begging for money even in the Safeway parking lot in Santa Rosa, the economy remains bleak. We all need to save a buck or two and there might be a way to save additional funds by making your own wine. And this method doesn’t involve buying a garage full of equipment, shipping juice across the country or waiting weeks for fermentation.

The road to a cheap buzz leads me to the Spike Your Juice website. A few months ago, a friend issued a smackdown challenge, sending me a link to, taunting,”I dare you to try this… and review it.”

Not to be deterred or back down from a challenge such as this — and I’m anything if not adventurous… hell, I’ve tasted wine from 21 different American states — I ordered the kit, containing 6 packets of what must be supercharged yeast, an airlock and labels in case you’re a idiot and forget what you’re making.

Once you have the kit, head to the grocery store and buy a 64-ounce bottle of no-sugar-added juice. Could be grape, cranberry, pomegranate, or whatever floats your boat. For my experiment, I went old school with Welch’s red grape juice. Hell, a lot of wine out there tastes just like it, so why not? I added a yeast packet directly to the bottle, fastened the airlock filled with a bit of water to the bottle’s mouth and put it on the window ledge.

Now I’m waiting 48 hours. Hopefully, it doesn’t explode in my kitchen. The website also mentions the wine gets drier the more you let it sit. As yeasts are designed to do, they’ll continue to eat the sugar until they die.

The math:

$9.95 + $3.45 for the Spike Your Juice kit = $13.40 / 6 packets = $2.23 per batch (less if you buy in bulk)
>> + $4.49 for a 64-ounce bottle of Welch’s grape juice
>> Total cost for 64 ounces of completed alcohol = $6.73
>> 64 ounces makes 12.8, 5-ounce servings of wine
>> $6.73 / 12.8 servings = $0.53 per glass

I’ll let you know in 3 days if this affordable wine solution is worth exploring.

Day 1
: It’s bubbling over into the airlock and there’s definite activity going on in the juice. No explosion yet.
Day 2: The blurb on the box says wine in 48 hours. Uh… no.  After 48 hours (almost to the dot), it tastes like sweet fizzy grape juice with a dribble of alcohol. More tomorrow after the yeasts continue their quest for sugar.
Day 3, 8:51 pm: Essence of grape juice spritzer with still way too much sugar for me.
Day 4, 11:01 pm: Slightly less sweet and beginning to border a wine-like  grog.
Day 6, 7:05 pm: Really cloudy and bubbling away but starting to lose the grapey-ness. Actually beginning to taste OK.
Day 7, 10:53 p.m.: Definitely starting to be more wine-like and gaining some tartness. Still distinctly Welch’s, but a departure from its super sweetness. Pretty nasty aftertaste developing, like spoiled grape juice. A slight fizziness still there but waning.
Day 9, 9:02 p.m.: High acidity piques the tongue which dulls the fruit. Grapey but not very tasty. Still has that nasty spoiled fruit finish. Losing more sugar. Yeasts still really active.
Day 11, 11:01 p.m.: Vastly improved in flavor (couldn’t handle it so I let it ferment for a few days before tasting again). Doesn’t have the ass-like aftertaste anymore. Acids still prevalent as is some effervescence. Grapey but also some cherry flavors entering the picture. A bit like a super tart Beaujolias Nouveau.
Day 12, 11:34 p.m.: No longer cloudy and still smells like the juice from whence it came. Also still has the juice-like aftertaste. really tart with black cherry and, well, still with the grape juice flavor. Kinda tastes like cheap, bad red wine at this point but that’s a long way from where we started.

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