Thursday, 20 September 2018

Home Brew

So PK is all of a tizzy because he can get a bottle of red wine for under £4.00. Seriously. It's as if the fine range of sub-£4.00 bottles available from Lidl Aldi or Asda never existed, but there you are: some people don't know what's going on in the world. I mean, I could have told him about these cheap boozes without even bothering to look them up.

Then it occurs to me, PK's blind spots or not: if we are really, really, determined to go low, there is a trick which both of us have missed so far - making our own. To be frank, this first entered my head a few months ago when I was killing time in a hardware store in south-west Wales and ended up staring at a section of DIY wine kits (see pic). I mean, here was a real choice, not just a few makeweights to keep the shelves from looking empty. There was home brew Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay (Chardonnay!), Zinfandel, even some others that I might have missed. Yes, extreme south-west Wales, the ultima thule of the A477, is the kind of place where you have to make your own entertainment, it's a fair old drive from where I was to sexy Haverfordwest, you have to improvise. So why not boil up some Chardonnay now that the evenings are getting longer?

Of course I failed to buy a kit while I was there - and only £20, reduced to clear - but I can still load up online with Shiraz/Merlot kits, Malbec kits, Pinot Grigio kits, Frascati kits, Primitivo kits, Australian Character kits whatever they are, a whole world of kits, most holding out the scarcely-credible promise of a drinkable wine for no more than £1.00 a bottle. Prices are a touch stiffer if buy the gear online rather than in a discount Welsh hardware store, nearer the £30.00 mark for some kits, £70.00 for the authentically hardcore setups that include a 30-litre bucket, steriliser, instructional DVD and all sorts, but the more you make the greater the savings and how can you put a price on that kind of value?

And it's so easy to do! Even if you don't have an instructional DVD, there are YouTubes galore, men, usually men, clanking about in their kitchens and garages and dens, optimising your chances of getting a really satisfactory brew out of whatever materials you have to hand. My favourites? Craig, here, apparently startled to find himself in a roomful of plastic buckets and pipes with a camera pointing at him, but prepared to make a go of it nonetheless; something called Sonoran Living, in which a magenta woman and a plainly angry man show us an authentically disgusting assemblage of things to make wine out of; and this, disarmingly unidirectional vid, in which a bloke in a shirt takes out the contents of a wine kit, puts them on a table and tells us what they are.

The rest of it is just tipping powders and grape juice (or your own grapes, crushed; or indeed any other organic matter) into plastic tubs, cleaning up the inevitable mess and walking away. And then coming back and putting the product in bottles. As my pal with the home-made champagne observed a while ago, wine-making, in comparison with beer-making, 'Is a mug's game. It's so easy.' To put it another way, if my Father-in-Law can, or at least could, make a potable wine, so can I.

Next step? Getting PK involved. After all, I don't want all the bother of washing out bottles or admixing the acidity correction, let alone pouring out the final brew and corking it up. Not only is he fitter and stronger than me, he has a talent for pickiness which is exactly what we need in a tightly controlled situation like this. Actually, now I think about it, is £1.00 a bottle really such a bargain, given the amount of faffing around involved and the almost certain vileness of the final wine? Or can we get it down to 50p? If the latter, then a bottle of anything with Château Sediment label might prove irresistible. That has to be the goal. I'll put it to him, next time I see him.


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