Homemade Wine & Limoncello Making
To be an Italian Enthusiast, wine and limoncello making come with the territory. Whereas in the United States, it is customary to live in a house that also includes a garage, in Italy, a home is never complete without a cantina (wine cellar).
Since I was a small child, my family always made their own homemade wine. Some of my fondest childhood memories centered around the wine-making process. The smell of crushed grapes, the taste of cold red wine, the sight of red-stained hands – all senses that make me forget about the stresses of life and allow me to truly live in the moment.
Wine-making is a process that must be completed with patience. Absent owning a vineyard, there are different methods you can use to make wine. One, you can do it the old fashioned way (my favorite), where you literally begin with crushing your own grapes. For this method, you need to buy your crates of grapes and have the necessary equipment, like buckets, funnels, strainers, crushers, a press, etc. This process is the most fun. It is best to either buy a book on wine-making before you begin this process, or do it with someone who has experience, because many important factors go into successful wine-making, including temperature and blending. For this method, you can do it with your own equipment in your own space, like a garage or wine cellar, or there are some companies that allow you to use their space and equipment so long as you bring your own grapes. Both are very fun. One such establishment I am aware of is called “The Wine Room” and is located in New Jersey. See their site at: www.atthewineroom.com.
Other methods include wine-making kits. For example, some allow you to make the wine at their establishment using kits with pre-crushed grapes. Other places offer take-home wine-making kits. For me, the taste of wine from kits never compare with the wine produced the old fashioned way, and the process is not nearly as fun.
Making wine is also a fantastic family and friend bonding event. It’s educational, produces lifelong memories, and dates back to 6000 B.C. The tradition should be maintained, and for an Italian Enthusiast, it is a necessity to experience the process, if not every year, at least once in a lifetime.
Similar to wine-making, although significantly easier, is the process of making limoncello. For anyone that’s made wine, limoncello-making is a walk in the park. You will basically need a bunch of lemons, a zester, sugar, grain alcohol, and a jar. The process can be completed from start to finish in as little as 4-days, depending on the recipe you use, but there are many options online to choose from.
While I love to make wine and limoncello, unfortunately I have never done so in Italy. One of my long term goals (particularly with wine-making) is to meet some traditional, older Italians who own a cantina, and be invited to make wine with them the old fashioned way. That would be an incredible experience, and certainly on the bucket list.
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