Thursday, March 1, 2012

Water2Wine: The New Urban Vintner

Spoiler: A link for my absolute favorite pasta recipe, Pasta Puttanesca, can be found near the end of this post.

Okay, okay, this was so much fun!

Last July (2011) our next-door-neighbor asked to borrow our car for a few days. He runs fireworks stands yearly and his vehicle, towing a trailer of merchandise, broke down at the worst possible time. For us it was a no-brainer: we didn't need our second vehicle for anything and were glad to help. It was not a big deal for us.

Apparently it was for our neighbor! After the 4th of July crush, he returned our vehicle and added a gift certificate for a case of wine at Water2Wine, a business where you can not only purchase and taste wine, but make your own. Being a small franchise, they have a few locations across the country.

Green Concord Grapes
When I was growing up we had loads of Concord grapes and one year my mother decided to make wine. I was pretty young at the time and so missed most of the action. All I remember about the process was bottles of fermenting wine in our basement exploding and spraying wine everywhere. Our basement was damp, so I remember clearly the smell of wine and mold. Unpleasant enough to make me not want to attempt wine-making myself.

We (my husband and I) went to Water2Wine together a few months after we received our gift certificate. It's a small but attractive store in a strip mall not far from home. We read a list of the types of wine we could make, sampled a couple, and settled on one specific variety: a Chilean Carmenere. We made an appointment for our wine-making experience.

Herban Farmer Wine
On wine-making day we were led to the wine-making room. There was a large glass carboy containing some filtered water, a bag of wine concentrate and some yeast. Our mentor did the mixing for us, said they would take care of whatever needed to be done between "now" and bottling day, and gave us a schedule for the approximate date we needed to return to bottle our wine--about 6 weeks away. We were given the choice of picking a pre-designed label or making our own. Since I'm a graphic designer we decided I'd design our own label. I emailed the label to them, they sent me a proof and that was that.

We made an appointment for bottling day. Some people invite friends, bring food and make it into a wine-tasting event. We decided instead to go over (my husband, I and our 16 year old son) ourselves.

We were led to another room to bottle. Clear instructions were given to us. My husband took over the job of syphoning the wine from the carboy into wine bottles. My son took the job of corking the bottles. I applied labels and sealed the corks with heat shrink seals.

Pasta Puttanesca
It was so much fun! Did I say that already? The owner's wife asked us if we were hungry. There's an Italian restaurant a couple of doors over, and she offered to place a take-out order for us so we could eat and continue to bottle and sample our wine. She placed our order for take-out and delivered the food to us. We worked, dined and (with the exception of our son) sampled our wine. Happy work! I'd like to share my absolute favorite pasta puttanesca recipe, the photo at the left showcasing our very own wine.

The whole wine-making process was educational, entertaining and satisfying. We now have lots of bottles of delicious wine. We gave some to our gracious neighbors and have many more to gift, enjoy and share.

I have to say that Water2Wine is a terrific experience and great franchise if you're so inclined. I totally recommend that you search for a Water2Wine in your area and make some wine yourself. They take out all the guesswork and chance for error--and make wine-making so easy! Cheers!

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