Home winemaking can provide excellent end products, if some care is taken. A little time is also necessary, and adequate storage space.
The oldest alcoholic drink known to man was mead, made from honey, water and yeast, and as time went by fruits, herbs and spices were included. It was a natural step, therefore, that as sugar became more plentiful and cheaper, it tended to replace honey, and our traditional country wines were devised. These wines were not as strong in alcoholic content, as they relied on wild yeasts to start the ferment.
Winemaking today compares favourably with winemaking in Grandmother’s day. Our ancestors made the best use of the ingredients and additives available, but winemaking has progressed and today we have strains of wine yeasts not available even ten years ago. Filtering, too, has improved tremendously in recent years, and so our wines should be better and stronger than those produced in the past. Some may have memories of Grandmother’s elderberry wine which was so strong that nobody dared to have a second glass. Was it partly a trick of memory, or partly the fact that brandy was so much cheaper that in those days home-made wines were ‘laced’ with it?
The Law does not place any limit on the quantity of wine that may be made at home but, because no duty has been paid, it is illegal to sell a drop. It must be made simply for home consumption. It is also illegal to distil, this carries very heavy penalties.