When One Door Opens

Trash wine for Christmas

By Lauren Lejeune
Posted 2/20/24

I was having a hard time coming up with a title for my homegrown wine, but after much deliberation, I think I’ve settled on “Bedroom Wine.”

Now shame on everyone who’s …

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When One Door Opens

Trash wine for Christmas


I was having a hard time coming up with a title for my homegrown wine, but after much deliberation, I think I’ve settled on “Bedroom Wine.”

Now shame on everyone who’s mind instantly went to the deepest of gutters. This name is versatile, sure, but at its simplest and purest form: It’s currently fermenting in my bedroom in a garbage can. 

I wanted to start my February off strong and get my wine going early. This month has been extremely busy for me already, so in addition to learning one new thing a month, my time management skills are also being put to the test (they’re pretty rusty, but it can only go up from here). Along with time management, I’ve also had to do a fair amount of studying to pull this project off. I will admit that I’m the type of person who gets an idea and wants to immediately have it done and go off without a hitch, but that’s just not how life works — or making wine. 

This past summer, my mom and I took a few evenings at my grandmother’s house to pick grapes for this project. We picked and picked grapes till our hands were purple and there was no more daylight left. Now, there is a designated freezer in my garage that is filled with almost 30 gallons of grapes. I’m so excited for all of the freezer space I will have once this is over.

So I dragged out all of these frozen grapes to defrost on the counter (all of the kitchen space, really) and took out all of my supplies. I had originally just bought a beginners wine making kit off Amazon, but found this guy selling all of his brewing equipment on Facebook marketplace. Let’s just say I look like a real professional with all of this brewing equipment in my house. 

After disinfecting everything, I started washing grapes off and putting them into the mesh filter bag. Smashing and squeezing the grapes with my hands, I quickly realized my mistakes. The grapes hadn’t finished thawing completely, I couldn’t feel my hands and I had a long way to go. I made it through about 10 bags of squishing grapes before I had to call it. Thankfully I had a bottle I could use to smash everything up, but I definitely was doing a mental facepalm over and over again on why I didn’t improvise sooner. 

I had almost 4 gallons of pure grape juice when I decided to stop, which only took about half of the grapes I had. Admittedly, I hadn’t really looked too hard at the recipe at this point, so looking at them now after making so much grape juice was slightly overwhelming. And I should have just made a little bit more to equal 4 gallons, but my hands were so sore and I was just over it at that point. But really it just made my life harder, because then I had to quadruple the recipe, which was for one gallon and not four, but not quite quadruple it because I didn’t quite make enough for exact calculations. My brain hurt. I asked Nate probably 10 times if my guesstimate calculations sounded alright to him before calling it and throwing all of the additives in and mixing it all up. 

After adding in water and everything else the recipe called for, I ended up with almost 8 gallons of wine, which most definitely surpassed the original container I was going to use as my first fermentation bin. So I had to use my storage container for my other wine making supplies: a large, white storage container that resembles a garbage can. She does the job — we don’t talk about her looks. 

That was about the extent of directions I read for the first few days, then the wine began “violent fermentation,” so all of the impurities rose to the surface. It was bubbling and making all sorts of odd noises in the night. I wake up and hear it in the corner of my room, just doing its thing. At this point I knew I had to take it a little more seriously if I wanted to pull this off. 

Upon reading some directions, it turns out I was supposed to use my hydrometer from day one to measure the potential alcohol levels. I waited till around day six before I checked, and if I read it correctly, it measured at nine percent. So who knows what the true potential level really is? I suppose it’ll be a surprise! 

So far I have really enjoyed this journey. It’s science, it’s a learning experience, it’s Christmas presents planned months in advance. This weekend I will move my wine into its second fermentation location, a large glass jug of sorts that looks way more professional than the garbage can. It’ll sit there for two months, and then I’ll get to bottle it! Stay tuned.