The weather is getting colder, and we have a handmade holiday on our minds! Handmade gifts have heart, are better for the environment, and, if you opt to buy, it supports independent artists! Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be posting about recycled gifts you can make yourself and great handmade finds for sale.
A bottle of wine makes a great hostess gift for holiday parties, but the wine industry is far from green. Between the fertilizer used to grow the grapes, fossil fuels to run farm equipment, bottling, and shipping processes, it takes a lot to get that wine from the vineyard to the package store. Instead, you can pick up organic grapes or berries and make your own with a custom, upcycled labels!
I decided to make my own wine after a trip to a local farm, where we came home with almost a gallon of muscadine grapes. A little searching turned up this home made wine recipe, which you can use with grapes, berries, or even apples! Here’s what you need:
- 1 quart of mashed local and/or organic fruit
- 3 quarts of water
- 6 cups of sugar
- 1 packet of yeast
- a one-gallon, air tight container
- a funnel
- a strainer or cheesecloth
- 4-6 empty glass bottles, for decanting (I collected empty wine bottles and corks from friends’ recycle bins and washed the bottles out)
- recycled paper, for labeling
- tape to attach the label, measuring tape, scissors, and supplies to decorate
These are the directions for Kirk’s Muscadine Wine:
Dissolve the sugar in the water, and mix in the mashed fruit. Sprinkle yeast on top. Do not stir until the next day, then stir the mixture once a day for a week. Strain off the liquid into your air-tight container, and set in a cool, dry place to ferment for 6 weeks. Strain your wine again into the bottles you collected, leaving one empty bottle. Cork them lightly for 3 days to allow for any more fermentation to cease. You’re ready now to strain one last time! Strain the first bottle into the empty one, then rinse and repeat until all of the bottles are strained and ready to be decorated.
Grab your paper, tape, and decorating tools. You’ll want to completely cover the bottles’ previous labels, so use your measuring tape to see how tall the labels need to be. Wine bottles are not all the exact same size, so also measure the circumference. Cut your labels and decorate however you like. I kept it simple, using my mustache stamp on each label. Once you have your labels how you want them, use a piece of tape to attach one end to the bottle, wrap it around, then use either another piece of tape or a glue stick to close it off.
There are some earth-friendly wines out there that have greener packaging or are produced more sustainably, if you don’t have time to whip up a batch of your own. There’s a real sense of satisfaction that comes from drinking that first glass that your made yourself, though!