Yes, you read it right, I'm going to attempt the miracle that is turning water into wine, which actually as an amateur home brewer is something I've done quite a few times already, but never in a week.
I've been testing out the Cantina Pinot Grigio 5 Day Kit from Home Brew Supplies to see if it lives up to its promise.
At £30.60 for 21 litres of wine I guess the idea appeals to those short on time, or those planning a big party - imagine, you could start it on the Monday and drink it by the weekend!
So how did I get on? Well, the kit has all you need to make the wine, provided you've got all your own equipment (you need a fermenting barrel, an air lock, siphon tube, sterilising tablets, another barrel to siphon of into and of course bottles, corks and a corker). For this reason, I don't think it's an ideal 'starter' kit. Personally I'd recommend you begin with an all-in starter kit which includes your equipment.
The Cantina kit has a great design where you can open the box and access the opening to the inner bag easily to pour out the grape juice. This was a great help - I've often showered the kitchen floor in sticky grape juice before! Simply pour it into your sterilised barrel, add warm water, sprinkle in the yeast, screw on your air lock and leave to bubble away happily for 4 days.
Now to be fair, I was making this in an absolute heatwave with temperatures outdoors reaching 30 degrees on some days. For this reason I think fermentation took a little longer to complete, and I ended up leaving it 7 days. In hot weather the yeast can stop working during the hottest times of the day meaning the process takes longer.
After your wine has stopped bubbling, taste to make sure it's not too sweet (you can use a hydrometer at this stage but I never do, I prefer to do it by taste), and then you can siphon off into another (sterilised) container, leaving the sediment behind. I thoroughly cleaned and sterilised my original barrel, and repeated the siphoning back to there before adding the finings to remove the CO2 gas and to clear the wine.
After that it's simply a case of bottling your wine. All in all I'd say my kit took me 7 1/2 days from start to finish.
But how did it taste? Is it, as promised, drinkable straight away?
The colour was more yellow than other Pinot Grigio kits I've made, but I sampled a glass 2 days after bottling and it really was very drinkable. It was fresh, crisp and nicely dry. Not the finest wine I've ever tried granted, but definitely I wouldn't mind being served a chilled glass or two of this at a party or picnic.
I'd describe it as a BBQ wine - it's made fast to be drank fast. But for the price and the time it took to make, I was pretty impressed.
If you want a higher quality wine and don't mind waiting a bit longer though, I'd suggest the Beaverdale kits, which make exceptionally good quality wine for about a tenner more.
Would I recommend it? Well, as a gimmicky product, if you're in need of a large quantity in a hurry - for example you have a party coming up, then yes. If you're not in a hurry, I'd go for the Beaverdale. But certainly I'd recommend making your own wine, for sure! It's easy and fun and can save you a fortune. Oddly, I seem to have more new friends since I took up the hobby!
Disclosure: Thank you to Home Brew Supplies UK for letting me test out the kit.