Wine receives personal touch
Wine is a complicated drink. For people who appreciate this ancient beverage, personal tastes and preferences make the difference between a $12 and $900 bottle.
For those who want to find a wine catered specifically to their tastes, Austin-based franchise Water 2 Wine offers customers the opportunity to make their own wines.
Working with in-house wine experts,patrons can sample wines as the experts make suggestions based on what customers admire.
‘We have about 80 different varieties from 100 different vineyards in 13 different countries,’ production manager Glen Steele said. ‘If it says Australian chardonnay, we actually import the juice from Australia.’
Steele said the winemaking process is not labor intensive.
‘It’s not like we’re stomping the grapes here or anything. For us, it’s a process we know very well that one of us can show you the process very easily,’ Steele said.
Once customers have found a specific taste they desire, the juice for that wine is mixed with water and bentonite and a clay used in winemaking.
‘After it’s all mixed, we measure the ‘gravity’ of the mixture, which is important to determine the overall alcohol content in the finished product,’ he said.
Wine is fermented on site, going through several fermentation periods to develop alcohol from the juices.
‘For the primary fermentation, white wines stay for two weeks, reds for one. I’ll measure the gravity again, and if it’s at the right measurement, I’ll siphon it down for the second fermentation,’ Steele said. ‘We also have magnets to emulate the passing of time that pull down the iron atoms in the wine. Thirty minutes on the magnets is the equivalent of six months of aging.’
Once fermentation is complete, the wine is left to stabilize to remove the carbon dioxide created in the process. After one final filtering, the wine is ready to be bottled.
‘One batch can fill up to 28 750-milliliter bottles,’ he said.
Water 2 Wine also offers customized labels to go on the customized bottles. These labels can be designed around logos they provide for customers, or they could be of pictures customers provide.
‘What a lot of people like to do during the holiday season is to give them out as gifts. We also have, instead of the 750 milliliter bottles, we have 375 milliliter bottles, and a lot of people like to do that for weddings,’ Steele said.
Wine is a complement to meals, which Water 2 Wine knows well. In that respect, the shop offers classes and special events for people to enjoy wine and learn about pairing wines with food. Patrons can also relax to live music or a massage.
‘We just recently started doing these special events. They go pretty well, and we also do food and cooking classes as well, and every day, you can come in and taste anything you like, up to five free tastes. Anything after that is $1, but if you make any purchases, we waive all those fees,’ Steele said.
Customers can call ahead to make an appointment for a ‘taste and make,’ where they can bring in a group of people to sample wines.
‘You could call in anytime and make an appointment, and say, ‘We’re going to bring in so many people and taste and maybe make a batch,” he said.
Wine lovers will truly appreciate the experience of making their own wine and sharing it with others. Those who are just curious about the process will learn a lot about this time-tested practice.