I’ve lived in Chicago for almost two years and the amount of activities and events here is still staggering to me. There’s so much going on that sometimes it feels impossible to figure out what to do.
Recently I discovered Vimbly, a site that compiles hundreds of things to do all in one place. There’s everything from sightseeing tours and burlesque events, classes spanning photography to martial arts, and all kinds of food events and tours. You can even trap yourself in a room with a zombie. That right there proves that anything you could possibly want to do in Chicago you can find and book on Vimbly.com!
The site markets itself as an answer to the date night question, but honestly, I was intrigued by all the stuff I wanted to do with my friends or even classes I wanted to take alone. Vimbly is a third-party site that doesn’t charge fees, they simply compile a whole bunch of things to do in an organized, easy-to-find way.
My friend Erica and I decided to take a wine making class through BevArt Supply booked through Vimbly.com. I’ve drank plenty of wine, taken plenty of wine tasting classes and visited wineries in Champagne and Sonoma, but never actually made my own.
BevArt Wine Making Class
The wine making class is $62.50/person, plus the cost of cost of materials, which is anywhere from $70-180. Before the price immediately paralyzes you, “materials” means grape juice for the 6 gallons of wine you’ll be making. That’s 26 bottles! Once you do the math, the cost isn’t bad. The price range depends on the type of wine you pick (BevArt has every kind you can think of and whites tend to be cheaper than reds). Erica and I picked a Pinot Noir for $124.
The winemaking class is in two sessions spanning several months. (After all, wine isn’t made in one day!) The first class goes over all the wine-making specifics that you’ve probably heard a hundred times if you’ve taken any sort of wine-tasting class, then the wine making process is started. And yes, there is also wine drinking during this process!
Session 1 :: Starting Fermentation
Here’s where I dash your hopes of stomping on grapes with your bare feet to make grape juice for wine. The wine materials at BevArt come with the grapes already conveniently in juice form. We poured the massive bag of grape juice into our sanitized bucket and stirred in some chemicals. Since we were making Pinot Noir, ours also required some wood chips for flavor. (Who knew?!) At this point, the wine tasted like sugary grape juice.
Then we took some measurements, sipped on some (already made) wine and sealed up our bucket, where it would remain for the next two weeks.
Racking the Wine
After two weeks, the wine must be transferred from the primary fermentation to the secondary fermentation (with a little taste-testing in between). The process only takes a half hour and if you can’t make it (like we couldn’t), BevArt will do it for you for free.
Tip :: Now’s the time to start saving your wine bottles to use for bottling your wine. Save ones with corks (sorry screw-tops) and soak the labels off so they can be re-labeled. (BevArt will sanitize them for you.)
Session 2 :: Bottling the Wine
Normally the second session would take place about 8 weeks after the first, but Erica and I were both in Europe and couldn’t make it back for 12 weeks, which is the limit for red wines.
The second session is to bottle the wine, which is surprisingly fun. We arrived at our appointment armed with empty wine bottles, but once we found out that we’d have to sanitize them and soak the labels off, we decided it was easier to buy new bottles from BevArts for $20/case. Plus we wanted our wine bottles to be uniform in size and color.
First we tasted our wine, which was surprisingly delicious, but on the sweeter side. Our instructor recommended we add some tannin to it, so we tried two different variations and picked to our preference. He sprinkled the tannin into the wine (like fairy dust!), gave it a stir, then it was time to bottle.
After a quick sanitizing rinse, we filled up our bottles of wine with a little wand coming out of our jug, then corked the bottles. The final step was sealing the tops with foil wrappers melted onto the top for an air-tight seal, all while sipping on wine. I don’t know why — and maybe it was the wine talking — but it was oddly fun.
If we would have made labels, we could have had BevArt print them for us to label at this point, too. But we didn’t create one in time, so we’ll either have BevArt print them later or print them ourselves to stick on.
Drinking the Wine
Even though we’re technically done making wine, we have to wait three months while it does its thing in the bottle before drinking it. So as anxious as I am to get cheersing with our homemade wine, we have a while of patience ahead of us. But the good thing is that we already know it’s delicious! (I promise an update on the final product when we can uncork it.)
More on Vimbly.com
Erica and I are already discussing returning to BevArt to make white wine, not to mention search Vimbly.com for other things to do. There are over 18,000 activities, classes, lessons and events to do in Chicago just this month on Vimbly.com, so there’s no worrying about wintery boredom this year — there’s plenty to do in Chicago and Vimbly can help you find it.
Disclaimer :: I was graciously treated to this wine making class by Vimbly. As always, all opinions are my own.