Friday, May 24, 2013

My Response To Comments On Kit Wine Making

This blog post is in response to comments that folks have made regarding my Vino Italiano Wine Making from Kits posts across the web.  I apologize in advance for what may seem like a rant.   I will present my opinion here, but I will have to say that everyone’s opinion is valid… for them.   Saying that, I am not discrediting anyone for their opinion and I hope that those folks would allow me the same courtesy. 

UPDATE: Please check my new wine making website for more detail on wine making.   How To Make Homemade Wine

Vino Italiano Wine Kit

Many folks have made comments like:

•    Making wine from kits is not real wine. 
•    What you are drinking is not real wine.
•    Making wine from kits is like making a cake from a mix.
•    This has nothing to do with real Italian wine.
•    Bla bla bla

My opinion is that it all depends on what is important to you. 
Is it important that you grew the grapes yourself on Italian soil and crushed them yourself by stomping on them for you to consider it Real Wine that you made yourself?

For me, what is important is that I am enjoying what I am drinking in my glass, and that the one I love is enjoying what she is drinking.    The fact is, we prefer my wine to most commercial wines.   Most people I share my wine with love it.   

Love Your Wine

So, for me what is important is that you love the wine you are drinking.   Not, that I grew the grapes, or imported them from Italy and pressed them myself.

For the record:

1.    I have been drinking Italian wines for most of my adult life
2.    I make wine from wine kits
3.    I make wine from frozen pails of imported grape juice
4.    I grow grapes myself and make wine from my grapes
5.    I make wine from other things I grow, like Black Berries…

So, I do it all.   Each type of wine making has its place.   Wines from kits are ready sooner, and are much easier to make than wines from frozen pails, which are easier than growing your own grapes, etc…    You get the idea here?

As for the wine I make from the Tuscany Rosso Magnifico Vino Italiano Wine Kit that I demonstrated on YouTube, when someone makes a comment like “Buy real Italian wine for $45 instead…”, what are you saying?  Let’s compare apples to apples.

•    While the kit costs about $45 shipped, that translates to under $2 per bottle.

Now, I will put that wine next to standard Ruffino Chianti, which sells for about $10 per bottle, and the Tuscany Rosso Magnifico will beat the Ruffino Chianti, or at least be comparable.   If I did a blind taste test, with 10 people who liked Italian Reds, more of them will prefer the Tuscany Rosso Magnifico, made from the kit.     If I were to compare the Ruffino Chianti with the Gold Label, which goes for $40 per bottle, the Gold Label Ruffino will win.   But, you are comparing now to a $40 bottle of wine.

Most people, even wine snobs, don’t drink $40 bottles of wine daily, or even weekly.    So, with realistic expectations, you should be very happy with the Vino Italiano Wine Kit.

Even so, many folks think that there is something wrong with the process, making wine from a kit.   They say it is like making a cake from a mix…  
I say, what is wrong with cake from a mix?   Obviously, Duncan Hines stays in business for a reason.   Somebody is buying their cake mix… And as I look at the shelves, so many more cake mixes are available for a reason…. 10,000,000 Elvis fans can’t be wrong!

If you are truly honest with yourself…  You can go to a great bakery and get a cake made from scratch and the Duncan Hines cake from a mix will taste better most of the time.   It will be moister, tastier, etc.   I used to know someone who made wedding cakes on the side for extra cash.   She made the most delicious cakes!   You know what she did?  Bought cake mix in the store and doctored them up.   Everyone love her cakes!

Honestly, the cake boss…  The guy is awesome…   But, I will put a doctored up Duncan Hines chocolate cake next to his “Da Bomb” cake and I will prefer my cake to his, that he made from scratch.  But, that is just me.  Maybe I am un civilized, but I know what I like.

Same thing with Wine Kits.   I customize my wine made from kits by not following the directions exactly.   The same way one may doctor up a cake mix.    This is what I have in my head:

•    Commercial wines have too much sulfates for me
•    Most Commercial wines have too much Oak, in my opinion

By making wine from a kit myself, I have control over these things.  Sure, a kit may come with Oak, but I don’t have to add what they say.  Typically, I add half, or less, if they provide over 30 Grams.    Home wine makers make wines with about ¼ of the sulfates that commercial wines have, so I am good there, too.

The Vino Italiano Kits don’t come with oak, and are watery if you make them as directed.    I add a little oak, and make them to 5 Gallons instead of 6 gallons, for more body.   I leave the wine ferment more on the lees, by stirring it back into the wine when transferring from primary to secondary.   I also add yeast nutrient, although it is not necessary.   I usually do that if it is colder than ideal, based on my gut feeling.  So, I doctor up my wine kits, the same way one may doctor up a Cake Mix, by adding pudding to the mix and chopping up some quality chocolate and mixing it in…   What matters is do you like the cake!  Do you like the Wine!

So, that’s my rant.   I hope it gives something to think about.   I believe wine kits have their place and are a great way for people to get into Wine Making!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Italian Turkey Meatball Recipe - A New Take On A Classic Italian Dinner

Turkey Meatball Recipe

Meatballs and Spaghetti … A classic Italian dinner that everyone loves.  Growing up, my family always made this meal when ever our relatives came over, using beef chopped meat.   Meatballs was one of my favorite meals, as a child.    The beef, however, was heavy, and at one point in my adult life, I tried to limit my intake of red meat.  

Using turkey chopped meat instead of beef is what my family enjoys these days…  And I much prefer the flavor of the turkey meatballs to the beef meatballs by far.   You don’t feel a weighted down after eating, unless you eat way too many, which is quite easy to do, since these taste so good.

I made a YouTube video on making these meatballs that you can see here.


  • 3 lbs Chopped Turkey Meat
  • 1 ½  - 2 Cups Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • Italian Bread Crumbs
  • 5-6 Slices of Bread, cut into cubes
  • 2 Eggs
  • Chopped Garlic  4-5 cloves ( or more!!   Chop some extra and save for garlic bread!!!! )
  • Salt to Taste
  • Olive Oil for Frying.


1.    Add some bread crumbs to a large dish and set aside.
2.    In a large bowl, beat the eggs
3.    Mix in the Garlic and Chopped Meat
4.    Add the Cheese and Mix with your hands
5.    Add the Cubed Bread and mix with your hands
6.    Season with Salt and Mix with your hands
7.    Add some Bread crumbs and Mix in with your hands.   See if the meat is still very sticky.  If so, add some more and mix again.   Keep adding bread crumbs and mixing until the meat mixture is not too sticky and you can form balls with your hands that will not stick to your hands.   The amount of bread crumbs you will need depends on the moisture of the meat.   You will probably end up with around  1 ½ - 2 cups of bread crumbs, but you may have more than that.
8.    Form balls with your hands and roll each ball in the bread crumbs on the large dish you set aside earlier.
9.    When finished making all of your meat balls, heat up a large skillet with olive oil.   Get the oil hot, using Medium heat.   The larger the meatballs, use slightly lower heat, so that they cook all of the way thru.
10.    Fry the Meatballs in the olive oil.  Browning them, and turning them frequently, so that all sides of the meatballs are brown and the meat is cook thru to the center.
11.    Serve next to the pasta of your choice and top with some Marinara Sauce.

That was easy, wasn’t it!   You can make this and you will not believe how amazing it will come out.   You will have leftovers that will reheat well and make for a memorable dinner experience over and over again.

Pair with some Italian red wine, such as Chianti, Nero D’Avola , or similar style wine.  ( The Tuscany Rosso Magnifico I made on YouTube goes excellent with this! )    Be sure to have some garlic bread on the side….   And a salad, of course, to keep things healthy!

I hope you enjoyed this new take on a classic Italian meal.   Please refer to my video on YouTube to see me make these.   I truly hope your family enjoys this Meatball Recipe as much as mine does…   Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Vino Italiano Wne Kits

Hello Everyone,

I just completed my YouTube video series on how to make wine, using the Vino Italiano Wine Kits found on Amazon.  In this video series, I am making a Wine Kit called Tuscany Rosso Magnifico.   I am showing how to make wine from start to finish, so that a beginner can see the whole process.