Homemade Wine vs. Commercial: 4 Important Differences

You can either make wine at home or buy it at the store. Both options will taste great, but they are inherently different. So, what are the differences between homemade and commercial wine?

There are four important differences between homemade wine and commercial wine. These include the taste, chemical composition, health benefits, and price. Their differences also influence their pros and cons, encouraging wine lovers to choose one over the other.

In this article, I will discuss the differences between homemade wine and commercial wine in more detail, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each one.

4 Major Differences Between Homemade Wine and Commercial Wine

Not every wine is created equal when it comes to quality and taste. There are a few fundamental differences between homemade and commercial wine, which we will explore in greater detail below. Let’s get started!

1. Taste

One significant difference between homemade and commercial wine is taste. Commercial wine, no matter the price, has a pleasant taste. However, the taste varies based on the price of the wine, and, of course, it’s all subjective.

On the other hand, the taste of homemade wine can range from undrinkable to spectacular. 

Here are some reasons why their tastes vary:

  • Making wine takes a little bit of knowledge. Professional winemakers have special training, better equipment, and in most cases, more experience than non-professionals.
  • Professional winemakers usually have access to higher-quality grapes.

However, this is not always the case as non-professionals make homemade wine that rivals the tastes of store-bought wine. 

2. Chemical Composition

Another difference between these wines is the chemicals in them. For example, many commercial wines are chock full of chemicals like:

  • Thickeners
  • Color additives
  • Sweeteners
  • Sulfites. 

However, homemade wines usually do not have nor need these chemicals. Not all homemade wines are sulfite-free; they are less likely to contain these chemicals.

A chemical I would like to talk more about is sulfite. Sulfites are chemicals you can find in both homemade and commercial wine. However, it is more prevalent in commercial wine, mainly in imported commercial variants.

Imported commercial wine can stay in warehouses for long periods. During these periods, the temperature and humidity can change significantly, so professional winemakers add sulfites to help protect the integrity of the wine.

With that said, some homemade wine enthusiasts add sulfites to their products. If they are not careful and keep adding without checking the S02 levels, they might add more sulfites in their wine than you can find in commercial wine.

3. Health Benefits

Drinking red wine has some health benefits, and homemade wine may even have more benefits. Homemade wine has more nutritional value than its commercial counterparts.

Organic winemakers also have the advantage of sourcing good quality, organic grapes free from pesticides and harmful chemicals. Often commercial grape farmers use herbicides such as glyphosates,  which a study linked to Parkinson’s, infertility, and cancer.

Homemade wines are healthier because commercial wines usually have more chemicals, while homemade ones are more natural. Therefore, homemade ones have a more positive effect on your health. 

4. Price

Price is another difference between homemade wine and commercial wine. In most cases, when you make your own wine, you do not have to spend much money after purchasing your tools. The price of the ingredients might vary, but they are usually not on the high side.

Commercial wine, however, can be both affordable and expensive. It all depends on the brand, the ingredients they use, the origin (imported or not), and the manufacturing process. 

Remember that the manufacturing processes for both wines are similar, but winemakers produce wine on a larger scale, which is why it affects the end product’s price.

The Advantages of Homemade Wine

We all know how easy it is to go out and buy a bottle of wine, but there are several benefits to making your own brew.

Cost-Effective

You can save money by making your wine yourself as a regular wine drinker. After paying for supplies and equipment, you no longer need to repurchase them. Afterward, you buy the ingredients you need to make the wine. You can spend as little as $3 making a bottle of homemade wine.

Easy To Make

Contrary to popular beliefs, making wine at home is pretty straightforward. Most winemaking kits come with instructions on how to make wine properly. 

You only have to follow the instructions step-by-step, and you are one step closer to making your own wine. It is easy to master the basics of winemaking. In as little as 28 days, you could have your first batch of wine ready to drink.

Furthermore, as you make more wine and gain experience, you can start experimenting and customize your wine the way you want.

Variety of Flavors

When you buy wine, you already know what flavors are in store for you. Now and then, your favorite brand might release a new flavor, but how long will it take before you get bored of that flavor?

However, when you make your wine at home, the only thing you’ll get bored of is trying new flavors. 

You can try different blends and create unique products. At home, you get to decide the taste and quality of your wine. It would be best if you thought of winemaking like cooking. Once you know the basics, you can start experimenting.

A New Hobby

I understand how hard it is to find something you enjoy doing, especially if you spend most of your time working or attending to other obligations. However, winemaking could be your new hobby—something to do to soothe you after a hectic day. 

Winemaking requires your full attention, so it can take your mind off other things that could be bothering you. While it requires focus, as I said earlier, the process is easy to enact.

Disadvantages of Homemade Wine

As with most things in life, homemade wines have some disadvantages to them:

Headaches

A common issue with homemade red wine is the headache that comes with it the following day. The reason for headaches is dehydration. When you drink excess alcohol, you tend to lose a lot of liquid. 

The presence of chemicals like tannins and histamines in homemade wine worsens the effect of headaches. However, you can avoid the chemically-induced headache if you find a proper balance in your winemaking. This ability will come with experience.

Contamination   

Everything you use to make wine needs to undergo sterilization, including your most important tools, your hands. Fortunately, most winemaking kits come with sterilization tools.

However, contaminants and bacteria can enter your wine even with your best efforts. These contaminants can significantly affect the taste of your wine or possibly turn it into vinegar

You’ll end up with wine that has a sour taste and smell. This bad taste and smell are because the combination of wine, oxygen, and bacteria produces acetic acid, a chemical that ruins wine.

The best way to avoid this is to sterilize your tools before you start brewing. Be sure to sterilize all containers and instruments and also wash your hands. When it comes to winemaking, you can never be too careful while sanitizing.

Consider getting winemaking plastic or glass bins. The bins help keep bacteria at bay, and the winemaking plastic will not leave a funny taste in your wine as conventional options do.

Container Chemicals

Similar to my previous point, you must utilize food-grade containers when making wine. Using suboptimal materials like plastics, iron, or copper can affect the taste and color of your wine, and certain materials may lead to lead poisoning

If you are unsure about maintaining sanitary conditions around your winemaking space, it’s best to avoid doing anything more than experimentation for now. Stick to learning possible recipes until you’re ready to set up a befitting and healthy space.

Advantages of Commercial Wine

Commercial wine has always been a fan favorite. Most people buy it for several reasons. Here are some of those reasons.

Easy Access

The best thing about commercial wine is that you do not have to go through stress to get a bottle. All you have to do is visit a store, pick one up, and start drinking. You do not even have to leave the comfort of your home because you can order online.

Diversity

Numerous brands make wine, both locally and internationally. Therefore, you can choose from a vast collection of options. 

If you do not like one brand, you can move to another. You can keep changing brands till you find one that suits you, and as I said earlier, you don’t have to stress about making any of them yourself.

Varying Prices

Bottles of wine come in all shapes and sizes, and these products have different prices. You can find wine worth anywhere from $8 to hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars. 

So, no matter your budget, you will always find a product for you. Remember that the quality and taste of commercial wine are usually proportional to the price, but not always.

Disadvantages of Commercial Wine

Sadly, commercial wine is not perfect either. There are some drawbacks to this beloved product.

Lack of Personal Preference

Even though there are various brands and flavors of commercial wine, finding a wine you like might be challenging. Maybe you want a particular taste no brand offers. Don’t worry; you aren’t the only one, which is why some people opt for making their own wine, and when they start, they never look back.

Excess Chemicals

Commercial wines, particularly imported ones, have to last a long time. The reason is that no one knows how long they will stay on the shelves or what conditions they might encounter. 

Therefore, professional winemakers add chemicals such as preservatives to ensure that the product lasts for as long as possible. While these chemicals may benefit these winemakers, they don’t do much for your health. 

Sulfites in Commercial Wines: Health Consequences

Sulfites can harm your health, particularly if you have a sulfite sensitivity. Sulfite is a chemical preservative that may cause multiple allergic symptoms, including hives and respiratory and digestive problems. In its worst form, sulfites may even cause anaphylaxis. 

Is Homemade Wine Safe To Drink?

Homemade wine is safe to drink, and you should consider it as safe as commercial wine. However, homemade wine may harm your health if you do not follow strict winemaking protocols and sanitization.

People are wary of homemade wine because of the quality of the information on the internet. Nowadays, anyone can go online and upload recipes and methods that are not factual and do not follow the basic principles of making wine.

Therefore, when people follow these “tips,” they end up with low-quality wine or, in some cases, in the hospital.

Luckily, there are still numerous sources out there that post safe recipes and methods. However, it might be hard for beginners to tell the difference. Therefore, if you are new to winemaking, I suggest you start with the steps on your winemaking kit and work your way up.

Which Is Better: Homemade Wine or Commercial Wine?

Homemade wine is generally better for your health and saves money once you have your winemaking apparatus. You may also source organic ingredients and create your particular flavor profile. Commercial wine is better for convenience, variety, and consistency of professional production. 

Making wine at home is not hard. You can learn the basics quickly and add your twist to get a unique flavor. It’s an excellent hobby to pick up. The best thing about winemaking at home is that you set the rules on the composition. 

You can make the product as natural as possible, improving your health in the long run or at least not worsening it.

Conversely, if following recipes is too stressful and you already have a brand you like, you can stick to buying wine from the grocery store. This way, you let someone else do the work and sit back, relax, and enjoy a swirl anytime you wish.

Conclusion

Homemade wine and commercial wine are both fantastic options. However, they are not the same, and several factors make them different.

Each wine option has its upsides and downsides. So, it is up to you to decide what works for you. Hopefully, you now have all the knowledge you need to make an informed decision.

I am a fan of brewing wine and beer, so I would opt for homemade wine, but that doesn’t mean you should.

You can find more information about brewing and making wine here on this blog.

About HomeBrewAdvice

Hello, my name is Simon. Together with a group of writers I write about brewing beer and making wine. We all share a passion for the great things in life, such as making stuff from scratch.

The business of HomeBrewAdvice is to bring you great information, stories and product reviews from brewing at home, and making wine


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