Making Wine at Home: Getting Started

Making your own wine at home might seem daunting at first, but once you have purchased all the equipment and have gained a firm understanding of the wine-making process you will quickly begin to embrace something that began almost 8000 years ago.

I will separate the process into 8 stages, today being the first.

The first critical step is to find a reputable supplier for all your wine-making needs. In Westchester County, New York, there’s a family run institution where everyone goes to for all their wine-making supplies…Prospero Winery!

Here’s a list of all the equipment you will need:

1. Table Top De-Stemmer
2. Fermentation Vat with Lid
I opted to NOT use the de-stemmer and chose to de-stem the grapes by hand. I will give a detailed explanation about that when we get there.
4. Stainless Steel Puncher
5. Press
Here are the nutrients, chemicals & additives you will need:

Citric Acid and Sodium Carbonate are used for sanitizing EVERYTHING!

You MUST use yeast…never rely on natural yeast!
Metabisulfate is used to:
1. Create sulfur dioxide gas
2. Inhibit bacteria and wild yeasts
3. Increase the aging
4. Protect color and flavor
5. Sterilize equipment
DAP (Dimaonium Phosphate) and Fermaid are foods which the yeast will feed on…It helps the wine to ferment.
MicrosEssentials Oenos and Viniflora are nutrients which contain a mixture of organic proteins that help induce Malolactic Fermentation.
This is a hydrometer. It’s used to measure the amount of sugar in the wine and it will tell you when you should press the grapes into juice.
You will need Demijohns (carboys) to store the wine while it ferments.
They come in different shapes and sizes but I recommend the standard 5 gallon water-cooler type…just make sure you use glass and not plastic.


You will also need additional bottle sizes for later in the wine-making process when you will have odd amounts of wine.


You will need rubber corks (bungs) and airlocks for each bottle.


Get yourself a syphon kit for transferring wine from jar to jar.



Other items:

     Pails / Buckets

Measuring Cups and Spoons


Clear Packing Tape


And of course…


Check back soon for the next stage in Wine-Making when we’ll discuss the grapes and how to choose the right one for you!

Thanks for stopping by!



© Giovanni Cucullo 2010

Ricotta Gnocchi


Every time I hear someone say that they don’t like gnocchi because it is such a heavy pasta, I offer to make them my pillowy-soft version.

The Four Basic Ingredients for Ricotta Gnocchi:

  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Parmesan
  • Flour
  • Eggs



This recipe is taken from my cookbook: 
Ricette di Maria – Maria’s Recipes

The word gnudi means naked because these delicate little dumplings are simply made by boiling a ravioli filling, otherwise known as naked ravioli.

It’s ravioli without the pasta or you may also call them ricotta gnocchi.

Serves 4

1/2 stick of butter
4 cups ricotta cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
6 tablepoons flour
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg

  1. In a large bowl combine the ricotta cheese, eggs, flour, half of the Parmesan, salt, pepper and nutmeg.  Mix to combine then place in the refrigerator for about an hour to allow the mixture to firm up.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bring a pot of salted water to boil.
  3. Lightly flour your hands and roll 1 tablespoon of the mixture at a time into small balls. Gently drop the balls into the water and boil for about 5 minutes or until they slightly puff. Using a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi and set them on a towel to drain.
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and coat the bottom of a 10-inch baking dish. Arrange the gnocchi in the dish in one layer about ¼ inch apart. Melt the remaining butter and pour over the gnudi. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan, some freshly chopped sage leaves and bake for 5 minutes. Serve.

Roasted Peppers

Doesn’t everyone love roasted peppers??

Simple and delicious, the secret to perfect roasted peppers is as easy as this:

  1. Coat red and yellow peppers with oil and roast in a very hot oven until black and blistered, turning as needed. You could also grill them or even sit them right on the open flame of your stove.
  2. Place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. The steam of the peppers will loosen the charred skin making them easier to peel.
  3. Once cool enough to handle, peel the peppers, remove the stems, scrape out the seeds and slice the peppers as desired.
  4. Now you can season the peppers with salt, pepper, garlic, basil or whatever makes your taste buds go kerflooey.


Lentil with Beef Soup

As September allows us to bid farewell to summer and gives us time to jar what is left of the season, a cold and rainy October in NY demands food that is a bit more hearty.

We are into soup season!

I grew up eating lentils; they were a staple of my mother’s table, and being highly nutritious, lentils made and still make for wonderful, comforting soups.

Lentil Soup with Beef

  • Carrots, onions and garlic (you can add celery if you like)
  • Beef stew ( I used two fatty rib steaks and just cubed them)
  • Olive oil, chicken stock, water & herbs
  • Leftover rind of Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Lentils


  1.  Heat 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet. Add the beef cubes and cook til nicely browned.
  2. Add the diced vegetables and stir. Cook until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the lentils and cover with chicken stock and some water. Season with salt and pepper. Add freshly chopped herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary) and a piece of rind from leftover Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Cover the skillet and cook over medium heat, skim the fat after about 15 minutes and continue cooking until the lentils are tender and the soup has thickened.  Serve!

NB: Vegetarians can enjoy this soup by eliminating the beef and substituting vegetable broth for the chicken stock.