DIY Christmas Gift: Wine Jelly.

Christmas is less than two weeks away, which, for me, is pretty sad. I always want this time of year to last longer! It's okay, though. I know there's still plenty of time to enjoy the season, go to Christmas parties, watch my favorite Christmas movies, etc. I've had all my Christmas shopping done for a while, but I wanted to make a little something homemade to give to people, as well. Sometimes I feel like homemade gifts can really walk a fine line between thoughtful and useless/cheesy. I guess that could go for any gift, but even more so with homemade ones. I figured the most logical thing for me would be to make something edible, but I actually don't like the idea of giving cookies or pies or anything like that. I'd rather give something that doesn't have to be enjoyed right away. Jelly was the perfect solution. Except that, for the most part, I actually hate jelly. I needed to find a jelly recipe that was a little out of the norm, but not so out there that it wouldn't work for the diverse group of people I'd be giving them too. When I learned that you could make jelly out of wine instead of fruit, I was sold. I decided to use Trader Joe's Charles Shaw wine a) because I genuinely like it, and b) because it's under $3 a bottle. You can use whatever wine you like, but keep in mind that each 750-ml bottle will only make 4 standard (8 ounce) jars of jelly.
Making wine jelly is easy but, like all canning, it is precise. To be safe, I didn't stray from the recipe at all. That was a little hard for me, since I find it difficult to follow even my own recipes exactly, but I wanted to be sure the jelly came out exactly right. If you've never made jelly before, I recommend you do the same. Here are just a few tips: 
  • Make sure you read the Getting Started Guide from the Ball website. It's got a ton of great info to walk you through the general process.
  • Have everything you need neatly prepped and right by your stove top. You don't want to be mid-jelly recipe and realize that you need to squeeze and measure your lemon juice or something.
  • Be careful and make sure you use a very deep pot. I also recommend getting a canning rack, which is something I did not have. I ended up with a pot that was so full it could have boiled over at any second, and fishing hot jars out of it with my hands. Not smart.
You can get the recipe here from America's Test Kitchen. The instructions are really great and easy to follow.
As far as "gift-wrapping", I used baker's twine, plain gift tags, gold glittered jingle bells, and red and green glitter tape. The "ho ho ho" stickers were a custom order from April Joy who has a really great Etsy shop featuring her beautiful calligraphy and hand lettering. I cut them down a little to fit the size of the tag. Unfortunately she's not taking any more orders this year, but these stickers are a great bargain and perfect for adding a little customized touch to gift wrapping, scrap booking, etc. 
I'm so happy with the way this jelly turned out, and I hope everyone really enjoys them. Personally, I can't wait to have some with a big chunk of blue cheese on some buttery crackers.


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