How to Make Wine
Many people who are seasoned wine enthusiasts will at some time think that it would be nice to produce their own homemade wine. This way, they can design their wine to their own preferences, and they can also say to their friends, "*I* designed this wine myself!". While the thought is always there, the actual making of the wine is another story. Knowing how to make wine is a talent that is almost an art form. Don't for a minute think that making wine is easy, but with the right equipment (which can include common household items) the wine-making process is not overly difficult either. Here is a short article to describe how to do it.
The Right Wine Making Equipment
If you are going to make wine, it is a lot easier if you have the right equipment, which can generally be found at any homebrew shop, or even online. Here's a list of the minimum wine making equipment you'll need:
a) a large container to store the fruit juice you'll be using
b) Electric Juicer - If you are buying the fruit as a whole, you'll need this to extract the juices
c) Sugar - this can be bought at any supermarket
d) Lots of boiling water or sterilizing tablets - these can be purchased at the winemaking supply shop
e) Large glass container used to ferment the juices you extracted - these can be bought either online or at the local homebrew shop
f) a plastic siphoning tube - quarter inch diameter plastic will suffice
g) yeast - the most important component. Some people will use supermarket yeast used for cooking, but it is always best to get proper wine yeast
Although there are numerous wine making kits available that include some sort of concentrated grape juice, making it from scratch can be much more rewarding, as you will be taking part in a process that has been developed over thousands of years. You never know, you may start a local winemakers inner circle!
Step 1 - Juice extraction
In this step, you need to extract enough juices form your chosen fruit ( eg fresh grapes) to be able to fill the glass containers that will be used in the fermentation process. Despite what some instructions say, you shouldn't water this juice down as it will have an effect on the final flavour. At this step, you could also get creative! What will happen if you mix half with apple juice and the other half with grape juice? The combinations are pretty much infinite! This is where you could make the next greatest wine! If you are going to use fresh fruit, it is always best to strain the juice through a nylon straining bag)
Step 2 - Add Sugar
If you already have very sweet juices, you probably won't need to add much sugar, if any. The purpose of this is to give the yeast something to convert into alcohol. If you go ahead with adding sugar, you should probably add no more than two pounds for every gallon of fruit juice. If you want to have a drier wine, add no more than one pound per gallon. Again, experimentation is the key here! Adding different amounts of sugar will have a noticeable effect on the final wine, both good or bad!
Winemaker's Secret Tip - If you are going to add sugar, warm the fruit juice up first, as it will ensure the sugar is fully dissolved!
Step 3 - Add the Yeast
This is the step where the "little workers" start their magic. But this is where most of the crucial work done in preparation will pay off. You MUST ensure that the glass containers you are using in the fermentation process are completely sterilized and clean. You put your juice mixture into the now sterilized glass fermentation container and add the powdered yeast. It is a good idea to add the yeast to a small container (such as a cup) to activate the yeast before putting it into the main fermentation vessel. Once the yeast has been added, you need to put an airtight lid. An airlock, which allows gas to escape but nothing to enter from outside, is the best choice. These are easily obtainable at a homebrew shop for only a few dollars. From here, place your fermenting wine into an area that is about 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit
Step 4 - Wait...and wait....and wait
This is the hardest part for most amateur wine makers. For best results, it is best to leave your wine for up to a year. During this time, you may begin to see a layer of dead yeast cells at the bottom of you glass container. It's important that the wine is removed from this layer, as it will spoil the wine. The way around this is to check every month or so on the progress of the wine. When a layer of dead cells are noticed, you take your siphon tube and transfer the wine to a new glass vessel, making sure that all the dead cells are left behind. This siphoning may need to be done more or less often depending on how fast the yeast accumulates.
Step 5 - Bottling
When the wine has finished fermenting, you need to transfer the wine to clean and sterilized wine bottles so that they can be sealed, usually with a cork. To do this, transfer the glass fermenting container to a cold area that is approximately 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 10 days. By chilling it first, it will improve the clarity of the wine greatly. Place the wine into bottles and seal with a cork. From here, store the wine on a proper wine rack. Voila, you're done!
At all times, you should be keeping an accurate diary of what you've done so that you either can repeat it if you make a great wine, or you can make you don't make the same mistake twice! Although this process takes a long time, knowing how to make wine can be a talent that will make you very popular among your friends! Happy wine making!