Types of Wine for Home Winemakers
Many people today are jumping on the bandwagon and are making their own wines at home. In addition to being cheaper, there is a true sense of accomplishment that comes when a person not only makes a great tasting wine, but makes a wine to which dinner guests will give heaps of praise. Here’s a list of some of the wine types that can be made at home by the home winemaker:
Riesling – For this type, the grape variety is important, as is must be Rhine Riesling or Clare Riesling. The grapes are picked at low Baumé level (ie about 9o) to give a high acid content. You can add acid if these varieties of grape are not available. Citric or tartaric acid can be added to taste.
Moselle and Sauternes – These white wines are slightly sweet, in the case of Moselle, and distinctly sweet in the case of Sauternes. Simply make the dry wine and add sugar about six weeks after fermentation is finished and just before bottling.
Rosé – This is the best way of using white table-variety grapes. The quality of this wine can be improved with the addition of some Grenache or Shiraz (Syrah). There is no real sharp dividing line between a rosé and a light dry red.
Claret or Dry Red – These are based on the Bordeaux wines, which are high in tannins and acid and coming from Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot grapes and are picked fairly early (10o to 12o Baumé). As with Riesling, acid can be added to taste
Burgundy – For the very heavy, full-bodied wine, leave the skin on until at a level of 1o to 0o Baumé. For a softer wine with less tannin and acid, use Shiraz and Grenache grapes picked later. The best advantage of this type of wine is that it will mature quite rapidly.
Ports and Sherries – For wine as close as possible to sherries, fortify red or white juice with enough sugar until the yeast is unable to cope. This should be done before natural fermentation is below 2o to 3o Baumé. Ports are fortified when the juice is below 7o to 10o Baumé. This level is achieved by adding sugar.
Champagne – Believe it or not, it’s not hard to make your own champagne-like sparkling wine at home. The great mystique associated with making champagne is only because of the difficulties in removing sediment from the bottle. The basic process involves carrying out a second fermentation by adding more sugar and yeast to the dry wine.
The second fermentation is carried out in the bottle so that the carbon dioxide is trapped in the wine, giving it its effervescence. For each gallon of wine, add about a half pound of sugar and teaspoon of dry yeast. Stir the mixture well and pour into the bottles and cork with either a crown cork or a cork and screw cap. When fermentation is complete, you will have a champagne-like sparkling wine, but of course, there will be sediment on the bottom from the yeast. It is very difficult for the home winemaker to remove this, so pour the wine very carefully and do not shake before opening, and expect to waste a little bit of the wine on the bottom.