The How, Tips and Don’ts of Making Wine at Home – Here’s what you need to know.
Everyone who drinks alcoholic beverages must also drink wine or have drunk wine, at least, once in his lifetime. People do love it at various degrees, from “not a fan” to “self-proclaimed expert”.
For sure, in the olden times, practically everyone loved it. Other than water, it was their next drink of preference after all. Isn’t it written that water was even turned into wine? Wine should be given more credit for its longevity that reaches back to the ancient times. Some may just also love its counterpart, the non-alcoholic beers.
Well, homebrewed beer has been the popular choice nowadays. However, should wine-lovers try to make homemade wine as well? Why not! There’s of room for more brewers in the growing homebrewing community.
How to Prepare for Winemaking
In theory, winemaking seems so simple and easy. The popular belief was that it started out as an accident. Somehow, natural yeast was blown towards squashed grapes and settled there, mixing with the juice that was pouring down. A reaction occurred and fermentation took place. Then someone happened to pass by, saw the enticing mix, and took a taste. The rest was history.
That’s if the theory was real. Discoveries are always probable. That’s why we enjoy many of the things we have come to love nowadays. Therefore, why not create more in the comforts of home and discover that perfect wine? This way, wine would be an easily accessible but inexpensive commodity. Keeping it “domestic” should be a great idea.
That said, it must be emphasized that a big part of the success of a DIY winemaking has to do with proper preparation. That means having the complete and right equipment and ingredients needed. What are those necessities?
- one (1) 4-gallon quality plastic bucket and lid, or
- a 2-gallon (7.6 L) crock (earthenware pot) or glass jar
- three 1-gallon glass jugs or carboy
- one (1) funnel that fits into the mouth of glass bottles
- three airlocks
- one (1) rubber cork (or bung) to fit into the glass jugs
- one (1) large straining bag of nylon mesh
- one (1) clear half-inch plastic tubing (about 6-feet)
- twenty (20) clean wine bottles with pre-sanitized number 9-size corks and screw caps
one (1) hand corker (wine supply store allows renting this)
- Campden tablets (optional)
- one (1) hydrometer
Right before winemaking, it is necessary to have these thoroughly sterilized and rinsed first. Equipment should be very clean and sanitized to prevent bad bacteria activity. Supply stores can provide the right cleaning agents (like special detergents and bleaches).
If using a crock, it may be available at vintage or second-hand stores. The danger, though, is it could have contained sauerkraut or pickles before. That might open the wine for possibilities of contamination. So it is required that it is clean prior to reuse.
- (≈16) cups of wine grapes
- (2) cups or more of honey, or
- granulated sugar
- filtered water
- wine yeast
Wine can be made with any type of fruit. Still, the most popular are grapes and berries. Organic fruits should be best as they have not been treated with chemicals that could, unfortunately, get mixed into the wine. They can be bought from farmer’s markets or from retailers that can provide wine grapes to home winemakers. That is a great alternative for anyone living far away from vineyards.
How to Make Wine at Home
Make sure that everything in the checklist is there. If yes, then it’s time to start.
Just follow these steps:
- Pick out the fruits. Choose ones that are at the peak of their flavor. Select the good ones; toss out the rotten or peculiar-looking ones. If buying from a farmer’s market, be extra careful in picking the good ones.
- Wash and clean the grapes thoroughly. Remove the stems and leaves. Cleanse them off dirt and grit. Place them in the vat (plastic bucket or crock). Optional: Peel the fruit before placing in the vat–that results in a milder wine. It is recommended not to peel it for a stronger result.
Some winemakers actually choose not to wash the fruits. Wine can be made using only the natural yeasts on the skin and e air. However, it’s better to wash them well as growing wild yeast may cause foul flavors. Controlling the yeast can yield a satisfying taste.
- Crush and squeeze the grapes. This is to release the juice or “must” into the container. One can choose to:
- do it au naturelle by using the hands
- use a clean potato masher
- stomp on it, old-school style (again, emphasis on keeping things clean)
- rent a fruit press from a wine supply store if making a lot of wine
Keep crushing and squeezing the fruit until juice is within 1 1⁄2 inches (3.8 cm) of the top of the crock. Not enough? Add filtered water.
- Add the Campden tablets. This is optional. Campden releases sulphur dioxide into the mixture to kill wild yeast and bacteria. As an alternative, pour two cups of boiling water instead. Tap water contains additives, so either avoid that or use filtered/spring water.
Note: For wild yeast wine, skip this part.
- Add and stir in the wine yeast. Note: For wild yeast wine, skip this part.
- Insert the hydrometer into the must. A reading of less than 1.010 requires more sugar that should help boost low alcohol levels.
- Stir in the honey or the sugar/brown sugar. Two cups of honey to sweeten wine is enough, but if the preference is a sweeter end-product, feel free to add more. Grapes are already sweet, though, so be careful with how much to add. Fruits like berries are the ones that have less and need more sugar.
Feel free to use granulated sugar or brown sugar in place of honey. Just make sure to dissolve it well in pure filtered water first. The tip is to make it too dry at first to add and control sugar content later.
- Cover bucket and then store. It should keep the bugs out and allow ventilation Use a lid designed for this purpose or cover the opening with a stretched cloth, secured with a large rubber band. Place in a not-so-warm but not-too-cold area (70 degrees) and let it stay overnight.
- Thoroughly stir the must in the next three days. Uncover on the first day after making the mix, stir, then cover again. Do this every four hours. Bubbling means the yeast is working.
- Allow fermentation for seven to 10 days. Froth will develop on top and sediment will fall to the bottom.
Gently strain the liquid
This should remove the sediment and froth. Strain the solids when the bubbling slows down.
- Run the juice through a funnel into the glass jug or carboy. Fill the container up to the top. It will lessen the amount of air reaching and spoiling the wine.
- Affix the airlock to the opening. The airlock will allow the release of gas and also lessen the amount of air coming in and going out. As an alternative to the airlock, place a small balloon with about five pin-sized holes over the opening then secure it with tape. The gas will escape, but the oxygen won’t.
- Allow fermentation for several weeks. Again, it should be air-free.
- Siphon the wine into containers periodically (“racking”). Do this for two to three months until the color is clear. If extra honey was part of the ingredients, age the wine longer so it will not be too sweet in the end.
- Siphon the wine to transfer it into bottles. Fill bottles up to the top to minimize oxygen. Do make sure the siphoning equipment has been cleaned before using it again.
To avoid turning the wine into vinegar due to a certain bacteria, add a Campden tablet once airlock is removed. Meanwhile, the bottles should be dark to preserve content color.
- Insert corks.
- Age the wine. Store it upright for the first three days, then on its side for, at least, six months (white wine) or a year (red wine). The temperature should be at 55 degrees F.
The Don’ts in making wine at home:
- Don’t forget to taste the wine at intervals to make sure things are working the way they are supposed to.
- Don’t be lax and let vinegar flies come in contact with the wine.
- Do not use metal vessels.
- Don’t use tools or containers made out of resinous wood — wood spoils the flavor.
- Don’t turn up the temperature to speed things up. Remember the saying, ‘Haste makes waste.”
- Do not filter when not necessary.
- Don’t bottle if the whole fermentation process is not fully done.
- Don’t use unclean/unsterilized equipment especially jars and bottles.
- DO NOT SELL YOUR WINE. It is against the law in any state.
How Best to Store Home Made Wine
Of course, beverages are best-served cold. So keep wine chilled at all times. It preserves the wine and makes wine-seeping at home a great way to end the day. Then again, wine is also a great way to entertain a more intimate group of friends or host a small social gathering.
In any case, a kegerator should work better than a regular refrigerator. Bottles take up space and a common fridge can only hold fewer bottles. A kegerator, however, can hold a larger capacity of wine without losing the drink’s freshness and taste while keeping it chilled for a long time.
So if one is considering making wine at home on a regular basis, it would be more beneficial and cost-effective in the long run to get a kegerator. Fortunately, Keg Fridge can help anyone get the best kegerator to suit one’s needs.
Keg Fridge has been helping drinking-lovers achieve what they want with their beverages. Certainly, they are ready to answer questions and assist. Keg Fridge has a host of quality kegerators to choose from. Just feel free to visit their site KegFridge.com for an initial online look-see.
For questions and inquiries about kegerators and how they can help winemaking progress, get in touch with Keg Fridge today.