This is your guide to making excellent wine at home. Everybody can do it! Of course you need the right knowledge, ingredients and equipment. In order to start making wine at home, you can often buy excellent starter packages for relatively little money. In these packages you can find all the necessary stuff to start with this interesting activity. But before you can actually start making wine, it is essential to ensure that your “winery” and all the material you are going to use will be free from any fungi and bacteria.
Interested, then please read my guide below on how to make wine at home.
Contents of a starter package
Grapes or grape juice White plastic open container
Wine yeast, not Baker’s yeast Towels
Yeast nutrient salt Wooden hammer with holes
Inverted sugar Round plastic sieve and plastic funnel
Pectic enzyme Fermentation bottles of glass or plastic with air lock
Starting with wine making
Ensure that the grapes that you want to process into wine have properly ripened. The harvested grapes should be cleaned with water in e.g. a plastic bucket. To remove the grapes from the vines, take the twigs and hit them against the inside of the plastic bucket or tub. Please ensure that as little as possible of the twigs (with seeds and skins) penetrates the juice. This is because these twigs would increase the tannin to the wine, which you would like to avoid.
You can do this the old fashioned way by using your feet. Or you can use the wooden hammer, whereby the holes in it ensure that, during crushing, juice can flow. You should pay attention to the crushing of the grapes, as it is essential for a good taste and colour of the wine. After the grapes have been crushed for the most part, you can add the liquid pectic enzyme, which enhances the clarification process, (2 to 4 ml per 10 litres of wine) and a pinch of sulphite. Now you can do some more crushing and then close the bucket or barrel with a lid or towel. Thus there is an oxygen flow, but fruit flies cannot come into the must. The whole thing should now rest for 12 hours.
Determining sugar/acid levels
The next step is the determination of the quantities of sugar and acid that are present in the must. Only by doing this you will know if the desired alcohol percentage can be achieved and whether the yeast can survive in this acidity. To determine the acidity you should use a hydrometer.
The hydrometer can measure how many grams of sugar per litre of must should be present. You take a measuring glass (200 ml) and put the must in. Subsequently let the hydrometer float in the must and the right sugar content can be measured.
For example, to achieve an alcohol content of 10% the hydrometer should indicate 1078 (that’s about 168 grams of sugar per litre of must). This must at least be present in order to let the wine ferment without the addition of sugar. If there is less than 10% but you would rather make a wine of 12%, then we have to add sugar. A rough rule is to add 16 grams of sugar per litre of must to have the alcohol level rise with 1%.
Put the fermentation process in motion
Must with skins should first ferment in an open vessel because there will be a lot of foam. However, you should avoid at all times that fruit flies can come in, because these little animals can transmit an acid bacteria that will change your wine into vinegar.
In the time that the wine is resting, you make a so-called fermentation starter. To do this, pour the following into a well cleaned bottle:
A half-litre, boiled and cooled down water,
50 grams of sugar,
A pinch of yeast nutrient salt,
Half of the wine yeast
The bottle is closed with a cotton ball and should be placed in a location with a temperature of 20 to 26 degrees Celsius.
After 12 hours, mix it well with yeast nutrient salt and yeast starter of 2 to 3 grams per 10 litres of wine, and sprinkle the other half of the wine yeast over it (do not mix). You will need to close it in such a way that oxygen can go in but fruit flies cannot. At a temperature between 12 and 22 degrees Celsius the fermentation will start after one to two days.
You add sugar after the first fermentation (500 grams for every 10 litres of must) and mix everything well. It needs to be closed well after which you leave it for two to three days for fermentation. In the meantime, the must should not be stirred, because otherwise too much tannin will come in the wine through the contact with the grape seeds. Then carefully scoop the grape skins and seeds off the must using a plastic sieve. The resealed liquid should then rest a few hours before you can re-skim. Only when the fermentation is active, all grape skins and seeds will be pushed upwards.
The wine can then be poured through a strainer and a funnel, in a well cleaned fermentation bottle. Add to the most 250 grams of sugar syrup per 10 litres along with a pinch of yeast nutrient salt. The water lock should be placed on the fermentation bottle so that oxygen cannot reach the must any more. After two to three weeks fermentation is reduced and the wine clear will clear up a bit. At the bottom of the fermentation bottle there now is a layer of sediment. You have to siphon the wine into another clean fermentation bottle such that the sediment remains behind. For the first time, you can taste the young wine.
After you have added 125 grams of sugar syrup in every 10 litres of wine and all have mixed well, the wine needs to rest for three to four weeks. Only then do you siphon the wine again in the same way, taste and add sugar syrup once again. After this, the wine is further fermented in the bottle under water stop in a cool place for two to four months.
At the time that the wine is fermented and purified, it can be stored. It is best to keep the wine in large quantities, such as in a barrel. A wooden barrel will also add wonderful flavour to the wine. The taste will be better able to develop. Of course you can also decide to bottle the wine.
The bottling of the wine
The wine can transfer from the vessel or the ton in sterile bottles. Because the wine is to be retained for a long period of time, absolutely no dirt may be present in the wine bottles. By cleaning the bottles with water and sulphite you will prevent that all the work you have done has been in vain and your wine is still turning into a kind of vinegar.
After the transfer of the wine in the bottle, you close it with a cork. You should always use clean corks, which were never used before. Finally, you could provide the bottles with a label (that you bought or created yourself).
I just hope that the above has been instructive to you and will lead you to do first trials for yourself. I can imagine that you might have some remarks or questions and if so, please let me know and I will get back to you within 24 hours. If you are a Chardonnay lover, please click here to learn how to make your own unique Chardonnay at home.
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