Wine making can be a fun experience and is probably cheaper in the long run if you consume a lot of it yourself. Home made wine also makes a great gift for friends and relatives. There are wine making kits available, but this article focuses on the basic items and processes needed for wine making if you choose to buy your items individually. You will need specific tools, supplies and chemicals to set up your wine making system.
a. Containers to hold the wine during fermentation and aging. A traditional container is the “carboy”, a large glass container with a small rim. More convenient now are the plastic bucket type containers with a lid, often with a spout for easy pouring when racking or bottling the wine. Having two containers is the best approach so you have a container to transfer the wine to when you want to remove it from the sediment that settles in the bottom.
b. Vapor Lock. This device goes on top to allow air to escape while not letting anything into the container.
c. Hose and/or pump to remove the wine from the container.
d. Corker to push the corks into the bottles.
e. Optional tools include a large funnel, a filter, and a mesh bag if you are using whole fruits.
a. Juice or fruit
b. Granulated sugar
c. Yeast (different types are available, check your recipe)
d. Wine bottles (five small bottles per gallon)
e. Corks (Size #9)
a. Yeast Nutrient. Adds nitrogen for best fermentation.
b. Potassium Bisulfite/Campden. Purifies juice and sterilizes equipment.
c. Potassium Sorbate. Prevents re-fermentation. Add prior to bottling.
d. Wine tannin. Adds zest to the wine’s taste and assists with clearing.
e. Other items could include citric acid, pectin/pectic enzyme or wine conditioner.
4. The Process.
a. Get a recipe. Start with one that is simple and easy to follow.
You can find several recipes online:
b. Get your supplies together based on the recipe you select.
c. Choose a place to set up your wine containers. Many will recommended a cool/dark place. Pick a place where you won’t have a heart attack if you spill a bit.
d. Follow your recipe and wait. Some recipes take 6 weeks, others several months. I generally leave mine 60 to 90 days, racking it off to a new container about every 30 days.
e. Sanitize your wine bottles, transfer the wine and cork it. Add a label with the type/date.
5. Going Beyond.
a. Learn to gauge the alcohol content with a hydrometer. Some recipes will direct you to use one anyway to measure the status of the wine by measuring sugar levels.
b. Add flavors such as vanilla or cinnamon.
c. Use honey instead of sugar to sweeten, or use some brown sugar for a different flavor.
d. For gifts, you can purchase foils for the top of the bottle.
e. Play with adjusting the sweetness of the wine. I like to taste and sweeten as needed at each racking.
Most of all have fun making your wine and experimenting with what you like best. Some of my friends love the grape and apple the best, some do not like the honey sweetened wines. I am often disappointed with store bought wines and end up wasting them, but with my own, I never waste a drop!