Wine is considered one of the most treasured and revered of all of the alcoholic beverages. Whether you consider yourself a seasoned wine expert or a novice, wine is truly a luxurious liquid. With the ever-growing popularity of at-home brewing kits for beer lovers, it’s no wonder that making your own wine at home has caught on as well. It may seem as if wine is such a complex drink that there is no way an average person would be able to make their own at home, but this is simply not the case. With a few supplies and a little ingenuity, you can become your very own winemaker.
You will need several different pieces of equipment and materials in order to make wine. The most important item, of course, will be the container in which the wine will be stored. You can choose to store the wine in a large plastic gallon container (like a juice or milk container) or a glass container. Make sure that the container you choose to use is not scratched inside. You will also need a rubber stopper, a funnel, a long stirrer, vinyl tubing to serve as a siphon, and iodine sanitizing solution. The sanitizing solution is extremely important and will be used frequently throughout the process of making the wine. You will also want to purchase bottles with sealable tops once your wine has fermented so you can store it there. Some people also use a turkey baster to sample the wine as they go throughout the fermentation process. You will also need an airlock, which contains any released air and gasses that will come out as a result of mixing the ingredients. You can use something as simple as a balloon and some rubber bands.
Of course, besides equipment, you will need the ingredients in order to make the wine. First, you will need to choose a juice for the base flavor of your wine. Any flavor you like will do. You can choose between apple juice, grape juice, or any number of other fruit juices. The ratio will be the amount of juice to the amount of wine. For example, one gallon of juice will yield one gallon of wine, and so on. You will also need about four pounds of sugar. Some people prefer to use brown sugar instead of white, and this can be up to your personal preference. Of course, in order for the fermentation process to work, you will also need yeast. You will need only one packet of yeast to make a gallon to five gallons of wine. In order for the wine to process correctly, you’ll also need a few chemicals. These include sodium/potassium metabisulfite and potassium sorbate. These items can be found at many wine and home-brewing stores, online, or at chemical supply stores. Do not be intimidated by the chemicals; these are what make the juice, sugar, and yeast turn into wine.
The Winemaking Process
Once you’ve gathered all of your supplies and ingredients together, it is time to brew some homemade wine! Here are some step-by-step instructions to follow:
- Sterilize every single thing you are planning on using. This includes your wine container, bottles, stirrer, funnel, and any other equipment you are using. Everything must be completely clean and sterile or else the wine will not come out correctly.
- Pour one half of the juice into your large container and one pound of sugar into the container using the funnel. Shake well to ensure that the sugar dissolves into the juice. Do this again, adding another pound of sugar.
- Pour the yeast packet and sulfite into the bottle and mix well.
- Pour in more juice until there is about three to four inches of space between the liquid and the neck or top of the bottle. Yeast can cause the mixture to expand a bit, and you do not want it to overflow.
- Mix the entire thing together thoroughly for about two minutes using your sterilized stirrer.
- Attach your airlock to the bottle. Be sure if you’re using a balloon to affix the balloon very tightly using several rubber bands so it will not pop off.
- Once the ingredients are properly mixed and your airlock is attached, it is time to allow the wine to ferment. Store it in a cool, dark place where temperatures range between 65 and 75 degrees. Keep it out of the way of children and pets.
- Check on the wine periodically for any leaks; if the airlock becomes loose, re-tighten it. Your wine should sit for about four to five weeks to allow complete fermentation. The wine should turn from cloudy to clear as it ferments.
- Using the sanitized turkey baster, take some wine from the container and taste it. If it is too bitter, you can add more sugar to the mixture to taste.
- After the wine has fermented and tastes good, it is time to move it to bottles. Make sure the bottles and caps are completely sterilized. Using the PVC tubing to siphon the wine from the large container, put the wine into each bottle and seal it completely tight.
Types of Homemade Wine
Since wine comes in a number of different varieties, you can also try to make different types on your own at home. Each type of wine may take a few different steps from the above, or the time it takes to ferment completely may vary. You can make wine out of anything, even vegetables, so the possibilities are endless. Most people, however, usually use an apple or grape juice base. Fruity wines typically take four to five weeks to make. Another type of wine is called a mulled wine, which is similar to a cider. The difference is that this wine is made with extra additions like cloves and spices and has a heartier taste. The difference between white wine and red wine comes from whether the skins of the grapes are on or off the wine when it ferments. If you make it at home, you can choose to use red or white grape juice. Chardonnay has more of an apple undertone, and a cabernet sauvignon will usually have elements of blackberry or other rich, dark berries. All in all, most homemade wines take a minimum of three weeks to no more than six weeks to ferment.
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- The Home Winemaker’s Manual (PDF): This contains all of the information you need to make your own wine.