Wine Making Instructions
It's fun and easy to make wine at home. You can decide how much work you want to put into your homemade wine, by choosing the method that suits you best.
Most winemaking procedures fall into three basic categories.
1. Wine making from fruit, including grapes, cherries, peaches, plums or just about any other fruit. The fruit can be fresh, frozen, or canned. Wine making from fresh fruit is the most labor-intensive method of making wine. Special equipment may be required for crushing and pressing the fruit. The balance between sweetness and acidity must be monitored and adjusted as necessary.
2. Wine making from fruit concentrates. These concentrates are most often canned, or offered in plastic aseptic packaging. The concentrates are somewhat easier to work with than fresh fruit. Making wine from concentrate still requires acid testing and balancing.
3. Wine making from kits. These kits contain concentrated juice mixed with the correct amount of sugar and acid to make excellent quality wine. This method offers the easiest way to make enjoyable wine with the least investment in time and materials. Kits include all the ingredients needed to finish the wine as well. Juice, yeast and natural clarifiers are included in most kits. With a little time, kit wine will clear as nicely as professionally filtered wine.
First we will discuss the method for making wine from kits. All kits come with excellent instructions tailored the exact kit you're using, but here's an overview of the process.
Making Six Gallons of Wine from a Kit (Abridged)
Use a notebook to record what you do and your observations about the process. Keep good notes so you can make adjustments to the process next time.
Day One: Boil a cup of water in a small pot. Boil five minutes, then turn off the heat and set aside to cool. You will use this water a little later in the process.
Pour the juice, now called must, into a clean seven or eight gallon fermenter. Top up with enough de-chlorinated water to reach the six gallon mark on the fermenter. You can take a hydrometer reading now. It's OK if you skip this reading, but the later readings are very important.
When the water that you've previously boiled cools to below 100 deg.F, you are ready to prepare your yeast (kits come with the proper wine yeast for style). Wipe the outside of the yeast package clean. Open the package of yeast and pour into the warm water. In about ten minutes, the yeast and water mixture will look cloudy. Pour this cloudy mixture into the wine must. Close the fermenter lid tightly. Affix the airlock into the hole in the fermenter lid. Half-fill your plastic airlock with vodka or a water and potassium metabisulfite solution. Now, leave your wine alone for a while to ferment.
Day Six to Day Twelve: When your hydrometer reading falls below 1.020, your can rack (transfer) your wine to a clean secondary fermenter. The exact day you rack your wine is not important. What is important is that you've waited until the primary fermentation has taken place. Some kits will have you add flavor ingredients, such as oak chips, at this point.
Day Twenty to Thirty: You'll rack again now. Fermentation should be complete, that is your hydrometer should read under 1.000, and even possibly under 0.995. Most kits will have you add stabilizer at this time. Start degassing the wine by stirring a few times a day for two days.
In a few days, check the wine to see if it's completely degassed. If bubbles form on the sides of the fermenter, you still have too much CO2 dissolved in your wine, so stir again. When degassed, add the finning agent that comes with your wine.
Six Weeks: You can bottle your wine now or wait a while longer. As long as your carboy is full to the top, waiting longer can only help make your wine better. After bottling, wait as long as your patience will allow. You wine will be drinkable in two weeks, and will continue to improve with age. Two months or more in the bottle will give the best results.
Tips to help you enjoy your new wine making hobby:
1. Sanitize everything that comes in contact with your wine. Chlorine is a great sanitizer, and is often used in beer making, but be careful with it when making wine. Even the slightest chlorine residue will react with your corks and make your wine taste funny.
2. Keep your fermenting wine in a dark closet or cover with a box or poncho.
3. On bottling day, ask a friend to help with the bottling chores.
4. Buy de-chlorinated water, or use a charcoal filter to remove the chlorine from the water you add to your juice.
5. When you rack your wine, don't splash it around. It's fragile.
6. Keep you fermenters full. That means you should top off your fermenter with some finished wine or water after each racking.
7. Drink responsibly, don't drink and email :-)
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