There are several steps involved in making great wine. The following steps are listed using grapes but keep in mind that you can also use blueberries, raspberries or other berries of your choice when making wine at home. Just substitute the berries you choose for the grapes and follow the same directions, adjusting the sugar to taste. Use these tips to create your own recipe. Here's how.
- The first step in making wine from grapes (or other fruit of your choice) is to gather your supplies. Namely, the grapes. Harvest them at the peak of flavor. Some of the best grapes for wine making include Merlot, Concord, Niagara and Catawba. These are just a few of the many varieties available.
- Soak and boil the grapes, on medium heat, until the grapes soften and the juice begins to separate from the pulp. You will need to crush and press the grapes to separate the pulp and juice from the skins. A good way to do this is to place the fruit in a mesh or nylon bag and press the juices out.
- For a sweeter wine, you can also add commercially purchased juice or juice concentrates to your mixture.
- Add sugar, acid nutrients and yeast to achieve your desired ratio. Here is a basic recipe to make homemade wine:
1 gallon of the fruit of your choice (crushed and boiled)
5 pounds of sugar
1 gallon of water
1/8 teaspoon of wine yeast (can be purchased from a wine making supply store)
Let the yeast dissolve in warm water. In a 2-gallon or larger container, combine the remainder of the ingredients. Stir until the sugar is dissolved completely. Add the yeast and stir until mixed in. Adjust this recipe to taste.
- There are also optional ingredients you can add to help control the process and improve the flavor. Many people add a Campden tablet; this is a sulfur tablet which helps control the growth of the yeast by slowing it down (use sparingly when you are ready to slow or stop the fermentation). Another optional ingredient is pectin enzyme. This enzyme helps control the acid extraction, flavor and aroma of the wine.
- There is some wine making equipment you may want to check out. You can buy a special acidity testing kit to test the acidity if you desire. You can also purchase a hydrometer to check the sugar levels. Check the specific gravity level on the hydrometer--the sugar level affects this reading. Table wine has a specific gravity reading of 1.090. Desert wines have a higher reading, and dry ones, lower. This gauge can also measure alcohol levels. Consult the instructions when you purchase the gauge for more detailed information on reading and using a hydrometer. Both the acidity testing kit and hydrometer can be purchased from a wine making supply store. Alternatively you can also use small taste tests throughout the process to determine if your wine is on track.
- Make sure all containers and utensils have been cleaned thoroughly and sterilized. You do not want to ferment any bad bacteria.
- Cover loosely and allow to ferment 3 to 10 days at room temperature (around 70 degrees Fahrenheit or a little above) in a crock or bucket. The container should be glass, ceramic or plastic. Metal containers could cause a negative chemical reaction.
- Strain the liquid and place in a jug to ferment with an airlock on the mouth of the jug that allows the gases caused by the fermentation process to escape. Allow the liquid to ferment for several weeks until it stops bubbling. (An airlock is a device especially made for wine making and can be purchased from any wine making supply company.)
- You can take a taste of your wine as it is in process if you are curious about the taste, but do not indulge in a glassful. It is still fermenting and will probably give you an upset stomach! Do not drink it until the entire process is complete and it has had a chance to age.
- Strain the liquid again with fine mesh or cheesecloth. Place in a jug and repeat the previous step, allowing the liquid to ferment for several more weeks.
- When the liquid is clear and fermentation is complete (liquid is no longer bubbling), bottle and cork.
- You can create your own labels and identify your wine with the year and your family name or you can give it a special brand name. You can handwrite the labels or create them in a word program and print them.
- Store it on its side for the first several weeks.
- For the best flavor, store for 6 months to a year before drinking. Some wines improve in flavor if aged longer. This is not the hobby for impatient people. Wine can take anywhere from several months to several years to reach its full potential.
Now you can make wine at home! This makes a great homemade gift for friends and family members. If you are serious about wine making, there are whole books devoted to the topic. You can find great homemade recipes and equipment at a number of online sources.