Wine Making


General Directions for Wine Making

The recipe you choose will contain all the specific instructions you need for making your wine. But in this section we lay out the general ground rules in making wine at home so you can get a sense of what's involved. Every wine you make at home will include the following steps.

  1. Clean your equipment and the area you will be making the wine in. We've listed this step first because we think it's important. Unwanted bacteria can compete with the yeast and potentially ruin your wine. Equipment should be clean and sterilized with sodium metabisulfite solution, the wine-making environment should be generally clean, (but need not be sterile).
  2. Prepare your must. You must. Juice your apples, mash your grapes, pick your dandelions, pop the cap on your cranberry juice, dilute your frozen concentrate. Add any additions (sugar, water, acid blend, tannin, pectin, etc) which your recipe may call for.
  3. Put the must in the primary fermenter.
  4. Use hydrometer to check sugar level. Adjust so hydrometer measures about 1.085 SG.
  5. Add one crushed campden tablet per gallon. Stir to dissolve. Wait 24 hours.
  6. Add your yeast.
  7. Ferment until primary fermentation (very fast bubbling) ends, usually about two days to a week at most.
  8. Transfer to your secondary fermenter and apply air lock. When you transfer the wine to your secondary, try to prevent the wine from being exposed to too much air (It doesn’t need to be airtight at this point). Pour it into the secondary the way you'd pour a beer into a glass, gently and down the sides so as not to cause too much turbulence. Use a funnel.
  9. Allow secondary fermentation to continue until fermentation has stopped entirely and the wine is clear (all sediment is on the bottom). This could take e as little as two weeks or as long as three months.
  10. Rack the wine away from the sediment.  Place your secondary fermenter on a chair or counter, a raised position. Gently siphon the wine into a new container on the floor, carefully positioning the hose in the secondary so that it does not suck up any of the sediment. Again, gentle does it: try to avoid exposing your wine to too much air.
  11. Add one crushed campden tablet per gallon to stabilize the wine.
  12. Age your wine. Wine ages better if it ages in bulk, ie in a large container, so it's best to let it sit all together while it ages. Bottle it closer to the time when you're ready to drink it. If after thirty days of aging there is new sediment, rack again. Repeat every 30-60 days if new sediment forms. Store your wine in a cool place away from direct sunlight.
  13. Bottle your wine, transfering the wine to your bottles with your racking tube, and cork/cap it. Bottling and corking is really more of an aesthetic thing. You can of course drink your wine straight from the vat or jug you aged it in!
  14. Serve your wine. Impress your friends. Accept compliments and praise graciously.

Making wine is surprisingly simple, even for the first-timer. Remember that one of the most important ingredients is patience. You'll probably want to bust in and drink your wine right around step number 11. But waiting really is important. Wines improve as they age. Fruit wines will be ready within a few months, but grape wines typically get better the longer they age. Wine ages better if it's aged all together, in one container. Bottle it closer to the time you plan to drink it.

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