Wine has been produced for thousands of years with the first known production dated back to as early as 6000 BC. This delicious beverage also contains Resteratrol, which some research shows to be linked to a lower risk of contamination and blood clotting.
Making your own wine can be done with boiling less water since the sugars are easier to extract out of the grape. This guide will show you how to make wine in ten easy steps.
Step 1 – Collect Equipment & Supplies
To make wine, you’ll need the following supplies. A stop at a local wine or homebrew shop should have everything you need to get going.
- Food-grade buckets or pots
- Acid-titration kit
- Fermenting glass jugs (2)
- Corking tool
The Wine Ingredients:
- 20 lb of grapes (per gallon of wine)
- Tartaric acid
- Wine yeast
- Yeast nutrients
- Potassium metabisulfite
- Potassium sorbate
Grapes are the most important part of the process and will drastically change the taste of the finished product. Grapes from the grocery store could technically create wine, but it wouldn’t taste very good.
Winemakers carefully select and blend grapes to get the best possible flavor, often harvesting after just a few dry days. Some local vineyards will let you come out and pick your own grapes or you could just buy must from a local supply shop.
Step 2 – Sanitation
The grape skins have wild yeast on them, which could cause an unpredictable fermentation to occur and ruin your final product. Be sure to sanitize everything that the must will be touching during its journey to become wine.
Remember, there is a difference between clean, sanitary, and sterile. Cleaning is the process that removes all material from the surface. This can be as easy as wiping off the bucket with a sponge.
Sanitizing is the reduction of the total organisms living on the surface. This can be done with special cleaners like StarSan.
Finally, sterile means to remove all organisms.
Step 3 – Getting Grapes Ready
To get all the sugar into the must, all the grapes have to be squashed. This is traditionally done by hand and is still the best method.
First, start by washing all the grapes and taking the stems out. Otherwise, they can contribute weird flavors to the wine down the road.
When crushing the grapes, try to get every grape crushed to release its flavor and sugar. Breaking the seeds will release bitter tannins, which can make the wine undrinkable if it’s too concentrated.
If you have more grapes than hands to crush with, you can rent a wooden fruit crusher. This machine uses rollers and a hand crank to quickly process the grapes. With it, you can crush up to 100 lbs. of grapes in one hour.
Step 4 – Sterilize the Must
Now that the must is ready, it needs to be prepped for the wine yeast to turn it into alcohol. It helps to put all of the must in a “fermentation bag” which keeps all the pulp in one spot but lets the sugar and liquid move freely.
Put the must into a food-safe bucket and add five crushed up campden (potassium metabisulfite) tablets. These will kill wild yeast in the must and ensure that only the wine yeast will be active.
Cover the fermenter with a clean towel or cheesecloth for twenty-four hours. This gives the campden tablets enough time to off-gas any sulfur it creates while sterilizing.
Step 5 – Adjust the Juice
Take your wine from good to great by changing the acidity and sugar content. The titration kit will measure the amount of tartaric acid in wine.
A dry red wine needs between six and seven grams of tartaric acid per liter of wine, for example. Add tartaric acid slowly, and check often, until you hit the range you want.
Sugar is converted to alcohol, and the grape must needs help getting to the right levels. Use the hydrometer to determine the brix (grams of sugar per 100 grams of the must), and top off with sugar until the must is at least twenty-two brix. That should give you 13% alcohol.
Step 6 – Primary Fermentation
Now that the must is sanitary and has the right amount of sugar, it’s time to let the yeast work. Sprinkle a packet of dried yeast onto the must, and fermentation should start within 24 hours, as a ring of krausen slowly forms.
The yeast works pretty quickly, with primary fermentation lasting about a week. Try to find a spot around 70° that isn’t exposed to light for the best fermentation possible.
Step 7 – Remove the Pulp and Racking
After a week, most of the sugar should be consumed. So now it’s time to remove all of the pulp and some of the sediments that have formed at the bottom of the fermenter.
If you’re using a fermentation bag, just lift the bag out and you’re done! Otherwise, you’ll need to strain the must through a cheesecloth to ensure nothing gets through.
Since this step involves some aging, it is recommended to use a glass vessel with an airlock. Glass lets much less air through than plastic and makes a great choice for long term storage.
After fermentation is complete, use the hydrometer to check the brix of the must. It should be less than 0.5, which means fermentation is mostly done.
Add potassium metabisulfite (campden tablets) to the wine to stop the yeast from reproducing, as well as prevent any mold from forming. Use a racking cane to transfer the fresh wine into another container, while leaving all of the sediment behind.
Step 8 – Aging
This step is simply letting the wine rest and continuing to clarify over time. It can be aged from one month up to a year. But generally, letting it sit longer will lead to a better final product.
Step 9 – Bottling
Carefully transfer the wine into bottles, leaving a bit of space between the bottom of the cork and the liquid.
A cork tool will be very helpful for this step. Let the bottles sit upright for three days, then tilt them on their side for the rest of the aging process, as this keeps the cork wet and stops it from rotting.
Step 10 – Enjoy your Wine!
You’ve done it, you’ve made wine, and it’s time to celebrate by opening a bottle. Winemaking has endless possibilities and combinations to try, with lots of exciting and tasty results along the way. Cheers!