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How to Make Homemade Wine: Don’t Miss These Wine Making Tips
If you love wine, you’ve probably thought about learning how to make homemade wine!
Many of us remember our parents making wine and maybe for some it wasn’t such a pleasant memory, especially when you weren’t old enough to drink wine as a kid. Have you had to pick dandelions for your dad’s dandelion wine? If so, I can empathize with you because I do too. We lived in the country where dandelions grew abundantly and freely, unlike my suburban lawn today, where the sight of a single dandelion becomes the embarrassment of the neighborhood.
Hopefully, your tastes in wine, like mine, have matured and acquired new levels of wine appreciation, opting for the sophisticated flavors and aromas of red wine types such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Zinfandel or those found in white wine types, such as Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Moscato, none of which forces us to choose dandelion if we want to dedicate ourselves to winemaking.
Learn how to make homemade wine that tastes great!
You’re probably wondering if homemade wine will taste good, and it’s helpful to know that award-winning homemade wines exist and are fairly easy to make. Homemade wine can produce the same excellent complexity, flavor and aroma of many vineyard wines.
The following information provides you with the winemaking supplies and instructions for making this award-winning bottle of wine. The instructions are easy to follow, but making a good tasting wine takes some nurturing. So we have to patiently wait for our wine to ferment properly, which can take 3-6 months or more. The wine will be ready to bottle after a month and can be drunk in another month, but more time can result in a better tasting wine, especially with red wine.
I know it will be hard to wait, but it will be worth it! You can label your wine, naming it after yourself, your dog, a certain whim or anything else that suits you.
How to make homemade wine – Wine making kit
To learn how to make home wine, I think the best place to start is with a wine making kit. There are several websites that sell the kits. Many of the kits are quite nice, coming packed with reusable equipment, quality ingredients, and easy-to-follow winemaking instructions.
You could make homemade wine from scratch, without using a kit, but you would still need to purchase some basic winemaking supplies, fruit juice, wine yeast, disinfectants, etc. If you buy a wine making kit, all the items you need to make wine at home are included.
How to make homemade wine Simple recipe – let’s get started!
For beginners, it is best to start with a small batch of wine. We will use the following simple recipe to make our wine, and it can be adjusted for dryness or sweetness according to your tastes.
Ingredients for wine making
1 1/2 quarts (48 oz) 100% grape juice: white, red, or blue grape juice* at room temperature 65-75°F
1/2 package dry yeast**
2 1/2 quarts cold water
3 1/4 cups sugar (for a sweeter wine add up to 5 cups sugar)
*Make sure the juice does not contain potassium sorbate, it will prevent the fermentation process from happening properly. However, we will add potassium sorbate later in the process to add stability to the wine. You can buy concentrated “wine grape” juice (ie the juice from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay grapes) from winemaking suppliers and that would actually be the best juice to use. However, for a first attempt at making homemade wine, you may want to stick with frozen concentrate from the grocery store.
** You can get wine yeast from a winemaking supplier, but some winemakers use baker’s yeast. If you are getting wine yeast, check the yeast packaging for the proper amount to use.
Supplies for wine making
As you learn how to make homemade wine, you’ll also learn that many winemaking supplies are reusable, reducing the cost of making wine. You will need the following basic equipment and supplies, many of which you can get from an online wine supply store, along with books on how to make homemade wine.
Chlorinated disinfectant detergent
1 main fermentation container with lid (a bottle, tub or bucket that holds more than the carboy)
1 gallon decanter (a glass or plastic container used to hold acidic liquids, such as wine)
1 stopper and airlock (used in fermentation to allow carbon dioxide to escape from the bottle and protect the wine from outside dust or other contamination)
1 hydrometer (measures sugar, gravity and alcohol in wine)
Stabilizers: one packet of metabisulfite and one packet of potassium sorbate)
Wine bottles and screw caps
How to make homemade wine step by step
How to make homemade wine Phase 1 – Initial fermentation
Disinfect the primary fermentation vessel: To avoid contamination and deterioration of the wine, do not skip this very important step.
Place the juice, sugar and yeast in the sanitized primary fermentation vessel and mix gently but thoroughly with a wooden spoon or place the lid on and shake gently.
Fill the remaining space in the container with water, leaving 1/2″ at the top.
With a hydrometer, measure gravity; you should get a reading between 1,070 and 1,080.
Place the lid on the primary fermenter.
Place the fermenter in a location that maintains a temperature in the 65-75°F range. Fermentation begins in 48 hours.
How to make homemade wine Phase 2 – Second fermentation
On the 7th day, transfer the wine to the carafe as follows:
Disinfect bottle and siphoning materials: To avoid contamination and deterioration of the wine, do not skip this very important step.
Using the siphon tube, siphon the wine into the sanitized carboy without disturbing the sediments in the primary fermentation vessel. You want to keep any sediment in the main fermentation vessel. When siphoning, you will most likely see extra space (due to sediment left) in the cylinder, but you’re not quite done yet.
With a hydrometer, measure gravity; you should get a reading of 1010 or less.
Place the cap and airlock on the cylinder (read the airlock instructions for attachment; fill halfway with water).
Leave the bottle in the fermentation area for 10 days.
How to make homemade wine Phase 3 – Stabilization
On the 17th, measure the gravity of the wine again; you should get a reading of 0.996 or less. Check the gravity again the next day to make sure the wine has a stable reading. Repeat this process until the wine has two consecutive days of stable gravity.
Check the temperature of the wine to make sure it is between 65 and 75°F. If the temperature is below this range, the wine may be slow to stabilize and may have high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2). If the reading is not in the appropriate range, either adjust the heat in the fermentation zone or move the wine to an area with the appropriate temperature.
If the wine is not clear, it may be caused by an excess of CO2. To adjust, add the stabilizers: 1 packet of metabisulfite and 1 packet of potassium sorbate to half a cup of cold water and mix to dissolve. Then add the mixture to the cylinder, stirring vigorously for a couple of minutes to distribute the stabilizers and break up the CO2.
Add water to complete the bubble to within 2 to 5″ of the neck of the bubble.
Replace the airlock.
Let the wine clarify for 8 days.
How to make homemade wine Phase 4 – Clarification and bottling
On day 25 of your homemade winemaking adventure, check the clarity of the wine.
Draw a sample of wine in a glass and examine it in good lighting. If the liquid is not completely clear, leave it for another 7 days. Cloudy wine will not clear after bottling, so do not bottle the wine until it is completely clear.
When the wine is completely clear, siphon it into sanitized wine bottles, then screw-top the bottles.
If you use a screw cap, you can leave the bottles upright; if cork is used, the bottles should be left upright for 3 days, and then put on their sides, lifting them, as happens with a wine rack, to keep the cork moist; otherwise the cork will dry out and air will seep into the wine and contaminate it.
And now is where your patience will pay off. Now that you’ve learned how to make homemade wine, your delicious wine will benefit greatly from becoming even more delicious by aging it in the bottle for at least 3 months!
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