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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 child. Did you have to pick dandelions for your dad’s dandelion wine? If so, I can sympathize with you because so do I. We lived in the country where dandelions grew abundantly and freely, unlike my suburban lawn today, where the sight of even one dandelion becomes the talk of the neighborhood.
Hopefully, your wine tastes, like mine, have matured and gained new levels of wine appreciation, choosing the refined flavors and aromas of red wine types such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel, or those found in white types of wine such as Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Moscato – none of which require us to pick dandelions if we want to indulge in some winemaking of our own.
Learn how to make great tasting homemade wine!
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 deliver the same exceptional complexity, flavor and aroma of many vineyard wines.
The information below 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 requires some aging. So, we have to wait patiently 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 drinkable in another month, but longer can lead to better taste, especially with red wine.
I know it will be hard to wait, but it will be worth it! You can name your wine, naming it after yourself, your dog, a particular quirk, or anything else that takes your fancy.
How to Make Homemade Wine – Wine Making Kit
To learn how to make homemade wine, I think it’s best to start with a wine making kit. There are many websites that sell the kits. Many of the kits are very nice as they come packaged with reusable equipment, quality ingredients and simple wine making instructions.
You could make homemade wine from scratch without using a kit, but you’ll need to buy 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 simple recipe below to make our wine and it can be adjusted for dryness or sweetness depending on your taste.
1 1/2 quarts (48 oz.) 100% grape juice: white, red, or blue grape juice* at room temperature between 65 and 75°F
1/2 package dry yeast**
2 1/2 liters of cool water
3 1/4 cups sugar (for sweeter wine add up to 5 cups sugar)
*Make sure the juice does not contain potassium sorbate, it will prevent the proper fermentation process. However, we will add potassium sorbate later in the process to add stability to the wine. You can buy concentrated grape juice (ie Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay grape juice) from wineries suppliers and that would really be the best juice to use. However, for a first attempt at how to make homemade wine, you may want to stick with frozen concentrate from the grocery store.
** You can get wine yeast from a winery supplier, but some winemakers use baker’s yeast. If you receive wine yeast, refer to the yeast package for the correct amount to use.
As you learn how to make homemade wine, you’ll also learn that many winemaking supplies are reusable, which lowers the cost of making it. You’ll need the following basic equipment and supplies, many of which you can get at an online wine store, along with books on how to make homemade wine.
Chlorinated detergent disinfectant
1 primary fermentation container with a lid (bottle, bucket or bucket that holds more than the charcoal)
1 gallon carboy (a glass or plastic container used to hold acidic liquids, such as wine)
1 cap and airlock (used in fermentation to allow carbon dioxide to escape from the charcoal and protect the wine from external dust or other contamination)
1 hydrometer (measures sugar, gravity and alcohol in wine)
Stabilizers – one packet of metabisulphite 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 it gently, but thoroughly, with a wooden spoon or place the lid on it and shake it gently.
Fill the remaining space in the container with water, leaving 1/2″ at the top.
Using a hydrometer, measure the gravity. you should get a reading anywhere from 1.070 to 1.080.
Place the lid on the main fermenter.
Place the fermenter in a position that maintains the temperature in the 65-75 °F range. Fermentation begins within 48 hours.
How to Make Homemade Wine Phase 2 – Second Fermentation
On the 7th day, transfer the wine to the carboy as follows:
Disinfect the charcoal and siphoning materials – to avoid contamination and spoilage of the wine, do not skip this very important step.
Using the siphon tube, siphon the wine into the sanitized carboy without disturbing the lees in the primary fermentation vessel. You’ll want to keep any sediment in the primary fermenter. When siphoning, you will probably see extra space (due to sediment left behind) in the carboy, but don’t fill it yet.
Using a hydrometer, measure the gravity. you should have a reading of 1.010 or less.
Fit cover and airlock to carboy (read airlock instructions for attachment – fill halfway with water).
Leave the carboy in the fermentation area for 10 days.
How to Make Homemade Wine Phase 3 – Stabilization
On the 17th day, measure the gravity of the wine again. you should have a reading of 0.996 or less. Check the gravity again the next day to verify that the wine has a stable reading. Repeat this process until the wine has two consecutive days of constant 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 you may have high carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. If the reading is not in the proper range, either adjust the heat in the fermentation area or move the wine to an area with the proper temperature.
If the wine is not clear, it may be due to too much CO2. To set it, add the stabilizers: 1 package metabisulfite and 1 package potassium sorbate to half a cup of cool water and stir to dissolve. Then add the mixture to the charcoal, stirring vigorously for a few minutes to distribute the stabilizers and dissolve the CO2.
Add water to cover the carboy to within 2 to 5″ of the neck of the carboy.
Replace the airlock.
Let the wine clear for 8 days.
How to Make Homemade Wine Step 4 – Clarifying and Bottling
On day 25 of your homemade winemaking adventure, check for wine clarity.
Draw a sample of wine in a glass and examine it under 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 sterile wine bottles and then seal the bottles with screw caps.
If you use a screw cap, you can leave the bottles upright. If you use corks, you should let the bottles stand for 3 days and then lay them on their side, lifting them, like a wine rack, to keep the cork moist. otherwise the cork will dry out and air will enter the wine and contaminate it.
And now is when your patience will be rewarded. Now that you have learned how to make homemade wine, your delicious wine will benefit greatly by allowing it to become even more delicious by aging it in the bottle for at least 3 months!
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