A nice glass of wine is the preferred tipple of many and provides an ideal way to unwind after a long day at work. But, wine can be expensive, and even if you buy the cheapest supermarket wine, the cost can still inflate your weekly shopping bill.
That’s why more are more people have started make their own wine at home. As well as saving a lot of money on each bottle, wine making can also be a fun hobby to enjoy at the weekends.
What do I need?
Invest in the following equipment and you’ll be on track to ferment your first 30 bottles of wine:
The basic set up:
- 30-litre plastic bucket with lid
- Glass carboy (secondary fermenter)
- Airlock and bung
- Siphon hose
- Bottles and corks
- Hand corker
- Grapes! Approximately 1kg of grapes are needed for each 750ml bottle of wine
- Pectolase – a natural enzyme that improves colour and flavour
- Wine yeast – to convert the sugars into alcohol
- Wine yeast nutrient – vitamins and minerals to help the yeast work
- Brewing sugar – Fuel for the yeast to start fermentation
- Citric acid – adds a lemony zing
- Stabiliser – to keep the wine from going off
- Tannin powder – adds a bitter taste
Grapes or grape juice?
Fresh grapes can be very expensive. Unless you have your own vineyard and an abundance of grapes, you’ll likely want to use grape juice concentrate instead. This is much cheaper than fresh grapes and also easier to work with as you can miss out the step of pulping the grapes. Although squishing them between your toes is certainly the most fun part!
Wine making method
You’ll want to follow these steps to make your own wine:
Starting the batch:
- Clean and sterilise all equipment
- Add water and grape juice concentrate to the bucket
- Add sugar, wine acids, tannin and nutrients and stir well
- Add yeast
- Put on the lid (or cover with a plastic sheet)
- Leave to ferment in a warm place
- Check the density using a hydrometer
Primary fermentation (days 2-11)
- Stir the mixture every day and check the temperature remains between 21-26°C (69-79°F)
- Once you see foam and bubbles, move the mixture somewhere slightly cooler, between 18-24°C (64-75°F)
- Leave the wine to ferment for 7-10 days
- Check the density using a hydrometer. When it’s fallen to 1.020, the wine is ready for the next stage
Secondary fermentation (days 11-90)
- Siphon off the wine into a carboy
- Top up the carboy with cool boiled water
- Taste the wine!
- Attach the airlock – this allows carbon dioxide to escape without letting oxygen in
- Leave the wine to settle
- Repeat the steps above after 10 days, a further 3-4 weeks and again after 4-6 more weeks
- Add finings
- If the wine is cloudy, filter it
- Bottle the wine
- Leave to age for at least one month before drinking
Wine making kits
The easiest way for the novice winemaker to begin is by purchasing a wine making kit. This includes all the equipment you need to make your first bottles of wine, as well as detailed step-by-step instructions so that you can’t go wrong.
The joys of making wine
Drinking wine which you have made yourself is so satisfying. As winemaking is a fairly long process, the anticipation of waiting for the wine to ferment only adds to the pleasure when you finally get to drink it. Whilst a bottle of wine can make a nice gift for a birthday or to bring along to a dinner party, a homemade bottle of wine is that much more special. You can even make your own personalised bottle labels to add that finishing touch.
This is a guest post by Simon Hansen from HomeBrewAdvice.com