Making wine is a wonderful hobby and has been around for a very long time. Often, home wine makers can become a business if they want to pursue that side of it. For me its simply fun, and rewarding. I was recently asked about the process that I use so I will attempt to describe it as well as provide photoís of the steps.
I think I will start with a list of ingredients, equipment, and tools that I use. Note here that you donít need to use exactly what I do, or follow every one of my steps. Its just what MY process is. You can research and experiment just like anything else and that is part of the fun. I learned from my uncle and it has worked for him and myself for many years.
First, my list of equipment:
5 gallon glass carboys
1 gallon glass jugs
5 ft small diameter plastic tubing
5 ft larger diameter plastic tubing
Several funnels of different sizes
Corks in assorted sizes
Empty wine bottles
Notebook and pen/pencil
6 quart pot
Ingredients I use:
Pure cane sugar (cheapest brand)
Wine or fruit juice
Potassium metasulfite( sterilizer )
Pectic enzyme(helps clear fruit wines)
Okay, now the fun begins Iíll try to describe this as best that I can, I have never been much for writing.
Starting your wine. I like to start with the step that takes the longest. Take your pot, add a five pound bag of suger, then add maybe a quart or two of water. Or however much it takes to fill pot. Start with less water, you can always add a little more. Place it on the stove and set to boil. Stir this occasionally, once its at a rolling bowl you should have a sort of suger syrup. If it seems to thick, add a little water. If its seems to thin add a little suger. You want it to be a little thinner than honey, and maple syrup consistency. It should also have a slight golden look to it. After you have reached this turn off the burner and just let it sit. You should have a small bowl, in this bowl you should have 1 cup of warm water. Add the proper amount of yeast nutrient, one yeast packet, and a half cup of your suger syrup. This is to get the yeast starting working before adding it to the juice you have selected. Gently stir once, watch for thirty seconds to a minute. You may be able to see a Bubble, and movement. it will have The smell of bread due to the yeast. At this point you will add the mixture to the five gallon carboy that is holding your juice. Use the funnel here. You then also had the acid blend and about 2 cups of your suger syrup to the carboy. Side note here, if your carboy is very full be sure to remove some juice. We often set what we remove in the fridge for drinking or making jams. Back to topic, Now you should be seeing a lot of bubbling, and foaming action. Wipe out inside mouth of carboy to remove any residue with paper towel. Dip cork with topper in sterilizing solution and wipe off with paper towel. Place cork and topper into carboy. The topper has a little bit of water in it and should start bubbling within a few minutes sometimes. After a day it should be bubbling rapidly and smell absolutely delicous. This is good, all the ingredients are working. Label your carboy with the name of wine or juice, the date and place into storage. Be sure to monitor for a week because sometimes the wine will bubble so much it spills over. So heres the hard part Now we have to wait five to six months!
Racking is the term I use for the process that takes place multiple times after the initial start process.
Its very simple, after the sugers, and yeast do there thing the yeast dies and settles to the bottom of the carboy. Try hard when moving the carboy to not mix it up too much. At the six month mark we bring out the full carboy and one empty carboy. We use the larger hose or tubing to siphon the wine from one to the other while not disturbing too much of the sediment. At this point while its siphoning we add another two cups of suger syrup as needed. If it tastes good we may add less or none at all. It merely sweetens it and raises the aclohol content. We prefer to do this process at least three times. Which puts our wine they way we like it around the twenty -two to twenty-four month mark.
Now that we have waited, and racked several times its finally time to bottle. The wine bottles should be cleaned, and sterilized. And the corks should be placed in sterilizer until used. This time we use the tiny hose(tubing) to siphon the wine from the carboy to the bottles. Fill one, pinch the hose to slow down or stop the flow. Move to the next bottle and release hose to fill. Repeat until all the bottles are filled or your carboy is emptied. generally what little few drops left in the carboy are poured into my cup for a double tasting to verify its ready
. Now we take each bottle one at a time place into our corker, and cork. Bottles are moved onto the table for labeling. Again I put name of wine or juice, and year made.
Now for a few finishing thoughts. every time you empty a carboy, or jug. I have found itís best to wash, rinse and sanitize them right away. They are easier to clean and prepped for when they are needed next. I also put plastic wrap or some form of topper on them to help keep out dust even when empty. I also like my wine bottles to be delabeled. I use any bottles I can get a hold of. I wash, scrub delabel them. So when its time for use I only need rinse and sanitize. Helps me save some time.
Also, all of the ingredients have directions written on them about how they should be mixed. Such as my yeast, one package will do all five gallons. Or the acid, it says exactly how much you need per gallon of wine juice.
Hopefully this was clear enough. If you have questions ask away Iíll try to answer them.
Sorry , the pictures are all here at the bottom. But you should be able to make sense of it. There is suger syrup, the ingredients , siphoning, the corker. And finished products.