How to Make Wine
Making Wine using a Wine Kit, Grapes, Fruit or Flowers.
Making your own wine at home is easy when you use one of the many kits on the market today. The procedure varies slightly depending upon which type of kit you use, and the manufacturer's instructions should always be followed precisely, but, in general it entails little more than adding yeast to a sugar rich solution of concentrated grape juice in a brewing bin or demijohn and then leaving it for 5-21 days in a warm place to ferment. During this period, the yeast converts the sugars present into alcohol and carbon dioxide. At the end of the fermentation period, when most of the yeast has died and fallen to the bottom of the fermenting vessel the wine is transferred to another fermenter in order to aid the removal of the dissolved Carbon Dioxide prior to adding the stabilising powder and clearing solution. A few days later, the wine will be clear and ready to bottle. All wines will improve if left for a few weeks to mature before drinking.
Instead of using grapes or grape concentrate as your base ingredient, it is perfectly possible to use any edible fruit, vegetable of even flowers as a base ingredient, though the procedure is more involved and will usually take MUCH longer than it would take to make wine from a kit. When these items are used, the resulting drink is normally known as "Country Wine".
What do I need?
You can make wine with very little equipment, some of which you will probably already have at home, but it is probably easier (and will usually produce better results) if you have some specific equipment that you keep and use only for brewing. As an absolute minimum you will need:
- Something to boil water in - you only need a couple of pints to make up a kit, so a kettle is fine.
- Something to store the wine in when it has finished fermenting - clear or green bottles or a reusable wine box.
- Something to transfer the beer from the brewing vessel to the storage vessel - a simple syphon tube is ideal.
As long as the equipment is clean and sterile, you could feasibly brew the beer in a dustbin and transfer it to empty plastic fizzy drink bottles using a measuring jug and a funnel (not too long ago, that was precisely how most homebrewing was done...) Realistically, better results will generally be obtained from using specialist equipment that can be easily cleaned and sterilised and kept specifically for brewing use.
As a minimum, the following equipment will be needed to allow you to make your first batch:
- A Wine Kit of your choice - 6 or 30 bottle size
- Enough water to top up the kit to 4.5-23 ltrs.
- A 1 gallon demijohn or 5 gallon/23ltr brewing bin and lid
- A cleaning/sterilising solution to clean all your equipment
- A syphon tube to transfer the beer from the fermenting vessel to the storage vessels
- New or re-used glass wine bottles, plastic fizzy drinks bottles or a wine bag to store the wine
The following items are not absolutely necessary but will make life a lot easier:
- A hydrometer to check the Specific Gravity of the "must" as it progresses
- A thermometer to check the temperature of the "must"
- A thermostatic heater to maintain the correct temperature to promote fermentation (18-22º C)
- A long handled Brewing Paddle or Spoon to make mixing the beer kit easier
- A Syphon tap or an automatic bottle filler to make bottling easier
- Patience - though not as much as when making country wines.....
See the full process for making up a 6 bottle wine kit in pictures
It is perfectly possible to make wine using your own grapes or fruit (and even flowers), but the techniques require much more effort and intervention to ensure that the sugar content and acidity are correct before the yeasst is introduced. Fermentation, clearing and maturation all tend to take longer than would normally be expected when using a specially prepared wine kit. We would always recommend that you curb your initial enthusiasm to use your own ingredients and suggest that you make up a few wine kits first so that you get to know and understand the fermentation and "handling" procedures prior to attempting to use "raw ingredients".