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Basic Instructions for Home Winemaking
1. Make sure you THOROUGHLY sanitize and then rinse all parts of the kit. Cleanliness is one of the most important aspects of making a wine. Any leftover gunk can turn into mold, destroying all of your subsequent hard work. Gather up your raw materials, be they grapes, concentrate, plums, etc.
You can use commercial winemaking cleansers sold at most winemaking shops, or bleach, iodophor, or B-brite. The aim is to clean out your carboys and other equipment as thoroughly as possible.
Prepare the winemaking area. Try to keep your kit in a room around 70F. This is a natural process that is going on! It needs a good temperature to work with. If the temperature is too hot or cold, your wine is not going to come out properly.
If you’re starting with the raw fruit, press it, strain out the skins for peaches and other fruits, although you should leave red grape skins on if you’re making a red wine. If you remove the skins on red grapes, you’ll end up with White Zinfandel!
2. If your kit came with glucose solids, mix these in first with a kettle of hot water, just like Jello. Once they’re dissolved, mix in a kettle of cold water. Watch it wiggle?
Pour your ingredients or concentrate into your primary fermenter. It’s clean, right? If you’re adding concentrate, add in whatever water they require to rehydrate it – probably 2 bags of warm water. This concoction is called must.
Stir in the starter – usually called “Package 1”. It mixes in better if you take a cupful of the must and pre-mix the starter in that. Note that some kits add this in before the concentrate, like in this photo. That’s OK too.
Does your kit have any sort of flavoring required now? Elderberries? Oak? Add those in.
Now you need to add more water. Add in cold water so you end up with what your kit requires. Many hold 5 gallons. Stir up your mixture. Make sure you stir it with something clean!
Check the temperature, because you want a good temperature for the yeast to grow in. Around 75F is usually good. Write that down. Also, check the specific gravity so you have that on record as well.
If everything is set, add in the yeast. Sprinkle it on top – don’t mix it in. You now have all ingredients set for part 1.
Seal up the container! Put on an airlock of some sort. The mixture will begin to ferment in around 2 days, shown by a bubbling or foaming. Watch for that – if it is too cold, your yeast may not start. You can drop the temperature a bit, to 60-70, when the yeast has begun foaming.
3.If you’ve got Elderberries or wood chips in there, remove them now. Is your carboy clean? Siphon the wine into it, without taking any sediment.
If you’re making white or blush wine, mix Bentonite with maybe 12oz of warm water. Pour this mixture into the carboy.
Using oak chips? Toss them into the carboy.
Fill the rest of the carboy with water that you’ve first boiled and then cooled. Put the airlock on, and leave it for around 12 days.
4.Siphon the wine off, leaving behind the sediment. You can either do this into a clean carboy or just into another container, wash your carboy and send it back in. If you have them, add in sulfites and sorbates and stir well.
Over the next day, stir well at least six times. This removes the carbon dioxide.
At the end of this segment, add in any final ingredients and top off the carboy with cool water.
Let the wine settle for around 10 days.
5.Siphon the wine off, leaving the sediment behind.
Filter your wine, if desired. You can use filter paper, or leave the wine in its natural state.
Bottling the wine can be done with a variety of equipment items to help make this easier. A “bottling wand” is very useful here – it’s a piece of rigid tube with a spring-loaded valve at the bottom. Push on the end and wine flows. Stop pushing and it stops flowing.
There are many styles of corkers. Corkers come in four types: The “bang-it-in” kind, the tunnel kind, the lever kind (where the tunnel is actually part of a plier-like arrangement, compressing the cork), and floor corkers.
For corks, you can also get real cork covered with teflon, agglomerate corks (with or without teflon), or pressed cork dust covered with teflon. Note when choosing bottles that bottles with the drip ring top don’t cork very well.
Label your creation, and set it aside for a time, trying it at various stages along its aging cycle!
BASIC PERMANENT EQUIPMENT
RAW, SINGLE-PASS MATERIALS
Kit, Concentrate or Grapes
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