I’ve been approached on occasion here and on other forums to give a quick tutorial on how I make wine.
Winemaking is something that my family has always done and I picked up the basics young in life. I have had the benefit of going through my father’s
recipe books and the wealth of knowledge he learned from his father as well as his experiments over the years. I’ve been doing it for over 30 years
so maybe something I have learned over that time may help others.
The process itself is simple… sugar and yeast are put in an environment where the yeast eats the sugar and converts it into alcohol until there is
no sugar left and it becomes dormant or the yeast dies when the alcohol in its environment becomes too high for it to live.
Making a wine that actually tastes good is another matter all together.
What I’m going to focus on in this thread is the simplest and easiest wine to make… a berry or fruit wine.
You CAN do this in gallon containers and just use a balloon as an airlock, but what I would recommend as basic equipment to start up is the
1./ a five gallon container. The easiest way to get one is simply buy 5 gallons of water at your local store. You are after the container… I would
suggest buying a container that has a handle.
2./ an airlock. I like the twin bubble airlocks. You can buy them on Amazon with a bung for a few dollars. You will also need some alcohol variant (I
use cheap vodka) to fill your airlock with. You can use water, but that makes the wine susceptible to bacterial invasion in the beginning. PRO TIP…
the “bung” is what you are going to be putting into the mouth of the 5 gallon jug. These come in different sizes! So figure out what size bung
will fit your new container.
3./ a large funnel, preferably one that has a removable strainer.
That’s really about it besides a few kitchen utensils. If you are going to be bottling your wine you will need corks, bottles and a corker… I
used a cheap double lever corker for decades with no problems. You can get one on Amazon for 20 bucks. You can either use recycled bottles or purchase
them… you are looking for a 750ml wine bottle, preferably clear. Corks also come in different sizes!!!
On to the basics.
The 5 important parts of winemaking are water, yeast, temperature, ingredients and time.
1./ WATER. Water quality is important in a wine. Yes, you can make a wine with fluoridated city tap water. I would not recommend it. If all else,
water that has gone through a reverse osmosis process will work just fine, although I am personally not a fan of it because it de-mineralizes the
water and makes the water too acidic.
2./ YEAST. There are many different varieties of yeast. The battle over which yeast is better for which wine has raged for centuries and is a topic
all of itself. Keep in mind, different yeasts give you different flavors, different back tastes, different finished alcohol percentages.
I use 3 different types of yeast…
a./ Red Star or Fleishman’s baking yeast. I will explain why in a moment.
b./ Red Star Montrachet wine yeast. I have experimented with yeasts for decades and always come back to this one for berry or fruit wines.
c./ Red Star DADY distiller’s yeast.
For a basic berry or fruit wine using a wine yeast will not impart any odd flavors to your wine and will get you to a 13-15% ABV. If you want to get
adventurous and make some really good wine that also ends up at over 20% ABV, I will explain double fermentation later in the thread.
3./TEMPERATURE. When fermenting your wine, temperature is important. Under 60 degrees Fahrenheit, your yeast get sluggish and may go dormant. Over 75
degrees Fahrenheit, your yeast may overproduce, add odd flavors to the mix and kill itself off prematurely. A stable temperature though the entire
process allows you to be able to repeat a recipe that you like. Which is why historically wines were made in caves… they have a stable
Temperature is also important with a berry or fruit wine when we prepare the ingredients for the maceration process by boiling them. Maceration is
essentially the process of breaking down the cell structures of your ingredients and allowing the skins, flesh and seeds of the fruit or berry to
leach into the “must”, or body of your wine.
4./ INGREDIENTS. Only pick or get the best quality ingredients that you can. Go organic! You do not want to make a batch of wine that you have taken
the time to concentrate a lot of pesticides in. No rotting fruit or unripe berries. Keep consistent ingredients and again you can repeat a recipe you
ETA... ALWAYS use a cane sugar. Beet sugar has a bit of it's chemical composition that yeast can't digest so it is left in your wine. Your intestines
don't know what to do with it either so it results in gas and/or diarrhea. Like drinking a cheap beer.
5./ TIME. Making wine is not a race. Some wines take months or years to clarify and mature. With most fruit or berry wines, however, the quality and
taste of the wine does not really improve with age so that is a benefit for those starting out. What you pour out of the jug when the fermentation is
done is pretty much what it’s going to taste like 10 years from now out of a bottle.
edit on 19-4-2020 by Lumenari because: (no reason given)