A Beginners Guide To Making Wine
Ever fancied yourself as a winemaker? While the process isn’t as straightforward as ‘turning water into wine’, it is something that anyone can do at home. All you need is the right tools and of course, the right method!
In today’s post, we’ll be concentrating on how to make red wine. While it is possible to make white wine at home, the process is a lot more complex. However, red wine is the perfect tipple of choice for beginner’s who are looking to craft their own versions. Here’s everything you need to know. Corks at the ready!
What You’ll Need
Grapes: The fundamental ingredient of wine is grapes, and for red wine, you’ll need red grapes. However, not all grapes are created equal. Depending on where the grapes are grown if they are organic and how ripe they are can all affect the final taste of the wine. Where possible, select grapes that aren’t too ripe.
Grape press: To extract the juice of the grapes, you’ll need a grape press. These can be purchased relatively cheaply, especially if you are only looking to make small batches. Note: While you could technically put your grapes through a juicer, the fruit stones would be destroyed and this would leave you with a very bitter tasting wine. So, it’s best to stick to a physical press instead!
You’ll also need:
- 3-4KG of sugar
- Wine or champagne yeast
- Large plastic bottle (at least 25kg capacity)
- Rubber stopper
- Sanitising solution
- Wine bottles
Step 1: Sanitise
Before you get started, it’s really important to thoroughly clean and sanitise all of your equipment. That’s because bacteria will otherwise act as a magnet towards all of that sugar and water you’ll be using throughout the process. It’s also possible to buy specialist sanitising solutions that are specifically for homebrewing, which will save you time and effort.
Step 2: Mash Those Grapes
Now it’s time for the fun part! Run your grapes under water to give them a good rinse, and place them into your winepress. If you are using a manual press, you’ll need to crank it until all of the juice is pressed into the bucket. This step requires a little elbow grease, but as grapes are fairly soft it won’t take too long to work through them all. Once all the grapes are pressed, you need to leave the juice to settle for a few days. What will happen during this time is that the sediment will fall to the bottom, leaving the juice on top. You’ll then need to siphon this off. You can also use an additional filter to refine the juice even further.
Step 3: Add Yeast & Sugar
Both yeast and sugar will provide the enzymes that will allow the grape juice to ferment and develop into wine. Use a funnel to add in 3KG of sugar into your juice, and be sure to thoroughly stir this in as you do so for a couple of minutes. Repeat the process with the yeast (check the packaging to see how much you need to add, versus how much wine you are making). Ensure you leave around 10-12cm of space at the neck of the bottle, as during the fermentation process foam will build up.
At this point, you can alter the strength of the wine by using a hydrometer. Most red wines are between 12% and 15% ABV. If yours is too low, add in a small amount of sugar and test it again until you reach your desired alcohol content.
Step 4: Airlock It
Using your rubber stopper, you’ll need to attach the airlock to the container. An airlock is the same as what you’d use to ferment beer, as pictured above. This step is more of a waiting game, as you’ll need to leave the juice to ferment so it can turn into wine. The average time this takes is about four weeks. Be sure to place the container in a cool and dark place, so it won’t be affected by the heat or sun. During the four weeks, you can check on the airlock to make sure it’s working correctly, but resist the temptation to remove it. Once the four weeks are up, taste your wine. If you are happy with the flavour, then you can begin to bottle it. If not, leave your wine for another week to develop further.
Step 5: Bottle Your Wine
It’s now time for the airlock to be removed so that you can siphon the wine off into the bottle. This step is pretty fool-proof, though you can also add in a coffee filter to remove some of the yeast for an enhanced flavour. Pour in the liquid, and leave enough room to add a cork at the top. If you want to personalise your wine, design and print a label to stick on it. When done correctly, homemade wine makes for a thoughtful present. You can of course, just enjoy it yourself!
Find Out More
We hope our above guide on how to make wine has inspired you (we also have a wine buyer’s guide that might help you out). It’s worth noting that homebrewers across the globe have different methods when it comes to all stages of the process. Though, in many ways, that’s part of the fun as it means the wine you make will be unique. You can also experiment with different grapes and manufacturing processes to develop different flavours and alcohol strengths.
Has all that talk of wine whetted your appetite? The good news is that you don’t have to wait four weeks for wine if you order a bottle from Bring Me Drink. We have hundreds of red wines, white wines and champagnes to choose from. Whether you are looking to buy a single bottle or order in bulk, your wine will be delivered straight to your door.