Sunday, June 8, 2008

Wine, the Beginning - Cleanliness is next to Godliness!

To learn wine making basics you have to use a lot of common sense. Once you decide to make a batch wine, you will need to invest in some equipment. If you haven't already collected the equipment that we talked about below, it might be a good idea to purchase your wine making supplies from a supplier. You can get these online ... see ads to the right or go to a home brew supplier. The basic kit should include a 6.8-gallon bucket with lid for primary fermentation, a 3-piece fermentation lock, a 5-gallon glass carboy for secondary fermentation, a drilled stopper to fit, some lengths of vinyl tubing for transferring to bottles, a thermometer, corks, a corker, and of course you will need wine bottles. This is all you need to get started. A hydrometer is a lot of fun because it lets you know what your alcohol content is.

Next comes one of the most important steps ... SANITIZE THOROUGHLY ..... !!!!!! In this case cleanliness is next to Godliness! Any cooties left over in your equipment can cause mold to grow and that means all your hard work is destroyed. You can use commercial wine making cleansers sold at most wine making shops, or bleach. The aim is to clean out your carboys and other equipment as thoroughly as possible. If you use bleach begin by sterilizing your primary fermentation vessel (the plastic bucket) and lock with a solution of ¼ cup chlorine bleach to 5 gallons water. Rinse completely. For the commercial cleaners just follow the instructions on the package.

Decide on the wine making area. The room should be 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.

Next, decide what you are going to ferment!

Fruits, vegetables, honey, even dandelions will work, but, for your first project, stick to something reliable. Berries, concentrates, grapes, peaches, cherries, or plums are all good choices of wine for the beginner.

If you're starting with the raw fruit, begin with about 12 pounds of 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! You can use one kind of fruit or a combination. If you don't want to press it, you can freeze the fruit. Freezing makes it unnecessary to crush the fruit as freezing ruptures the cell membranes, allowing the juice to flow freely.


Now we go back to making sure that our bucket in sanitized and rinsed thoroughly. Add the thawed fruit. Bring four gallons of good quality water to the boil and add 8 pounds of sugar. You can use regular granulated sugar, but corn sugar will producer a nicer flavor. Boil until the sugar is dissolved then pour over the thawed fruit in the fermenter/bucket. This step pasteurizes the fruit, killing all the wild yeasts. Cover with the lid and allow to cool down to 90Âș F. When the mixture is cool, add the yeast, ½ tsp. pectic enzyme, and 1 teaspoon yeast nutrient. Press the lid down tight and insert the fermentation lock in the small hole provided. Fill the lock about half full of water, put the second piece in place and snap down the lid.


Place the bucket in a cool, dark place and wait for the magic to happen! Check back the next day and there should be evidence of fermentation, maybe some bubbles escaping from the lock. This can be exciting, watch it until you are bored, then go away and leave it alone again for two weeks. You can check back periodically but there is really nothing to do except sniff the aroma escaping in each little bubble and start polishing your wine glasses!


Use your basic wine knowledge to make homemade wine .. it's fun!




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