Every winemaker worth his or her salt should be able to make their own wine at home. Whether you enjoy a glass of your own brand on a Sunday afternoon or whether you prefer dabbling in the commercial aspects of winemaking, it is a skill that many people value and wish they had.
Making wine at home is a simple task if the right equipment is used and if the ingredients are fresh. It is a procedure that can’t be rushed, but should rather be treated with the utmost care and respect. The process is general; it’s just the type of grape that changes in colour. These simple steps should ease you into the process if you are a first time winemaker.
You will need the following supplies:
- A 2 gallon jar or bottle. Make sure this has been sterilised in order to prevent cross contamination.
- A 1 gallon carboy
- An airlock. If you don’t have an airlock, use a balloon and poke 5mm holes in it with a needle.
- A thin plastic tube
- Clean wine bottles.
- 16 cups of grapes. Make sure these grapes are clean (no debris, no stems, and no leaves) and are free of any chemicals.
- 2 cups honey
- 1 packet of yeast
- Filtered water
- Crush the grapes using a potato masher or your hand until the juices are released. Make sure the juices are filled up to about 1.5 inches off the top of the crock. If you don’t have enough juice, top it up with filtered water.
- Pour 2 cups of boiling water to the mixture in order to kill the wild yeast.
- Add the honey to the mixture, or white/brown sugar as an alternative. This is done to lend the wine its sweetness, so the measurements can be adapted accordingly.
- Add your own yeast to the mixture by stirring it gently into the crock. This mixture is now called a ‘must’.
- Cover the crock with something that is not airtight, but that will prevent bugs from contaminating the must. Put it in a place with a temperature that is not too hot and not too cold so that the yeast can grow.
- Stir the must a few times a day for the next 3 days. The mixture should be bubbling as part of the fermentation process.
- After the third day, or after the bubbling slowed down, you need to strain out the solids and siphon the liquid into your carboy by using the pipe. Once the liquid is in the carboy, cover the opening with the airlock or balloon to prevent oxygen from coming in, but allowing the gas to escape.
- Let the wine age for at least a month (longer if you can) in order for it to acquire a premium taste.
- Once the time has passed, you may now continue to bottle the wine. A good tip is to add a Campden tablet to the wine in order to prevent it from going sour. Bottle red wine in a dark bottle, and white wine in a clear bottle.