Grape Wine for Beginners
If you are trying to make grape wine at home for the first time, you will be better off by starting with the wine concentrates. It is a great way of fine tuning your skills. These wine concentrates are available in the market along with the precise instructions, which are almost foolproof. Your efforts and these wine concentrates will produce great results.
However, you can also make wine using homegrown grape fruits. It is important to know that the vinifera grapes are great to make wine with.
Wine Making Recipes with Grapes
The first important step is, wait till the grapes ripen. You can use Brix scale to judge and rate the ripeness or the sweetness of the grapes. You may also like to hold off picking the grapes till you are sure about the ripeness of the grape seeds and the color of their skin etc.
Consulting a person, who is experienced at wine making, will definitely help you. During wine making, you will need the following:
- 2 buckets of 5 gallon capacity.
- Vessels with air-locks such as carboys
- One packet of yeast
- Peptic enzyme
- Potassium bi-sulphate
- Yeast nutrients
- 10 bottles
- Acidity checking kit
A point to remember and to act on after picking your grapes is about the grape stems. For red grapes, stems are removed completely. These stems contain a chemical known as tannin, which may affect the taste of your red wine.
It is very important to sterilize each and every vessel such as buckets, carboys, bottles, and the instruments that you would be using. You can crush the grapes with the grape crusher, a 4x4 wood, a blender, or your bare hands. The grape juice obtained along with the pulp and the skin of grapes is called 'must'.
Fill two, 5 gallon plastic buckets with 4 gallons of grapes and crush them. This would approximately give you 4-5 gallons of grape juice. Don't put any sort of lid on the buckets, however, cover them with a clean cloth.
You can measure the acidity of the juice or must, using acidity testing kit. If you find that its acidity is double than the level you expected, add water to it. You may want to follow the instructions that come along with the acidity test kit.
The sugar content of the juice can be measured with the help of a hydrometer, which will help you in deciding the amount of sugar to be added to the must, if needed. The yeast that is used to ferment the juice, consumes the sugar present in it to produce alcohol or ethanol.
The amount of sugar present in it decides the quality of the wine. A wine containing 9-13% of alcohol in it is considered as of good quality.
It is time to start dressing the must for its fermentation. First add 1 tablespoon of the energy source in the form of yeast nutrients to per gallon of the must. This will provide energy for the yeast during the fermentation process and will keep it active for longer time than usual. The solid particles present in the must take a long time to settle.
You can fasten this process by adding ⅛ tablespoon of peptic enzymes per gallon. Also add 1/16 tablespoon of potassium bi-sulfate per gallon to the must. Potassium bi-sulfate takes care of the molds, bacteria, and yeast present in the must. These chemicals will sterilize it and then dissipate into the air.
Cover the buckets containing the must with a cloth for 24 hours to let the dissipation of the potassium bi-sulfate. After a mandatory wait of 24 hours, add one packet of yeast per 5 gallons of the must to the buckets.
During the first week of the fermentation process, cover the buckets with a cloth. This will allow the carbon dioxide gas to escape. Stir the must on daily basis to break the layer of seeds and skins that has risen to the surface.
After a week of fermentation, draw clean must into a clean 5 gallon carboy with the help of a pipe for second stage of fermentation. You will have to do this without disturbing the sediment and the pulp, resting at the bottom of the bucket.
The fermentation of the must is still continuing. The airlocks on the carboy will allow the carbon dioxide to escape. When the fermentation has completely stopped, add potassium bi-sulphate to the must. This will help in its further clearing and will also improve the flavor of the wine.
The solids in the must will take many months to settle down. Every month, transfer the must or the young wine (which has started the fermentation process) in wine racks to another carboy leaving behind the sediments.
Some wines ferment fast, while some take many years to do so. You, as a wine maker, will have to develop the skill of testing a wine, in order to decide whether it is completely fermented and ready to open.