If you are fed up with the wines available in the market or if you are allergic to sulfites in wine, you can now make your own organic wine at home! It’s cheap and easy to make. Bonus, you know exactly what you are putting in your wine so you no longer have to worry about your wine being synthetically produced with chemicals and pesticides.
Did you know? The government of United States permits the production of two hundred gallons of wine per household annually. Organic wine can be made out of any ingredients like bananas, oranges, diverse flowers and even Brussels sprouts. It is primarily made from organically grown grapes as they do not contain harmful sulfites. These sulfites should not be added even during the production process of the wine else, it will not remain organic. All types of wine have the same basic method to make with variations in ingredients, period of maturity and so on. However, making red wine can take as much as up to 20 months while white wine can take 6 months to mature. Making organic wine includes a number of steps starting from tasting and carefully selecting your ingredients to producing wine and bottling it. The steps below are explained in context of grapes as the basic ingredient in the wine.
Crushing and Stemming
Wash the grapes under running tap water carefully. Do not try to wash off the white powdery layer off the skins. It is not residue formed from spraying pesticides. In fact, it is a type of yeast that prevents the grapes from de-hydrating and helps in process of fermentation for making wine, but does not entirely eliminate the need of cultured yeast. It is advised that fresh and plump grapes be selected over the soft or spotty ones. After removing the stems, crush the grapes softly at a low temperature. You should now have a pulp of grapes. Separate juice from the skins.
Maceration and Fermentation
One of the most essential ingredients of wine-making is yeast. It is necessary to start the fermentation process of the fruit and convert sugar into alcohol which should be approximately 12%. You may use dried wine yeast or the normal one available in the market for baking purposes. Since even yeast contains 6 to 40 ppm sulfur, if you choose to not use yeast at all, the wine will take a little longer to ferment. However, it is impossible for any kind of wine to not contain any traces of sulfur or its by-products at all.
Mix yeast with equal quantities of juice of berries and water. Later add it to the grapes. During the process of maceration, the wine develops its color and body. It is advisable that you let the grapes and yeast interact with each other for a long time. This gives the wine its quality, tannins, clarity, smell and taste. Prematurely bottling it will spoil your wine. Change the container of fermentation after every 20 to 25 days, this is called racking. Add half a cup of sugar each time until the fermentation stops. Seal your containers with an air lock. The time period of racking is different for all wines. During fermentation, punch your fruits in with a large spoon and take adequate care of the temperature and the level of gravity at which you keep your grapes for fermentation.
Note: Do not bottle the wine before the yeast has stopped working completely. This takes generally 3 to 21 days. This is because the yeast also keeps producing carbon-dioxide in the process. Use a hydrometer. The reading should not be more than 1, otherwise the yeast still remains active.
When you open the container’s seal, you will notice air bubbles escape. This is an indication that the yeast has stopped working. You may drink the wine immediately after the wine making process is complete or let it age for a few months and taste a mature wine. Place your bottles in a dark place at a low temperature. Preservation of organic wine is important as it does not contain sulfites for preservation. Cork them well to keep the wine 100% air tight.
Pointers for Making Organic Wine at Home
- If you do not have yeast available, you can use this trick to substitute the yeast. Pour a mixture of water and sugar on a piece of fresh bread and keep it in a warm corner.
- Any formation of a white layer on your wine should be quickly removed and filtered to prevent the yeast or bacteria from consuming the alcohol and converting it to carbon-di-oxide.
- Avoid using Campden tablets in your wine which is often used to prevent spoilage from yeast/bacteria.
- Slow fermentation can spoil fruit juices especially that of melons. Montrachet and Lalvin EC 1118 wine yeast are a good and quick fermentation options.
- A sugar level of 24 or 25 in your fruit ingredient will give your wine an estimated 12.5% alcohol content.
- Replace citric acid with orange or lemon juice. You can also use acid blend instead.
- Unripe fruits can give the wine a sour taste by increasing the level of acids, so dilute such fruit juices in water.
- Calculate portions carefully and check fruits for soft spots and spoilage.
- Avoid oxidation while making this wine at home. Store wine in air-tight containers at all stages.
- Always sterilize all corks, bottles, equipment and vessels for at least 2 to 5 minutes.
Due to the weather conditions, not so surprisingly, California, produces 90% of the total wine production of the U.S. Organic grapes need a sunny and dry climate to thrive in. However, American and French hybrid grape varieties are far more suitable than their European counterparts for eastern areas.
Do not be fooled by wines available in the market that read “made with organic ingredients” on the label, because the content or organic ingredients in these wines may be as low as 25% which does not render the wine as organic. Be sure to hold the next wine tasting party at your place and impress your friends with your own homemade organic wine.