Wine can be quite expensive, indeed some of the most expensive bottles ever will never be drunk - where's the point in that? Buying cheap wine is all very well, but sometimes you get a really crap wine - so you might as well just make it yourself! This page has all sorts of stuff to do with wine brewing, and links to even more. Enjoy...
Essential to produce the alcohol! The better quality yeast the better the wine is likely to be. You can buy either general yeasts, or yeast specific to certain wine types eg. Burgundy.
This generally contains nitrogen producing chemicals to nourish the yeast and therefore make it ferment to its full potential.
Most fruit wines should not need tannin adding, but many flower or grain wines will. Insufficient tannin will result in a flat, dull wine, whereas too much will make it bitter. Tannin also acts as a preservative.
Adds acidity (funnily enough) and also increases the "fruity" taste.
Antimicrobials to prevent oxidation of the wine. Can be used both before and after fermentation, but if used before ensure at least 24 hours are left before adding the yeast.
Usually in the form of Sodium or Potassium Metabisulphite, this is to sterilise all equipment before use.
If, after allowing plenty of time after fermentation the wine has not cleared, finings can do the trick.
Prevents a pectic haze in fruit wines.
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Basic Winemaking Equipment.
The essential equipment needed to make reasonable wine is fairly easy to gather, and should not need a second mortgage to purchase. The list below indicates the basics, followed by some recommended additions if you can afford them. They make life easier....
At least one demijohn is needed, although two is better. Demijohns are usually glass containers of 1 gallon capacity with a narrow neck into which an airlock and bung is inserted.
Normally made from rubber or cork, they will need to have been bored to allow an airlock to be inserted if they are used for the fermentation stage.
Usually a glass "U-tube" placed in the neck of the demijohn to prevent air entering the demijohn by way of a water barrier. It does, however, allow gasses produced during fermentation to be released.
This must be of food grade, as it will hold the initial fruit mix before fermentation and transfer to a demijohn. The larger, the better, although don't go mad.
Ideal for removing the fruit from the must - the sludge before transfer of the juice to a demijohn.
A length of plastic tubing suitable for food use is necessary for syphoning wine from the sediment into another
container (racking off). It is possible to purchase tubing with a tap at one end but this is purely a convenience thing and is not essential.
Ideally, wine should be transferred to bottles after fermentation, although it can be stored in demijohns for a short time.
Measuring Jug and Scales.
At many points during winemaking both liquids and solids will require accurate measuring, so scales and a jug are essential.
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This will determine the sugar content of a liquid, and by comparing measurements before and after fermentation it is possible to determine alcohol content. It is also a good indicator of when fermentation has ceased.
Fermentation will require a correct temperature at all times - guessing may not always be accurate enough. It is also a good idea to check the temperature of the liquid before adding yeast, as if it is too hot it will kill the yeast.
Helps make less mess when transferring liquids.
If you intend to make larger quantities of wine, it is less time consuming to invest in a large boiling container and a larger fermenting vessel, such as 5.5 gallons. This last point will also reduce the number of airlocks you need.
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Each recipie for wine should come with its own detailed instructions, but as a general rule these steps are standard.
Firstly, get all the equipment and ingredients together! Obvious, yes, but you really don't want to be rushing around after finding you have not got a chemical you assumed you had.
Ideally, have a large, sterile container that will hold all your ingredients at once. Once mixed, take a specific gravity reading and allow to ferment at about 20 degrees celsius. This is primary fermentation and requires air, although ensure no contamination occurs. This stage normally takes about one week.
After this time, ie when the frothing has pretty much stopped, the solids should be removed and the liquid (or must) transferred to an airtight container such as a demijohn for secondary fermentation.
Secondary fermentation is anaerobic - ie without air. A demijohn is ideal for this as it allows a bung and airlock to be fitted. The time taken for this stage can vary considerably, but is pretty much finished when the airlock ceases to bubble. This fermentation stage should be kept at about 15 degrees celsius.
Once secondary fermentation has completely finished, take another hydrometer reading of your wine. This will enable you to determine the alcohol content of the wine (see below.) The wine must then be racked. This is a simple process, and simply removes the wine from any sediment left in the demijohn. If a wine is left on the sediment for too long it may spoil due to the decomposing agents in the sediment. To rack off the wine, simply have a sterilised container in a position lower than that of the container holding the wine. Connect the two with a length of tubing - place one end into the wine, suck some into the tube, and place the other end in the second container. Gravity will continually pull the liquid through. Allow the liquid to clear. Some wines may need 3 or 4 rackings, or one could be sufficient.
The wine may now either be bottled, or sometimes it is more convenient to keep it all in one larger container. Either way, red wines and many white wines will benefit from being kept in green or brown glass to prevent light spoiling the wine, which should also be kept at a relatively cool temperature.
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Hydrometer readings enable you to determine the point at which fermentation of your wine has finished, and also the alcohol content of the wine. Two readings are required; one immediately after adding the sugar at the beggining of fermentation, and the second once fermentation has fully finished. The difference between the readings can be converted into an alcohol volume content by dividing by 7.36. An example would therefore be:
Original Gravity: 1200
Final Gravity: 1105
Decrease = 95 (ie 1200 - 1105)
95 / 7.36 = 12.9% alcohol by volume.
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