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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...


Winemaking Chemicals.



Yeast.

Yeast Extract.

Tannin.

Citric Acid.

Campden Tablets.

Sulphite.

Finings.

Pectolytic Enzyme.

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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....


Demijohn (Carboy).

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.

Bungs.

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.

Airlock.

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.

Large Container.

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.

Sieve.

Ideal for removing the fruit from the must - the sludge before transfer of the juice to a demijohn.

Plastic Tubing.

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.

Wine Bottles.

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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Useful Equipment.




Hydrometer.

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.

Thermometer.

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.

Funnel.

Helps make less mess when transferring liquids.

Larger Containers.

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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Basic Techniques.



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.



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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