Your First Wine From Fresh Grapes
Nothing feels as satisfying and authentic as making your first batch of wine from fresh grapes. And theres no better time to try it than in early autumn, when grapes all over the country are ripening in vineyards and backyard gardens.
There are many kinds of grapes to choose from, depending on where you live. Vitis vinifera is the classic choice for flavor, varietal character and historic authenticity. This famous European wine-grape family includes such renowned varieties as Chardonnay, Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. In the United States, to make a sweeping generalization, v. vinifera grapes thrive in California and the Pacific Northwest. They also grow well in microclimates scattered from New York to the Great Lakes, the Mid-Atlantic states and beyond.
Those who live in colder, wetter climates may not be able to find v. vinifera grapes grown locally. Dont be discouraged. Fine hybrids and Vitis labrusca grapes, which are less susceptible to cold and disease, may be growing near your home. Other options include ordering grapes through your favorite local winemaking shop or from a produce wholesaler.
Whatever kind of grapes you use, the general techniques, equipment and ingredients are the same. Heres an overview of some key steps along the way.
The Wine Grape Harvest
The vineyards are a critical determinant in the end product wines for each and every vintage. Vineyards are like the wine’s bassinets, where early grape life begins and flourishes, for all wine is truly birthed on the vine. The vineyard’s location, climate, terrain, soils, vines and rootstocks, irrigation systems and pest management controls all factor into the final product in one way or another. Sun exposure and time on the vine both play a key role in the grape’s development and specific sugar levels.
Winemaking commences with the annual grape harvest and can be accomplished by either mechanical harvesting equipment or hand harvesting. Hand-harvesting affords more precise selection and often does a better job of protecting the grapes juice content from oxidation due to damaged skins. Mechanical harvesters offer a more efficient, often cost-effective, process and are well-suited for large vineyards that lay on a flat patch of earth. The type of harvest – hand-picking, mechanical harvesters or a combination of the two, is largely influenced by the winemakers final wine style goals as well as budget.
When To Harvest Grapes For Homemade Wine
The best moment for harvesting the fruit for homemade grape wine is the end of September. Of course, its a generally established time, so take other aspects, such as weather conditions and the fruit ripeness into consideration. If the temperature is moderate and the weather is dry – it is the best moment.
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Installing A Water Lock
In order to prevent your homemade grape wine from souring, you should secure it against air-influx and provide an outlet for the main fermentation product carbon dioxide. This can be achieved by installing one of the designs of a water lock on top of the juice container. The most popular one is a classic water lock consisting of a lid, a tube, and a jar .
A simple medical glove with a hole in one of the fingers proved to serve well at home too.
The design of a water lock is not critical, but installing classic water lock on bigger containers is much more convenient. Using gloves is good for smaller containers.
Instructions: Making Wine The Easy Way
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Can’t I Just Do The Whole Thing In The Bucket Rather Than Needing Demijohns
Yes you can, and the starter kit has a hole in the lid and an airlock for that purpose. The caveat to this is that you should not leave an enormous gap between the liquid and the lid . Also ensure the lid is a very tight fit, and never remove it once the airlock is fitted to avoid contamination. Most of us prefer to transfer the must to demijohns after the first fermentation though, not least of all because you can watch your wine clearing. Plus it looks nice.
Making Wine Like A Pro
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How To Tell When The Grapes Are Ready To Make Wine
The grapes are ready to make your own wine at home when they are ripe, but not too sweet. If they taste bitter they aren’t ready yet. You can go by taste but I tend to check the sugar level by measuring the density using a hydrometer . You want the starting starting specific gravity between 1.070 and 1.100 so the grapes need to be somewhere near this. When you add the sugar the SG will increase. Mine was 1.062. Water has an SG of 1.000 the measurements are relative to this. Sugar is denser than water, alcohol is lighter. This means you can calculate the alcohol content by measuring the density at the beginning, after the addition of sugar, and at the end of fermentation. The density at the end was 0.990. There are various online calculators you can use , I calculated the alcohol content of my wine to be 9.8. I am happy with this as it tastes excellent you can get a higher alcohol content if you want by adding more sugar.
There is a lot written on the internet about how to check when grapes are ready, all of them say something different! I would suggest reading around it and doing what feels right for you.
Wash your hands thoroughly, twice, up to your elbows before handling any of the grapes or equipment which will come into contact with them. Wash them again if you touch anything else door handles/kettle/dog etc.
Homebrewing In South India
Where I grew up, this kind of homebrewing was something half the population did, while the other half raised their eyebrows and wished someone would force them to try it. Humans are very resourceful, especially when it comes to our favorite food and drinks. So dont be surprised if that bottle of arishtam the Ayurvedic medicinal drink that you found tucked away in the corner of the kitchen cabinet at aunt Ms place turns out to be something entirely different.
Drinks made from palm sap, cashew apples, and other fruits are popular throughout the region. The homemade versions range from mildly fizzy drinks to higher alcoholic concentrations that could knock you out in a sip. The ones made at home usually tend to be on the milder side, but always exercise caution if someone offers you one of these.
Coming back to the wine in hand I remember my mom fermenting gooseberries with spices to make this delicious Nellikka Arishtam. Nellikka or Gooseberries are packed with nutrients and this was a delicious way to make us all eat it! It wasnt until we all left home that she decided to take winemaking more seriously! Makes you wonder what brought it on! Anyhow the last time I visited she had this amazing chambakka wine waiting for me. Love you AMMA you are the best
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How To Make Red Wine:
- Crush each grape and put it in the carboy or jug in which the homemade wine is going to be prepared. Add 1.5 liters of water.
- Prepare sugar syrup – use half of the sugar and 0.5 liters of water. Pour it to the vessel with the fruit and mix thoroughly.
- Put a cork or a cover with a tube onto the vessel and leave it in a warm place for 3-4 days.
- Prepare another portion of sugar syrup and pour it into the jug. Mix everything and leave it in the same spot for another 7 days.
- After a week strain the fruit, clean the jug and pour the liquid back into it. You should store it like this for another month – only after this time it will be good.
You Can Make Bad Wine From Great Grapes But You Cannot Make Great Wine From Bad Grapes
Equipment: Primary fermenter, stirring spoon, hydrometer, siphon tubing kit, 6 gallon carboy, airlock and bung. A thermometer and brewing belt may be used to monitor and control temperature. A grape crusher/destemmer, a wine press, and a filter can be used to decrease time and labor.
***Be sure to clean and sanitize anything that your grapes and/or must comes in direct contact with.
Crushing and DestemmingCrushing is the first operation where tannins are extracted. When whole bunch clusters of grapes are crushed, tannins are extracted from the grape skins, seeds, and stems. Of these, the stems are the only tannin imparting component that can be removed prior to crushing.Destemming is the removal of stems from grape bunches and may be done before or after crushing. If done after, there is more mess and time required, and more tannin will be extracted. The decision on when to destem depends on your equipment at hand, time, and patience. There are various machines on the market that can be used to crush and destem your grapes. Both crushing and destemming can be done by hand without the use specialized equipment, but the process will be very labor intensive and time consuming.***Stems especially green, non-woody stems increase pH, which will reduce color intensity, fruitiness, and freshness. Stems add bitter and harsh tannins, that will require longer aging and maturation to become balanced and drinkable.
Red Wine Fermentation
White Wine Fermentation
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What If There Isn’t Enough Juice To Fill My Demijohn
For fermentation you ideally want your juice to come up to the ‘shoulders’ of the demijohn. Sometimes when you pour your juice into your demijohn, it’s only then you discover you don’t have quite enough.
To avoid a large gap at the top of the demijohn which can cause issues, simply top up with store-bought grape juice or bottled water.
How To Make Homemade Concord Wine
I have about 2 gallons of homemade Concord grape juice in canning jars. This juice isnt clear and contains pulp but doesnt contain any preservatives. Can I make wine with this and if so how??
Name: CindyHello Cindy,
Absolutely, you can make homemade concord wine with your canning jars of concord juice. I also wanted to take the time to provide an easy and delicious recipe for this wine below.
The first thing to understand is that in the case of making wine with concord as the fruit, you will want to use 100% juice to make the wine. No water will be added. So the most homemade wine you will be making with the concord wine recipe below is 2 gallons.
The second thing to understand is that the fact the juice is cloudy or has pulp in it is not a problem at all. In fact, it could be considered a good thing, as the pulp will allow you to get more body from the concord juice and into the wine. The cloudiness and pulp will clear just fine through the fermentation process.
How To Making Homemade Concord WineYou will want to add to your 2 gallons of concord juice the following:
CONCORD WINE RECIPE:2 Campden Tablets
Wait 24 hours. During this time keep your container of wine must covered with no more than a thin towel. On the next day you will add the wine yeast:
Wine Yeast Lalvin RC 212
The above is based on a 5 gallon concord wine recipe listed on our website:
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Why You Should Have Heard Of Muscadine
One key reason why Muscadines wines should be more commonly consumed is that they are a genuine superfood in terms of the health benefits they provide. Muscadine wines three main compounds responsible for this: polyphenols, resveratrol, and ellagic acid. Tannin, a chemical that lends the wine its dryness and body, is a type of polyphenol, and its density is partly why sugar levels in Muscadine wines are low. However, besides Tannin, Muscadine wines contain many polyphenols that arent found in other wine grapes, and their antioxidant properties are highly beneficial for general health.
There is considerable debate around the exact amount of resveratrol found in Muscadine wines, and whether it grants the benefits it has come to be associated with it. These include cancer prevention, increasing life spans, improving insulin sensitivity, and others. The jury is still out on this one, but if true, it would make Muscadine a rare and unique fruit. Ellagic acid, too, has been linked with cancer prevention, with other reports finding that it can help consumers control their weight, and relieve some complications of obesity.
Traditionally, Muscadine wines carry a medium body, a medium to bright acidity, and a distinct aroma of bananas. Depending on whether muscadine wines is red or white, the drink can carry notes of vanilla, cranberries, oak, dried fruits, melons, and many others.
How To Bottle Homemade Wine
Wine bottling is the last step of the homemade drink preparation, and its sequally important as the previous ones. Glass is one of the most important issues – dark one is the best. The shade doesnt matter – the bottles can be dark green and brown. You can also reuse bottles from store-bought wine and other beverages.
When its ready, wine should be poured into the bottles using a small hose. You can add some sugar if youd like, but be careful not to add too much. If the wine is in the bottles, you can start corking them. The corks must be new. The better the quality – the lesser risk that the bottle will unseal and the wine will go bad. You will also need a special device – a corker.
As you begin bottling your homemade wine, remember that the fermenting process has to be finished. Otherwise, you might get unpleasantly surprised – the bottles will explode.
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What If Something Goes Wrong
All is not lost if air got in somewhere along the line, or you simply don’t like the taste. Simply remove the airlocks and bungs from the demijohns . Put a small piece of muslin over the top of the vessel and secure with a rubber band. Pop it in the airing cupboard and forget about it. 6-12 months later: et voila. Your very own homemade wine vinegar. And yes, we have been known to do that – see evidence below. So your efforts will not have been wasted!
How To Make Wine From Grapes: A Diy Approach
When it comes to home winemaking, anyone can learn how to make wine from grapes. But the real question is: Do you really want to? Even if you have the patience, precision, and right equipment to get the job done, there isn’t a single wine recipe that guarantees you’ll end up with a fantastic bottle of vino.
Some might say it’s as easy as throwing some crushed grapes in a glass container and waiting a few weeks for them to ferment, but that’s oversimplifying things it’s really a process of trial and error. That said, there are some basic ingredients and tools of the trade you’ll need for homemade wine.
Here’s how to make wine from grapes:
Pro tip: Instead of buying equipment a la carte, you can browse online winemakingsupply stores for all-in-one DIY winemaking kits.
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