When initially attempting to conquer this Info Barrel "how to" article, I must admit, my experience with wine making had been nearly in-existent. Outside of an occasional glass of this time-honored fluid, over a candle lit dinner or a fiance-picked "chick-flick", I considered myself a novice in just about all aspects of wine making. I knew that I liked what I tasted, and that was all I needed to further ignite my curiosity about how to make wine.
While visions of the old "I Love Lucy" series, where Lucile Ball was found vigorously trampling poor and helpless grapes under her own bare feet,replayed continually in my head, I couldn't help but do my own research regarding an aged tradition that Italians have kept 'bottled-up' for centuries. This particular Info Barrel article will focus more so on the process, and technique, of how to make wine, rather than focusing on any particular wine making recipe. While you may decide to engage in this process for fun, there is a chance that you may not particularly 'like' the final product, at least not as much as the more professionally derived, home brewed, wine from your local Wine and Spirits type shop.
As I try to consistently encourage in my 130+ Info Barrel articles, if you notice any steps that are done wrong, unsafely, or could be done better, please feel free to notify me, in the comments section, at the tail end of this article.
Things You Will Need
- a Container (can be made of plastic or glass) (#1)
- a Rubber Stopper (#2)
- an Airlock (#3) (Explained further in Step #10, below!)
- a Stirrer, to mix the solution (#4)
- a Funnel (#5)
- a Turkey Baster (#6)
- Another plastic bottle/container (#7)
- a Siphon (#8)
- Sanitizer (#9) (Explained further in Step #7, below!)
- Any type of fruit juice, that does not contain additives like Sorbate. (Explained further in Step #3, below!)
- Sugar (Brown, White, or Honey. Explained further in Step #4, below!)
- a Fundamental Understanding of Alcohol, and its effects on the body, so as to refrain from engaging in any behavior to yourself, your family, or your friends.
While each one of these pieces of equipment is extremely important, to detail each of their purposes in this rather lengthy process would really take quite a bit of time. I have tried, my hardest, to integrate more clarity, for each item of equipment, into the actual steps (Step #2, in particular) of this process below!
Step 1Prior to learning how to make wine, it is imperative that one realize the mind-altering affects that partaking in alcoholic beverages can have, in general. For purposes of this Info Barrel article, it is imperative that I dedicate a step towards these disclosures and warnings, for the safety of yourself, as well as, the safety of others. Whether you are partaking in beer, wine, or any other form of spirits, it would definitely be irresponsible of myself to encourage you to make wine (or provide you with the steps/resources) without giving you a thorough run-down of the negative aspects of alcohol consumption. It is, in fact, activities such as driving under the influence that has claimed more annual deaths than cancer has claimed. As an adult, hearing this repeated may become really quite tiresome, however, it is important for me to state prior to proceeding with the remainder of the 'how to make wine steps' in this Info Barrel article.
Beyond safety, it is also important for you to know these things, prior to proceeding to make your own wine:
- It is completely legal to make, or 'home brew', your own wine in the United States, as well as, a variety of other places, and countries, around the world. It is important to check that it is legal for you to make wine, wherever you may live, prior to proceeding.
- In the United States, unless this has changed recently, you can only make up to 100 gallons of wine, by yourself, at any one time, in a year. This regulation is increased to allow up to 200 gallons of wine to made, as a maximum, if you have more than one person (yourself) engaging in the wine making process. To make this clear, two Hundred gallons is the maximum amount of wine you can make whether you live with 3 people, or 300 other people.
- As a reader of this article, if you can think of, or have heard of any other points that are imperative to express in this article, it would be an honor to have you share them, for other readers, in my below comments' section, at the tail end of this article!
Step 2In this step, it is important for you to fully understand the equipment that you'll be using to make your own wine, as well as, exactly why you will be using it. While I have provided a more streamlined version above, in my "Things You Will Need" section, in this step I will expound upon each one of these particular items, in greater detail.
#1) Prior to researching the 'how to make wine' process, I admit, I had absolutely no idea that plastic containers were divided into several different 'types', by code, for recycling purposes. Here is a great resource that explains the 'seven code system' for plastic container types and classifications. It is important for you to be cognizant of this system because the container that you use for your wine making must be a #1 (Polyethylene Terephthalate (PETE)) or a #2 (High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)) plastic container on this chart. This consideration is given primarily because the wine making process that you will be engaging in will require stable enough plastic properties that will not allow microscopic particles of oxygen to seep in and essentially 'contaminate' your pure wine concoction. Any type of ensuing oxidation will cause your home brewed wine to have a horrible stale taste that will be intolerable to both yourself, and to your guests, family, friends, or significant other.
I do highly recommend that you view the above link that I provided, before choosing your plastic container. With #1 plastics being the most widely recycled plastic, chances are high that you won't run into this issue, however, it is important that you be cognizant of this fact prior to proceeding to understanding more about the second item that will be required in order for you to learn how to make wine.
#2) You will need a rubber stopper, however, this is only necessary to obtain if you are using the tubing or commercial airlock. Your rubber stopper should be typically a size #8 or size #9 rubber stopper that has a 1/4 inch drilled hole through it from top of the stopper, to the bottom. The hole should ultimately be parallel to the longest sides of the stopper, in depth, rather than horizontal to the shortest base.
#3) Your 'airlock' may take a variety of forms that is dependent predominately on your own preference. You may use a balloon, a pvc pipe, or a commercial airlock. Commercial airlocks are typically the most recommended for your 'airlock' requirement.
#4) Because you will need to ultimately mix your solution, you must have a stirrer that is capable of fitting into the neck of your bottle.
#5) a Funnel
#6) a Turkey Baster
#7) Another Plastic Bottle/ Container
#8) a Siphon
Step 3In this step, you should either scavenge your own kitchen cupboard for any type of fruit juice, or, of course, you can go to your nearest supermarket or superstore to obtain it. Just about any type of fruit juice will work for this wine making process, whether it be apple juice, grape juice, orange juice, cranberry juice, or any other fruit juice. By virtue of it containing fruit juice, it is able to be fermented. It is important, however, that you read the ingredients on the fruit juice label, so as to avoid the inclusion of any detrimental additives, such as sorbate. If the fruit juice you hope to use contains an additive called sorbate, all your efforts will be destined for failure, long before you even get to the 'meat' of this how to make wine process.
When obtaining fruit juice, it is also important to know that the amount of fruit juice you purchase should directly correspond to the amount of end wine product you hope to produce. For example, if you hope to produce one gallon of wine, you should be using a gallon of fruit juice for this process.
Step 4You will need to obtain sugar because yeast needs sugar in order to grow. While the fruit juice you use, whether store purchased or freshly squeezed, will have naturally occurring sugars in it already, you do also need to obtain sugar in order for this process to be successful. The type of sugar you purchase will be directly related to your taste. Unfortunately, it is difficult to say which you will 'like' most at least until you begin conducting your own experiments with sugars. What you may like, someone else may not like, and the inverse is also true.
For this reason, it is important that you be cognizant of the fact that using brown sugar, or white sugar, or even honey will result in a wine product that is adequate for consumption, however, each will produce a slightly different taste than the other.
Step 5Yeast can make, or break, your wine making, or home brewing, process. It is for this reason that it is paramount that you pay particular attention to the type of yeast you actually include. I have not personally tried using many types of yeast, however, I have heard that champagne or wine yeast work best. On the other hand, I have heard that horrible tastes can emerge if one decides to use baker's yeast, distiller's yeast, or high alcohol yielding yeast. For this reason, you should try hard to avoid these particular types of yeast.
Step 6As you may have noticed, because of the importance and sheer attention to minute details required in the inclusion of certain ingredients in this how to make wine process, I decided to make certain ingredients their own 'Step'. The chemicals you can use are really quite extensive in nature, and, I will include them at a later date. While they are important, they are also not an absolute necessity in this process.
Step 7Because of the fundamental, chemical, nature of this process, it is absolutely imperative that you sanitize every last piece of equipment that you use. Please, refer back to this Info Barrel article's "Things You Will Need" section, and ensure that each piece is given the proper sanitization it deserves prior to beginning. While yeast is your most important ingredient in this how to make wine process, the sanitizer will be the most important piece of 'equipment' that you use.
Cheap household bleach is an acceptable form of 'sanitizer' that you can use, however, I would advise against it for a variety of reasons. If you have ever used bleach to clean anything, you may be familiar with the powerful, chemical, smell that can emerge. If you have no other choice but to use bleach, you must be sure that you have quite a bit of water at the ready. You will need this water in order to wash out the bleach, so as to avoid this strong chemical smell.
If you would like to ensure optimum sanitization is achieved, you should really consider obtaining an iodine sanitizing solution. There are many types, or brands, of iodine sanitizing solution out on the market. This thread, entitled sanitizing questions, at a well known forum entitled homebrewtalk.com, does give detailed explanation regarding what types of sanitizer solutions homebrewing 'professionals' actually use. You may find this forum to be extremely beneficial and a great complement to this Info Barrel article of mine! In my research regarding just about every aspect of the how to make wine process, I have noticed that the use of certain sanitizer solutions can actually help elicit even greater effects from your included ingredients, like the yeast, which is a good thing and something you should be cognizant of when picking a sanitizer solution.
Step 8For this step, I will, once again, refer you to this awesome recipe forum at homebrewtalk.com. While this forum has an extensive list of great recipes that are all conveniently divided into subcategories based on the homebrewer's preference for drink, you can find a rather extensive list of various, user-submitted, wine recipes under the 'wine' subcategory. While each recipe will requires it's own particular set up, and attention to detail, for the sake of this Info Barrel article, it is best that I simply refer you there.
Step 9While the above recipes *should* detail specifically how you should actually go about pouring your fruit juice, and mixing your ingredients (yeast, etc.), these will be specific to your chosen recipe. More than likely, there will be a correct sequence that you should add each given ingredient, and this should be adhered to in accordance to your chosen recipe. Once again, it is important to remember that you will need the same amount of juice as what you hope for your end process to be. If you hope to make 5 gallons of wine, then you must be prepared with 5 gallons of juice prior to starting.
For each ingredient that you add, it is important that you pay attention to your chosen recipe to the "T". Wine making, or home brewing, is an art that has been refined over years, and with such high search engine rankings, my hope is that such forums as homebrewtalk.com will be an authority in the niche that it has carved out. I have read, and researched, quite a bit over there, so I have absolutely no reservations about sending you there!
Step 10In accordance with your chosen how to make wine recipe, once you have poured in your fruit juice, mixed in your yeast, and poured in your remaining fruit juice, it should direct you towards the importance of attaching one of a variety of airlock alternatives. Here is a great website that details 'why' it is absolutely important to use an airlock in this process!
Step 11Once you have attached your airlock, it is imperative that it not be tampered with. After you have put so much work into this process, it would be a shame to see it all fail at this stage, because your child or dog tampered with it. As you can tell from the picture of the airlock above, that is naturally a piece of equipment that looks 'fun' and may spark your child's inherent curiosity. For this reason, it is important that your wine be stored in a safe place that is away from anywhere your child, or pet, may go. You may consider storing it in your basement, or up high above your refrigerator.
During this time, your wine will ferment and gradually approach a final product that is ripe for tasting and consumption. While this time frame will vary in accordance with your chosen recipe, based on my research, 4 to 5 weeks appears to be the norm to allow your wine to ferment. This is another stage of this how to make wine process that should appear in accordance to your chosen recipe. Because your recipe and the 'process' will be so tightly intertwined to the success, or failure, of your wine making endeavor, it is important that you pay very close attention to every single element of your recipe.
While you can certainly go out an purchase your own wine commercially, at any Wine and Spirits type store, wine making, or home brewing, is something that many people engage in every year. It can actually be a fun process that many people have perfected to a scientific art form. Because the amount of steps, and equipment, involved in this process are really quite exhaustive in nature, especially when one considers the plethora of recipes and equipment alternatives that one can use, I sincerely hope that you don't mind that I sent you to other websites in order to find particular information.
Tips & Warnings
Do not drink and drive!
Do not drink underage!
Do not drink while pregnant!
Do not drink if you have any liver issues!
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