How to make home made wine?
Want to know how to make home made wine? At first it can seem a little daunting, there are lots of ways it could potentially go wrong, the main one being that air gets in and make the wine go off. We’re going to run you through the best way to make home made wine. Possibly the easiest way to make wine at home is to buy a kit, and there are loads on the market, with a significant range in prices, depending on whether the kit is a blend of grapes (some have additions that are cheaper like elderflower…) or a single variety of grape, some are even one varietal and from one estate…
Let’s say you’re giving it a go, and have a home made wine kit. The main thing you will need is a vessel to ferment the wine in. There are lots of options out there, from carboys, to fermenting buckets and conical fermenters. What is the best type of fermenter for wine though?
Carboys are flat bottomed glass vessels. Similarly to fermenting buckets they have a stopper (lid for fermenting buckets) with an air lock attached, the air lock is filled with water, which allows the carbon dioxide produced by the wine to escape, but does not allow any air to back fill the bucket, this reduces the amount of air exposure the wine receives, and limits the likelihood of air contamination. All fermenters will have an air lock.
The problem with carboys and bucket fermenters is the flat bottom. When the grape juice has been fermented, and is ready to move to the next stage, all the sediment will have been collected on the flat base. If you’re really careful this needn’t be a problem. There are several siphoning accessories out there promising to make it easy to siphon just the wine, in to a second fermenter for secondary fermentation and clearing. One problem though is that most of these accessories require you to take the lid off, allowing air contamination…
We prefer to use a conical fermenter, and in fact we use FastFerment’s conical fermenter. What are the advantages of a conical fermenter though? Specifically with the FastFerment conical fermenter, it has a screw on lid, with a wide opening. That means you have a fair bit of room to get all the necessary ingredients in, all the grape concentrate if your using a home brew wine kit, and any oak chips that are included and bentonite. Bentonite is a clearing agent. It is very fine clay particles, that grab hold of spent yeast and drag it to the bottom of the fermenter.
NOTE. Before adding the yeast and bentonite, I.E. when you have your “pure” grape concentrate, and have added the requisite water, measure the Brix level with a refractometer. It is possible to use a hydrometer (you will need a specific wine hydrometer) but we find that using a Brix refractometer is a lot more accurate. Use it too measure the Brix, which is the level of sugar in a solution, at the start, and you can use it when you think the wine is done, to check that it has reached 0.
To work out what ABV you are likely to get from your wine, you can use the calculator we use: LINKED HERE. It’s simple to use and really useful. If you want to make it a bit more alcoholic, for instance if you are going to age the wine in a barrel for a long time, you can add brewing sugar to the solution. You would need to look at the sugar per liter and add an amount of sugar to adjust this to meet the level you need for your preferred ABV.
With a conical fermenter, the bentonite grabs the particles and because a conical fermenter is just that (conical) doesnt settle on the sides but collects at the bottom of the cone. With the FastFerment conical fermenter, you keep the valve open all the time, and the spent yeast and bentonite collects in the ball at the bottom of the fermenter. This makes the conical fermenter a great low mess option, not only does it collect the spent particles at the bottom, but instead of having to siphon the wine off and expose it to air, you can turn the valve to closed, and remove the ball. That’s it. The wine is left in the fermenter and the yeast and muck has been removed from the wine.
We advise leaving it in the one tank for the whole process, there is no need to have a secondary fermenter, because you can subtract all the mess from the one fermenter, leaving just the wine behind. It also reduces the time the wine is exposed to air.
Once ready, the FastFerment conical fermenter also comes with a nozzle attachment that replaces the ball, so when you are ready you can attach a tube, and fill straight into sterilized bottles. There are loads of ways to sterilize bottles, we’ve heard of people putting them in dishwashers and even ovens to sterilize. Personally though we think the best route is have a bucket of warm water, add sterilizing powder that is rinse free, and take them out and dry them as much as possible as and when they are needed. KEEP THEM SUBMERGED IN THE MEAN TIME!
Alternatively, if you want to make a really special wine, you can buy an Oak aging barrel. These can be bought in sizes from 1 liter right through to 10 or more liters. The only difference is you would not add any oak chips that come with your wine, instead, once the wine is ready you would put the tube in the barrel and fill the barrel. DO NOT FORGET THAT BARRELS NEED TO BE SOAKED IN WATER FOR AROUND 24 HOURS… This is so that the wood swells and you have a proper seal. Otherwise you risk all your wine leaking out… After you have aged your wine to taste, you can then bottle.
One thing to remember with barrels is to overfill them a bit before putting the stopper in. This is because unlike aging a high alcohol content drink like whiskey, where the high alcohol concentration stops infection, a small amount of air in the barrel could make it go off. An alternative to barrels, if you didn’t want to use any oak chips that may come with your kit, is to use aging sticks.
These can be added as an alternative, when you would add the oak chips to the fermenter. They will age the wine more slowly than oak chips though, due to the reduced surface area, although this depends, as all things do, on how much you use. This is another good reason to use a conical fermenter like the FastFerment. It’s easy to siphon off trial amounts… Hic…
Hope you’ve found this post informative and useful!
DISCLAIMER :- We do not advocate diverging from the instructions that come with wine kits, do so at your own risk. Or so we have been told. 😉