This is beginner wine making information, with the goal of making small batches, so you can practice, without buying expensive equipment and or wine kits, and screwing up 5 gallons of wine. With the recommend equipment you will be able to make 7 – 8 bottles of wine weekly, different wines, with a variety of tastes with the main ingredients of your wine that you can buy from your local grocery store.
Below are a few different tips and tricks that will make your wine making experience more enjoyable.
1. Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. I cannot stress this enough, every time something touches your wine, a spoon, a wine thief, your finer, it must be sanitized. In the equipment list I recommend One Step No Rinse Cleaner , and this is the best. With one tablespoon per gallon of water, you can rinse you containers before using, rinse your spoon before stirring, dip your hands in it, shake them dry, before touching anything, and you do not need to rinse the equipment off. Introducing any bacteria into your wine, at any stage can destroy the entire batch.
2. Select a small area of your home for your wine making activities, and maybe even a special drawer or cupboard to keep all your supplies in. Being organized, and keeping the area clean will greatly improve your results.
3. Be patient. If you have read online that you can make wine with Welch’s grape juice in 5 – 7 days, well that is true, but you will not be happy with the results. It will be cloudy, low in alcohol, and not taste very good. The wine making recipes for juice and berries on this website will take 3 – 4 weeks to be ready. You can even age the wine, leaving it in the last stage for 3 – 4 additional weeks before bottling. If you take the time in wine making, minimum 3 – 4 weeks for a batch, and follow the clarifying instructions in the recipe, your finished home made wine will be perfectly clear and have no sediment in the bottom, no matter how long you age it for.
4. Amateur or professional? Where are you going with this hobby? If you just want to make a few bottles of wine, follow the grape juice wine recipe on this site, and everything is measured out for you in the recipe to achieve 12% alcohol and a nice clear wine. If you want to become more of a professional, I highly recommend buying a hydrometer and test jar, learn about specific gravity measurements, the sugar level before and after fermentation, and PH test strips from the equipment list, and learn how to use them.
You can watch this video on how to use a hydrometer in making wine, click here
PH test strip reading of 3.6 will give you a good dry wine, and let you know how much acid blend you need to add to achieve that.
5. You need to mark the 5 liter level on your primary fermenter, you can do this by pouring a 5 liter bottle of water in, and mark it on the outside with a marker. When making the “live fruit batches”, add another 2 inches above this level when the fruit is in the fermenter to account for the displacement of the live fruit, so when you pull out the bag containing the fruit, you are back at the 5 L mark. When making 6L juice recipes, the 6L mark on a 2 gallon pail is 1 inch below the rim. Never fill more than 1 inch below the rim as the fermentation needs room to foam.
6. The fermentation works best at a constant temperature between 75 and 80 F. The clearing stage 65 – 75 F is best..
7. Oak chips can be added to grape, and any of the dark fruit recipes, to increase flavor during the secondary 2 week fermentation stage, and removed when racking before final clearing stage. First put the oak chips in a pan on the stove, add water just enough to cover them, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Be sure to watch that they do not boil dry and burn. Stir them frequently. Remove from heat, let cool, and add the chips and water in the pan to the wine.
8. Always use purified water. You can use the water you get when you purchase the water bottle. Only use tap water if you have an excellent water filter. Chlorine will kill your fermentation, and bacteria in the water can spoil your wine.
9. When filling the airlock with water, use water mixed with (1 gal water – 1 tbs no rinse cleaner), to the line on the airlock, and you will not have to change the water. If you use just water, you should change the water in the airlock every 2 days.