How to Make Homemade Wine for beginners
Are you ready to learn how to make Homemade wine?!
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The ONLY way to get wine right the first time!
WARNING: Attempting homemade wine any other way will lead to wasted money, months of struggle and disappointment, and undrinkable wine…..
See below to learn the basics on How to Make Wine & what to expect, such as Having Fun, Laughing, Making Messes, Quality Control Testing (my favorite), A Sense of Accomplishment & Envy of Others….
Which of the following categories do you fall under?
Cork Dork: A description for any person to whom wine is more than just an alcoholic drink made from smashed grapes
Grape Flake: Only one glass of wine and your acting flakey?! You know who you are….
My name is Scott, I am NOT a wino, I am NOT a sommelier and I am certainly NOT a wise guy….. Okay, I AM a wise guy…. A wise guy and a Cork Dork that wants to teach you how to make wine. Cork dorks do NOT follow the rules of wine sampling, sipping, drinking, pairing or wine making.
- Cork Dorks DO enjoy their OWN way of wine sampling, sipping, drinking, guzzling, pairing, bathing, snorting, sharing and making. Cork Dorks DO like to have fun, especially with other Cork Dorks…. FYI, things tend to get pretty wild when we travel in packs!
- YOU make the rules! For example, many wine “experts” will recommend you pair a glass of Syrah with rack of lamb…. If you are not a fan of earthy, complicated reds like a Syrah, or not a fan of any reds, then screw the “expert”! Order a glass of Pinot Grigio if that is what you like.
- Drink the wine you like, the way you like it….but I urge you to at least TRY every kind of wine you can, palates do change, & wine sampling never gets old! If you decide to bath in one of your vats of wine, I recommend you choose a white…..and please don’t offer me any
How to Make Homemade Wine
“The Cliffs Notes Version”
- NOTE: To get started from scratch your looking at an investment of $100-200 to produce about 6 gallons of wine. That is only $2 – $6 a bottle, and after the initial investment especially if making your own juice/grow your own fruit or grapes the price drops to about $1 a bottle for QUALITY wine!!
Two Common Methods To Homemade Wine
- ONE: There are two primary ways to make wine at home, the quick 2 week method using 100% fruit juice, yeast, sugar and a glass jar with a balloon (Mix, ferment a couple weeks, filter, chill, drink).
- TWO: Or the 6 month-to-one year, but far more delicious, preferred, and well worth the wait method of wine-making, using quality vine ripened grapes that you clean, crush, press, (Or purchase Post-Pressed Juice straight from the Vineyard) ferment and bottle yourself. Easier than it sounds!
“An Italian study argues that women who drink two glasses of wine a day have better sex than those who don’t drink at all.”
….A little food for thought Gentleman….
Basic Steps to Making Homemade Wine
1.) Start with quality grapes from a known good source and region closest to you….Or purchase grape juice Direct.
-Robust Red - Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, & Zinfandel grapes
-Lighter Red - Merlot or Alicante Grapes
-Great Whites - Chardonnay, Voignier, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, or Chenin Blanc
*NOTE: The two keys to great homemade wine is Grape Quality & Cleanliness throughout the entire process!
2.) If using a barrel, scrub clean with a cheap wine and properly soak the barrel with water to ensure it is properly expanded (keeps the wine from leaking), then clean again with cheap wine.
- If using a metal or glass container, use a mild cleaning agent and rinse very thoroughly to avoid contaminating the batch. I recommend a baby bottle sterilizer or anything you might find at a specialty wine making store.
“There is increasing scientific evidence that moderate, regular wine drinking can reduce the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and gum disease.”
3.) Crush only the grapes, seeds & stems. Disgard all leaves & rotten grapes. Your recipe of choice may recommend adding a form of yeast at this point. It is advisable to follow your chosen instructions/recipe exactly the first time…..
- If using 100% juice, place the juice & yeast in a carboy or similar glass or high quality container topped with a “bung” & air-lock, or any method that lets air escape but not let air in. Let the fermentation begin (should take 7-14 days to fully ferment)….
- Using quality juice instead of crushing your own grapes is a great way to get started, especially if purchased as a kit. Kits already have required additives pre-mixed, requires less equipment and enables you to get your feet wet….Without stomping the grapes.
(Unless you like to roll Lucille Ball style)
4.) Fermentation - After a couple days the fermentation process will take hold, noticed by “boiling” sounds. The grapes will float to the top forming a “cap” and must be turned twice a day for the next 5-9 days, longer if you want higher alcohol content. Take in that yeasty, musty smell..Ahh, the joys of learning how to make wine
5.) Once the boiling/cooking stops (about 7 days), let the grapes sit for 48 hours. During this time, the heavier sediment will fall and the lighter sediment, like the skins will float, leaving the good stuff in the middle.
6.) If you are using a barrel and have already tapped the side of it a few inches up from the bottom, you can drain the wine into a sterilized holding tank or carboy. Or however your chosen instructions/recipe indicates.
7.) Press the remaining grapes using your preferred method to extract/squeeze the rest of the wine from the leftover grape skin, seeds & stems.
8.) Gather all the wine into carboys (glass containers) to within an inch from the top and cover with a bung, air-lock or any other method to ensure air can not get in, allowing for expansion.
**** IMPORTANT: The fermentation needs to be stopped/neutralized at this point. Immediately chill the wine if possible in a large fridge or in a cool dark place and top the jar off with something that can release pressure, but not let air in (A balloon works well) . This will slow the fermentation and eventually cause the yeast to die off and settle. Additionally the yeast will die from over-intoxication of the alcohol it is producing. (does that mean yeast can be categorized as a wino?)
**If storage area is too warm, fermentation will NOT stop, causing expansion and a massive stinky mess will result. TRUST ME!…Learning how to make wine is also what NOT to do.
*Wine stabilizers also work well to stop the fermentation process. You can find stabilizing tablets at any specialty wine store.
9.) For a Sweeter Wine – The earlier you stop the natural fermentation process the sweeter your wine will be. This is caused by preserving the residual sugars not yet consumed by the yeast. Or you can add sugar if also adding a stabilizer….. if a yeast stabilizer is not used, sweeten with xylitol sugar (Splenda or Stevia) to taste just before bottling. Xylitol sugars prevent the fermentation process from starting again.
10.) Siphon – As your wine ages, the dead yeast and residual sediment “lees” will fall to the bottom. Siphon your wine from one carboy to another every 6-12 weeks for the first 4 -6 months during the aging process, or until ready to bottle. Sampling a little wine each time.
11.) Age for 6-12 months or to desired taste…Up to 3 years for Cabernet Sauvignon. It is recommended to consume all the wine within 5 – 10 years of production, very few wines age well. Besides, once you master how to make wine, it will be too delicious to last beyond 19 years.
12.) Repeat…….Have Fun, Be Creative, Experiment & Enjoy the Cork Dork Lifestyle!
- Bad Batch - Don’t tell anybody, use it for cooking and cleaning your barrel…. Learn from your mistake & start over.
- Good Batch - Host a wine party to brag about your incredible wine making skills….. If you don’t have any friends, tell people you have free wine, you will soon have many friends.
- Great batch - Enjoy the fruits of your labor with only your closest friends and family….. Also makes great gifts and bribes.
“The Complete Guide To Homemade Wine”!!!
ATTN (Advanced Tips, Tricks & Notes) -
- Over Acidity - If too acidic, immediately after step 8, place the carboys in as cold and dark of a place as you can without freezing for 1-3 months to reduce acidity via “cold stabilization”.
- Oaking - Place a few American or French Oak chips in a small cloth bag with a few marbles, tie string around the top and boil in a pot of water. Place the bag in your carboy, reseal, & store in a very cool location, tasting every 6-8 weeks until satisfied…Usually 2-4 months
- Filtering - Add a filter to the last siphoning process just before or as you bottle. This will remove the majority of left over yeast and sediment ensuring your wine does not start the fermentation process again and makes the wine more visually appealing. The only down side to filtering, is decreased maturity during aging. Set aside a few unfiltered bottles and compare after 1-2 years.
- Aging -Age your wine in bulk as follows in a dark cool place…..
- Complex Red - At least one year, and up to three years for best results
- Light to Medium Red - Up to one Year
- Full Bodied White - Up to one Year
- Light White - Three to Six Months
*** Remember to always drink at home or have a plan…. Especially drunk driving in Denver, hurt my wife and/or child and you will have to answer to me!! ;-p