In this article I have assembled a guide that explains how to make wine. This guide will take you into the world of making your very own perfect wine. Start with these instructions and branch out with different sets of varietals, different tweaks of proportions, and whole new ingredients the world of wine has yet to even consider. Before you know it, you may become your own master vintner and teaching others how to make wine.
Article on how to make wine by Mike Carraway.
Wine is perhaps one of the most revered beverages on earth. It’s loved for its intense complexity, wide range of flavors, aromas, mouth feel textures, and is truly one of the greatest of culinary delights. As a result, many people want to learn how to make wine themselves.
Some people pay not just ten or twenty, not just fifty or even a hundred for a bottle, but sometimes many times this for the ‘right’ vintage. Wine has gained such value not just for its complexity and culinary virtues, but for the ancestry and pedigree of its grapes and vineyards. Wine has come to be directly associated with complexity, high society, and expense. Lower cost wines are looked at with a kind of disgust, or at least disdain, but why?
As an incurable vinophile, I have had many expensive bottles of wine I would hardly be willing to pay $10 for again. And, some at $10 or under that I would happily pay far more for, to enjoy again.
Many old family vineyards deserve their august name and many expensive wines deserve the respect they have earned over decades or even centuries. But, neither holds a monopoly on these kinds of quality and satisfaction.
Many of my favorite wines are under $20 a bottle when not purchased from a restaurant. The standard markup for wine and liquor in restaurants can be up to 500%. It’s where they make their profit, so don’t judge wine prices or value based on a restaurant’s pricing or availability.
A long time ago this opened my mind more and more to a nagging idea that has since become the most rewarding of obsessions to anyone who has a love and appreciation of quality wine. I now avail myself to the endless possibilities in the world of wine and my own preferences by having learned how to make wine and now making my own wine at home. I can show you these endless possibilities by showing you how to make wine.
I know a few of you stauncher wine lovers just gasped in shock and horror at the notion. But despite years of touring vineyards, fine restaurants, and having many gifted vintners and sommeliers try to impress me with their wine, some of my own wines have definitely been my favorites. Not just because I can craft their qualities specific to my tastes, but because they were good quality wines.
When thinking about how to make wine I am sure many of you are metaphorically looking at me like I suggest you sell your house and children in order to construct a giant farm or lab. However, much like brewing your own beer out of your garage (a practice that’s become quite wide spread and popular), it’s not expensive. It’s actually cheaper and not very difficult. So, why wouldn’t you want to learn how to make wine?
In order to understand how to make wine, you’ll need to learn about the equipment, the materials and the process.
Let’s get started. You will need the pieces of equipment mentioned below. There are other alternatives, but this is all pretty simple and will make your life as a vintner much easier.
How To Make Wine – The Equipment
• One 4-gallon plastic food quality bucket and a good fitting lid. This will be your main fermentation vat.
• Three 1-gallon glass jugs, which will be your secondary fermentation containers.
• Three air-locks (fermentation traps). There are other alternatives, but these are worth it and generally inexpensive.
• A rubber cork for your secondary fermentation containers.
• 6 feet of (preferably half inch) plastic tubing.
• 20 empty wine bottles (5 bottles for each gallon of wine).
• 20 #9 sized corks, pre-sanitized.
• A hand corker (unnecessary but useful).
• A hydrometer, which will measure your sugar levels. If you want to go for quality and specific traits in your wine, you’ll want to get one of these.
How To Make Wine – The Material
• LOTS of wine grapes. Choose your favorite varietal, or combination, that you have available.
• Granulated sugar, lots
• Lots (sensing a theme?) of filtered water. Make sure not to use tap water since it will alter the wine.
• Wine yeast.
How To Make Wine – Step By Step
With your equipment and materials assembled, it’s time to get started. You’ll want a decent amount of space to work. Most kitchens will do just fine. The fermentation spot is the most important. If it’s not done in the dark and below room temperature the result can be, or smell, rancid. Or, it could over-ferment leading to a very harsh and intense wine, if you can call it that. Make sure it’s well below room temperature. Note that the colder it is, the longer the fermentation will take.
Step One: Clean and sterilize all of your equipment, making sure to rinse everything thoroughly when done. Do this immediately before use.
Step Two: Pick out your grapes, making sure they’re wine grapes and not from a grocery store! Remove any that are rotten, spoiled, or look off. Wash them all thoroughly and remove the stems. Next, crush all of your grapes thoroughly using your hands (properly cleaned first, of course). Hand crushing is your best option, with the juice flowing into your main fermentation container (the large one).
Step Three: Once done crushing all of your grapes and adding their juice to the large fermentation vat, add wine yeast. How much yeast to use will depend on how much liquid you have. Ask the vendor you purchased your grapes and equipment from for suggestions. Next, insert your hydrometer into the liquid. If it reads less than 1.01 add some sugar until you get above that mark. Before adding it directly to the grape juice, dissolve the granules in pure water and stir in thoroughly. The increased sugar will help increase low alcohol levels during fermentation.
Step Four: Cover the fermentation vat with a cheese cloth or similar cloth, and allow it to ferment for 7-10 days. During this time the liquid will froth and bubble out of the top of the bottle, with sediment gathering on the bottom. During this process the liquids should be kept in a cool dark area.
Step Five: Once the liquid has clarified and stopped frothing, it’s time to move the liquid through a filter, such as coffee filter paper, to separate the liquid from the sediment. Funnel the liquid through the filter and into your secondary fermentation containers. Fill to the very top of each container to minimize how much air gets to the wine. Then, fit the tops with your fermentation airlocks.
Step Six: Place these secondary containers in a cool dark place again. Allow to ferment for several more weeks.
Step Seven: Use your plastic tubing to siphon the wine out into clean secondary fermentation containers. Do this in order to separate the liquid from the sediment. You will want to repeat this process during fermentation periodically for 2-3 months until the liquid is clear of sediment.
Step Eight: Once this process is done, use clean plastic tubing to move the finished wine into individual bottles, leaving room for the cork plus a half inch or so beyond that. Insert the corks and store upright for three days. Then, store them on their sides (ideally at 55 degrees Fahrenheit). Red wine should be aged for at least one year, white wines 6 months, and then enjoy!
That’s it… Now you know how to make wine!
Comment from Jon: Thank you very much Mike for this great article on how to make great wine!
More about Mike: Over the last 20 years, Mike Carraway’s eBooks, videos, and seminars have shown thousands of people worldwide how to make top quality wine at home using simple equipment and ingredients. Mike enjoys teaching people how to make wine at home so much that he travels to speak with live groups as often as he can.