All over the world, many thousands of keen hobbyists are creating wine, and other beverages, every bit as good as those commercially available, in their own homes, and for a fraction of the price. So if you’re interested in how to make wine at home, this post is a great guide to getting you started.
Although in most countries you are not allowed to sell the final product, people who enjoy wine will make substantial savings, compared to buying wine from shops, even the cheapest supermarkets. Added, to that, of course, is the satisfaction of having created something by your own effort.
Wine making can be serious fun, and get ever more so as you become accustomed to the process, and improve your skills as you learn.
The first step in being able to make good wine at home is, of course, to go out and buy some equipment. You don’t need that much at first, and it needn’t be expensive.
The main item used is a jar, which is usually 4.5 litres, or a gallon in imperial measurement. It is important to realise initially that the acid in concentrated fruit juice of the type you need for winemaking can discolor a metal can.
The contents are still safe to use, except in extreme circumstance where the can has actually been damaged all the way through, and the juice is leaking out. It is best not to buy large quantities of the juice concentrate unless you are planning to convert it all to wine fairly quickly.
Although the number of areas which enjoy a specialist wine and beer making shop has diminished in recent years, the availability of the internet and home delivery have made it easier for people in outlying areas to obtain the equipment they need.
With wine drinking as a whole on the rise, even in countries where it was not traditionally popular, many more people are deciding to save money, and increase satisfaction, by becoming their own wine maker. The internet has also meant that it is much easier to access basic advice, and also many different recipes from all over the world. The choices now are virtually limitless.
The most important things to bear in mind when attempting to make wine at home are preparation and cleanliness. The worst thing that can possibly happen to your wine making session is an infection by bacteria.
You will know if this has happened by a distinct smell of vinegar, similar to the smell you get walking by a fish and chip shop. If this happens, not only is the wine totally beyond salvation, but you will even have to replace some of your basic equipment.
It is vital to start with clean equipment, so make sure all plastic and glass fittings are thoroughly sterilized. Any corks which have been in contact with infected wine cannot be reused and must be thrown away to avoid further contaminations occurring.
Most other problems with making wine at home are far less serious, and will not result in any serious loss. Campden tablets can be used to prevent the wine from becoming sour, and can even be used as a remedy should the wine have already become sour.
If a wine is too dry, it is best to leave it for a few days just to make sure. If you still feel the same after the wait, the best solution is a sweetener based on saccharine, rather than a sugar solution which may lead to a second fermentation and further problems.
An over sweet wine can just be mixed with a specially made ultra dry wine to create a satisfying blend. With practice, you are sure to hit on the formula that will produce the most satisfying result for you.
With the rapid growth of making wine at home as a satisfying and rewarding way of saving money, and the growth of the internet bringing information form all over the world to your home computer screens, it has never been easier to gain access to the knowledge you need to avoid costly mistakes and start producing satisfying results right from the start.
Many websites have a basic method to get you started right away, along with a list of the necessary tools for making your first batch of wine. These sites have comprehensive advice sections, and in some cases can even supply equipment by mail order to people who live in an area where there is no specialist shop.
These websites will help you get started by giving you a list of the most important tools you will need to begin your foray into winemaking.
Most of the largest expenses, and the most important pieces of equipment you will need, are one off expenses, so provided you are determined to stick at the hobby and make a success of it, everything gets cheaper from then on.
These lists of equipment are never exactly identical, because the process used can vary in small ways. Of course there are some common items, such as the 4.5 litre jar in which the wine is made, which are common to all variations of the wine making process.
It is also easy to find information on how to grow and pick grapes, should you wish to take the whole thing to a new level.
Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to live in a climate of warmth and sunshine in order to grow your own grapes. It is of course necessary to take special precautions if you live in a different climate, particularly one which has harsh, cold winters.
Fortunately, there is a wealth of advice available online to allow people to cope with this kind of situation. You will need to select a different type of grape, and pay close attention to the preparation of the soil.
The wealth of wine growing information available online provides a source of knowledge unavailable to any previous generation. Against that, it has to be considered that there are fewer specialist shops now available, where you can go in and talk to an expert about what you need to know.
Don’t worry, however, because the online resources can overcome this. If you live in an area with no specialist shop, you can have your equipment shipped through the mail, and you can even gain access to expert knowledge and advice through the discussion forums available for free on these wine making websites.
This gives you access to not just one local expert, but to a whole range of experts from all over the world who can get involved in discussion and come to a consensus of how to proceed with any part of the project that could be causing difficulty.
This kind of open discussion forum provides a resource beyond anything available in the past, and without any expense, provided you have access to the internet. With the wealth of information available, the opportunity to get advice from experts all over the world, and the easy availability of supplies no matter where you live, there has never been a better time to get involved in home winemaking.
Best Books About Winemaking
There has never been a better time to start making your own wine at home. Whereas before, you may have felt some trepidation about risking your hard earned money in a project never guaranteed to succeed, now that there is a wealth of information online to help you succeed, and specialist help available in online discussion forums, it is far more likely that you can find the resources to ensure that you start off on the right footing and succeed the first time you try to grow your own wine.
There is no substitute for being able to ask questions and receive answers directly from people with specialized knowledge of your chosen subject.
Of course you should never overlook the wisdom contained in traditional books, and even here the internet can help. With book selling sites allowing readers and buyers to submit reviews of books, it easier to make an informed choice.
Amazon has many books on home winemaking for sale. Jeff Cox’s “From Vines To Wines: The Complete Guide to Growing Grapes and Making Your Own Wine” is one example of a book that has a 4.6 star rating from over 193 customer reviews, and is highly recommended as a starting point for any wine grower. It has sections covering Europe as well as different parts of the USA, should you be interested in growing your own grapes.
“The Way To Make Wine: How To Craft Superb Table Wines at Home” by Sheridan Warrick is also five star rated, and is said to be probably the best resource for a newcomer to wine growing. The book is in two parts, with the first part being for the beginner. Although it teaches the basics, and includes enough information for anyone who has never even thought about growing wine before to start with confidence, it does go way beyond what is in most of the simple start up guides. The second section of the book covers techniques for testing your results, to refine the system you are using to produce ever more satisfying results.
“Understanding Wine Technology: The Science Of Wine Explained, New Edition” by David Bird is another five star rated book, although this one is considerably more expensive, and not for the beginner. This is really a textbook written for use in the classroom by students working towards Diploma examinations. For those who have progressed beyond the beginner stage, this book is well worth obtaining. If you are very serious about wine growing, it may also be a good idea to subscribe to a magazine such as “WineMaker”.
You can sample “WineMaker” magazine online by downloading some of the sample articles, and if you like what you see, you can even get a free trial issue from the publishers before deciding to spend any money.
If you are really keen on winemaking, and do some experiments which produce good results, then you can even get your own writing into print as the magazine frequently finds room to publish contributions from subscribers. There is an absolute wealth of information in printed form to help any potential wine maker to achieve a more satisfying result. There has never been a better time to get involved in the fascinating hobby of wine making.
Problems and Pitfalls with Making Wine At Home
Although the fascinating, and potentially money saving, hobby of making wine at home is enjoying something of a boom, it is not without its potential problems and pitfalls. One of the most obvious of these must be mentioned right at the start, and that is the legal situation.
Although this will of course vary from place to place, in developed countries you are prohibited from selling any of the wine you produce. There is also an age restriction, in that you cannot make wine at home until you are 21 years old, in the USA at least. Restrictions apply to the amount of wine you can make, which are considerably less for the “head of the house”, however you define that term.
Provided you apply common sense, you should not fall foul of the law in your home wine making endeavors. Far more likely is that you will run into one of the common pitfalls which will impair the quality of your finished product.
Many of the most common problems occur with the fermentation process, and this is where you will need to be most vigilant. Wine can easily begin to froth through the airlock, something which tends to cause blatant panic in absolute beginners, who may even think the jar is about to explode! Leaving enough head space to facilitate this frothing is something you will soon learn to get right.
Whatever you do, don’t make the rank amateur’s mistake of cooling off the wine. This could easily cause the fermentation to become stuck. In this case, the most costly and difficult of all pitfalls could occur, namely bacterial infection.
If you ever find that your wine smells of vinegar, and the smell reminds you of the smell you get walking by a fish and chip shop, then you will have to not only abandon your current operation throw the wine out completely, you will also have to take special care to ensure that your equipment is not contaminated, or you risk the same thing happening again.
Everything will need to be sterilized, and some of the equipment that will have been in contact with the acidic wine, for example corks, will have to be thrown away completely, as they cannot be properly cleaned.
Should you be in the position where you are growing your own grapes, then you will have many more pitfalls to consider. One of these is the climate, especially if you live in a region that experiences very harsh winters.
In this situation it is imperative that you select the right grape for the conditions. Space is another crucial factor in ensuring that the grape harvest is as you would like. Do not be tempted to cram too many plants into too small an area. This will only backfire, and produce less of a yield than if you had planted fewer plants, but given them more room to breathe and grow.
Once you are into the swing and happily making your wine, you should find that the beginner’s pitfalls are something you just naturally avoid. In fact, you should never really fall into the traps in the first place.
Doing a little bit of basic research has never been easier, with the amount of information available online, and in printed books and magazines. Wine making is something that you will grow with over time, to achieve ever more satisfying results.
Top 10 Tips For Making Wine At Home
Making wine at home is not only a fascinating hobby, it is potentially a great way to save money as well. Home made wine can be every bit as enjoyable as that bought commercially, and be far more satisfying because you will know that it was you who created it. Here are the top ten tips for successfully making wine at home.
1 – Don’t use colored buckets
This is one of the common problems that needs to be addressed before you even begin to make your first wine. Always make sure you use only clear plastic bottles and buckets. Never use anything which has been subjected to a dye, as the materials used in such a dye may well cause the liquids to become contaminated, and could even be dangerous.
2 – Don’t have the airlock too tight
If the airlock has been tightened to too great a degree, frothing can occur around the airlock. This can also occur when there is too much liquid in the vessel. If the airlock does begin to froth, that is not necessarily a time to panic. Remove the airlock, wash it, and replace more loosely.
3 – Make sure you thoroughly sterilize equipment
This one sounds obvious, but it really is just so important. If any acidic wine is created then the importance becomes even more acute, as you will not only have to throw away the wine you have made, you will have to throw away part of your equipment that cannot be thoroughly cleansed.
4 – Don’t reuse corks from acidic wine
That part of the equipment is the cork or stopper from the container in which the contaminated wine was held. If you do get a batch of acidic wine, then sadly there is no option but to discard any corks to prevent further damage. Most of your equipment, thankfully, can still be saved.
5 – Don’t ferment wine in too cold a temperature
A constant temperature of 25 degrees Celsius or just below is best for producing consistent results from wine making. Although some experts will try to produce varieties of white wine in cooler temperatures, it is not recommended for beginners. Too cool a temperature can lead to acidic wine.
6 – Make sure the jar is well stirred
If the mix in the jar is not fermenting properly, you will notice a sediment of concentrate settling on the bottom of the jar. This will cause the hydrometer reading to go higher. This is not a serious problem as thorough stirring of the mixture will cause the concentrate to dissolve.
7 – Never use expired yeast
If you notice that fermentation is not occurring, one possible cause would be yeast which is no longer active. It is imperative to use a yeast which has not gone past the date listed on the packet. Again, if you are having this problem, you should be able to solve it by adding fresh yeast.
8 – Make sure the liquid is the right temperature when you add the yeast
25 degrees, as mentioned above is the optimum temperature for making wine. This is especially important at the time the yeast is added, as too high a temperature here can even kill the yeast,
9 – Always filter wine
Filters do not, as beginners sometimes mistakenly believe, cause wines to lose body, flavor or color. Any commercially produced wine will have been filtered at some stage.
10 – Always make sure fermentation has finished!
This is the classic beginner’s mistake! Fermentation can finish very quickly in warm temperatures, and beginners don’t notice. Check with a hydrometer, or just by tasting.
And, the biggest tip of all, always learn from your mistakes!
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