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How to Make Wine at Home

How to Make Wine at Home

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Think wine is just for the winemakers? Think again

Think winemaking is only for the professionals? Much as home-brewing has taken off, winemaking at home is now seeing its time in the spotlight. And while it may take a few more steps and a lot more patience than making a home brew, a home wine is just as easy.

As and Washington State University explain, there isn't much to making wine: it's the fermentation of fruit juice. With a little bit of yeast, and a lot of patience, you too can make at home. Washington State University shares how to avoid the two most common problems when winemaking — sanitation and oxidation — so that your wine won't pick up strange odors and tastes.

How to do it? This fun infographic can inspire you to get started. Let this kick-start your own winemaking project at home!

How to Make Homemade Vermouth

When Sebastian Zutant, wine director at Washington, D.C.’s Proof restaurant, wants to mix up a vermouth-based aperitif, he grabs a stockpot and heads for the stove. “Why buy something when you can make it yourself,” Zutant says. He favors vermouth for its clean taste, and his take includes a lengthy list of herbs and aromatics. But Zutant is quick to point out that it’s neither daunting nor difficult to mix up a batch at home, and his version elevates vermouth’s status from that of dependable mixer to a concoction you can sip all by itself.

Zutant starts with a crisp, neutral white wine like Pinot Grigio or Grüner Veltliner, to which he adds a mélange of herbs and spices before steeping overnight. After fortifying with sherry and straining, the vermouth is ready to sip. He prefers a straightforward cocktail preparation: chilled, with a twist of orange for the sweet version, and a twist of lemon for the dry. Zutant also suggests mixing equal parts dry and sweet for a beverage that pairs wonderfully with cheese.

“I like the fact that it’s so malleable,” he says. “You can make it whatever you want it to be.” If you really enjoy citrus flavors, increase the amount of orange or lemon in the recipe. On the flip side, since wormwood may be difficult to obtain (it is, after all, one of the main ingredients in the long-banned Absinthe), it’s fine to omit it, or replace it with a preferred herb or spice.

Vermouth is traditional yet timeless, and making it from scratch gives you the chance to impart a personal stamp. “Cocktailing,” says Zutant, “is an art form, and I’m seeing a lot of people that are interested in developing that art, not just throwing some juice and liquor in a glass.” So heat the stove and find that stockpot.

1. Gather your tools.

According to Wallace, you will want to round-up the following before you get started.

  • 90 pounds of red grapes
  • 10-gallon food-safe container with lid
  • 5-gallon used whiskey barrel, or a 5-gallon food safe container with airtight lid
  • Plastic milk crate
  • 8-inch deep plastic food pan
  • 350 Campden tablets
  • 5 grams’ wine yeast
  • Liquid malolactic culture 𠅊 5-gallon size is best
  • 1-pound tartaric acid

Step 1: How to Tell When the Grapes Are Ready to Make Wine

The grapes are ready to make your own wine at home when they are ripe, but not too sweet. If they taste bitter they aren't ready yet. You can go by taste but I tend to check the sugar level by measuring the density using a hydrometer (covered later in the Instructable). You want the starting starting specific gravity (SG) between 1.070 and 1.100 so the grapes need to be somewhere near this. When you add the sugar the SG will increase. Mine was 1.062. Water has an SG of 1.000 the measurements are relative to this. Sugar is denser than water, alcohol is lighter. This means you can calculate the alcohol content by measuring the density at the beginning, after the addition of sugar, and at the end of fermentation. The density at the end was 0.990. There are various online calculators you can use (Google 'wine alcohol calculator'), I calculated the alcohol content of my wine to be 9.8. I am happy with this as it tastes excellent you can get a higher alcohol content if you want by adding more sugar.

There is a lot written on the internet about how to check when grapes are ready, all of them say something different! I would suggest reading around it and doing what feels right for you.

Wash your hands thoroughly, twice, up to your elbows before handling any of the grapes or equipment which will come into contact with them. Wash them again if you touch anything else door handles/kettle/dog etc. (I end up washing my hands about 20 times a day when I follow this process.)

Equipment for Making Wine at Home

Here's all the important items of hardware you'll need to set yourself up as a vintner:

[1] An open container of at least eight gallons capacity
[2] A two-gallon stainless steel or enameled bowl or pot
[3] A two-quart, small-mesh sack
[4] Nine one-gallon, small-mouth jugs
[5] One one-half gallon, small-mouth jug
[6] Six feet of flexible, clear plastic tubing
[7] Twenty-five screw top wine bottles with plastic caps
[8] A roll of plastic food wrap
[9] An assortment of rubber bands
[10] A DEPENDABLE hydrometer

The first item on the list will be used as a primary fermentation vat. Some people prefer that this container be made of the traditional wood or crockery. But, since both wood and crockery are porous and almost impossible to completely clean and disinfect, many other home winemakers (including me) feel that a better bet is a primary fermenter made of food-grade plastic. Try a brand-new plastic (remember, of food grade) wastepaper can or garbage pail . they're ideal.

Beware of most metals (anything except stainless steel) when you're selecting the primary fermenter and other utensils for your home winery. Metal almost always leaves a haze and an off-taste in wine. Stick with wood, glass, and plastic. And make sure your main fermenting vat will hold at least eight gallons. Primary fermentation is often quite vigorous and can overflow a smaller container.

The small-mesh sack specified above will be filled with fruit pulp and left in the main vat during primary fermentation. Make sure it's large enough to hold two full quarts and still tie off securely at the top. The bag can be made of any porous material: You might, for instance, want to sew up several sacks from a section of nylon drapery. Personally, I just use the legs off an old pair of panty hose.

Cider jugs make very fine gallon and half-gallon bottles for secondary fermentation. I get mine from a local glass recycling center for 10¢ apiece, but you might prefer to collect yours from restaurants and friends. Colored glass and plastic jugs are OK . but I prefer clear glass so I can look right into the containers and watch my wine develop its polish.

You'll use the plastic tubing to siphon your wine from one container to another at various times during its production. This piece of equipment is more important than it may at first seem because, except for the first time the wine is moved, it should never purposely be exposed to the air. Oxygen can react with a green (undeveloped) wine to produce a nutty flavor (which, although desirable in a sherry, is considered a flaw in a normal table wine). Worse yet, if oxygen is allowed into a new bottle of wine, it can foster the growth of something you don't want at all: vinegar bacteria.

If you can't get transparent plastic hose, colored hose (either plastic or rubber) will do. I prefer clear plastic tubing, however, because I can always tell whether or not it's clean inside. And, yes, used hose is all right as long as it's clean and hasn't been used to siphon something that's caustic or which could impart an off-taste to your wine.

You'll probably have less trouble rounding up the twenty-five wine bottles listed above than anything else on your equipment list. Most states require all restaurants, bars, and caterers to throw out all their wine and liquor bottles as soon as the containers are empty. As a result, such establishments are usually happy to have you haul the empties away. And if you prefer the heavier champagne bottles, just check out the next few weddings and parties in your section of town.

I like to store my wine in bottles that close with screw caps. You can buy new ones for about a nickel apiece (or scrounge good used caps at a recycling center), and then reuse them. The plastic corks that come in those lovely champagne bottles are reusable too . but only for a few times before the ridges around the stoppers become so worn and mashed down that the corks won't positively reseal anymore.

The plastic wrap and rubber bands I've specified will be used as air traps or air locks. Sure, you can buy "real" winemaking glass or plastic locks (with the nifty little water trap inside) for "only" 35 to 50 cents each. That doesn't sound too bad one at a time . but, for the fivegallon batch of fermented joy we're going to be making, you should have at least eight of the little beauties on hand. And, if you ever plan to have more than one vat of wine going at a time . you can see that your total investment in air locks "only" 35 cents a shot-can quickly mount up.

Fortunately, there's a very simple and inexpensive way around this problem. Because, after all, what is an air lock anyway? It's nothing but a trap that lets the gas generated by the yeast in a developing bottle of wine out . while refusing to let the outside air in. And a 10-inch square of plastic wrap placed loosely over the mouth of a gallon jug and secured with a doubled rubber band will do that job as well as anything.

Don't pull the sheet of plastic tight and don't go crazy doubling up your rubber bands. (The tighter the bands, the more pressure it'll take to stretch them enough to let the generated gas out . and, if the plastic is taut enough, there's always the chance it'll rupture before the bands stretch.) Do make sure the film of plastic is caught under the doubled band all the way around the jug's neck. Then, as pressure builds in the container, the band will have to stretch a little to let the gas out . and you'll have a positive seal at all times so that no outside air can get in with the wine.

This plastic wrap trap, by the way, is not a new idea . and it does have one significant advantage over even the most expensive water-type trap: When left unattended for a long period, the water can evaporate from its, trap and leave your wine unprotected. The plastic wrap trap, for all practical purposes, is unaffected by time.

I've saved the most important item of equipment till last . because a good hydrometer is an absolute necessity for anyone who expects to make quality wine consistently.

Hydrometers seem to intimidate a great many people, and they shouldn't. The simple little instruments are nothing but handy-dandy devices that measure the density of liquids, and the one you'll be using is no different than the hydrometer your local garage mechanic uses when he tests the strength of the battery acid and antifreeze in your car.

Some winemaking hydrometers are nothing but a sealed and weighted, graduated tube that is floated right in a vat or bottle of wine. Others consist of [1] the sealed, weighted, graduated tube inside [2] a hollow, transparent cylinder of glass or plastic which has [3] a short length of tubing on its bottom and [4] a squeeze bulb on the top. By squeezing the bulb, dipping the tubing into a liquid, and then releasing the bulb . a quantity of the fluid can be drawn into the instrument's main cylinder. And this will cause the little weighted tube inside to float higher or lower in the liquid, depending on the fluid's density. It's then very easy to read one of the graduated scales on the side of the floating tube where it sticks up out of the liquid, and thereby determine the specific gravity of the fluid being tested.

For instance: The specific gravity scale (marked "S.G.") on a hydrometer is set up so that plain, ordinary water when tested will give you a reading of 1.000. Any fluid that is "thicker" say a solution of water and sugar-will cause the indicator tube to float higher and yield a higher specific gravity reading. But if we convert some of the sugar in that solution to a "thinner" liquid such as alcohol (pure alcohol has an S.G. of only about .800), we'll lower the specific gravity of the fluid we're testing in direct proportion to the amount of change that takes place.

What this means, of course, is that we can use a hydrometer to tell us exactly how much sugar to add to a given amount of water to produce months later precisely the percentage of alcohol we want in a finished batch of wine. We can also use the instrument to monitor the wine's progress during its development and "fine tune" the fermentation as it goes along.

Complete instructions come with a new hydrometer and I recommend buying one (instead of borrowing) if you plan to make a lot of wine. They only cost about $2.25 apiece new here in Eugene, Oregon, and a good one will last you forever (or until you get careless and drop it).

Two final points about reading a hydrometer: First, make sure the little weighted tube inside is floating freely (give the instrument's cylinder a "spin" between your fingers, if necessary, to shake off any bubbles that might be clinging to the scale inside) before you try to read it. And make that reading with your eye exactly level with the top of the solution in the cylinder. Second, remember that the density of a fluid changes with temperature. Thus, your hydrometer will be strictly accurate at only one temperature (most winemaking S.G. testers are calibrated for 68° F). The variations you'll be dealing with won't be enough to worry about, though, as long as you make some effort to test your wine only at something close to this standard temperature. (if your wine has been stored at-say 40°, let it warm to room temperature before you test it.)

And that's it for the equipment. Everything you'll need even if you have to go out and buy it all new-should cost you only about $20. And everything is reusable.

How To Turn a $5 Bottle of Wine into a Wine Cooler

Have you found yourself staring blankly into the fridge searching for the perfect beverage? Is it time for a drink, but not time for wine? Does beer sound like a terrible idea?

Enter: the wine cooler. A classic combination of wine and bubbles, the wine cooler exists for moments of summer when pure, unbridled refreshment and the glory of wine collide — so basically, most moments.

How to Make the Perfect Wine Cooler Every Time

Wine coolers are more than invigorating pick-me-ups from yesteryear — they’re masterful costumes for inexpensive wines. By adding a simple splash of soda and a drop of fruity liqueur, these classics are perfect for dressing up an everyday wine, or refreshing a bottle that isn’t as delicious as you’d hoped.

There’s a simple formula to make any bottle (or box) a star liquid centerpiece. Chances are, you already have the ingredients.

More Wine Cooler Intel

The Wine

Whether that bottle was a house gift, grocery store steal, or simply an accidental pick at the liquor store, any inexpensive wine will do for a cooler. From Portuguese Vinho Verde to Minnesota Riesling, the formula always delivers.

Wines you love on their own (let’s be honest — we all have a cheap favorite) also make great spritzers, letting you jazz up a regular refresher like a quick Sephora makeover.

Generally, I recommend sticking to white and rosé wines, since they do best with a chill and their flavors are often delicate and easy to uplift with a dash of this or a splash of that. (White Zinfandel that sells for $7.99 in huge jugs, or Critter Wines definitely fit the bill.)

Inexpensive bubbles also pack a one-two punch of alcohol and inherent spritz when it comes to wine coolers. Is that $9.99 Prosecco too sweet? Does the Cava need a flavor boost? Line them up for wine spritzer glory.

The Liqueur

This is the secret weapon to elevating cheap wine to a truly delicious and aromatic wine cooler. Fruit-flavored or infused liqueurs offer fantastic aromatics, plus a dash of sugar that can make overly tart or astringent wines easier to swallow. These low-proof liqueurs also showcase the best of a wine’s flavors, elevating golden apple tones of Chardonnay or the tropical flavors of inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc.

  • Limoncello, peach schnapps, and triple sec are perfect partners for white wines like Sauvignon Blanc and ordinary Pinot Grigio.
  • Raspberry-flavored Chambord and inexpensive creme de cassis (or even Watermelon Pucker) work well with light rosés and bold whites like Chardonnay or Viognier.
  • For bold rosés or bubbly, more herbal liqueurs like St. Germain, Lillet, or even sweet vermouth like Dolin Blanc add flavor and complexity with less sugar than traditional liqueurs.

The Bubbles

While traditional wine spritzers are made with club soda, coolers can be made with any carbonated beverage, including sweet sodas or tonic.

The ideal combination depends on personal taste and the wine available. For a soft, delicate spritzer, you can’t go wrong with original seltzer. For extra oomph, without added sugar or calories, flavored sparkling waters add fantastic aromatics to coolers. Flavors like orange, pomegranate, and raspberry-lime are fantastic counterparts in white wine-based spritzers.

For even more flavor, use lemon-lime soda like 7UP or Fresca. Unlike the delicate flavors of a seltzer spritzer, those made with traditional sodas are more conventional store-bought wine coolers — bursting with fruity flavor and impossible to resist poolside (or couch-side).

The Formula: 4 + 4 + 2 = a Perfect 10

It’s all about ratios when it comes to making the perfect cooler. A combination of 4 ounces wine, 4 ounces soda, and 2 ounces of liqueur creates a wonderfully refreshing drink that balances the wine with its added ingredients. Use less wine and you run the risk of not tasting it at all, but add more and its flavors and alcohol will dominate.

This formula is great because it balances the cooler components and is the perfect size for a pint glass filled halfway with ice.

To make the perfect cooler anytime, simply combine the ingredients over ice, and stir to mix the flavors evenly. For a group, batch the wine and liqueur ahead of time and store it in the fridge, adding bubbles and ice just before serving.

How to Make Dandelion Wine

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When life gives you a yard full of dandelions, make dandelion wine! Instead of spraying or destroying dandelions, cut a bucket full and make a batch of wine using sugar, yeast, and citrus. Once you ferment and strain your concoction, you can enjoy dandelion wine that has a mild, floral taste. This sweet wine has a moderate alcohol content, so it's great as a dessert wine.

Add 4 cans of Lemonade Frozen Concentrate

Add at least 1 Gallon of FILTERED water to cool off before you transfer it into the Carboy.

Let cool to room temp then Transfer your mixture into your carboy.

If there is any pulp/seeds/sediment. A smart thing to do is filter it out. You can ether get a screen or cheese cloth. Depending on how big your pulp/seeds/sediment determines what to use. I have a fine plastic round screen that fits into the funnel. Works well for seeds and fine pulp.

Add(pitch) 1 packet Champagne Yeast, and add more Filtered water. Then shake/swirl to mix! There is no need to rehydrate the yeast. There is plenty of water to activate it. If you would like to rehydrate the yeast that is fine. Just do not add water to your mix until you put find out how much room to leave for the rehydrate yeast.

Depending on your Recipe depends on how much room you need to leave at the top for Air/foam. For this one you can go a little further than i have.

The reason why it is a must that you leave room for the air is Because of the foam / bubbles that will form while fermenting. You do not! DO NOT!! Want the foam to reach your air lock. It can compromise your Brew.

It will be ready about 4 weeks to bottle!!

Wine Making Made Easy

Is wine one thing you can never get enough of?

Dorothy Parker once said that there are three things that she shall never attain enough of… and they are envy, content, and yes, sufficient wine.

What a pity, because she could actually have attained all three easily if she just took a course on wine making at home.

In fact,The Complete Illustrated Guide To Homemade Wine must have been specially designed for her.

It provides all the information one needs to know to start making their first batch of homemade wine immediately, using common equipment anyone could have access to, including…

  • Complete introduction to wine making with detailed explanations in plain English
  • Where to get grapes, fruits and equipment – for free
  • 4 step formula for successful wine making at home
  • How to create irresistible aromas and making each batch perfect
  • The magical goodies that make wine tasting amazing !

But just having the information is barely enough. After suffering from information overload, many people have tried and failed. Some do not even now how to get started.

Either way, making wine is easy, using the Home Winemaker’s Inner Circle. The guide was designed exactly to show you so. For anyone looking to get started, it comes with step-by-step videos that take you by the hand and walk through the entire process with you. Also included are more than 150 recipes for high quality wine to satisfy your need for variety.

Make Wine From Grape Juice Concentrate

Homemade wine can be made from a number of ingredients that contain sugar. Fresh fruits, like grapes, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and peaches are all good ingredients for making homemade wine. Using apples as the source of sugar will result in a mildly fermented cider.

Another ideal ingredient used to make homemade wine is the use of grape juice concentrate like Welch’s grape juice, resulting in Welch’s wine. Grape juice concentrate is made by slowly simmering fresh grapes in hot water for a period of time.The grapes are then strained from the liquid, resulting in a grape juice concentrate that’s rich in flavor. Making wine from grape juice concentrate results in a homemade wine that’s perfect as a table wine to be consumed on a daily basis.

Homemade Wine Recipe

Get a gallon jug, preferably glass but plastic will do. Clean it out good. Smell it. Someone may have kept gasoline in it. Wash the jug with soap (NOT detergent), rinse with baking soda in water and—finally—rinse with clear water.

Put a pint and a half to two pints of honey in the jug (the more honey, the stronger the wine), fill with warm water and shake.

Add a pack or cake of yeast—the same stuff you use for bread—and leave the jug uncapped and sitting in a sink overnight. It will foam at the mouth and the whole thing gets pretty sticky at this point.

After the mess quiets down a bit, you're ready to put a top on it. NOT, I say NOT, a solid top. That would make you a bomb maker instead of a wine maker.

What you have to do is come up with a device that will allow gas to escape from the jug without letting air get in. Air getting in is what turns wine mixtures into vinegar.

One way to do the job is to run a plastic or rubber hose from the otherwise-sealed mouth of the jug, thread the free end through a hole in a cork and let the hose hang in a glass or bowl of water. Or you can make a loop in the hose, pour in a little water and trap the water in the loop to act as a seal.

Now put your jug of brew away about two weeks until it's finished doing its thing. It's ready to bottle when the bubbles stop coming to the top.

Old wine bottles are best. You must use corks (not too tight!) to seal the wine as they will allow small amounts of gas to escape. The wine is ready to drink just about any time.

You can use the same process with fruits or whatever, except that you'll have to extract the juice and, maybe, add some sugar. You'll also find that most natural fruit will start to ferment without the yeast and will be better that way.

Once you've made and enjoyed your first glass of wine, no matter how crude, you'll be hooked.