21 September, 2011

Wine Making at Home, Part 2

This is the second part of Winemaking at Home, a guest post by my husband, V about how we did our first batch of homemade wine. To see the first post, please click here.

Welcome back! By now you should know all the basic equipment you need to start making your very own wine. Today we continue with the process all the way to finish!

Day 7 - Everything going well, your future wine is bubbling away happily. Now you need to add some more sugar. Syphon 5l of must from the fermenter and dissolve 3kg of sugar in it. You can do it in a few batches if is more managable. Then pour it back into the fermenter. Put the lid back with the airlock back on. DO NOT POUR THE SUGAR INTO THE FERMENTER. The must will foam like mad (I learned it the hard way and lost a good bit of wine and made a mess). 

Day 14 - The fermentation should be slowing down by now. Check daily. When there is no more carbon dioxide escaping through the airlock it is time to syphon the young wine from over the yeast sediment on the bottom of the bucket. Mark the wine level in the fermenter with a piece of tape or a marker before you start.
 You can siphon the wine into another fermenter, or big pots or whatever you have available at home (do not use the bathtub - the stains can be permanent) - I personally find the 5l jugs of mineral water (emptied) very handy for this purpose, and very cheap. When syphoning the wine try not to disturb the sediment on the bottom. If some gets in don't worry - we'll get it later, but the idea is to leave as much sediment (which is mostly dead yeast) behind. Pour the sedment out, wash and rinse the fermenter and pour the wine back, except for about 2l in which you should dissolve 0.5kg of sugar, and then pour it back. Refill the fermenter with boiled water to the mark you made before you started syphoning. Put on the lid and airlock.
Day 17 - We're adding another 0.5kg of sugar - very much like on day 7 - syphon about 2 litres of young winefrom the fermenter, disolve sugar in it and pour them back.

Day 21 - There should be hardly any fermentation going on at this stage, so it's time to get rid of the rest of the yeast. Take a glass of young wine from the fermenter, crush 6 campden tablets and dissolve them in that amount of wine, then add to the fermenter and stir gently. Cover and wait for 24-48 hours.

Day 23 - Repeat the procedure from day 14. the difference is you don't add any sugar and after the racking we will move the fermenter into a colder place (and away from sunlight if possible) - we used our garden shed - for about two weeks. You should observe that the wine clears itself in that period and some sediment forms on the bottom of the bucket (again). Our wine was clear in 2 weeks, but you might need a bit longer. 

Day 37 - Bottling and pasteurizing. When the wine has cleared it is time to bottle. Remember to wash and rinse the bottles before you start, and just syphon the wine from the fermenter into the bottles. Remember to leave enough space for cork, and additional 2-3cm for expansion when pasteurizing. For our first batch, we put the corks in after pasteurization. 

I think corking doesn't need any additional explanation - just put the cork (always use new corks) in the slot of the corker (if you are using the same corker as I am) and press the levers.

Pasturizing is not necessary, but it helps to stablize the wine and keep it safe if you plan on holding onto it for a while, as well as having beneficial effect on the bouquet of the wine - it makes the wine more smooth and balanced. Place as many bottles as you can in a large pot on a trivet (inside the pot). The pot should be deep enough to cover the bottles with water at least in 3/4. Bring the water to 75C and keep it at that temperature for an hour. Then let cool. Be careful not to let the water go too hot as the pressure inside the bottles might push the corks out.

After that, we added plastic caps to the bottle for that extra touch, when we give it away to our friends and neighbors. These fit loosely on the cap, then when heat (from a hairdryer on high heat or a heat gun) is applied, they shrink to fit. There are several different types, styles, and colors to choose from. In this case, we got what was cheap - but it ended up looking quite nice.

Congratulations! You just made nice semi-sweet red wine. Enjoy!


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