The easiest way to make wine at home is following a good Wine Making Course.
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Wine making at home is not complicated and the myths of only producing homemade vinegar are totally unfounded. Stick to these simple rules and you will be able to make consistently high quality wines full of character – that you are proud to serve your friends with.
The term ‘wine making’ implies that the fruit of choice is always grapes, but wine can be made successfully from all sorts of hedgerow fruits from damson to elderberry. Plenty of room to experiment.
The first and foremost tip is to make sure that whatever fruit you are using that it is perfectly clean and disease free. Damaged fruit introduces nasty flavors which are difficult to remove without the use of additives – which we want to avoid.
Secondly, just as important is the use of good quality food grade equipment and utensils. Stainless steel vessels are the best, glass and neoprene are also good. So remember, the better the equipment combined with clean fruit equals easy efficient wine making.
Use the best quality yeasts you can get hold of and don’t forget that the yeast, whether it is a dried cultured one or not, will be responsible for much of the character of the eventual wine. Many people underestimate the value of yeast, I personally like to use a Champagne-based dry culture yeast.
Next it has to be said is ‘attention to detail’. How often do you you hear those words from a winemaker? This starts right from making sure that the fruit are at their optimum ripeness and acidity when picked through to correct sugar adjustment calculations (if you are having to chaptalise, i.e. the addition of sugar to increase alcohol).
This is the best tip, taste regularly. By this I mean while the fermentation is under way taste a sample every few days so you can detect at an early stage if anything odd may be about to happen. This gets harder as the fermentation progresses and there is less and less sugar to be detected, but it wont take long to train your palate to search for off-flavors or problems.
Don’t leave the wine on the lees (sediment) for too long after the fermentation has finished or you may pick up sulphury or bad eggs flavors – that’s why tasting is vital to enable early detection. Prevention is always better than cure.
Post fermentation, treat the wine with care as now is the time it needs protection from both oxygen and bacteria. Commercially this is done by the introduction of sulphur dioxide (SO2) in a gas form or Campden tablets for home wine making. Overdosing with SO2 will mean that the wine will take much longer before it can be drunk, whilst too little will not protect the wine adequately. Clean wines require less SO2 which will result in a much more stable wine. Hygiene is king!
When the wine has settled well or been filtered to a sterile state, take care with the bottling and ensure that new bottles are used along with high grade quality corks. Other closure devices such as screw caps are becoming more popular and are just as good to use, especially if you plan to drink the wine when very young rather than laying it down. Corks allow the wine to breathe, caps don’t – important for wines that are to be aged.
Wine making at home is fun and fulfilling, low cost with no legal alcohol limit and no tax which makes it more than worthwhile to consider.
Cheers and successful wine making!
Wine is a fascinating subject, the more you know, the more you want to find out. Learn how to taste and appreciate wine from a professional, and much more from this beginners guide to Understanding Wine. Also, discover how to pair wines and food successfully.
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