Winemakers use a variety of different grapes to produce wine, traditionally Shiraz, Merlot and Pinot Noir but any dark grape variety will give a deep rich colour to a nice homemade wine. In brief, the grapes give the wine flavour whilst sugar is added to adjust the sweetness, yeast assists with the required fermentation process and different spices are added to give a pleasant aroma.
Winemaking at home is inexpensive and can be done easily with a wine making kit setting you back around $120. The equipment is available at homebrew shops or online, what you will essentially need to get started include:
- 20L food grade quality plastic bucket with lid to use as the primary fermentation
- 2 Smaller buckets to use as the secondary fermentation vat
- lock and bung to act as fermentation traps
- 2 x 10L demijohns
- Kitchen strainer
- Measuring jug
- Muslin or cheesecloth
- Hydrometer to test sugar levels
- 1m clear plastic tubing
- A funnel to fit glass bottles
- Wine bottles and caps (cork or screw cap)
- 15kg of red or black grapes
- 5kg of sugar
- 5ltr of water
- Good wine yeast
Step 1: Clean your equipment thoroughly; wash it in hot boiling water and rinse.
Step 2: Wash the grapes. The quality of your wine is determined by the quality of grapes used.
Step 3: Crush the grapes, place them in the bucket and user your hands and feet. Ensure the skin is separated to fully extract the juice.
Step 4: Test the juice with a hydrometer, it should give you a specific gravity (between 1085 to 1100) of the juice and provide an indication of the alcohol level if the wine is fermented dry.
Step 5: Let’s being the fermentation process, keep the juice in the large bucket and cover with a muslin or cheese cloth to prevent insects from contaminating. This fermentation process will begin to react and create a gas trying to escape, the separated grape skins will float to the surface, this is known as the ‘cap’, this needs to stay wet so it will need to be manually submerged daily.
Step 6: Take a hydrometer reading daily to monitor the fermentation process, if the reading indicates sugar is present, then add yeast to allow the fermentation process to proceed and finish. The length of fermentation can vary from a week to months, it is important to monitor this process so it doesn’t stall and spoil.
Step 7: Racking the wine refers to transferring the fermented wine from sediment. Use a clear plastic tube and insert into the fermenter and siphon the wine into the demijohn, Top it off and fit it with a lock and bung and leave for three to four weeks
Step 8: Bottling may sound complicated but it’s not. Simply siphon your finished product into the bottles and leave 5cm headspace, cork with a corker and refrigerate it to enjoy over a few months.