Basic Wine Making Instructions
The basic concept of how wine is produced is for the most part, is common knowledge. We all know that grapes are squished and fermented for a period of time to turn into wine. But, the process of making wine is an art that is reserved for those who put in the effort.
It takes about fifty pounds of good, rip grapes to produce about five gallons of terrific wine. Materials like plastic vats large enough to accommodate grapes can be purchased from your local wine supply shop. Once the grapes are harvested you’ll need to place the grape clusters into the vat and crush them. The age old method of crushing the grapes by foot has not been surpassed by technology. But, for smaller vats, grapes can be crushed by hand or with a potato masher. Both work equally as well as the foot. The vat should be no more than two-thirds full when all of the grapes are crushed. Unwanted yeast can produce premature fermentation. You will need to add the appropriate amount of Campden tablets which is pre-measured amounts of potassium metabisulfite to the grapes to stop this unwanted yeast growth. Cover the vat with a towel and allow it to sit for a day.
The day after you have crushed the grapes you’ll need to add a packet of wine yeast. Bread yeast and wine yeast are two different yeasts and should not be substituted for each other. Montrachet and prix de mousse are common types of yeast used to ferment wine. The crushed grapes at this stage are known as the must. Use your hands to stir in the yeast. Comb through the must and remove the cluster of stems. Squeeze off any of the berries that may still be attached to the stems. Only a few stems can be left in the must. Cover the vat of must with a towel and set to the side. In about one or two days the must will begin to fizz. By the third day the must will appear to be boiling. Within a week the fizzing will subside and it is time to separate the wine from the leftover seeds, grape skins, and pulp. The mixture can be poured into mesh bags or cheese clothes. It then needs to be squeezed, strained and poured into a glass carboy, also available at winemaking shops, or poured into an empty wine barrel. From this moment on the wine should no longer come into contact with the air. An airlock can be used with a carboy or a barrel. An airlock prevents air from getting into the container but allows gas to escape.
It only takes about two to three weeks in the container for all of the fizzing to subside. At this point, you will need to rack the wine. Racking is the process that removes the wine from the lees which is the spent yeast and grape bits that have fallen to the bottom of the barrel. You can use a hose to siphon the clear wine into a carboy and clean out the lees from the old container. Then pour the wine back into the original container. After about two to three months the wine is ready for a second racking. Three to four months after that, do a third and final racking. Wine can be aged in a cool completely dark place. It is also important to top off the barrel. This can be done by using a similar wine. At this point, the wine is able to be tasted but, the longer a wine ages, the better it is.
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