Making homemade wine is one of the most pleasant and rewarding hobbies you can choose. Not only do you get the joy of making and tasting your own wine, but you get to save money over buying it at the store. You should not make the mistake of thinking you can only make the cheap stuff, either; it is inexpensive and easy to make premium wines at home for pennies on the dollar compared to retail prices.
Every vintner has secrets they will share with no one, but the basic process of making wine is so simple just about anyone can do it. There are a few tricks of the trade you need to know if you want to get a premium product, but as long as you follow them you should do well.
1.) Use a Recipe
Do not try to make your own recipe from scratch the first few times you make wine. This rarely works out well, either in winemaking or in any other hobby. Instead, find a good basic recipe and follow it to the letter the first few times. You can start branching out and trying new and more complicated recipes as your confidence improves.
2.) Have the Proper Equipment
Yes, it is true that you can make wine using a jury-rigged setup of purchased and scrounged items, but if you want a premium product, you are going to want to use good equipment. This means you need a glass jar instead of a plastic jug, a triple scale hydrometer, a good thermometer, a proper fermenting bucket and a siphon. Many people use baker’s yeast, but you will want to buy the proper kind for the type of wine you will be creating.
Your best bet will probably be to buy a good winemaking kit. These kits contain everything you need to get started with your first batch of wine. You just need to be certain the kit you are buying is a premium kit that has the items mentioned above. Some kits even come with a DVD that has step-by-step instructions. You can find kits for both red and white wines.
3.) Learn the Science
Winemaking is at least as much science as art. If you fell asleep during science class in high school, now is the time to take a refresher course in basic chemistry, at least as it pertains to wine. Making a good wine is all about balancing the acidity with the sweetness and getting the yeast to grow at the proper rate. Learn the science behind your winemaking, and you will be poised to design new wines to your heart’s content.
4.) Clean Your Equipment
This may seem like common sense, but one of the most common reasons new vintners have a batch failure is because they did not use equipment that was properly cleaned and sanitized. Bacteria and yeast live all around us, and if the wrong one contaminates your wine, you will be pouring it down the sink. Be sure you sanitize all equipment between batches, either with potassium metabisulphite or another chemical.
5.) Start with Juice Concentrates
While you will eventually get to the point where you make your wine from fresh fruit, it is probably best if you start with a recipe that uses concentrated juice. These concentrates are more standardized and are easier to work with so you are more likely to succeed. You can either buy generic concentrates from your local supermarket or purchase concentrates specifically for winemaking from specialty stores. The downside of using concentrates is that you will have to add more additives, but your recipe should tell you what to add and how much.
Do not be scared off by the chance of failure. Winemaking is a great hobby; you should jump in and try it!