Winemaking can be one of the more satisfying and unique hobbies. While other guests bring commercial wines and fruitcake, someone who brings their own homemade wine will be the talk of the party.
Winemaking is not very difficult. With the right equipment and ingredient kits and with a little bit of direction and advice, you can make your own six gallon batch producing up to thirty bottles.
Before starting the wine making process, you’ll need to decide which wine variety you want. There are four types of wine: red, white, rosé and champagne. Rosé wine is slightly red but usually has a flavor similar to white wine. Champagne is a sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France. Most homemade wine is either red or white.
What’s the main difference between red wine and white wine? Other than color, the biggest difference is that the juice used to make red wine contains skins, seeds, and stems. These components cause the wine to contain tannin, which is what adds more flavor and body. And, of course, color. Flavor is a very good reason for choosing which wine variety to try. If you are new to wine, you may decide to start with a white wine. It’s sweeter and lighter than red wine and will be a bit more palatable. If you are wine drinker and are used to tasting different wines, you may enjoy red wine which is heavier and has more complex and interesting flavors.
When selecting a wine to go with a meal, some wine connoisseurs follow specific guidelines. If the meal is delicate and light, they will avoid a red wine which has a stronger flavor which may overpower the meal. Richer and heavier red wines are reserved for meals with stronger flavors. Of course, this can make wine selection intimidating and too much work for some. There is an easier rule to follow… white wine with white food (fish, chicken) and red wine with red food (red meat).
Though you may consider the proven health benefits of red wine. Because red wine is made with the grape skins and seeds, it is a rich source of antioxidants, including resveratrol, which increases HDL cholesterol (the good kind) and protects against heart disease.
However, the rule I follow is the easiest rule yet. Decide what you like and drink that.
Beyond the color, there are several types of white wine and several types of red wine. If you don’t already have a favorite, you can buy and taste different kinds until you settle on one you like. A knowledgable wine merchant will be able to give you some good direction on choosing a wine you’ll enjoy.
Of course, the best resource for wine making is a beer and wine making hobby shop in your area. They will provide you with the equipment, the ingredients, instructions and the answers to your questions. The equipment you’ll need includes a fermenting bucket, a six-gallon glass carboy, thermometer, bottles and various tubes and hoses. You can buy an ingredient kit which contains everything you’ll need to make 30 bottles, including concentrated grape juice and yeast.
One of the biggest challenges some find when making their first batch of wine is how long you need to wait for the wine to age. Wine making takes patience. After mixing and fermentation, and after the wine is bottled, it sits in the bottles to age for up to two years depending on the variety and quality you choose. Different ingredient kits will have different aging expectations. But a rule of thumb is that the longer the wine ages, the richer and better it gets. Some home wine makers like to have multiple staggered batches aging at the same time to ensure that there is a constant supply.
Wine making is a very fun and rewarding hobby that produces a quality product that you’ll love to share with your friends.