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Wine Making

Learning to make wine is a very fulfilling and deep hobby, especially for the wine tasting enthusiast. The different processes, grapes, and options available in wine making, result in a hobby that you can grow with over the years.

Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other Wine making resources. We have a Wine Making forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with Wine making how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best Wine making books and products.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Duncan Davis

 

Introduction


Wine making can be, like any hobby, very rewarding. But this hobby can be costly and one that might need you to have a great deal of room and materials. Before choosing to invest time and money in this hobby it is important to make sure that wine and wine making is something that you truly have a lasting interest in. Many people who start off making wine as a hobby move on to selling their wine locally, so you can have this as a possible long term goal in mind.




There are books and websites that can help you get more information and help with the wine making process, as well as help you to locate where to buy all the necessary tools and materials that you might need to advance your hobby. Taking a look at these sites before you start investing into the hobby can give you an idea of what you are getting into before the costs begin to add up. It is also important to note that wine making does not happen overnight and depending on how long you leave the wine to ferment, it could be months before you taste your first batch.




Process


In traditional wine making the process is as follows:




After the harvest, the grapes are crushed and allowed to ferment. Red wine is made from the must (pulp) of red or black grapes that undergo fermentation together with the grape skins, while white wine is usually made by fermenting juice pressed from white grapes, but can also be made from must extracted from red grapes with minimal contact with the grapes` skins. Rosé wines are made from red grapes where the juice is allowed to stay in contact with the dark skins long enough to pick up a pinkish color, but little of the tannins contained in the skins.




During this primary fermentation, which often takes between one and two weeks, yeast converts most of the sugars in the grape juice into ethanol (alcohol) and carbon dioxide. After the primary fermentation, the liquid is transferred to vessels for the secondary fermentation. Here, the remaining sugars are slowly converted into alcohol and the wine becomes clear. Some wines are then allowed to age in oak barrels before bottling, which add extra aromas to the wine, while others are bottled directly. Still others may be aged in stainless steel tanks or glass carboys. The time from harvest to drinking can vary from a few months for Beaujolais nouveau wines to over twenty years for top wines. However, only about 10% of all red and 5% of white wine will taste better after five years than it will after just one year. Depending on the quality of grape and the target wine style, some of these steps may be combined or omitted to achieve the particular goals of the winemaker. Many wines of comparable quality are produced using similar but distinctly different approaches to their production; quality is dictated by the attributes of the starting material and not necessarily the steps taken during vinification.




Variations on the above procedure exist. With sparkling wines such as Champagne, an additional fermentation takes place inside the bottle, trapping carbon dioxide and creating the characteristic bubbles. Sweet wines are made by ensuring that some residual sugar remains after fermentation is completed. This can be done by harvesting late (late harvest wine), freezing the grapes to concentrate the sugar (ice wine), or adding a substance to kill the remaining yeast before fermentation is completed; for example, high proof brandy is added when making port wine. In other cases the winemaker may choose to hold back some of the sweet grape juice and add it to the wine after the fermentation is done, a technique known as süssreserve.




The process produces wastewater, pomace, and lees that require collection, treatment, and disposal or beneficial use.




For wine making hobbyists the process is much the same but on a much smaller scale. Many hobby wine makers will even purchase kits or premade juice in order to make their wine. This saves them the trouble of having to grow and prepare their own grapes. This is a good option for beginners because it allows them to experiment in the wine making process without having to worry about properly growing the grapes and juicing them. Many hobbyists do not have the land nor the ability to properly harvest, destem and crush the grapes.




But hobbyists do use yeast and they do ferment the wine twice before ensuring that the wine is ready to drink. Different additives can also be put in order to give the wine different tastes and flavors. There are plenty of online resources offering great recipes so that you can make a wine that suits your personal tastes.




Equipment


When you are preparing to set up your own wine making hobby there are a number of different tools that will make the process much easier. There are two main types, the tools that can be reused and the tools that can only be used once. Many of these items you will need multiples of and they can vary in price based on where you get them from.




• 1 gallon glass jars, some people will use larger jars and others will even choose to use plastic. The decision is yours but be aware that many people feel that the plastic can affect the taste of the wine.




• Airlocks, you will need one of these for each glass jar that you purchase.




• Siphon Tube, about six feet.




• Corks and Wine bottles, this one probably seems pretty obvious but it should not be overlooked.




• Wine Yeast, this is necessary for fermenting




• A bucket,




• A sieve, or mesh bag, the finer the better.




• A Kettle.


 


This is the minimum of what you will need in order to make wine. But there is a number of other tools that you may choose to purchase as you become more involved in the wine making process.




Recipes


All wines have a specific recipe that creates their unique and specific flavor. You can even combine other flavors with the flavor of the grapes. There are a number of sites that offer free recipes and information on how to find and prepare the ingredients that you need. For example for a Blackberry wine the recipe includes fresh black berries and information on how to pick them and prepare them for use in the wine.




Appreciating Wine


Wine making as a hobby can only be useful if you are aware of how to appreciate a good wine and enjoy drinking it. Part of the process of learning to appreciate the different flavors and styles of wine is to learn how to truly taste the wine.