wine kit

Time to move up the level of difficulty to making something that has a couple more steps… wine.  While you can harvest your own grapes, and crush them yourself, in the modern day it’s usually easier to buy a wine kit.  You can find kits for making 1 gallon batches or 6 gallon batches.  These kits will come with everything you need to make a batch of wine (including a dry yeast packet).  The kits will come with a plastic bladder full of grape juice concentrate, which you’ll put into a bucket (or carboy), and mix with warm water to get up to your total volume.  Then you stir, and stir some more, and keep stirring to make sure that everything is mixed well. Your kit may come with some packets of items to be added in at this time (wood chips are common), follow your kit instructions here.  At this point, you can take a sample and measure your gravity (if you want to know the starting gravity), check the temperature (to make sure the yeast won’t die), and pitch the yeast.

After a couple of weeks, the primary fermentation is done.  At this point we want to minimize contact with oxygen, so we’ll move it from the bucket into a 6 gallon carboy.  Use a sanitized siphon to move it over, and add any additions that your wine kit say to add. Then put on an airlock, and let it sit for another couple of weeks.  Once fermentation is done (check this with your hydrometer), the final gravity will generally be below 1.000.

Now, fermentation should be complete, but we’re not done yet.  Next we need to clarify it and degas it. Yeast breaks down sugar into alcohol and CO2, depending on the ambient temperature, some amount of that CO2 will have been absorbed by your wine.  Most styles of wine do not have carbonation, so we need to do something to get that gas out. You can either take up more stirring (over 5 minutes, go ahead, count it out) or you can use a degassing wand.  These labor saving tools go into your drill, and make degassing much easier.  For clarifying, your kit will most likely have a couple of packets that need to be added in a certain order.  Follow the instructions (or if you’re really patient, you can wait and the wine will eventually drop clear) with your kit (side note for those who are vegetarian, keep in mind the clarifying agent is where you may find animal products).

Back to waiting for a couple of weeks (or as your kit says) for the clarifying agents to work their magic.  Now, you just need to carefully siphon of the wine into bottles (without stirring up that layer of sediment at the bottom), and cork or cap them.  If you corked them, stand them up for 3-4 days for the corks to seal, then you can store them on their side. At this point, you’re done and will have around 30 bottles of wine (assuming a 6 gallon batch and standard 750 mL bottles).

Sorry for the lack of recipes this time around.  The only non-kit wine I’ve made is beyond the level that I’ve gotten to in these tales.  But if you want to follow it, you can find it here.