Our goal is to assist you in the process of making wine. We will
present a simple method for attaining quality results with easy-to-understand
recipes. Although experienced winemakers rarely use recipes, people
who are just starting out find that if they follow instructions
carefully, they will make good wines from the outset.
Modern technology makes it easy to make high-quality wines, as
new methods for preserving freshly crushed grape juices, either
by blast-freezing or through various pasteurization processes, enable
them to remain stable and usable for a long period.
Wine, by the way, can be made from any number of things besides
grapes, including a variety of other fruits and vegetables. Depending
on where you live, many of the raw materials for winemaking may
be available locally from vineyards, farms, wholesalers, and retailers.
Whether you make your wine from scratch or a kit, from juices or
concentrates, you'll find that making your own wine is easy and
Novices have produced excellent wines by using kits. These provide
the necessary ingredients and instructions, and make it a simple
matter for first-timers to create delightful wines. We'll explore
this approach in chapter 3.
Using juices or concentrates also will enable you to produce wonderful
wines. Thanks to the preservation techniques we mentioned earlier,
it is possible for home winemakers to make wines from all of the
world's great grape regions. There are separate chapters devoted
to these methods.
Of course, the ultimate experience comes when you make wine from
scratch. This requires more work, but the satisfaction you'll get
makes it worth the effort.
Don't Be Afraid!
The process of making wine is simple, and we'll walk you through
it one step at a time. This book is designed to meet the needs of
many people - from novices to experienced winemakers eager to learn
a few new techniques.
Some people will discover that they already know a great deal about
the process, because they've learned how to brew their own beers
and ales. Winemaking is the logical next step for home brewers,
because they already have a lot of the equipment they will need
and have learned the importance of cleanliness and patience.
Cleanliness is critical when you're making wine, and you'll find
that if you follow our suggestions for keeping your work area, equipment,
and bottles squeaky clean, you'll avoid many of the problems caused
by unwanted bacteria and foreign matter.
Patience is also important. It's quite natural to want to taste
your wine as soon as possible, but Mother Nature needs to be allowed
time to work - alone! Often, the best thing to do is simply to stay
away from your wine and let it develop on its own. In fact, oftentimes
all you have to do is step back and let nature take its course.
Eight Steps to Winemaking
Winemaking is a fairly simple process and can be accomplished in
1. Choose grapes.
2. Crush grapes.
3. Strain juice into fermentor.
4. Inoculate juice with yeast.
5. Allow wine to ferment. Be patient!
6. Rack wine (that is, move the wine to new containers as needed).
7. Bottle wine.
8. Age wine. Be patient!
As you can see, during fermentation, between rackings, and after
bottling, all you have to do is let the wine "work" by
Using kits, juices, or concentrates lets you skip the pressing
and crushing steps, which is why many beginners feel more comfortable
with these winemaking methods. Some winemakers never get beyond
these methods, because they enjoy producing their wines with relative
ease. There's nothing wrong with this: Regardless of the method,
every winemaker puts his or her own stamp on the finished product,
and it's this variation that makes making and tasting wines such
a delightful experience.
Earlier, we used the term kit when we talked about ingredients
for making wine. Now it's time to look at another type of kit: the
equipment you'll need to turn your ingredients into wine.
Becoming a home winemaker requires a small financial commitment
for basic equipment. Over time, you may decide to experiment with
different varieties of wine (including champagnes) and in greater
quantities. In that case, you'll need to purchase additional equipment.
If, however, you opt to continue making wine from juices and concentrates,
the basic kit will serve you well for many years.
Pay a visit to your local wine supply store. Staff there are likely
to have put together one or more basic winemaking kits, or they
can create one to meet your specific needs. They're also a good
source of information concerning equipment that you may not want
to purchase at this point in your winemaking career, but that may
be available for a small rental charge or even on loan from other
For example, stemmer-crushers, which are used by people who make
grape wine from scratch, are relatively expensive. Generally speaking,
winemakers use these devices for only a few hours a year, so they're
usually willing to share.
In any event, when you're starting out, it's best to purchase just
the items you'll actually need for your first winemaking project.
Therefore, we urge you to talk it over with a knowledgeable person
at the wine supply store so you can put together a basic list.
The great thing about the equipment you acquire is that you can
use it again and again. And if you've been brewing your own beer,
you already have most of what you need!
The Essentials: Basic Equipment
Let's take a closer look at what you'll need to get started. You
may already have some of these items on hand. We've included alternative
equipment where possible.
Primary Fermentor. You'll probably use either a 6- to 7.5-gallon
(23-28 L) glass carboy or a food-grade plastic pail in sizes ranging
from 6 to 32 gallons (23-121 L). You'll need a container that's
larger than the amount of wine you plan to make in order to allow
for foaming and expansion. Stainless-steel and enamel containers
with no cracks are also acceptable.
Glass or Plastic Carboys. You'll need at least one 5- to 7-gallon
(19-27 L) carboy for aging and racking your wine. Two containers
would be better because you're going to have to lift and handle
them when they're filled with wine, and this can be cumbersome and
awkward. You may even want to consider 3-gallon (11 L) glass carboys
for greater ease in handling.
Siphon. A 6-foot (1.8 m) piece of K-inch (0.95 cm) or H-inch (1.3
cm) polyvinyl tubing will do nicely. A J-tube is another type of
siphon. There are also bottling siphons that can do the job - these
are inexpensive and efficient, as they will pick up virtually every
drop of wine.
Stirring Spoon or Paddle. These are particularly helpful when you
are making a red wine (more on this later). Spoons or paddles should
be of food-grade plastic, stainless steel, or wood. If you have
a lathe, you can turn out your own paddles at minimal cost.
Bottle Brushes. You'll need two, one for carboys and the other
for bottles. They should have nylon bristles and heavy-gauge wire
handles. You can then bend them to reach into tight corners and
realign them as necessary.
Fermentation Lock. This device may also be called an air lock,
bubbler, water seal, or fermentation trap. Whatever the name, it
serves a dual purpose - to allow gas to escape during fermentation
and to keep air from getting to the wine. This lock fits into the
Carboy Bung (Rubber Stopper). This is a rubber stopper with a hole
drilled through it to allow for the insertion of the fermentation
lock. The bung is made of sulfur-free, pure gum rubber, and is usually
sold in combination with a fermentation lock. You'll need several
of these units.
Funnels. Buy several plastic or polypropylene funnels. A large
one, 12 inches (30 cm) across, used with a strainer, will help you
to fill carboys or barrels. You should also have one that measures
7 inches (17.8 cm) across, and a smaller funnel with an outside
diameter of G inch (6 mm). We'll discuss their uses later. Funnels
are readily available at the supermarket, hardware store, and wine
Measuring Cups. You probably already have a standard-size measuring
cup in your kitchen, but you'll also need at least a H-gallon (1.9
L) cup. There are times when you'll find the larger one particularly
useful, especially if you're making red wine from grapes and have
to scoop the must into a pressing container.
Hydrometer (Saccharometer). This is a necessity for all winemakers.
The hydrometer eliminates guesswork and ensures accuracy. It measures
the sugar content of the juice and describes the potential alcohol
content. There are a number of different types, but we advocate
purchasing one that measures the sugar percentage (Brix temperature;
see page 22), alcohol potential, and specific gravity.
Hydrometer Jar. The hydrometer floats inside this container, which
contains either wine or must. The jar is cylindrical and can be
made of glass or plastic. Graduations will be marked in milliliters
(100 mL, 250 mL, 500 mL, for example).
Floating Thermometer. A mercury column and scale encased in a I-inch
(1.9 cm) glass cylinder, the thermometer floats upright in liquid
and is used to measure the temperature of wine.
Acid Test Kit. After the test for sugar content, the test for acidity
is the most important measurement a winemaker takes. Although it
is a relatively simple procedure, many home winemakers object to
learning how to do it and find myriad excuses to avoid it. Perhaps
they are intimidated by the fact that chemistry is involved. Whatever
the case, without determining the amount of acidity, a winemaker
is prone to make one mistake after another.
It is important to perform this test because your sugar and acid
counts should be in harmony before you inoculate for fermentation.
It is very difficult to make adjustments later. A complete acid
test kit is reasonably priced, and worth every penny! Most kits
a 25 mL burette with a pinchcock; a 5
mL pipette, burette stand, and clamp; 16 ounces (474 mL) of N/10
sodium hydroxide; 1 ounce (30 mL) of phenolphthalein; and a set
You should also purchase a 250 mL Erlenmeyer flask to hold your
samples. A 250 mL Pyrex beaker is also handy, and you'll need a
supply of distilled water in order to perform the tests. Buy a gallon
(3.8 L) bottle (they're usually cheapest at the supermarket) and
keep it with your testing gear.
Bottles. Generally speaking, we recommend using the bottle type
traditionally used for the wine you're going to produce (see page
10 for illustrations of standard bottles). Still, there really aren't
any hard-and-fast rules, so you can be flexible. The main thing
is to make sure that your bottles are properly cleaned and sanitized
before filling them (see page 10) and that they are tightly sealed.
Corks or Caps. Corks, either plastic or natural, are perfectly
fine for sealing your bottles. For that matter, so are plastic-capped
push corks and screw caps, unless you're making champagne! (See
page 9 for more on bottle closures.)
Bodum Set of 2 So Long Stemless Red Wine Glasses A
new style of glass for enjoying your favorite red wine. From Bodum,
this wine glass is entitled "So Long". From now on, it's "good-bye"
to the formal stem and "hello" to a new style of glass for casually
sipping your red wine. The set includes two glasses, each one with
an 17-oz. capacity. Dishwasher-safe.
Bodum Set of 2 So Long Stemless White Wine Glasses w
from Bodum, it's the wine glass entitled "So Long". From now on,
it's "good-bye" to the formal stem and "hello" to a new style of
glass for casually sipping your white wine. The set includes two
glasses, each one with an 8-oz. capacity. Dishwasher-safe.
Screwless Cork Pops Wine Opener Opening
a bottle of wine can sometimes be a chore what with all the screwing
and tugging involved just to remove the cork. From here on out,
opening your wine will be simple when you use this Cork Pops Wine
Opener. It's so easy and quick: just insert the needle all the way
into the cork and depress the button on top. In less than a second,
the cork will pop out and along with it, the outer foil covering.
The pressurized cartridge will open anywhere from 80 -100 bottles
of wine. When the pressure is gone, carefully remove the needle
and place it on another cartridge. A protective needle cover is
Eva Solo 6-bottle Wine Rack, Black and Stainless Steel This
Wine Rack can hold up to six wine bottles and is adjustable. It
is comprised of 7 plastic components and 24 metal wires for the
mounting of a strong and stable wine rack, which can easily be enlarged
or shrunken in size. Multiple kits of this wine rack can also be
combined to form tall, horizontal, or cubic wine racks according
to your imagination. An excellent way to display your finest wines
in front of company or just a fun way to store the bottles at home.
Bormioli 55-oz. Nadia Riserva Wine Decanter This
beautiful, classic Wine Decanter is designed to complement the Riserva
stemware collection. 55-oz. Hand-washing recommended. Imported from
Riedel 34.5-oz. Merlot Wine Decanter Experts
agree, decanting wine is the best way to ensure clarity in old wines
and give young wines a chance to bloom. Made especially for Merlots,
this decanter from Riedel combines functionality with form. Measures
9.5-in. tall and holds up to 34.5-oz. Made in Germany.
Picnic at Ascot Barware Collection Connoisseur Wine Set, Mahogany
comes in a sleek mahogany case and has all the essential tools that
a wine-lover needs. It includes an ergonomically designed corkscrew
that will allow you to remove corks like a professional. Additional
accessories include a foil cutter, two bottle stoppers, wine pourer,
replacement worm, wine thermometer and drip ring. Picnic at Ascot
has facilitated easy and stylish transport of delicious food to
both casual and special occasions after bringing the tradition of
an elegant English country picnic to the United States in 1992.
Award-winning designs and expert craftsmanship seplus lifetime warrantee.
Metrokane Metrokane Retro Ice Crusher White, White Metrokane
brings back the original 50's ice crusher. This blast from the past
crushes up to a quart of ice in 2 minutes and is ideal for frozen
margaritas and daiquiris and to serve food on a bed of ice.
Kuhn Rikon 7-in. Swiss Corkscrew with Foil Cutter, White This
ingenious tool combines the ease of a table corkscrew with the convenience
of a foil cutter that stows away directly in the turn handle. The
nonstick-coated worm glides effortlessly into (and out of) corks,
and works with all bottle necks. Lifetime warranty.