Making your own wine needn’t mean sacrificing taste and quality for cheap thrills. These days there are many amateur wine makers creating delicious wines comparable to those available to buy in the shops.
However, homemade wines normally have a higher alcohol content than commercially available wines. Take care to ensure you don’t drink too much until you know how potent it is.
Making Your Wine
There are plenty of home winemaking kits available to buy, which give you clear instructions on how to make the perfect tipple. You can use grapes, blackberries, elderberries, apples and even nettles to make wine, there are no limits to your creativity. With practice, you can also choose to make your wines dry or sweet, light or full-bodied.
Whatever fruit you use, the techniques, equipment and principles are the same. You will need the following equipment:
- Large straining bag
- Clear plastic tubing
- Two large glass jugs or bottles
- Fermentation lock and bung
- Wine bottles
- Corks or stoppers
You should only make wine with fruit or vegetables in premium condition. Inspect your fruit by checking it’s ripe; taste it to make sure it is sweet and slightly soft (this ensures it has a good sugar content). Clean your fruit; ensuring it is free of dirt and insects. Remove any specimens that are rotten and cut away stems, gristly and woody bits. Wash all of your equipment thoroughly and ensure it is sterile.
How to Make Red Wine
- 8kg ripe red grapes
- 0.33g potassium metabisulfite powder
- Wine yeast
Harvest grapes once they have fully ripened and sanitise your equipment. Place the grapes into a straining bag and place the bag in a large bucket or pail. Using your hands or a vegetable masher, crush the grapes inside the bag. Measure out one tsp sulfite crystals and sprinkle them over the must in the nylon bag.
Cover the bucket with the cheesecloth and let it sit for one hour. Dissolve the yeast in one pint of warm water and let it stand for 10 minutes. Then pour the yeast solution over the straining bag, stirring gently. Re-cover the bucket with the cheesecloth and leave the bucket in a warm area, such as an airing cupboard for at least 24 hours. Monitor the fermentation of the mixture regularly, stirring the mixture twice a day.
After a couple of days, lift the straining bag out of the bucket and squeeze out any remaining liquid from it. Cover the bucket loosely with the cheesecloth and let the wine settle for 24 hours. Decant the wine into a large sanitised jug, topping it up with some boiled, cooled water. Fit the bottle with a bung and fermentation lock. Make sure the container is topped up with grape juice if levels fall short. After 10 days, decant the wine into another large jug.
Leave the wine for eight months, then siphon the settled wine into clean, sanitised bottles (taking care to avoid transferring any sediment). Cork the bottles and store them in a cool, dark place for six months.
Making wine is a fun element of self-sufficiency. There are many recipes for making your own wine and you don’t have to use grapes. Simply substitute grapes with another fruit or vegetable (with a high sugar content).