The art of making wine goes way back. The tools used have become more refined, but the concept is still the same. Wine could be made from almost any type of fruit or vegetable matter. However, the fruit most people make their wine out of are grapes. Before a piece of fruit is transformed into excellent fine wine, it goes through several processes.
There are five basic steps to winemaking, namely:
Countless variations exist within each step. This makes winemaking a very interesting process. Each deviation actually makes each wine unique.
Fruits used in making wine are crushed and put through several processes before you get the final result. However, a concentrate from a wine making kit could also be used instead of raw fruit.
In the process of making wine at home, first start with making sure that your utensils are clean. It will be very unfortunate to have any remnant from previous wine making expeditions compromise your new attempt due to free growing mold and torpedo you efforts.
Grapes or other fruits
To make about five gallons of wine you would need about fifty pounds of ripe grape clusters, that is, if you are using grapes. The fruits are placed in a large vast and then crushed. Crushing grapes could be done the old fashioned way, trampling them (not recommended), or you can use grape crushers available from your local wine store. You can use a potato masher or by hand. For the best out come when crushing your grapes, we recommend using a vat large enough so that it is not more than two third full with crushed grapes.
Premature fermentation and fermentation
After the grapes have been crushed, it is very important that you prevent premature fermentation. The reason for this is that grape fruit has some natural yeast that will start off fermentation before you are ready. To prevent this from occurring, potassium metabisulfite in the form of campden tablets are crushed and added to the crushed grapes. The vat is then covered with a clean towel and allowed to sit for twenty four hours. At the end of twenty four hours, controlled fermentation is then initiated by adding a packet of wine yeast to the crushed grapes. Pay particular attention to the yeast you purchase. There are 2 types of yeast out there on store shelves: The wine and yeast and the bread yeast. You must never substitute one for the other. The commonest types of wine yeast are the Montrachet and Prix de Mousse.
Add the yeast to the must. The must is the fancy name given to the crushed grapes at this stage, and you can use your hand or a cup to sprinkle some yeast on the must while still starring at the same time. Comb through the must with your hands looking for any stems and or berries still attached to the stem and remove them. Cover the must vat with a towel and set aside
After 24-48 hours, the must will begin to fizz and by the third day will appear to be boiling. By the end of a week, the fizzing would have subsided and it is now time to separate the wine from left over’s like grape skin, seeds, pulp etc by a process known as pressing. This mixture is poured into a cheese cloth or mesh bag and then squeezed. The liquid strained out is poured into a carboy or empty wine barrel. Again, always endeavor that your tools are clean, in this case that the carboy is clean.
From this moment onwards, you should try to prevent air from coming in contact with the wine and this can be achieved using a one way valve, the airlock. The airlock lets air produced by the process out of the carboy but prevents air from going in.
All the fizzing stops at the end of 2 to 3 weeks and it is now time to put the wine through a process known as racking. Racking is an essential part of wine making that involves the transfer of the wine from the old carboy or the container it is stored in presently to a new one temporarily using a siphon.
While the wine is in the new container the Lees are removed from the old carboy. Lees are grape bits and spent yeast that have formed sediments in the barrel. As soon as the lees are removed, the wine is again poured back into the old carboy and it is allowed to sit there for 2 to 3 months when a second racking is done.
Wine is aged in a dark cool place and it is very important to top of the barrel with similar wine. At this stage the wine could be tasted, but to get a better product it is advisable to age it some more.