Mastering the Art of Homemade Winemaking

Homemade winemaking has been making a comeback over recent years with many folks taking up home wine making for the first time. However, many have discovered, to their cost, that making wine is perhaps not as easy as it may seem. Many have found their first attempts to be a total disaster and given up before they have even got started. Mastering the art of homemade winemaking takes time and above all, learning from experieince. As the adage says, If at first you do not succeed, try again until you perfect your winemaking skills.

Is Wine Making Considered A Lost Art?

Wine making is one of the fastest-growing hobbies in the United States. It is a skill passed down from generation to generation and each successful generation likes to add some special touches to give there wine a unique taste. Homemade winemaking is like anything else, the more you practice, the better you will become.

There are five basic components to making wine:

  • Harvesting
  • Crushing and Pressing
  • Fermentation
  • Clarification
  • Aging and Bottling

This hobby is remarkably easy to learn and, compared to other hobbies, amazingly cheap plus it is fun and makes great gifts for that special occasion.

The First Step is the Grapes

The first real step in wine making is definitely growing the grapes and believe it or not this is not that hard to do right at home in your own backyard. For red wines the grape preparation includes mashing the grapes, sometimes with the stems, in a machine or by stomping with your feet which is still practiced in some parts of the world today. Grape preparation for white wines is a more involved process. The complete contact between the juice and the skins after crushing grapes gives red wines their color but to maintain the white wine’s clarity the contact between the skins and the juice is dramatically reduced or you can let the crushed grapes naturally drain producing a lighter white wine. You can use any organic fruit or vegetable to make wine with and this helps to give your wine a unique and extraordinary taste that is all your own.

There are several things to think about when making wine at home, like the sterilization of the equipment, the grapes themselves, the skins, the process used (there are a few different ones), temperatures etc. Harvesting or picking the right grapes is certainly the first step in the actual wine making process. Traditionally the next step is crushing the entire cluster of fresh ripe grapes with either a machine or by foot. Next is the fermentation process which turns the juice into wine and it is one of the most important steps in wine making. The trick is make sure your fermented fruit does not turn to vinegar by processing it to long, just allow it to ferment and become wine, not vinegar. Once fermentation is completed, the clarification process begins and the final stage of the wine making process involves the aging and bottling of wine.

The Fermentation

The fermentation process will slow as the sugar is consumed and in two or three weeks will be essentially complete but depending on the temperature at which the fermentation takes place, the lower temperature the longer to process which means it can take up to a month for the fermentation to finish. You can also stop the progress too soon, known as "stuck fermentation", leaving residual sugar in the wine.

Here is a list of thing to make sure you have before the fermentation process begins:

  • Campden Tablets: These tablets are added before fermentation and again before bottling.
  • Pectic Enzyme: This is added to help break down the fruit during fermentation.
  • The Hydrometer: This allows you to determine the alcohol level of your wine and it will help you to track the progress of your wine's fermentation.
  • Yeast Energizer: Provides essential minerals, trace nutrients and vitamins for yeast growth and metabolism during fermentation.
  • Yeast Nutrient: Add to fermentation to increase yeast activity. Juice will begin fermenting naturally within 6-12 hours with the aid of wild yeasts in the air.

The process of creating wine at home is considered a passion and an art form shared by serious wine enthusiasts from around the world. You can learn so much by making wine in your home and it gives you a sense of accomplishment. Home wine making is inexpensive, takes very little time, and the results are good quality wine at a fraction of the prices you would pay in a store.

Alyssa Nair has written articles on the finest wines and accessories. Read the helpful tips and advice about homemade wines, building your own wine cellar or growing your own grapes.