How To Make Wine
I’m sometimes asked when I tell others that I make my own wine, “Ian, how can I make wine?” As someone else once wrote (I think it was Jack Keller, but I’m not certain right now) my response is “You don’t make wine. Yeast make wine.” Sometimes I find it amazing that these single celled organisms are responsible for the turning juice into a beverage that many of us enjoy for it’s flavors, aromas, and of course, gently intoxicating effects.
So, how to make wine? Well, considering it’s the yeast that consume sugar, turning it into alcohol and carbon dioxide, we get to control so much of the process however, including the type of yeast we are going to use. There are many varieties of yeast available to make wine today, and are selected for a variety of characteristics they have. Some have higher tolerance to alcohol and temperature changes, while others are more suitable for wines that are meant to finish sweet or semi-sweet.
Of course, in wine making, there is also the choice of the main ingredient. Will it be juice from grapes or other fruits? How about mead made from honey? Even vegetables can be used to make wine. Until someone has tried it, they may think that making a parsnip wine would be rather awful tasting, but in fact parsnip wine after some aging is quite nice.
When wine is being made, what we try to do is control the conditions as much as possible that the wine is being made in by the yeast we’ve selected. During and after the fermentation (and sometimes before fermentation starts), adjustments will be made to try to get the right acidity, sweetness or dryness, clarity, and the all important flavours and aromas.
If you are using a wine kit, you won’t have to worry about those adjustments – the concentrated juice you will receive has already been balanced and had the necessary ingredients added to complete a fermentation that will turn out similar to a wine purchased retail made of the same grape variety(s). And for the beginner, this is probably the easiest way to begin learning about how to make wine.