How To Make Wine – Part 1
So you’re thinking about making your own wine but don’t know where to start? Wondering just how complicated it can be? I was at that point once as well, until I received a Father’s Day gift of a wine making starter kit.
I was delighted to learn just how uncomplicated home wine making can be. Sure, one can complicate it as much as they want as they experiment with different fruits, alcohol content, sweetness and/or dryness, or aging with additives.
But winemaking itself is a very simple process, won’t take up a lot of your time (patience is required more than anything else), and in the long run, you’ll save some money.
The results of home wine making are generally good quality wine at the fraction of liquor store prices. As well, you’ll be bypassing the tax man with his insane “sin taxes” that are added to one of mankind’s favorite beverages throughout history.
To get started, I’d recommend you get yourself a decent starter kit. A good kit should, at the very least, contain the following:
- Plastic foodgrade pail, at least 6US gallon capacity. Sometimes called a “primary fermenter” – but there’s nothing special about it. Just needs to be food grade with a lid.
- Glass 6US gallon carboy, sometimes referred to as a “secondary fermenter.”
- Syphon hose – again, food grade plastic.
- Hydrometer and testing jar to measure the specific gravity through the process. This will assist you in calculating the final alcohol content of your wine. Later, you can use this instrument for further experimentation as well.
- Wine thief – which will help you obtain a sample of wine from the carboy to put in your hydrometer testing jar.
- Long handled food grade plastic spoon for stirring and degassing the wine.
- Air lock and bunge.
Please Note: You should never use pails made of a reactive metal such as aluminum. Stainless steel is ok, but for your primary fermenter, food grade plastic is less expensive and lighter. Just much easier to handle.
Some suppliers such as Ben’s Homebrew will include a corker, small instruction book, corks, bottle filler, and other items as well.
Buying from an on-line retailer can be a simple and easy experience – but please do also consider visiting your own local wine making supplier if you have one. The ability to get to know experienced wine makers and build a relationship with them can be extremely beneficial to you. The two stores in my town both have great knowledgeable staff and neither one tries to sell you something you don’t need.
I have my own preference now for the one I enjoy visiting – but both places are very good.
In future articles, we’ll discuss some of the different items that should have come with your starter kit.