Nov 022010
 

After much thought, you have decided that you want to try your hand at making homemade wine. If so, you have come to the right spot. In This article we will describe not only the basic winemaking steps, but also tip you off to some of the pitfalls you want to avoid to ensure your first batch turns out good enough you can drink it.

But, First we need to know – how much wine do you want to make?

When starting out, I suggest making at least 5 gallons. Wonder why? Simply because beginning homemade wine makers cannot wait to taste what they have made. 5 gallons is enough to cover this, and it is a relatively straightforward quantity to make. See, 5 gallons is only 25 bottles. So again, you’ll get your first batch finished, and then you will try a bottle or 2 or 3. Then you’ll impatiently wait a week and then try a few more bottles. Sooner than later, with all the “tastings” it will all be gone before it has a chance to age and get really good.

Of course, If you just want to do something simple, and be quick about it, you could just do a gallon in a plastic milk jug. The drawback to this is, that once you have tasted it a few times – it will all be gone and you’ll have to start over.

With 5 gallons – you just might be tempted to let a few of the remaining bottles age. Believe it or not, the biggest mistake beginning winemakers make is not letting their wine age in the bottle. The difference in taste is, to put it mildly, AMAZING.

The next step is to decide which type of juice you want to ferment. Grape juice, cranberry juice, muscadine, and cherry are all good starter choices. The first 3 should produce a rather normal tasting wine while cherries usually will give you a sweeter wine. Of course, you can always add sugar to sweeten your wine after it is stabilized and has stopped fermenting.

The next step is to completely sterilize all of the containers and equipment you will be using. Some people use extremely hot water, others recommend using a sanitizer. I like the sanitizer because you do not have to scald yourself with the hot water. The sanitizing solution should be poured over everything and should make contact with all surfaces. Then you just rinse everything off with hot water.

Put your juice in your 5 gallon bucket – that’s the next step. BUT – it’s not time to put your yeast in yet.

We first want to sterilize our “must” or our juice. You can do this with 4 Campden Tablets. These are sulfite tablets that will get rid of any type of bacteria that could be present in the juice. Crush the tablets and then dissolve them in some warm water and then pour them in your juice or “must”. Let this sit overnight while the sulfites do their work.

24 hours later, you are ready to sprinkle in or “pitch” your yeast.

The type of yeast you decide to use is really a question that is beyond the scope of this article. However, I’ll say that there are hundreds of different yeast strains for literally thousands of different uses. For our first batch, we can just use the bakers yeast that you can easily find at the grocery store. Later, and after some research, you will probably want to use one of the specialized strains.



Now – wait 7 days and watch. you will want to cover your bucket with a cloth towel or even put on a lid with an airlock in place. The wine will be perfectly safe during the fermentation stage because it will give off lots of Carbon Dioxide. The Co2 will protect your wine from the oxygen in the air.

Once the 7 days has passed, siphon off the wine from the bucket into another bucket or into a glass “carboy”. These can be found online or at your local wineshop. When you are doing the siphoning, you will want to get as little of the gunk on the bottom of the bucket as possible. This gunk is called “lees” and is made up of dead yeast. Wine that sits on top of the dead yeast sometimes can develop an “off” flavor.

Once your wine has been transferred into what is called your “secondary fermenter”, then you will want to put an airlock in place and just let it sit for about a month. There’s a song about this part – “The Waiting is the Hardest Part”. It’s true. Every budding home winemaker just cannot wait to taste the stuff – but – don’t do it. It surely won’t hurt you but during this month it is still fermenting. The wine isn’t finished yet. Be Patient.

After the month is up, you will want to transfer it back to your bucket, again making sure that you leave the gunk on the bottom. The process of transferring the wine from one vessel to another is called “racking”. Why? That’s something I am going to research for another article.

You are just about there. Theres only one thing left to do and that is to add a “stablizer” to your wine. A stabilizer inhibits yeast reproduction. In essence, it stops yeast from doing it’s thing. Part of what happens during yeast growth and reproduction is that it releases Co2 gas. If that is happening after you bottle the wine, you will get popped corks or exploded bottles or both. So – put in the stabilizer, stir the wine well, and then return it to your Secondary Carboy fermentation vessel. Be sure and clean out the secondary and sterilize it before you do.

Now, all you have to do at this point is wait until the wine clears. Gravity is your friend here. Of course, it won’t hurt a bit to bottle cloudy wine. But if you wait another month, it should be crystal clear. The clearing process is another subject that you can find a great deal of information on in other guides and books and I suggest you read up on this subject when you get a chance.

Bottling time! All you have to do is make sure your bottles are clean and sanitized and just siphon the wine into the bottles. Corking the bottles can be a little difficult and i highly recommend you get some king of corker. Again, these are available online or at your local wine shop.

Now – BE PATIENT and let the wine sit in the bottle for 6 to 9 months. The longer the wine ages, the better it will taste – I guarantee it.

Happy winemaking!

 Posted by at 9:35 am
Mar 312009
 

One of the most common questions you may have when you begin considering making homemade wine is what type of wine you should make. There are certainly plenty of different types of wines from which to choose. Understanding the different types of wines can help you to narrow down the choices and select the type that would be best for your first, or your next, batch of wine.

First, it is important to understand that while wine is generally made from grapes, you can actually use practically any type of vegetable matter to make wine. When grapes are used to make wine, they fall into three categories. They are red, white and rosè; a pinkish white wine.

Red wines are not only different in color from white wines and rosè wines but they also have flavors that are stronger and richer. The exact color of a red wine can vary from russet brown to full red to a dark purple color. It is the skin of the grapes that give red wines their color.

White wines typically have a more delicate flavor. The actual color of white wines can vary from the palest yellow to a deep gold. Some white wines can even have a pale green color.

Rosè wines, also known as blush wines, are made with the same grapes as are used in red wines; however, they are submitted to a much shorter period of contact with the skin of the grapes. This results in a delicate blush color.





There are several different types of well known white wines. Chardonnay is one of the most popular types of white wines along with Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most popular types of red wines. Other popular reds include Grenache, merlot, pinot noir and Zinfandel.

It is also important to understand the sugar content of wine. Wines with less amounts of sugar are drier. You have probably noted that wines are classified in the store with numbers 1-3. Higher numbered wines have more sugar and are therefore sweeter.

You should also understand the difference between various types of wines and how they are typically served.

Apèfitif wines are commonly served prior to a meal. They are commonly produced in either herbed or non-herbed varieties. The purpose of this type of wine is to stimulate the appetite; however, they are not frequently served with meals.

Table wine is commonly served with dinner at the table. This type of wine is commonly dry and for a very specific purpose. It is meant to compliment the food instead of compete with it. Typically, a white wine is served with white meat while red wine is served with red meat. The reasoning behind this is that white wine flavors tend to subtle in a similar fashion to the flavors of white meats. Red meats are stronger flavored and do well with red wines, which are also stronger flavored. With a rosè, there is more flexibility. If the wine in question is somewhat dry, it will go with either red or white meat.

Dessert wines, of course, are served at dessert because they tend to be quite sweet. When dessert wines are served at other times, the sweetness of the wine can seem to be overwhelming.

After-dinner wines are also sweet; however, they tend to be served as one would guess; after dinner. While after-dinner wines may be spirits they could also be wines that are fermented. Brandy, sherry, port and liqueurs all fall into this category.

 Posted by at 4:41 pm
Mar 312009
 

If you have given some thought to the idea of making wine at home but just haven’t quite gotten around to it yet, there is no reason to delay any longer. Thousands of people around the world happily enjoy the benefits and rewards of making their own wine. While certain equipment is required, you do not need to make a prohibitive investment or even have a large space in order to enjoy a hobby that can be quite rewarding. 

In reality, making wine at home is much easier than you might at first think. The entire process really only involves combining concentrate or fruit with a few simple other ingredients, placing it into the container and then letting it go to work. The resulting process is actually quite natural and will not require a lot of interaction from you.

In fact, it could be said that all you really need to do is make sure that the proper proportions of ingredients are combined and then provided with an environment that is suitable and stable. Before you begin making wine you will need to decide on a recipe. This part might actually be one of the hardest steps because there are so many home winemaking recipes from which you can choose.



If you purchase a winemaking kit, the kit will probably contain at least one recipe you can use to get started. Even without a kit there are numerous winemaking recipes available online as well as in winemaking books. 

You will also need to give some thought to the type of fruit that you want to use in your wine. Most wine varieties are made with grapes; however, there are also many wine recipes that call for the use of a wide array of fruits including strawberries, blackberries, apples and much more. Beyond making wine from fruit, another option would be to make wine from concentrated juice. Wine juice concentrated can be easily purchased in a home brewing store as well as online. In fact, you will generally find that most concentrates contain directions and recipes on the package, so it is easy to get started even if it is your first batch.

Many beginning winemakers prefer to use concentrated wine juices for their first batches because they are so easy to use. They are also available throughout the year, unlike fruit which may only be available during certain times of the year. In addition, you will need to give some thought to whether you want to use a wine making starter kit. Many beginning winemakers do prefer these kits, at least in the beginning because they contain all of the ingredients and equipment that you need in order to make your first batch of wine. In addition, these kits will walk you step by step through the process.

If you have delayed getting started making your own wine because you were intimidated by the process, these kits can help to demystify the process and guide you through the entire process with very little problems. For your first batch of wine you will need a few basic ingredients. These ingredients are necessary whether you are making wine from fruit or concentrate. Yeast nutrient is not yeast per se; instead it is a type of energy that is used to make sure the yeast starts the fermentation process. Pectic enzyme may be added to assist in the breakdown of the fruit during the fermentation process. Acid blend is used in controlling the amount of sharpness that is present in the wine.

You may find in some cases that your wine seems somewhat flat. Acid blend can help to correct this problem. Wine tannin is the zest of fruit and is available in powder form. You may wish to add it to your wine in order to improve the wine’s character. Wine yeast is what actually starts the fermentation process by converting the sugar into alcohol. Campden tablets are typically added right before the fermentation and also before bottling. These tablets are used to make sure that the wine does not become spoiled.

 Posted by at 3:51 pm
Mar 312009
 

While wine can certainly be made from a variety of different vegetable matters, most wines are produced from grapes. Ironically, grapes commonly grow in areas where it is difficult if not impossible to grow other crops. Bordeaux, France is known for producing some of the best grapes, and wines, in the world; however, at first glance the unfertile, stony ground in that region would seem an unlikely growing region. In order to completely understand the process of making excellent wine, it is important to understand how grapes are grown and harvested. This is especially important if you wish to grow your own grapes for the purpose of winemaking.

There are actually more than five thousand different varieties of wine grapes. There are only two broad families; however. They are Vitis Vinifera and Vitis Labrusca. Vitis Vinifera is a European type of grape and include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Riesling. Vitis Labrusca includes American grapes such as Concord, Catawba, Delaware and Niagara.

The process of growing grapes is known as viticulture. Factors such as soil, color, chemicals, geology, topography and climate are all important to that process. In most cases, grapes begin to bud during the spring and then grow and develop fruit during the summer.

During the growth period, it is extremely important to minimize the growth of the leaves, so as to allow more sunlight to reach the grape cluster. Attentive growers must also take care to be on the watch for indications of disease, pests and of course, drought.

By early fall the grapes are reading for harvesting. The exact time at which grapes need to be harvested can depend somewhat on the local climate as well as your own personal judgment.

The phase during which grapes begin to change color is known as vèraison. This is an especially important phase for red or black grapes. Regardless of what color they will eventually become, all grapes begin as dark green and hard. It is only during the ripening phase in the sun that they begin to take on their true color. It is during this time that white varieties of grapes will begin to achieve their golden hue and red varieties of grapes will begin to take on their deep purple hue.

The natural sugar content as well as the ripeness of grapes determine the appropriate time for harvesting. When grapes are typically ready to harvest, the leaves on the grapevines of white varieties will begin to turn yellow while the leaves of red varieties will take on a red hue.

You may have wondered what accounts for the different price of wines when you purchase them in a wine store. The most expensive wines are produced from the first pressing of the grapes. This is frequently referred to as free run wine. Second and third pressings of the grape juice results in wine that referred to as press wine. Press wine is less expensive than free run wine because it is typically not of the same quality. Most press wine lacks the smoothness of free run wine. This is the great advantage of being able to grow your own grapes and then press them for your personal wine. You can have the advantage of enjoying first press wine and the smoothness that is associated with it.

 Posted by at 3:46 pm
Mar 312009
 

Before you begin your first batch of wine, it is a good idea to understand something of the background of wine and the basics of winemaking. Today there are certainly many kits which can be purchased which will walk you step by step through the process of winemaking. Even so, you may find that you enjoy and appreciate the results all the more for understanding the background of each step.

Wine is produced by fermenting grapes that have been freshly harvested. While many people today have taken up an interest in winemaking, the actual process of making wine has remained relatively unchanged over the years.

As we all know, yeast is essential to the fermentation process as part of making wine. Yeast actually grows on grape skins and then begins to automatically ferment the grape juice as the grapes are crushed. This begins the process of turning the grapes into wine. The combination of grape skins and grape juice is known as the must. When the mixture is in this phase of immersion it is known as maceration. This is one of the most important stages of winemaking, especially when making red wines. The actual color of red wine is obtained not from the juice inside the grapes but from the color of the grape skins. The juice inside all grapes, regardless of the skin color of the grape, is actually clear. In order for red wines to obtain their dark color they must extract the color from the skin of the grape. This is why black grapes are commonly used for the production of red wines. Conversely, light colored grapes are used for the production of white wines.




During the actual fermentation process, the natural fruit sugar that is contained within the grapes undergoes a conversion process into equal parts of carbon dioxide and alcohol. As this process continues, heat is released. It is for this reason that stainless steel fermenters that can be temperature controlled are commonly used for the production of rather delicate white wines. This prevents the wine from ‘cooking.’

The ripeness of the grapes and the sugar content contributes to the level of alcohol that is produced during the fermentation process. The time at which the fermentation process is stopped can also contribute to the alcohol level as well.

The dusty look of grapes, frequently referred to as their bloom, is produced by yeasts. The skins of grapes contain what is known as vinegar bacteria. Once exposed to air, vinegar bacteria can spoil new wine quite quickly. As a result, it is necessary to eliminate wild yeasts in order to avoid ruining the taste and the aroma of the wine. Winemakers use a centuries old process of utilizing sulfur dioxide to kill the vinegar bacteria as well as slow the growth of other bacteria and molds in the wine. Sulfites can also help to cease the browning or oxidation of wine as well as preserve its flavor.

Generally, the amount of sulfur dioxide that is used in the winemaking process is quite small. Typically, only between 60 and 125 parts per million are used. It is important to understand that even if no sulfur dioxide is added to the wine, there will still be some sulfites present in the wine due to the fact that they will be produced from fermenting yeasts. This is why all wines that are purchased in the United States contain the label “Contains Sulfites” on the bottle.

 Posted by at 3:44 pm
Mar 312009
 

If you are a true wine connoisseur, the next step in appreciating a fine wine may be to make your own wine at home. While the process may seem to be complicated, wine can be made rather easily at home. Before beginning the process of making your own wine at home it is important to understand the basic steps of winemaking.

In order to make wine at home you will need either grape concentrate or grapes. If you have a sufficient growing area, you may choose to grow your own grapes and make wine from that. If you choose to use grape concentrate, keep in mind that you will need to use high quality grape concentrate. This can be purchased online as well as in wine and home brewing stores. In addition, you will need yeast and brewing equipment. If this is your first batch of wine you may wish to consider purchasing a wine kit rather than buying all of your equipment separately. After you have had a chance to experiment with making wine at home and decided whether it is an endeavor you wish to continue you might then begin accumulating various pieces of equipment for brewing larger batches of wine.

There are five to eight basic steps involved in the process of making wine, depending on whether you are using grapes or concentrate. If you are using grapes then the fruit will obviously need to be harvested first. After the grapes have been harvested, you will then need to remove the stems from the grapes. This is an absolutely essential step as very bitter tannins are contained in the stems that can have a heavy influence on the wine.

After the stems have been removed, the skins of the grapes will then need to be broken in order to release the juice from the fruit. There are certainly many different ways in which to do this. Crushing is the preferred method for most winemakers. The degree to which the fruit is crushed will have an impact on the resulting wine. If your goal is to create a wine that has a fruity aroma then you may wish to leave the berries almost completely intact.






The next step is known as the primary fermentation. During this step the yeast cells contained in the wine will feed on the sugars. Alcohol and carbon dioxide is produced as a result. In some cases, you may wish to add additional yeast. This helps to ensure a stable and consistent conversion which may not be the case if you rely solely on the yeast that is found on the fruit itself.

After the primary fermentation, more juice will need to be extracted from the fruit. It should be noted that the juice that is extracted in this step is typically not as high of a quality as the juice that is extracted during the crushing phase. This is because the juice that is obtained during crushing, known as free run juice, has had less contact with the stems and skins. This does not mean that press juice is useless; however. Even large wineries may choose to use press juice in order to increase their yield.

A secondary fermentation occurs after the pressing, at the same time as the wine is aging. As the winemaker, it will be up to you to determine how long the wine should ferment.

Blending is an optional part of the process; however, one which can assist you in creating a highly customized wine. Blending is most commonly used in order to improve two or more batches which may be slightly lacking. The last step of the process is bottling. The wine is poured into bottles and at times you may wish to add sulfites in order to help end fermentation as well as to preserve the wine. Finally, the bottle of wine is sealed with a cork.

Making wine at home can be a very enjoyable experience. As you learn more about the process of making wine, you will likely gain a more thorough appreciation of wine.

 Posted by at 3:07 pm
Mar 292009
 

If you are a true wine connoisseur, the next step in appreciating a fine wine may be to make your own wine at home. While the process may seem to be complicated, wine can be made rather easily at home. Before beginning the process of making your own wine at home it is important to understand the basic steps of winemaking.

In order to make wine at home you will need either grape concentrate or grapes. If you have a sufficient growing area, you may choose to grow your own grapes and make wine from that. If you choose to use grape concentrate, keep in mind that you will need to use high quality grape concentrate. This can be purchased online as well as in wine and home brewing stores. In addition, you will need yeast and brewing equipment. If this is your first batch of wine you may wish to consider purchasing a wine kit rather than buying all of your equipment separately. After you have had a chance to experiment with making wine at home and decided whether it is an endeavor you wish to continue you might then begin accumulating various pieces of equipment for brewing larger batches of wine.

There are five to eight basic steps involved in the process of making wine, depending on whether you are using grapes or concentrate. If you are using grapes then the fruit will obviously need to be harvested first. After the grapes have been harvested, you will then need to remove the stems from the grapes. This is an absolutely essential step as very bitter tannins are contained in the stems that can have a heavy influence on the wine.




After the stems have been removed, the skins of the grapes will then need to be broken in order to release the juice from the fruit. There are certainly many different ways in which to do this. Crushing is the preferred method for most winemakers. The degree to which the fruit is crushed will have an impact on the resulting wine. If your goal is to create a wine that has a fruity aroma then you may wish to leave the berries almost completely intact.

The next step is known as the primary fermentation. During this step the yeast cells contained in the wine will feed on the sugars. Alcohol and carbon dioxide is produced as a result. In some cases, you may wish to add additional yeast. This helps to ensure a stable and consistent conversion which may not be the case if you rely solely on the yeast that is found on the fruit itself.

After the primary fermentation, more juice will need to be extracted from the fruit. It should be noted that the juice that is extracted in this step is typically not as high of a quality as the juice that is extracted during the crushing phase. This is because the juice that is obtained during crushing, known as free run juice, has had less contact with the stems and skins. This does not mean that press juice is useless; however. Even large wineries may choose to use press juice in order to increase their yield.

A secondary fermentation occurs after the pressing, at the same time as the wine is aging. As the winemaker, it will be up to you to determine how long the wine should ferment.

Blending is an optional part of the process; however, one which can assist you in creating a highly customized wine. Blending is most commonly used in order to improve two or more batches which may be slightly lacking.

The last step of the process is bottling. The wine is poured into bottles and at times you may wish to add sulfites in order to help end fermentation as well as to preserve the wine. Finally, the bottle of wine is sealed with a cork.

Making wine at home can be a very enjoyable experience. As you learn more about the process of making wine, you will likely gain a more thorough appreciation of wine.

Mar 292009
 

One of the great advantages of making your own wine is that you are able to take control of as much of the process as you want. If you want to grow and harvest your own grapes or any other kind of fruit and produce wine you can control every aspect of the process. If, on the other hand, you choose to purchase grape concentrate, you can begin making your wine from that point on. Making wine is largely about making a number of different decisions and taking various factors into consideration. Each factor and each decision will have an impact on your final wine.

One of the first choices you will need to make if you elect to make grape wine and use fruit in order to do it instead of concentrate is whether you want to de-stem the grapes or use the entire cluster. When making this decision it is important to keep in mind that it really does make a difference. If you decide to use the whole cluster then you will find that your wine has a certain flavor and even nuance that is not present if you de-stem the grapes first. This flavor may or may not be appealing to you. Some people describe it as somewhat ‘green.’ If you like that sort of flavor, then using a whole cluster is an excellent choice. A number of very good, award winning wines are produced using the entire cluster. If; however, you do not think you would like that flavor, then it is best to go ahead and de-stem the grapes before you use them for your wine.

Another choice you will have to make is how you want to ferment the must. Yes, there are choices to make here as well. You have two basic choices. You can either ferment in a barrel or a tank. Most winemakers prefer to ferment using a tank. This gives you greater control over the process because the sleeves on the tank give you the option to either heat or cool the must. For example, in the beginning of the fermentation process you may wish to ensure the tanks are cool in order to extract the color from the grape skins. This can also help to stabilize the wine. Of course, you can also choose to ferment your wine in a barrel. This is a popular method when producing white wines because it tends to give them some character that might not be possible from tank fermentation. In the end, it is really up to you and your personal choice, but you will need to make this decision before you produce your first batch of wine.






You will also need to give some thought to the types of yeast that you wish to use. Most beginning winemakers are not aware of the fact that grapes picked straight from the vineyard actually have yeast on them. These are naturally occurring yeasts.  As a result, you may choose not to add any additional yeast to the fermentation mix. In this case, you can allow the natural or native yeasts to work on their own. The one downside to this problem is that you may run into a problem known as a stuck fermentation. This is when the yeast reaches a certain point and then it just simply stops. Generally, yeasts that are created in the lab will be more stable. Of course, there is a downside to this as well. Many winemakers feel that lab created yeasts are lacking in flavor when compared to natural yeasts. If you do choose to use natural yeasts, you will need to be prepared to handle a stuck fermentation in the event that it does occur. Adding a yeast nutrient or energizer can often help to combat this problem by providing the natural yeasts the ‘kick’ they need to finish the fermentation process.

Finally, you will need to give some thought to whether you wish to filter or not filter your wine. There is no set rule regarding this matter. You may find that a wine that has been unfiltered will have a great amount of richness; however, do be aware that there are bacterial issues which may arise if you choose not to filter your wine. In addition, wines that have not been filtered tend to have a cloudier appearance than those that have been filtered.

Mar 252009
 

Blending has become a highly respected part of the process of winemaking. Many winemakers in fact view blending as a highly evolved art form. The basic idea of blending is to mix different wines in order to create a final wine that possesses a quality that is superior to that of each of the different components singularly.

The most common type of blending involves blending at least two different grape varieties of wine. Blending has become some a popular concept that many winemakers specifically plant their vineyards for the purpose of blending by growing a variety of different grapes in order to create a blended field. Another way of achieving blending is to combine at least two different varieties of grapes that have been harvested separately but then ferment them together. This process commonly involves at least one red grape and one white grape.

Still yet, you might choose to create a blend which contains the same grape; however, different fermentation containers are used. Because the containers are different they will produce a taste that is somewhat different even though the grapes are essentially the same. You might even choose to go so far as to create a blend containing wine from a batch that has been barrel fermented and another that has been fermented in a stainless steel container.




Another way to blend wines is to blend wines that are from different vintages. If you have been making your own wine for some time, there is a good chance that you probably have a few bottles of wine in your cellar that were produced in different years.

It should be pointed out that there are some wines that do not lend themselves particularly well to blending. Chardonnays are known to not be particularly improved by blending. Red Zinfandel and Pinot Noir also rarely see many improvements from blending. There are also some wines which are too delicate for blending such as Gewürztraminer.

When properly handled, blending can help to balance the flavors as well as the levels of tannins and acids. It should be pointed out that blending can help to improve the quality of wines that already at least somewhat good on their own. Blending one good wine with a bad wine; however, will not improve the bad wine enough to create a single good blended wine. Typically, rather than the bad wine being improved, the good wine will take on the lesser qualities of the bad wine. If you have a bad wine that you wish to improve, consider mixing; a process that can take away an off flavor.

Generally, if you are new to blending it is best to start with just two wines. Many home based winemakers discover the benefits of blending when they taste a wine in order to see how it turned out and discover that it could be slightly better. Blending gives you the ability to select the best characteristics of multiple wines and then blend them together to achieve a far better flavor. While the process may seem complicated, even the most novice home winemakers can create a good blend at home.

The basic process of blending involves testing, comparing the flavors and then finding the ratio you prefer for the final blend. Remember that it is best to blend on an incremental basis, starting with small amounts and then making minor adjustments until you find a preferred blend. As you may wish to blend in the future, it is a good idea to take notes as you go along; noting how many millimeters of each wine you have used for subsequent tests.

It is also important to note that in some cases, certain blends may need some time in order for the individual components to marry and achieve a good flavor. This is commonly the case with young red wines. Tasting a blend of young reds right away can give you an inaccurate idea of what the final result will taste like. Whites; however, can usually be blended and tasted right away.

Most winemakers find that blending produces better results when it occurs as soon after fermentation as possible. Blending right after fermentation will protect the final product from oxidation and also gives the wines the opportunity to age together into a single wine rather than separately.

Mar 252009
 

While many people who make their own wine prefer to make wine that is suitable for everyday drinking with meals, there may be times when we you wish to make something more special that would be suitable for special occasions and parties. The obvious choice is sparkling wines. If you have considered making sparkling wines but have been intimidated by the thought because it seemed too complicated, rest assured that it is not nearly as complicated as it might at first seem.

The term sparkling wine refers to wine that has been carbonated. Many people think of sparkling wine as champagne; however, the word champagne is used to refer to sparkling wine that is produced in the Champagne region of France. In Spain, this version of sparkling wine is known as Cava and in Italy it is known as Prosecco.

Regardless of the different names that are used to refer to sparkling wine, the same age-old process can be used to make sparkling wine at home. The basic process calls for beginning with white wine and adding sugar and yeast to the mixture. The wine is then corked so that carbon dioxide will begin to build up. Since the bottle is corked, the bubbles will then become forced back down into the wine.





The process really is quite simple and there is no reason why you cannot begin producing your own version of sparkling wine at home with a few bottles, some sugar, a lemon and some yeast along with your own white wine.  Remember that your bottles will need to be sanitized first. While the bacteria that may grow in bottles that have not been sanitized will not necessarily hurt you, it will definitely affect the taste of your wine and could ruin the entire batch.

The first step in the process is to make your white wine somewhat more acidic. The acidity of the wine will give it a texture that is more flavorful and overall crisper. To do this, add the juice of one lemon per twenty-five ounces of white wine.

The next step is to add in the yeast and the sugar. Both of these items are necessary in order for the carbonation to occur. You must make sure that your measurements are exact; however, when you add the sugar into the wine. If you use too much sugar the result will be too much carbonation. This can actually cause the bottles to explode so you want to make sure you use only one teaspoon of sugar per twenty-five ounces of wine.

After you have added the sugar into the wine, you will then need to add in the yeast. You will only need to add ¼ teaspoon yeast into the wine and sugar mixture. Make sure that you sprinkle the yeast carefully into the wine; do not just dump it into the wine. Now, using a large spoon, stir the mixture to be sure the sugar and yeast become well combined. You may even note that the carbonation process has already begun to occur.

Now, it is time to bottle the mixture. To achieve successful results, the mixture must be properly bottled. The biggest mistake in making sparkling wines is to pour the mixture into a bottle and stick in a cork. Many home brewers prefer to use what is known as swing cap bottles that contain a metal rod attached to the cork. Once the cork has been inserted into the bottle, the rod can be locked into place. This works to pressurize the contents inside the bottle. You can purchase these types of bottles at most home brew stores as well as online.

When you pour the wine, be sure to leave about two inches of space in the neck of the bottle. This will allow plenty of room for the pressure to build as the carbonation process occurs. If you do not leave enough space, the pressure will have nowhere to go and you could end up with exploding bottles. Once the bottles have been filled, they should be placed in a location that is cool and dry. Generally, they should remain there for between one and two weeks. When you are ready to drink the wine, do make sure that you chill it first.