The basic concept of how wine is produced is for the most part, is common The basic steps to quick and easy wine making after you’ve picked the grapes are crushing them to get the juices out, fermenting the juices, clarifying the fermented liquid then bottling and aging it. For white wine, white grapes are used but it is possible to produce a white wine from red grapes if the skins, seeds and stems are removed. It is these that give red wine its color, flavor, and aroma. There are many ways of completing these basic steps and each variation helps to create a unique wine.
It takes about ten pounds of grapes for every gallon of wine you are making, or a little less than two pounds for a standard 75cl bottle. Most of the materials you will need can be obtained easily from your local wine supply shop and getting a kit is the ideal way to start and should have everything you need to keep your wine making easy.
You will need a large vat to crush the grapes but it doesn’t need to be large enough to stand in and crush the grapes by foot. For domestic quantities a hand masher will do or you may even crush them by hand. The vat should be no more than two thirds full as the “must” will bubble and froth during the first fermentation. Drop in some Campden tablets to prevent the growth of wild yeast while the must sits for a day before fermentation.
Get some wine yeast from your local wine supplier and stir it in with your hand while removing any stems left in the pulp. Don’t use bread yeast, wine making yeasts are quite different and will affect the flavor of the wine. Cover the vat and allow fermentation to proceed without interruption. After two or three days the mixture may appear to be boiling but after about a week this will begin to subside. After this first fermentation the liquid is strained off and the pulp discarded. The liquid is poured into a barrel with an airlock fitted that will allow carbon dioxide to escape but keep air out to prevent oxidation. It is important to keep the wine from coming into contact with air from now until it’s poured for drinking.
After two to three weeks all the fizzing will have stopped and the liquid will have cleared as all the spent yeast and sediment falls to the bottom of the container. The wine is then siphoned off into a carboy and the sediment discarded. This process, known as racking, prevents odors and bad flavors from forming and can be carried out every couple of months until there is no fresh sediment and the specific gravity falls to 1.000 or lower.
The clear wine can now be bottled and aged. It should be drinkable at this stage but aging will allow more of the flavors to develop. The bottles should be kept in a cool, dark place, labeled and dated. Then, after some easy wine making, you can start the enjoyable job of drinking it. Do it properly and share it with friends or family.