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Making wine from Concentrates

The following instructions apply to either the 1 gallon or 5 gallon wine making kits.

You're also going to need a kettle, but we'll assume you'll have access to one of these, and some sterilising solution.

You're about to learn the most important lesson there is to learn when making homemade wine or beer. STERILISATION. The equipment that you use to make wine must be spotlessly clean. A sterilising solution is used to ensure that everything that the wine comes into contact with is clean.

Start off by mixing up a pint or two of sterilising solution. Follow the instructions on the packet or bottle, which generally involves dissolving either tablets or powder in warm water. Clean the equipment firstly using normal hot water to make sure all residues from any previous wine making are removed. Then pour the sterilising solution into the demi-john/fermenter. Then stir the solution round the demi-john/fermenter using a long handled spoon.

Now syphon the solution from one demi-john/fermenter to the other and repeat the process. Finally pour the solution into a jug and drop in the airlock and bung for a few minutes. Once everything is sterile you must be careful when handling it not to contaminate it prior to use. Rinse everything with plenty of clean water to remove any traces of sterilising solution.

Now you can open your kit which usually contains a can of syrupy grape concentrate, a packet of yeast, a wine stablising solution and some wine finings. Follow the instructions that come with the kit carefully. In general you will pour the grape concentrate into the clean demi-john/fermenter and make up to the required volume (1 or 5 gallons) with warm water (usually 70F). Some people prefer to use boiled water, but it depends on the standard and hardness of water available in your area and your personal taste. Some kits also require you to dissolve a certain amount of sugar in warm water before adding this to the demi-john.

The next stage is usually to add the packet of yeast, stir the wine, fit the airlock and put it in a warm place (around 70F). Fermentation should start within the next few hours but don't worry, it might take a couple of days. When fermentation begins you will see foam forming on top of the wines surface and air bubbles escaping from the airlock. Fermentation will continue for a few days, anything up to two weeks, but when it has stopped you will know because the air bubbles will have stopped bubbling through the airlock and the foam will have disappeared from the surface of the liquid. At this point you will usually syphon or drain the wine off the sediment in to a clean and sterile demi-john/fermenter.

As stated above, most wine kits contain a Wine Stablising Solution and it would be at this point in the process that you add it to the demi-john and stir well. Your aim is to stir the solution thoroughly into the wine and to expel any gas that has dissolved into the liquid. Leave the wine for the recommended time, usually a few minutes, then add the sachet of wine finings. Stir more gently this time and then put the demi-john/fermenter in a cool place to allow it to clear. Some kits contain 2 sachets of wine finings, the second sachet being added a couple of days after the first. Again the wine is left to clear. The wine can be syphoned or drained into a clean demi-john/fermenter again to remove it from the sediment that will have built up as the wine clears. After a couple more days the wine should be ready to bottle. Taste it first to see if it's too dry. You can add sugar at this point to sweeten the wine, but be careful. Add a small amount at a time, because you obviously can't remove sugar, if you add too much.

Bottle the wine in clean, sterilsed bottles and fit corks. 

Some corks require soaking for a few hours prior to fitting but you can get silicon treated corks that can be fitted dry. At this point you should apply a label, either a simple sticky piece of paper to identify the wine and date or a proper wine label to complete the presentation of your bottle of wine. Shrinks can be applied over the top of the mouth of the bottle, by heating them with the steam from a kettle. These are a nice touch and make your bottle of wine really look the part.

Wine bottles should always be stored on their sides, so that the wine touches the cork. You can drink your wine straight away, but it should improve with age, if kept lying flat for a few months.

The most important thing is to enjoy your wine and don't be put off if it didn't turn out very nice. The most likely explanation is contamination, so have another go and this time  clean and sterilise everything twice, and then once again for good measure.

 

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Original design by Andrew Stevenson 2001 revised by Robert Paine 2003