Searching the Internet for information of a particular wine,I came across several 'Home Brew sites',checking them out was like opening another world of creativity for me.Had you asked me prior to this,how is wine made,I would recall my limited knowledge of being seven,and my winery experiences.I had no idea that good wine could be made from these 'Wine Kits', sold at home brew stores! The appeal is the immense variety available,from fresh grapes,only what would be available locally could be used.From kit's any wine from the world can be made.
Always enjoying a new challenge,( Really Loving) we made our first homemade wine from a kit.An Australian Chardonnay,not a high price kit ,actually toward the lower price range of about $65 (kits make 30 bottles of wine).We did have to purchase some equipment,nothing exotic, (everything was available in a package offer)a 6 +1/2 gal food grade plastic fermenting bucket,with lid and a grommetted vent hole for the airlock,a glass 6gal jug (called a carboy) for secondary fermentation,a manual siphon and 6ft of food grade plastic tubing (like the stuff at pet stores for tropical fish),bottle brush for carboy,airlock,and sanitizer, a hydrometer (measures sugar level) and of course the wine kit. Additionally, I knew this was going to be a life long hobby for me,and treated myself to a floor corker.Which makes corking the bottles an ease,and a bottle tree to place the cleaned and sanitized bottles on ,prior to filling.The wine kit contains the juice ,yeast,oak (if to be oaked) ,clearing agents,preservatives ,instructions. Wine bottles were free for the asking at any winery,great considering they are over a buck each to buy.We chose bottles from one particular winery in the end,their labels just peeled of easily.
After fermenting, the wine is racked ( transferring off of the sediment after fermentation is complete),stabilizing ,clearing, and bottling,aging at least 3 months (6 ,12+ months is better) the wine was ready to taste.
Our very first homemade kit wine was much better than I would have expected. I could compare it to a $7-10 bottle store bought! I was hooked on this fascinating new hobby.That was 3 years ago,since, I have made,white and red wines of different varieties,some mid range price, some higher, as well as non-grape wines,fruit,nut,grain,vegetable,herb and seed wines.My conclusion,IMO,the lower end whites and up turn out good,only upper price reds are good.By that I mean $100 + red wine kits are the best value.
Please understand,I am in no way "the authority' on home wine making,I can only share my experiences,in my wine making.Their are numerous wine forums discussing wine,any question one may have ,you will find the answer there,as well as sites on making,recipes for non-grape wines (another wonderful part of the hobby) as well as books written specifically for the home wine maker. And of course the staff at your local home brew shop.
Another creative part of the process is creating your own wine labels! I use a greeting card factory program for mine,and find it very enjoyable.After all it's your wine and the label reflects your design.
Wines I have made:
Whites- Chardonnay,Pinot Gris,Torrentes,Piesporter,Fume blanc,Green Apple Riesling,
Reds- Chianti,Shiraz,Cabernet Sauvignon,Merlot,Pinot Noir,Italian Brunello (needs to age 2 years,14 months left to go).
Non -Grape Wines:
Apple,Apricot,Almond, Anise (Star Anise),Banana,Basil, Blueberry,Blueberry Port,Barley, Carrot,Corn,Grapefruit,Cranberry,Elderberry, Ginger,Jalapeno (cookin' or drinkin'), Lemon,Onion (cookin' wine),chocolate Orange,Pear,Rice, Sweet Potato,Wheat.And at he moment what I call a Country White (for lack of a better description),a combination of frozen juices, white grape juice, apple,grapefruit.The concept being the grape juice creates the 'wine base', the grapefruit adds citrus notes,the apple a fruit note,like cookin' or bakin, it's the adventure of the experiment.Won't know how it will be for at least a year,as most wines,grape or other require that amount of time to age,some two or more years.Heck,the time will pass whether I make wine or not ,so let's make wine!
I have not as yet kept a complete photo process of making any particular wine,but I do have enough photos of various wines in different states of progress to give a complete picture of the evolution from start to finish.
|Red wine (a Shiraz) has cleared,and was stabilized,aged 9 months in carboy,in cool place .Now being racked once more off any final sediment ,into a sanitized pail (food grade ONLY),ready to bottle.|
|Sanitizing clean wine bottles and placing on bottle tree.Everything that the wine comes in contact with,from start to bottle has to be clean and sanitized|
|Bottling wine using siphon and gravity fed.End of tubing has a bottling wand attached,with a small pressure tip to release wine when pressed against bottom of bottle.|
|Filled wine bottle on corker,placing sanitized corker into iris of corker|
|Pressing down contracts iris,squeezes cork and pushes it into bottle neck in one motion.|
|Corked bottles being labeled by my nephew, (Dr Michael Reddy,NASA Scientist).Labels are homemade and applied with glue stix, and wash off easily when bottle is empty.|
|Pinot Gris ,from a kit,with a comical label|
|My wine 'cellar',actually our master bedroom walk in.The only place in the house where the temperature stays fairly constant.Majority of these need to age another year or two.All top rows are either ready or close. |
|Found this photo of myself,age two ,1946,yep that's a wine wagon.Didn't know it,wine was to be in my future!PS 216,Brooklyn NY in background,where I would eventually attend. |
For more information,check out some of the wine forums on line,sites dedicated to home brew,and books from your local home brew supply store. Note: fermenting wine has an odor which bothers some and not others,and should be considered. sites I use;