Make Your Own: Homemade Wine

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I’m really not an avid wine drinker but I’d like to be. I’m convinced I just haven’t found one that I like. I’ve been to a few wine tastings. Here in Missouri there are surprisingly a lot of vineyards the most famous probably being St. James Winery which is the first place I did a wine tasting and decided that I’m probably a sweet wine kinda girl. When it comes to the drys I like cooking with it more than drinking it. Like I said previously, not an avid wine drinker but making your own… I could definitely become one! You get to kind of develop your own “taste.”

Making wine can be pretty cheap if you wild craft your berries or grow your own fruits. I haven’t made a strawberry wine yet but this year I plan too since my mother in law (aka Superwoman) usually has extra and last year I planted a strawberry bed so maybe I should have my own. I’m pretty excited since they are local to my climate here in the Ozarks. I purchased them from Simmons Plant Farm out of Arkansas. They ship them when it’s time to plant. The prices are great and everything I ordered and planted grew awesome, even asparagus which is hard to grow in my opinion. If I buy from a place like Lowes, the plants never seem to do good at all. Although this year, I’m planting my comfrey beside them in hopes that my fruit trees that I did buy from Lowes will perk up.

Back to story, I never wanted to really make wine or have an interest until I was watching The Legend of Mick Dodge and on an episode he goes throughout the forest to collect a gallons worth of wild berries to make “Forest Wine.” Which he collects then mashes the berries together, adds water and heats and adds yeast as well. He just puts into 1 wine bottle. I thought, if it’s really that simple I’ll do it.

In the town of Ozark, we have a place called Home Brewery where they have anything and everything you would need to make wine, beer, mead, cheese, yogurt…. The list goes on. They sell EVERYTHING you need to become a home brewer. I highly recommend stopping by if you’re local to Ozark, MO or close by and even if you’re not you can order online. They are super helpful and no matter how many questions you ask…(I always ask A LOT!) They are a laid back bunch that want to help you as much as possible. They also give you a recipe to make a basic fruit wine. I haven’t moved past basic yet since I’ve only made 5 batches (Mulberry, Blackberry, Plum, Blackberry-Raspberry, Pear Apple) The best tasting was my last which I cracked open last night… WOW! Soooooo goood, which was the Blackberry-Raspberry.

When I went in trying to explain that I just wanted simplicity like Mick Dodge the guy tried to explain that yes, theoretically, it would be wine. If you watch the video, there doesn’t seem to be any sugar added and the guy (I think Todd from Ozark Brewery) said that for a good fermentation you need sugar (Without the addition of sugar… You might not havegreat alcohol contents, it would be classified as wine but only certain grapes, some pears, and cider apples to well without the addition of sugar) and after it is wine I can only imagine the amount of sediment it would have in the bottom and actually it would probably be half full with it. After it’s all said and done and Mick Dodge has “wine” it probably wouldn’t taste that great.

It’s actually easier to just be sure you did everything right and there’s no contaminants or wild yeasts going all crazy in your wine. If you watch the episode that I linked above, you’ll see the wine is a gooey mess. They explained if you want something clear that looks like wine, you’ll need to clarify it. You need to think about sanitation as well. I thought it would be expensive and it can be if you do the kits or whatever or buy juice but if you harvest your own fruits–that’s pretty inexpensive. So the only things you need are equipment and things like sugar, water, fruit/juice, pectin enzyme, yeast nutrient, acid blend, campden tablets, potassium sorbate, and your wine yeast. I definitely assumed that would be expensive but each one of those things is $2 each and the wine yeast is cheaper than that.

Brief Summary on what those things do:

Pectin Enzyme: Breaks down the cell walls, fiber or pulp of fruits to facilitate juicing and extraction of color and flavors.  Also helps prevent pectin haze.

Yeast Nutrient: Yeast Nutrient is a combination of DAP (diammonium phosphate) and food grade urea.  These provide yeast the vitamins and nutrients they need to thrive and encourages faster and more complete fermentation.

Acid Blend: Bumps the acidity up more for suitable wine making conditions

Campden Tablets: A convenient way to sterilize your must and accurately sulfite your homemade wine. (Kills wild yeasts)  Contains Potassium Metabisulfite, which acts as a sterilant and antioxidant when dissolved.

Potassium Sorbate: Stabilizer, used after fermentation but before bottling, that inhibits yeast reproduction.  Recommended to be used with Potassium Metabisulphite (Campden Tablets) to fully stabilize a wine before sweetening and bottling. Stabilizing prevents re-fermentation inside the bottled wine which can produce sparkling wine (at best) or worst case scenario – popped corks or exploding wine bottles.  Stabilizing is critical if you plan to sweeten your wine.

Wine Yeast: The role of yeast in wine making is the most important element that distinguishes wine from grape juice. In the absence of oxygen, yeast converts the sugars of wine grapes into alcohol and carbon dioxide through the process of fermentation. (The link above for wine yeast is the one they recommend for your basic fruit wines)

Equipment Needed

I will say: For equipment you do need to make a few investments but in the long run–it’s not that pricey. So a startup cost but you have a waiting period since things have to ferment. Buy what you need to start like your gallon jars with lid, air lock, stopper, and your straining bag if you do it that way and that’s it other than your ingredients.

Equipment wise I only do a gallon batch which is what this recipe is for. You’ll need:

2 gallon jars with lids: You need two because you’ll do a transfer after fermentation

Airlock: Down below is what an airlock looks like. (One kind anyway) Some people use balloons but the Home Brewery has these for… I think .95 cents but if you wanna go high dollar for $8 there’s a glass one

Drilled rubber stopper: for the airlock

fermentwine

This was using an old pickle jar that I cut a hole in for airlock but was unsure on if it was sealing properly so I added a little plastic around the top side

Wine bottles: You can buy these but I just ask people for their leftover bottles. People usually throw these away. Glass is reusable so I remove the stickers and sanitize before using.

Hydrometer: You can measure the alcohol content using these but I really don’t care too much about that. I do have one but hardly use it.

Rubber gloves: To get your sack of fruit out without contamination

Straining bag: To put your fruit in if you aren’t just using juice

AutoSiphon: You don’t necessarily need this but… When you are watching out for sanitation and using a tube to siphon yourself that might be of issue and these things are GREAT ($11)

Tubing: for the autosiphon which is cheap as well

Corks: I think you get around 30 for $5

Corker: Here’s a little video clip of me corking my Pear Apple Wine (Can run from $10-150, I just borrow from a friend I haven’t bought one yet)

You can get fancy and get labels but… I don’t. I usually just use a sharpie and write it on the bottle.

My Way

The easiest way that works for me… I pick my fruit and put it into a crock pot and let the juice work it’s way out of the fruit and then i strain and press with a sieve and get the most juice I can. The biggest thing about making wine is waiting. It feels great to know you made this. You took the time to pick the fruit/grow it and then you got the juice and you added everything together rather simply then waiting for the fermenting, then the clarifying and low and behold, it is wine. The sweetening is the best part. You get to taste and adjust… That’s the wonderful thing about making your own wine. I hope you experiment with this simple thing and reap the benefits. I love to do it. I like making it more than drinking it. Having the satisfaction that I made it myself is exhilarating to me . I share it with friends and family… Anyway, let me know if you guys try it! Or have done it already!

FYI:

1 gallon batches make 5 bottles of wine. Most people that are really into wine making usually do a 5 gallon batch in one shot so if that interests you and you want to try to go cheap on that as well–go to a bakery (I go to Price Cutters) and ask if they have any white buckets, they are food grade. Most of the time they are frosting containers; the last 3 I got were. Point is, they are free and most likely are going in the trash anyway and they almost always have the lids with them. If they don’t have any (at least in my personal experience) they’ll hold some back for you and you can pick them up in a few days. So all you’ll need is to drill a hole in the top and add your stopper and airlock.

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Basic Wine Recipe

Basic wine recipe (NOTE: This recipe is for a ONE GALLON VOLUME OF WINE made from fruit OTHER THAN GRAPES. Fully ripe grapes do not need the addition of 2 lbs of sugar per gallon. Take a hydrometer reading to tell how much extra sugar you might require when making wine with grapes.)

Mix together these items:

2-4 lbs of fruit juice/concentrate/puree, or whatever source of fruit you are using. (If you are using pureed or chopped fresh fruit, place the fruit or puree into a straining bag, tie a knot in the bag, and drop it into the fermenter.)

2 lb of sugar

Pectic Enzyme per our label instructions

Yeast Nutrient per our label instructions

Acid Blend or Tartaric Acid (¼ teaspoon to start, as you can add more later)

Water in whatever amount to reach the appropriate volume for the batch size you are making Any other ingredients called for in your specific recipe

Stir well to dissolve.

Crack or crush one Campden Tablet and add to the above mixture. Attach the fermenter lid and airlock. 24 hours later, remove the fermenter lid and add the yeast. Reattach lid and airlock and allow the wine to ferment.

If you have the fruit in a straining bag, after about ten days, sanitize rubber gloves or your hands and remove the bag of fruit pulp. Squeeze as much juice as you can from the bag, then top up the fermenter with water to the original volume (to account for the volume of fruit pulp you have just removed). If you have used fruit juice, you can bypass this step. Reattach the lid and airlock and allow the fermentation to complete.

Once the wine is finished fermenting, siphon it into a secondary container and allow it to clarify. When the wine is clarified, add 1 more Campden Tablet and Potassium Sorbate per our label instructions. Let the wine sit for a few days. You might need to use one of the chemical clarifiers to speed up the clarifying process, or the wine might clarify on its own. Every wine is different.

Sweetening finished wine (This step is totally optional, but the basic process is as follows): After the wine is clarified and stabilized, rack it into another carboy to get it off the sediment from the clarification and stabilization process. Thief out a 1 cup sample and add granulated sugar 1/8 teaspoon at a time, stirring to dissolve it, and taste until the desired level of sweetness is reached. Then multiply the amount of sugar used in the sample by the number of sample volumes in the total (there are 16 cups in 1 gallon, for example). Using the sugar amount arrived at by the multiplication, add ½ teaspoon of acid blend (or tartaric acid, or whatever granular acid you are using) and bring this mixture to a boil in 1 to 2 cups of water. Cover it and allow it to cool. Pour it into the carboy with the wine, stirring gently. (If you have a really full carboy, you will want to siphon out a volume of wine equal to the volume of the sugar solution you are adding.) Let the wine sit for a few days to one week to make sure it does not restart fermentation after adding the sugar solution. If it is still clear and has not started re fermenting, it is ready to bottle.

NOTE: You can also adjust the acidity of the wine at the same time you adjust the sugar level. If the wine is sort of bland, that means it needs more acid. Add acid blend (or whatever acid you are using) 1/8 teaspoon at a time to the same sample you are adjusting for sugar level, and do the same multiplication up for the total volume that you use to adjust the sugar level.

Here’s the recipe from their website which is the exact same as the recipe you just read.

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