HOW TO MAKE WINE:
Before You Begin
- Clean all of your equipment with a cleaner and rinse thoroughly with hot water. Do not use any household cleaning products.
- Sanitize your equipment by rinsing it with a solution of metabisulphite or another sanitizer solution. Dissolve 3 tablespoons of metabisulphite powder in one gallon of cool water. Dip or spray your equipment with this solution.
- Use good quality drinking water to make your wine. If you’re unsure of your water quality, use bottled water or a water filter.
- The starting temperature of the wine is critical. If the yeast is added to a kit that is too cold, it will not ferment or clear on schedule. Double check to ensure the juice temperature is between 72°F and 77°F before adding the yeast.
- Hydrometer readings are useful at each step. They help chart the conversion of the grape sugars into alcohol. Read your hydrometer by floating it in wine in a test jar. Where the level of the wine meets the stem of the hydrometer is the Specific Gravity number.
- To get the best quality wine, don’t splash when racking, and don’t transfer any sediment at the bottling stage. If you do disturb the sediment, stop, allow the wine to settle for a week and start over.
We recommend a Wine Starter Kit, but if you already homebrew, you will have most if not all of the necessary equipment.
- Primary Fermenter (6.5 gallon capacity or more, especially if your wine recipe kit contains grape skins)
- Stirring Spoon
- Hydrometer & Test Jar
- Wine Thief
- Racking Tube & Hose
- Secondary Fermenter (we recommend a 6 Gallon Glass Carboy)
- Bungs & Airlocks for fermenters
- One-Step Cleaner, PBW, or cleaner of your choice
- Metabisulphite Powder or other Sanitizer
- Degasser wand (optional)
- Bottle Filler
- Approx. 30 corks
- Approx. 30 Wine Bottles for a 6 Gallon Wine Recipe Kit
- Bottle Brush (optional for bottles)
- Carboy Brush (optional for glass carboy)
Ensure that your primary fermenter is capable of holding at least 6.5 US gallons before beginning. This extra volume is necessary to contain any foaming during primary fermentation. The Big Mouth Bubbler® has gallon markings along the side. The top mark is the 6 gallon line. We also offer a 7.9 gallon plastic bucket specifically for wine making, and a 8.5 gallon Stainless Steel conical fermenter.
- Clean and sanitize primary fermenter and lid, spoon, hydrometer and test jar, wine thief, bung, airlock and thermometer. Rinse thoroughly.
- If your recipe kit contains bentonite, dissolve this in your primary fermenter in about ½ gallon warm water.
- Carefully pour the contents of the juice bag into the primary fermenter. 4 Add two cups of warm water to the juice bag. Rinse the remaining juice out of the bag and add it to the fermenter.
- Top up the fermenter to the six gallon mark with lukewarm water and stir vigorously for 30 seconds.
- Take your specific gravity reading now, and make a record of it. Target specific gravity is between 1.080 – 1.095.
- If your wine kit contains oak powder, elderberries or elderflowers, tear open the package(s) and sprinkle them into the primary fermenter now. Stir them in thoroughly.
- Check the temperature of the juice. It must be between 72°F and 77°F. If it’s not in this range, cover the primary and move it into a suitable environment for one to two hours until it is.
- Open your package of yeast and sprinkle contents onto the surface of the juice. Do not stir it in.
- Place lid on fermenter. Assemble airlock and bung, fill with sanitizer and place in hole in lid or bung.
- Place fermenter in an area with a temperature of 72°F and 77°F for five to seven days.
Primary fermentation will be mostly complete.
- Clean and sanitize siphon rod and hose, hydrometer and test jar, wine thief, carboy or jug, bung and airlock.
- Carefully remove bung and airlock and then lid from the primary fermenter. Take and record a specific gravity reading. Target gravity is 1.010 or less.
- Place your secondary fermenter directly below the primary and siphon the wine into it. Leave the thickest sediment behind, but be sure to transfer all of the liquid.
- Do NOT top up at this stage. This space is required for stirring and additions during stabilizing.
- Attach airlock and bung to carboy or jug. Remember to fill airlock halfway with sanitizer.
- Leave carboy or jug in fermentation area for 10-12 days to complete fermentation.
STABILIZING, CLEARING & DEGASSING
All fermentation should be complete. Check your specific gravity and do not proceed until it is at or below 0.995. You may need to allow extra time for fermentation to finish, especially if your winemaking area is cooler than 72°F. At this stage all carbon dioxide gas has to be removed from the wine in order for the stabilizing and fining to be effective. You will need to stir the wine very vigorously (degassing) during this step.
- Clean and sanitize hydrometer and test jar, wine thief and degasser or spoon.
- Carefully remove bung and airlock from the fermenter. Take and record a specific gravity reading. Target gravity is 0.995 or less.
- Add any stabilizing agents your kit may have included. Dissolve in water first before adding to your fermenter.
- Using the degasser, stir vigorously for at least sixty seconds to drive off CO2 gas. Some wine recipe kits will suggest longer degassing times.
- Add any fining agents straight into the carboy and stir vigorously.
- Replace the bung and airlock on the fermenter. Return to fermentation area for 14 days to clear.
Wine should be completely clear.
- Clean and sanitize primary fermenter, hydrometer and test jar, wine thief, 30 wine bottles, bottle filler, siphon rod, and hose.
- Carefully remove bung and airlock and then lid from the fermenter. Take and record a specific gravity reading. Target gravity is 0.995 or less. Check wine to ensure it is clear. If it is not, leave for a few more days.
- Rack wine into your bottling bucket or another fermenter. Take only clear wine and leave all sediment behind.
- Rack wine from fermenter into your bottles. Leave 1½ inches (about two finger-widths) of space between the bottom of the cork and the top of the wine. You will have the exact amount of head space after removing your bottle filler.
- Insert corks into bottles with corker.
- Stand bottles upright for 3 days before turning them on their side for aging.
- Store bottles in a dark, cool, temperature-stable place. Your wine will taste quite good immediately, but you can store it in a dark, cool, temperature-stable place for up to a year.