Last week I discussed homebrewing beer and cider. Today is another topic on the same vine of thought. Homemade Wine. Now, I grew up in western PA and everyone (at least everyone I knew) knew someone who either made wine themselves, or they had a friend or relative who made their own wine. I have seen handwritten recipes passed down from grandparents and parents. I have seen equipment that ranges from fancy high-end pricey stuff to a gallon jug used with a pin-pierced balloon. However it is for you, homemade wine is a great hobby and skill to have.
Wine comes in so many varieties, red vs white, sweet vs dry, and then all the styles, etc. that I am not going to be able to cover all of these topics. What I am going to go over with you today is the basic process and steps for making your own wine. There are plenty of books and websites that will cover the more specific details, and maybe this post will interest you enough to go read up.
When it comes down to it, what is wine? Wine is the fermented juice of some fruit. Most people think of grape wines when they think of wine, but you can have strawberry wine, blackberry wine, etc. Just about any juice can be made in to wine. The more sugar in the juice, the more the yeast can eat and the higher the alcoholic content. You want more alcohol? Add some sugar or honey and let the yeast eat that too!
The process is very similar to that of cider:
1) Press the fruit and get all the juice of it that you can. (store bought juices can be used if they are 100% juice (and preferably preservative free, but good luck finding that anymore!))
2) I would boil it for a few to get any "bad things" out, but this step is rather optional if you know exactly where your fruit is from and what's been used on it.
3) Pour the juice into a clean and sterilized container. The container should be somewhat larger than the amount of juice put in, but with proper airlock usage, this is not exactly necessary. Your container could be just about anything, but Iwould recommend either food grade plastic or glass as they are the easiest to sterilize.
4) Dry yeast: mix with lukewarm water (~100°) until completely dissolved. Liquid yeast: follow the directions on the yeast package. The type of yeast that you use will affect the flavor of your wine. I recommend using a wine yeast that can be bought at just about any homebrew store or online. I know my grandfather used regular bread yeast, but that was many years ago. I would try it first with the wine yeast, then try it with bread yeast and compare.
5) Add an airlock to the container. This could be done through a hole-ed cork or rubber bung, etc. An airlock is a device that you put some water in that will allow excess gases to leave the container but no bacteria or anything can get down through the water. This helps keep things clean and you don't have to worry about contamination. If you don't have an airlock, a rubber balloon with a small pin hole in it will do basically the same thing.
6) Put this in a warm (depends on your yeast but normally 55°-75°) dark location and let it sit for a few weeks. Once there are no more bubbles, the yeast will have eaten some/most/all of the sugar in the juice and you will have a wine. Taste it and remember that as it ages, the flavors will change.
7) Siphon the wine into clean and sterilized bottles and cap/cork quickly. Make sure to siphon from as near the top as you can as the dead yeast will have settled to the bottom.
8) Store in a cool, dark location. Age and Drink and Enjoy!