Updated: Feb 11, 2020
What goes into making a wine? There are many ingredients, procedures, and man-hours involved in creating wine. The first step is gathering the ingredients and equipment. Next we combine the ingredients in specific orders over a period of time depending on which kind of wine you are creating. Lastly we bottle and age the wines as desired. Many think it is very difficult to produce wine, but with education and careful attention anyone can make wine.
The first steps to creating a great wine are gathering the ingredients and equipment. The ingredients can very greatly depending on the wine you are attempting to create. The basic ingredients needed for most typical wines include: grapes (for sugar and other nutrients), sugar for extra sweetness, purified water, acid blend (for Ph modification), grape tannin (for taste alteration), yeast nutrient, pectic enzyme (for juice extraction), wine yeast (for fermentation), and potassium metabisulfite (for sanitation and yeast killer). The basic equipment you will need include: 1 fermenting vessel, 1 or 2 racking carboys, 1 siphon, stirring spoons, bottle and tube brushes, fermentation air locks, carboy bungs, funnels, measuring cups, 1 hydrometer, 1 thermometer, acid test kit, bottles, corks or caps, and cleaning agent. These are all the basic ingredients and equipment needed to produce wine.
Now that we have everything we need it is time to start the fermentation process. First and foremost we NEED to clean AND sanitize all of our equipment and some of the ingredients such as the fruit which has wild yeast living on its skin that can alter your expected wines taste and possibly bad yeast or mold that could contaminate your wine. After everything has been cleaned and sanitized we can start adding the ingredients to the fermentation container. In most cases we add the water, crushed grapes, dissolved sugar, pectic enzyme, potassium metabisulfite, yeast, and yeast nutrients. You will need to measure the specific gravity, brix, and approximate total alcohol percentage. We continue to test and monitor the wine fermentation over the next couple weeks until it reaches the alcoholic percentage we want the wine to be. After that we add more potassium metabisulfite into the fermentation to kill off any yeast so there is not more fermentation later if we add any sugar to sweeten the wine more. We then siphon the wine into one of the racking carboys. We continue to rack the wine into a cleaned and sanitized carboy every month for 6 or more months. This will aerate the wine and also cause sediments to settle in the carboys over time and clarify with each siphoning. There are some more complex ingredients that can be used during these processes to create different tastes, body, mouth feel, and so on but those are not always necessary.
The last step is the easiest, for some people, of all the steps. Now the wine has been fermented and "seasoned" to taste. The last step is to let the wine age and bottle. Depending on the wine and the equipment available it is best to allow the wine to age in large batches instead of individually in bottle. This means leaving the wine alone to sit for months to even years in carboys or barrels. If you do not have the space or ability to let the wine age like this you can bottle the wine and let them age in the bottle but you can come across some bottles tasting different over time. When we are ready to bottle the wine all we need to do is clean and sanitize the bottles, fill them up, cork or cap the bottles, and optionally shrink-wrap the plastic on top. That is the last step to creating wine.
There are many steps to creating wine. First we gather the ingredients and equipment. Next we clean, sanitize, and mix the ingredients. Lastly we age and bottle the wine. Now that the wine is ready we can enjoy the fermented fruits of our labors.