How to Make Wine and Mead at Home - The Process
Before you Start
There are a few things you will need for every wine making endeavor:
- Your Equipment (You can see what I would suggest here)
- Yeast - Preferably wine yeast. For this recipe I will be using Champagne Yeast, which is pretty standard for many fruit wines.
- Sugar Source - I will start out with a recipe for apple wine so the sugar source will be apple juice and cane sugar.
The First Recipe
Using this recipe as a standard, you can begin to make your own wines and meads at home. Here is the recipe I started with. It is for a semi-sweet apple wine.
- 1 Gallon of Apple Juice (Preservative free. Preservatives have a tendency to kill off your yeast or make it very difficult for them to flourish.)
- 1 tsp pectic enzyme (Optional: Only needed if you are using unfiltered apple juice. This will help clear your apple wine.)
- 2 lbs of sugar (This will help give the yeast more food to produce more alcohol and leave a slightly sweet finish to the wine)
- Campden Tablet (Optional: If you decide to add this to sterilize your must you have to let it sit for 24 hours before pitching your yeast)
- 1 tbs acid blend (Helps your yeast survive and thrive)
- 1 tsp yeast nutrient (Helps your yeast survive and thrive)
- 1 Package champagne yeast
Putting it Together
- First you will want to set aside 1 cup of the apple juice and let it sit.
- Then in your primary fermenter you will want to add the rest of the apple juice, the pectic enzyme (if using unfiltered juice), sugar, and the acid blend. Stir this vigorously to get plenty of oxygen in it before you pitch the must. The yeast will benefit from lots of oxygen in the must.
- Next you will want to combine the 1 cup of apple juice, that you set aside, with the yeast nutrient and yeast. Mix them all together and let sit for about 20-30 minutes or until its a bit bubbly.
- You will then pitch the yeast starter into your primary fermenter where the apple juice mix is waiting. You will then want to stir vigorously and cover and airlock your primary fermenter.
- Let it sit for approximately 1-2 weeks or once your airlock has slowed its bubbling.
- Rack it into a secondary fermenter after fermentation has slowed.
- Rack again after about a month into another secondary fermenter.
- Rack again after 3-6 months as needed.
- Bottle when cleared.
- Allow to age 6 months.
The Technical Stuff
In this guide I have given you a very brief overview of the winemaking process and it would get you pretty far into your first batch of wine. However, if you want to get more technical and advanced with your wine making, I would highly recommend getting a hydrometer. This instrument will allow you to measure the potential alcohol of your wine or mead before you pitch your yeast. This device will also help you decide when your wine or mead is completely done fermenting.
The best way to use a hydrometer is to measure the original gravity before you pitch your yeast. This will let you know the potential for alcohol in your wine and, when your wine is finished, exactly how much alcohol is in your wine. I would highly recommend getting one before you start making wine, but it is completely possible just to follow the recipes here and in books to make some fantastic wine without a hydrometer.
If it sounds so easy, its probably because it is. But here are a few more steps you will want to make while you are going through this process.
- Always make sure you sanitize everything before and after use. You can either use commercial wine sanitizer (its pretty cheap) or you can use a little bit of bleach in a lot of water and rinse very very well.
- Always make sure lids, stoppers, and airlocks are tight and secured.
- Always make sure airlocks are full of sterile water or alcohol.
- Try not to slosh around your wine so it doesn't mix with oxygen.
- Always store your fermenting wine in a cool (60-70) dark place. (Think: Basement or closet).
- Have fun with this!
Wild Wines and Meads
I will try to post more recipes in the future, but in the meantime I would highly suggest this book for recipes. It has a ton of wonderful recipes and information on how to make wines and meads and a lot of extra things (Liqueres and beer!). I personally own this book and have it pretty dogeared and marked up. Its very useful and helpful for the beginner and expert wine maker.