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Wine Making Basics

Updated on April 24, 2014

Introduction to Wine Making!

The basic steps involved in the production of wine are fairly straight forward and easy to learn. There are also more advanced techniques and principles that are used by experts in producing wine which you can learn through traditional education or you can get excellent reading and video material (as shown below), to help you become a successful wine maker.

When it comes to making wine, the base ingredient that you need would be the grapes because these contain the right mixture of moisture, nutrients, sugar and tannin needed in the fermentation and preservation stages. Grapes are also proven to carry their own yeast which is an essential element in wine production.

But grapes are not the only plant-based ingredient that you can use in creating wine. You can also produce wine from fruits like strawberries and watermelon. The result may not produce wines that are as excellent as those that are created using grapes but they can be fun to brew and interesting to taste.

Making wine is a little time consuming and requires your attention. But in this guide I cover many of the basics you need to know to get started, and provide excellent resources to aid your goal in making really good wine!

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8 Different Types of Wine and Foods They Go With!

Wine comes in a wide variety. Among the many types of wine that are now well-recognized all over the world are the following:

1. Cabernet Sauvignon. This is the most famous red wine variety. Despite the fact that many wine-producing countries continue to produce this type, the version of the Bordeaux region located in France is considered to be one of the most popular. Cabernet Sauvignon is so popular at present that many consider it as the King of red wine grapes.

This type is known for its rich and fruity flavor which resembles that of cherry, blueberry, blackberry and plum and its spicy aroma which is usually compared to tobacco, vanilla and leather.

Cabernet can be expected to taste even better after five to ten years. You can expect this wine to blend perfectly with other types of wine especially the Merlot because of its ability to produce a thicker and more invigorating flavor. This wine is perfect for pasta which uses red sauce, red meat, dark chocolate and cheese.

2. Merlot. This is another of the most popular types of red wine at present. This was first manufactured in Bordeaux, France. It is popular for being a soft and medium bodied variety which has a cherry and cocoa flavor. You can also taste the fruit flavors of blackberry, plum and blueberry from this drink and you will notice that its spicy black pepper aroma tends to rule its high tannin level.

This is the most ideal choice for those who are still beginning to enjoy the journey of flavorful wine drinking. You can expect Merlot to blend perfectly with other types of wine like Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. It also blends well with almost all types of food including poultry, salads, meat and pasta.

3. Pinot Noir. Out of the many red wine grapes, Pinot Noir is one of the noblest. It is rarely blended, difficult to cultivate and grow and is popular for its non-rough texture. The most popular Pinot Noir wines at present are those that are produced in France, New Zealand, California, Oregon and Austria.

The most notable feature of Pinot Noir is its fresh and delicate structure. It comes with soft tannins and a fruity aroma which resembles that of plum, strawberry and cherry. You will also notice that its aroma has some notes of worn leather, damp earth and tea-leaf. You will enjoy this wine variety even more if you pair it with lamb, chicken, Japanese dishes and grilled salmon.

4. Chardonnay. This is a white wine variety produced principally in Burgundy, France. Because of the excellent flavor of this variety, a lot of countries are now producing it as well. Its flavors have some hints of vanilla and citrus. It also comes with a more velvety texture. If you want to enjoy this wine, then make sure that you pair it with chicken and fish.

5. Zinfandel. This is considered as one of the most versatile grapes all over the world. The production of this variety is mainly based in Europe. This variety comes with a very adaptable nature which allows it to blend well in this modern era. It has become extremely popular because of the richness and darkness of its color and the fact that it contains a high level of alcohol. It comes with intense flavors with a touch of pepper and zesty berry and a very rich blend and flavorful aroma. It is perfect for fish, poultry, meat, burgers, tacos, pizza and pasta that use tomato sauce.

6. Champagne. This variety is considered as a high quality sparkling wine made using the Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes. In order to produce high quality champagnes, manufacturers make sure that they follow the stringent laws and rules associated to production. Champagne is being marketed not only as a sophisticated drink but also as a royal one.

7. Barbera. This is quite similar to the Merlot variety. One of the most notable features of the Barbera wine is its bright ruby-red color. It has a fruity flavor which shows hints of blackberries, black cherries, plums and currants.

Barbera comes in two styles or types. The first one is the pre-wine which is created using the traditional method. The pre Barbera wine is known for having a simple structure, spare fruit nature and sharp acidic tang. The second one is the post Barbera and this type is said to be better than the first one. You will notice that it comes with a more extracted fruit flavor and density.

It also comes with oaky tannins that work in countering the natural acidity of the fruit. Barbera wine is a good choice because of its versatility and flexibility. It also comes with a silky texture and blends well with a wide variety of dishes including recipes that are prepared using tomato sauce, pizza, grilled meat and poultry, pasta, pane rustico and prosciutto.

8. Grenache. This wine variety yields an earthy, spicy, smokey and delicious flavor that blends perfectly with almost all types of food. Its flavors have hints of blackberries, dried apricots, tobacco and black currants. The earthy and fruity nature of Grenache allows it to produce a more tannic and stronger flavor which is very pleasing to one’s palate.

If you want this wine to stay longer, then consider blending it with other wines made of grapes. As mentioned earlier, Grenache blends perfectly with different types of food and these include beef burgundy, lobster, tomato based stews and soups, beef stroganoff, roasted vegetables, mushroom recipes, chili con carne and pasta using red sauce.

Wine Making Quiz!

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Wine and Fermentation

5 Stages in the Production of Good Wine!

If you are serious about making your own wine, then note that you can produce good wine by following the basic stages involved in wine production. These stages are the following:

1. Harvesting. This is one of the most vital stages in wine making because this is the specific stage when wine makers harvest the types of grapes that they need during the cool hours in the morning. Make sure that you harvest the finely cultivated ones as this will help in producing the best product.

When it comes to ripping and harvesting grapes, you have to make sure that you do this with the right timing. You will know the exact timing of ripping grapes when you get the appropriate combination of acid, sugar and moisture. It is also important for you to make sure that the grapes are physiologically ripe before you harvest them and use them in wine making.

In determining the perfect time to harvest, you should consider combining old-fashioned tasting with science. You should also seek the advice of professional vineyard managers, wine makers, proprietors and consultants. It should also be noted that the process of harvesting grapes is done either mechanically or manually. The majority of harvesters, however, prefer to use the manual technique because the mechanical one is usually tough on the vineyard and grapes.

After the harvest, you need to sort out the grapes and remove the rotten ones before crushing. Note that the stage of harvesting grapes is crucial when it comes to producing the most excellent wines so you have to be careful in choosing which among the harvested grapes are suitable enough for the kind of wine which you are planning to produce.

2. Pressing and Crushing the Harvested Grapes. After sorting out the good grapes from the rotten ones, then it is time for you to press and crush them to produce a liquid out of them containing the natural flavors of the grapes. Note that you can use mechanical presses during this stage of the wine production. The good thing about most mechanical presses at present is that they offer immense sanitary benefits while also helping wine makers improve the longevity and the quality of their wines. The mechanical presses also work in eliminating the need for preservatives.

When crushing the grapes, you will notice that the sugar and moisture content from the fruits are being withdrawn. The liquid which is taken out of the crushed and pressed grapes will either come out as white or red basing on the kind of wine that you intend to produce.

If you are planning to produce a red wine, then you have to simply leave the liquid formed after crushing the grapes for a set period as this will help in ripping off the juices from the flavors and skin of the grapes. White wine is produced if you crush the wine immediately right after pressing it since this works in segregating its skin.

3. Fermentation. A lot of wine making experts consider the fermentation process as a magic at play. Using its own devices, the juice taken out of the grapes which is called must can be expected to start the natural fermentation process within six to twelve hours because of the high level of moisture and sugar that the grapes contain. The fermentation process also works with the help of wild yeasts found in the air. The natural fermentation process usually takes around ten to thirty days.

The length of completing the process will also be dependent on the climate in the area where the must is fermented and the quality of the grapes used.

Once the fermentation process starts, you can expect it to continue until it converts all the sugar present in the must into alcohol. The results of fermentation will also vary depending on the specific amount of sugar present in the juice or must. If you want to produce a sweet wine, then rest assured that you can do this by stopping the fermentation before the process converts all the sugar into alcohol.

4. Clarification / Stabilization. This stage refers to the process of clarifying the solution produced after fermentation. When it comes to clarifying the solution, your options include racking the wine and siphoning it from one barrel or tank to another with an aim of removing the precipitates and solid referred to as pomace and leaving them at the tank where the fermentation took place.

During the clarification / stabilization stage, fining and filtering can also be done. Filtration takes place if you use a coarse filter to catch the large solid particles found in wine or a sterilized filter pad which can remove all the pomace from the wine.

Fining, on the other hand, works by clarifying the solution with the help of additional substances. You may add clay, egg whites or any other substance to successfully carry out the fining process as these substances are effective in precipitating all the solids and dead yeast cells out of the solution.

The substances also work effectively in forcing all the unwanted particles and solids into the bottom of the barrel or tank. After the clarification process, the wine will be transferred into another container or vessel and prepare it for the bottling and aging stage.

5. Aging and Bottling. This is considered as the last stage of the wine making process and this takes place by transferring the clarified wine into bottles or wooden barrels.

Note that during this stage, you are given the option whether to put the wine into the bottle immediately or give it additional aging first by putting it into a stainless steel, bottle, ceramic tanks, small barrels or large wooden ovals.

One of the best examples of wine which is bottled immediately is the Beaujolais Nouveau. Wines that receive further or additional aging are the Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley and the Grand Cru Bordeaux.

Basic Wine Making Equipment and Supplies!

If you want to become a winemaker, then it is important for you to first gather all the wine making equipment and supplies that you need so you will never have a hard time performing all the stages in the process. Here are some of the basic equipment and supplies that you need when it comes to producing wine:

1. Large Bucket. This will serve as your fermentation vessel. It is highly recommended for you to go for a bucket which can hold up to twenty-five liters of solution. It is important for you to have a large bucket around during the wine making process especially during the fermentation stage because this is when the solution creates a lot of foam. A large bucket which is capable of holding both the foam and the wine can help make the process easier.

2. Hydrometer. This is one of the most useful equipment for wine makers because it works in effectively measuring the specific amount of sugar present in the mixture before adding the yeast. This will allow you to determine the potential alcohol level which will result from the procedure. This equipment also works in immediately detecting if the fermentation process has already stopped because all the sugar has already been converted into alcohol or because the yeast added into the mixture died before completing the job.

3. Airlocks. If you want to become a successful winemaker, then you have to make sure that you have airlocks around when producing your solution because these are effective when it comes to preventing oxidation. Oxidation has the tendency of breaking down the produced wine because it is overly exposed to oxygen. With the airlocks around, oxidation can be prevented. These supplies work by making a valve which prevents air from entering into the material containing the solution while also making sure that the right level of carbon dioxide is maintained inside.

4. Wine Thief. This equipment appears as a glass or plastic tube which comes with holes on its end. This is a useful equipment because this eases the process of taking small amounts of the solution from its container through testing. In order for you to use this equipment, you need to dip it into the solution while covering one of its holes with your thumb. After extracting the tube, its air vacuum will hold the small amount of wine taken out of the container.

5. Food Grade Hose. This wine making supply is primarily used for racking which is known as the process of transferring the wine or solution from one container to the next. It siphons the wine in order for it to be transferred to the next container.

6. Corks. These are useful wine making supplies because of their ability to seal the bottle and let the right amount of carbon dioxide to stay inside it until it is ready for serving. Corks are available in different sizes so finding the perfect fit for your bottles will never become a problem.

7. Sealing Wax. This is effective when it comes to creating an air tight seal for the corked bottles of your wine. It is one of the most useful wine making supplies because of its ability to prevent oxygen from getting inside the wine bottle. Since a tight seal is formed, you can easily store the wine bottle either upside down or on their sides.

8. Thermometer. You need a thermometer when creating wine because it allows you to measure the wine temperature and ensure that the fermentation process is properly executed. Yeast for wines can be expected to thrive best if the temperature is around 21-27 Celsius. You have to regularly check the temperature and make sure that it is within the said range. If not, then there is a great tendency for the growth of yeast to become not as good as you think and this can have a negative effect on fermentation.

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Making Wine At Home

6 Tips for Successful Wine Making at Home!

When it comes to producing homemade wine, be aware that there are some helpful tips that can assist you all throughout the process. The following are effective tips that will help you make wine successfully in the comfort of your own home:

1. Prepare a good plan. When it comes to making wine, proper planning is crucial to your success. What you need to do is to gather all the ingredients and equipment that you need and make sure that they are easily accessible once you start the procedure. It is also advisable for you to sanitize all the equipment that you will use. This will prevent unhealthy and harmful bacteria from growing and polluting your wine.

2. Use high quality yeast for the wine. Yeasts can help you produce wine by making sure that the fermentation process is successfully completed. High quality yeasts are usually produced from the yeast specie called Saccharomyces cerevisae so you should consider using this one.

3. Consider pressing or crushing clusters or bunches of grapes that still remain on their stems. This is effective when it comes to improving the delicate flavor of the wine while ensuring that it also comes with a fruity smell and taste. The reason behind this is that the stems of the grapes have higher tannin content. Just make sure that you remove the stems after pressing or crushing and before starting the fermentation process.

4. Use the best fruit, concentrate or juice. This will help you in producing high quality and excellent wine. If you do not have a grape vineyard, then rest assured that there are a lot of reputable suppliers out there who can provide you with the healthiest grapes without mold, shriveled bunches and rot. Just make sure that you spend time researching about these suppliers so you will get the chance to deal with the most reputable one.

5. Run off all the juice from the grapes. Keep in mind that an even higher concentration of concentrated juice kits or total solids that are dissolved in a juice can help you in producing the richest wine. Running off some of the juice of the grapes during the pressing and crushing stage works perfectly in increasing the concentration of flavors, color and aroma of your wine while also enhancing its structure.

6. Use specialized enzymes and nutrients. If you think that adding specialized enzymes and nutrients into the solution may harm the outcome of the production, then you are wrong. In fact, the specialized enzymes and nutrients are extremely beneficial when it comes to producing wine. Yeast used in the wine needs nutrients in order for it to continue to thrive so you should consider adding some into the solution.

One of the many nutrients that you can add into the solution is the yeast re-hydration nutrient. Complete yeast nutrients should also be added during yeast inoculation as these are effective in perfectly blending complex nutrients. The natural yeast derivative nutrient is a nutrient which you can add into the wine or must. Adding enzymes into the solution is also a wise move because it works in catalyzing reactions when trying to improve the quality of the wine or enhance its stability.

See If It's Right For You. Get A Home Brewers Kit!

How To Buy Grapes for Wine Making!

If you interested in producing your own wine but you find it impossible to cultivate and grow your own grapes, then rest assured that there are a lot of suppliers out there that can supply you with the exact number of grapes that you need.

You can even go to your local organic store and buy grapes, but keep in mind that you'll only make a small amount of wine from them.

If you want to make a few cases of wine or more then you need to buy in bulk. The first thing that you should do is to find the most reputable supplier of different kinds of high quality grapes such as the Vinifera grapes in your area.

You have to make sure that you deal with the most reputable supplier so you will be getting the real value for your money and reduce your risk of paying for a large number of grapes that are mostly rotten.

To help you find the best supplier, seek the aid of professional wine makers. If you do not personally know one, then use the internet to deal with wine makers who are willing to provide advice on where you can find high quality grapes. There are a lot of professional and expert wine makers who are willing to impart their knowledge about the best sources for high quality grapes. You can even receive advice on how you can produce top quality wine from them.

Before buying, it is also important for you to determine the specific type of wine that you are planning to produce.

This will allow you to decide on the exact number or quantity of grapes that you need, thereby preventing you from getting an inadequate supply.

If possible, look for a supplier which can provide you with a written certification which includes reliable statements about the trueness of their grape variety, terms of replacement of refund in case of damages (during transport etc.) and freedom from viral and any harmful disease.

Once the grapes are delivered to you, make sure that you inspect them before using. This will allow you to determine if you received the correct order and if the majority, if not all, of the grapes are in perfect condition.

Make Wine At Home!

Final Advice!

Improving your skills in producing your own wine can be such a rewarding experience. If you are planning to create wine at home, then you have to make sure that you first know the process of making the type of wine you want to make.

Get books and watch videos, or attend a wine making class. You might even want to get a done-for-you wine making kit as shown above to see if it's right for you. Those kits are great!

It is also important for you to invest on all the materials that you need as having all the equipment and supplies needed for the production can make the entire wine making process easier, and you'll make better wine.

If you are doing it the first time you may want to seek the help of an experienced local wine maker, or even a professional (you can buy some really good DVD's on how to make wine). That's what my father in law did and it paid off.

But once you have successfully created your first wine, then rest assured that you will have an easier time doing the next batch of wine.

It's not as difficult as it may seem to make wine. Actually, the hardest part in my opinion is harvesting grapes. I really don't like that part of it. I spent hours with 4 other people in the hot sun doing this. But in the end it was worth it!

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