How to Home Brew Wine i.e. Making cost effective wine from your own Home Brew Kit
Principles of Wine Making from a Kit
Making your Home Brewed Wine - Part 2
How to make Home Brew Wine Part 3
Making your Home Brew Wine Part 4
Home Brew Wine from a Kit
With Christmas coming I am already dreaming of icy December evenings, in front of a nice roaring log fire, sitting underneath the twinkling Christmas tree with a nice glass of my favorite tipple i.e. a glass of chardonnay wine.
Of course also with the ever increasing cost of wine these days brewing your own wine can be an all year round enjoyable hobby that saves you money and you also know exactly what is in the wine you are drinking.
What you want to choose is always down to personal choice but you can choose a wine kit that comes with a bag/bottle of grape juice all ready prepared for the wine making or you can also buy a kit to make your wine if you intend on growing your own grapes for the process. We bought the wine kit for our current batch of wine from muntonshomebrew.com.
This kit is a 21 day wine kit called Mondego Ultimate – Chardonnay – 30 bottles, price €47.98.We have tried many kits over the years and have used 21 days Wine Kits, 28 day Kits and 7 day Kits. All have been at worst reasonable and at best very good quality. We do find that the 7 day Wine Kits we have used do not have the same depth of taste as the others due to the short brewing period.
Ultimately the quality and taste of your Home Brew Wine will depend on a few simple factors
The price you pay for the original Wine Kit will affect the quality of the final product and we tend to steer away from the cheapest on offer and normally pay about €50 for a kit (which will give you 30 bottles of wine) which is approximately $65 for those of you in the US. That to us is still great value as to buy the same quality of wine in a bottle from our local store would usually cost about €8 to €10 Euro i.e. $10 to $12.
Following the instructions specifically when brewing your Homebrew Wine Kit and being very meticulous about making sure the wine is fully fermented before moving on to the next stage of the process. Always agitating your wine well and keeping the temperature constant is vitally important.
How long you leave your wine to sit for. Firstly making sure your wine is clear before you bottle it and then leaving it to sit for as long as possible before drinking it which is often easier said than done because even at this early stage some of the wines taste very good.
Experiment with Home Brew Wine Kits
So whether you prefer red or white it is always a real thrill to pop the cork on your first glass of wine that you have lovingly nurtured from grape to glass. We first started experimenting with making home brew wine about five years ago. Since then we have gone through a shameless amount of wine and it is now something of an annual tradition to have our own wine with our turkey and all the trimmings on Christmas day. Although we do also sample a reasonable amount of this home brewed wine on Christmas Eve also just to make sure it is okay for our Christmas feast naturally.
So what do you need to make Home Brew Wine from a Kit? Every kit you buy will come with its own specific instructions but generally the advice below is pretty standard to most home brewing kits but always read the instructions that come with the kit to be absolutely sure.
So before you get started at brewing your wine you will need to purchase or acquire the following items. You should always be able to purchase all of these items from the same website where you purchase your wine kit from, some of the links to kits we have used are also listed below:
Items needed for Home Brewing Wine
A tub of Sterlizing powder
5 Gallon (23 litre) fermenting vessel
1 Bung and airlock
A length of siphon tube
30 x 750ml wine bottles with corks or plastic stoppers (we usually use recycled wine bottles that we have kept washed and have ready for use again, screw top bottles are easier to manage but the choice is yours. Also we usually just siphon off a few bottles at a time and then leave the rest in the fermenting vessel until we need it again though the choice is yours. If you fill the 30 bottles be sure to also store them on a wine rack or lay them on their side.)
Additional Optional Items for Home Brewing Wine
Hydrometer and trial jar (to check if fermentation is complete)
Shrinkable neck capsules and wine labels
A second fermenting vessel for storing wine
A funnel (to add bottle contents and hot water carboy
The Wine Making Process
1. Before you begin making your wine it is very important to make sure all your utensils are thoroughly sterilized with the tub of sterilizing powder you have chosen.
2. Then rinse all your equipment thoroughly with clean cold water.
3. Also it is advisable to mark the outside of your vessel at the 5 gallon or 23 litre point now with a sticker or a felt tip marker.
4. Now from your kit box take out the bottle of grapefruit juice out, open it and then pour the full contents into your fermenting vessel vessel (also often called a carboy).
5. The next thing you need to do with is to get a large saucepan or you can use your electric kettle to boil 2.8 litres (5 pints) of water. Allow it to cool slightly before adding it the fermenting vessel. Be sure if you are using a glass fermenting vessel that you do not pour the boiling water immediately into the carboy or the heat could shatter it. Then add cold water to the carboy until you reach the 22.7 litre mark (5 gallons).
Note: Always remember not to seal the fermenting vessel while agitating the wine as it can crack under the pressure. So instead leave it opened for an hour.
6. The next thing you need to do is add the Wine Yeast to the fermenting vessel. Then you need to agitate (lightly swirl) the fermenting vessel to mix the wine yeast. Now seal the fermenting vessel with the airlock and bung and then half fill the air lock with cold water.
7. It is very important to try to maintain a constant temperature while your wine is brewing. So you should aim to keep the fermenting vessel in a warm place that is normally between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius (or 68 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit). The wine will ferment down to 16 degrees Celsius (61 degrees Fahrenheit). It is very important not to let it go below this temperature as this could cause the fermentation process to stop. The same applies if the temperature goes above 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit).
Note: We find that the best way to keep a constant check on the temperature is to attach an external temperature gauge to the outside the fermenting tank. Or you can purchase a thermometer to keep a check on the wines temperature but this then involves opening the fermenting vessel during the fermenting process to check the temperature which we don’t like doing just in case it upsets the process.
8. The fermentation process should normally start within twenty four hours. Normally it takes ten days with a 21 day wine kit at the correct temperature.
9. When the fermentation process has stopped you should notice that the bubbles have stopped passing through the air lock. Using a hydrometer you should get a reading below 1002 for a medium dry wine or it should be below 996 for a dry wine. You need to check that this is constant for two days before you can be sure that the fermentation process has finished.
10. The next thing you need to do is add the contents of the ‘flavoring,’ sachet. Depending on what type of wine you are making this might not be necessary i.e. you would not need to do this if you are making Cabernet Sauvignan or Chablis. If you are adding a flavoring then you need to stir it in well and then leave it for two hours.
11. The next thing you will need to do is to add the Stabilizer. If you have decided to use a second fermenting vessel you can now siphon the wine into this vessel first before adding the stabilizer. Now agitate or stir the wine very well to release the carbon dioxide gas and this will then reduce the clearing time needed.
12. Now you are ready to add the Finings A sachet into the wine, stir vigorously for 2 minutes and leave to settle for an hour. Then add the Finings B sachet and again stir well until you are happy that it is thoroughly dispersed.
13. Now you need to pace the wine in a cool dry place where it can remain undisturbed until the wine looks perfectly clear (usually takes about 7 days).
14. Your wine is now complete and ready to bottle. So now you need to siphon the wine (without disturbing the sediment) into your clean, sterilized bottles and then seal them with the cork or plastic stoppers or bottle with screw on taps, the choice here is yours.
15. If you have decided to buy wine labels and design your own custom finish these can be placed on the bottles now too.
16. Your wine is now ready to drink but if you have the time (or the patience) your wine will of course mature and improve in taste if you lay it down and store it for several more months in a cool dark place.
So most importantly enjoy your wine and don’t aim to drink it all too quickly, instead savor it and enjoy the fruits of your labour.. Happy Christmas!