Wine is one of the earliest alcoholic beverages known to man. It is a natural fermentation and maturation of the juice of the grapes, and it is not too complicated to do it at home. In this article, we will explain step by step the process to know how to make wine at home.
The wine recipe is very simple, first of all the ripe grapes must be picked from the vines; secondly, the harvested grapes must be placed in a clean and sealed container, then crushed to release the juices. Finally, they wait for the fermentation of the homemade wine to begin, where natural yeasts convert the natural sugars into alcohol and the must is transformed into wine.
For those who want to know how to make homemade wine, the process is so simple and easy to replicate that it has been used since ancient times to create various other spirits. Simply replicate the above process with any other sweet fruit such as blackberries, cherries, apples, or any fruit that has a high amount of natural sugar.
Fermentation, which is the basis for winemaking, is a natural process that does not require the hand of man. Yeast is a single-celled organism that is naturally present in the fruit and will begin to act automatically upon contact with the natural sugar in the grapes. In this way, all that is needed is for the grapes to be crushed so that the natural sugars are released. If you want to speed up the process, you can use homemade wine yeast, which you can buy online.
Ingredients to make homemade wine
The main components of wine are grapes. This fruit is one of the most affected by the place where it grows. The temperature, the composition of the soil and even the distance between one vine and the other influence the final quality of the fruit. It is for this reason that the best white wine (by clicking on this link you can find some options to choose from)) and red is one that comes from especially good vintages. If you want to know how to make white wine or how to make red wine, the main difference is in the type of grapes used. To make white wine, white varieties such as Verdejo are used, while red or red varieties are used, such as Syrah. In both cases, the grapes must be in their optimum state of ripeness, since it is at that moment when they reach the appropriate sugar level.
If we wanted to know how to make sweet wine, we would have to wait for the grapes to raisin—dry naturally in the sun—while they are still on the plant. Raisins have a much higher concentration of sugar, so the result is a wine with a higher alcohol content and much sweeter.
Therefore, choosing the grape is the first step in knowing how to make wine and it is also the most important. For those users who want to take the experience to the maximum, the ideal would be to collect them themselves. Be that as it may, you must always choose a quality grape that has reached the optimum level of ripeness.
But these are not the only ingredients needed to make wine. You will also need filtered water, without chlorine or chemicals typical of “tap” water, sugar —which can be honey— to balance the taste of the wine at the end of fermentation, and also some type of yeast for homemade wine. Finally, modern wineries use sulfites to make the wine last longer, so it is possible to buy sodium metabisulfite tablets, although this last ingredient is not necessary.
What tools do I need to make wine at home?
Now that we have the necessary ingredients, let’s see what tools we need to learn how to make wine.
You will need, first of all, a clean container to crush the grapes, this can be done in any bowl or bucket you have, as long as it is clean. You will also need some type of glass pitcher or jug, to place the crushed juice, this pitcher or jug must be watertight and have some type of airlock that you can open to release the carbon dioxide that is created inside Occasionally.
You will also need a homemade wine press to crush the grapes and wine bottles clean, as well as corks to cover the bottles once they are full and some fine strainer to filter the wine before putting it into the bottles.
How to make wine step by step
Once we have all the ingredients and materials necessary to make homemade wine, we will see how to make wine step by step.
Clean the grape and crush it
The first thing we must do is clean the grapes. To make wine, the grapes must be free of all plant parts such as branches, leaves and vine shoots -which are the small spiral tendrils that grapes have-, all these plant parts will provide an astringent flavor to the wine, which can be bitter in many cases. In the same way, the skin of the fruit will add a lot of flavor to the wine, so if we want a fine and light wine, we can peel it, but if we want a tasty and full-bodied wine we can leave the skin of the grape.
Once clean, we must start with the crushed. In this process we must break the grape so that the juice or must comes out. This process will release the natural yeasts and start the fermentation process. At this time, the color of the wine will also be received, which comes from the skin —the shell of the grain—, so if we have chosen white grapes we will make white wine and if we choose red grapes, we will have red wine.
You have to be very careful when crushing the grapes, since they should not be crushed, but just open them. If we crush the grape too much, we could break the seeds, which could give the juice bitter flavors.
At the end of the crushing process, we will obtain a must, a paste in which the juice, shells and seeds are mixed. At this point you can add the sulfite pill to regulate the fermentation process, although it is not mandatory.
Maceration is when the juice and the solid parts of the grape (seeds, skin and vine shoots, if any) come into contact. It is during this process that the wine will acquire most of its flavours, colors and smells. At this point, the liquid is still must, as it has not yet turned into wine.
The maceration process is very important for winemaking. White wines have a shorter maceration process, as do rosé wines. Red wines, on the other hand, have a much longer maceration time, which is why a wine with much more body is obtained.
Maceration is also the moment in which tannins are activated, organic substances that form proteins and polysaccharides that provide nutrients and most of its organoleptic properties.
In wine, fermentation is a natural process through which the yeasts, which are present in the grape, begin to transform the fruit’s sugar into alcohol. By transforming sugar into alcohol, yeasts produce carbon dioxide, a gas that evaporates into the air.
Fermentation ends when all the sugar in the grape is transformed into alcohol. During this time it is very important to control the temperature, since the yeasts do not work well in cold temperatures —fermentation is interrupted— and, in temperatures that are too high, the process can be accelerated causing explosions.
The gas released from fermentation pushes the remains to the top of the container, forming a solid waste barrier called a cap. In some wines, the hat is periodically broken and removed so that the wine acquires greater flavor and color, this process is usually called “pumping and punching”. Fermentation generally lasts between 6 and 10 days.
At the end of these days of first fermentation, the devatting process will be carried out, where the liquid part is separated from the solid part and the liquid is transferred to another container. At this time, the solid part is extracted and removed.
Once clean of the solid parts, the second fermentation will begin, called malolactic, which will last between 10 and 20 minutes and where it will again be important to control the temperature.
This process is essential in the production of red wine, since the lactic acid is transformed at this point into malic acid, which has a much less acidic flavor and is much smoother. When the yeasts convert all the sugars into alcohol, the fermentation ends and the liquid has already turned into wine.
Finally, you can filter the wine to make it clean. This process is called “clarification” and it is very important for red wine; the less solid particles remain, the better the final quality of the wine.
With all this, we can enjoy a homemade wine, which we can let rest for a month or two in the bottle, so that it acquires a better body and its flavors stabilize.