Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Winemaking 101: Part 1

This is my third year making wine. I've done it using the fewest materials possible with as little money as possible. The first year I got 11 bottles. The second year, I ended up with 32 bottles. This year... I estimate 10-11 bottles. The merlot grapes dried up while I was in New Zealand. But the Zinfandel grapes were in decent shape.

Official Disclaimer: This is how I make wine. I take no responsibility for the quality of wine that could be made with these directions.

Materials List: Cooler, garbage bag that is big enough to put between the cooler and its lid,

Step 1: Find wine grapes. The giveaway is that they are all juice and seed. Eating grapes have pulp. Harvest grapes. If you don't have a refractometer (ideally you would have 22 degrees brix) you can pop open a grape. You want the seed to be completely brown and your fingers should be sticky. Last year I had to harvest early because the grapes started to raisin.

Next sort out the good grapes. Remove all the stems. DO NOT WASH THE GRAPES. The yeast is on the grape skins.

Squish grapes. I do it with my hands in a large pot. Dump grape skins, seeds, and juice into a clean cooler and seal the top. I put a garbage bag between the juice and the lid. Let it sit a day or two before you punch it down. This involves opening up the cooler once a day a pushing all the grape skins into the juice. Mold sometimes grows on the lid. Just wipe it off. You're good as long as the mold isn't in the wine. Ideally, the cooler would be in a basement or a consistently cool area. 68 is ideal.

After two weeks, start measuring the sugar content with a hydrometer. You are waiting for it to tell you that the sugar content is zero. Unfortunately, I can't find my hydrometer at the moment, so I need to go get one sometime next week.


pi-e said...

Excellent! I'm making mead right now, it'll be fun to compare our process.

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