Wine is one of the oldest beverages in human history. Literature and mythology are filled with references to wine and its effects, and many believe winemaking started near the Caspian Sea, spreading to Europe and India populations migrated. Farmers and winemakers have cultivated or discovered many varieties of grapes over the millenia, and each type is appropriate for a certain region or specific environmental condition. In addition, the grape subsumes qualities from the climate and soil where the grape is grown, so each grape vine is distinct and special. Local grapes produce the best homemade wine, and all winemaking equipment is available at your local home brewing shop.
Things You'll Need
Purchase or pick 15 to 20 lbs. of grapes per gallon of wine you wish to make. The grapes should be freshly picked; harvesting occurs in late-summer or early-autumn, depending on the region. Farmer’s markets and online forums sell grapes or provide information on local farms and vineyards.
Sanitize your equipment and containers with potassium metabisulfite; follow the instructions provided on the package. Crush the grapes with a crusher or pestle into a 6-gallon food container, and press the grapes with a grape press, collecting the juice in another 6-gallon food container. Add potassium metabisulphite to the juice to kill any yeast or mold, following the instructions provided with the potassium metabisulphite.
Test the specific gravity of your juice with the hydrometer in a wine thief. The gravity should be between 1.080 and 1.100. If the gravity falls below 1.080, add a syrup composed of 1 part water and 3 parts sugar to the juice and stir. Continue to add syrup until the wine reaches the desired gravity.
Test the pH with the titration kit. The pH should be around 3 or 4. Add tartaric acid if the pH is too basic; talk to your local home brewing shop about correct amounts of tartaric acid to add, though the final tartaric acid volume should measure 6 to 7.5 g per liter to produce the ideal pH.
Stir bentonite into the juice, following the instructions provided on the package. The bentonite helps clear particles out of the wine. Stir oak chips into the juice after 5 minutes. The oak chips add flavor to the wine.
Add yeast to the grape juice and ferment in a sterilized 6-gallon food grade container with an airlock for 7 days. Discuss the type of yeast to use for your wine with your local home brewing shop.
Rack, or transfer, the fermenting grape juice to a glass carboy using a siphon hose. Place the food grade container on a counter or table and the carboy on the floor, siphoning the juice from the container above to that below. Top the carboy with a bung and airlock and ferment the juice for another 14 days.
Dissolve potassium metabisulphite and potassium sorbate into the fermented juice and stir vigorously for 5 minutes. Dissolve the isinglass or chitosan clarifier into the fermented juice and stir vigorously for another 5 minutes. Ask the local home brewing shop how much potassium metabisulphite, potassium sorbate and clarifier to add.
Rack the fermented juice into another glass carboy and allow the liquid to settle and clear over 7 days. Bottle the wine in sanitized bottles or leave the wine in the carboy. Wait 2 to 3 months before drinking the wine to allow the wine to age and improve.
Collect enough grapes from your region to produce an adequate amount. Choose a local variety you like. New England, the Great Lakes Region, the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest have most of the classic varieties of wine grapes, however the Southeast and Southwest are limited to Muscadine grapes and French-American hybrids that are resistant to the regional diseases and heat that affect traditional wine grapes.
The grape press and crusher are expensive, but many home brewing shops allow you to rent these. Others allow you to use their wine press or crusher. Check online for local winemakers who might help. As an alternative, some health food stores have large juicers that juice the grapes and save the pulp, or mash.
Calculate the final alcohol content by measuring the specific gravity of the wine subtracting it from the initial specific gravity of the juice and dividing by 7.36. The answer is the percentage of alcohol by volume.