How to Make Homemade Wine -
Frequently Asked Questions on How to Make Wine
Q: Can you teach a beginner how to make homemade
A beginner in How to make wine from
home can benefit from using a wine making kit at
first. These wine making kits are based on grape juice
concentrate and also offer easy to follow instructions
that will help the beginner make good wine (provided the
instructions are followed closely.)
Another benefit from using these wine making
kits is that the beginner can start making wine even if
space is at a premium and the beginner has no time or
inclination to process fresh grapes into juice. This
means the beginner is able to produce wine that is
drinkable and of good quality sooner.
Q: Which is better – to use fresh fruits from
scratch or to rely on a wine making kit using grape juice
The biggest advantage with using a grape juice
concentrate-based wine making kit is convenience. Using a
kit means you need not do much adjustment of sugar and
acidity levels. That is why beginners are advised to use
a wine making kit first before progressing to learning
how to make homemade wine using fresh fruit like fresh
grapes. Wine making kits can be bought inexpensively for
$80 on-line at Heinsohn's Country Store. Excellent fruit
juice concentrate in 6.5 litre and 9 litre containers can be
bought on-line for $60 at Perfect Brewing.
If you use fresh grapes, be prepared to undergo
a more complicated process for wine making. First, you
need to crush the grapes well so that they are ready for
fermentation. You then have to test the sugar level and
the acidity level of the “must” or wine blend so that you
can adjust it (because with grape juice concentrate you
need not adjust much or at all.) So, an inexperienced
vintner would find using fresh fruit to be less
convenient and a bit intimidating at the start. However,
if you really want to learn traditional wine making, then
using fresh fruits is the way to go.
Q: What is usually the main reason home-brewed
wine turns out bad?
The biggest and most common reason newbies
learning how to make homemade wine
produce a bad quality wine batch is because the wine
making space used and even the tools, equipment and
containers used are not sanitized. Actually, you even
have to sanitize your hands before doing any wine making
so what more the things you use that come into direct
contact with the young wine?
Q: Why does my finished wine smell like
Your wine will smell like vinegar if it is
ruined and you ruin wine if you do not practice
thoroughly sanitary wine making habits. That is why you
really have to sterilize everything you use before
starting to make any wine.
Q: Can you describe the basic process for how to
make wine from home?
At its simplest, wine making means you – the
vintner – have to create the optimal conditions for
vintner’s yeast to be able to change fruit sugar into
alcohol and carbon dioxide, and then allow the carbon
dioxide to be released into the air so that wine becomes
the final product. Much of the process is actually more
of Mother Nature’s job than the vintner’s so home-brewing
of wine is much less complicated than most people
Q: Why does wine need to ferment
The fermentation process involves using
vintner’s yeast (which is different from baker’s yeast)
to transform fruit sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol.
Without fermentation, all you have is grape juice or
fruit juice. Once the carbon dioxide evaporates into the
air, wine is the result.
Q: Why do we need to balance acid levels in the
Basically, all fruit including grapes have
varying levels and types of acids. A wine blend that has
too much acid cannot be drunk. But a wine blend that
lacks enough acid will be bland or flat. So, to create
good wine, you need to balance the acid levels within
Q: Can you describe finings?
Finings can also be called clarifiers – these
are substances which are natural substances used by
vintners to promote wine clarification or wine settling.
Some commonly-used finings or clarifiers are Bentonite,
isinglass or gelatin. The unwanted protein-based
sediments like yeast and tannin will bind with the
finings so that they clump together and can be easily
removed through racking.
Q: Should I use sulphite in my wine
Many winemakers do use sulphite to destroy
harmful bacteria that can ruin the wine, while also
eliminating oxidation that can also change wine quality.
However, you have to be sure that whoever will drink your
wine is not allergic to the sulphite. Some people develop
a negative reaction to sulphite.
Q: What is the optimal period for preparing wine
so that it is ready to be drunk?
A good rule of thumb for wine making is that
white wine blends tend to be ready to be drunk sooner
than red wine. But there is no pre-set formula for
determining when wine is ready to be drunk otherwise. As
a vintner, you have to develop this skill of gauging when
your own wine has been prepared and aged properly so that
it is ready to be served. You have to be acquainted with
the processing times for different vintages to be able to
predict accurately when your wine is ready.
Q: What is the formula for estimating alcohol
First, identify the starting specific gravity.
You then have to deduct the finished specific gravity
from this starting specific gravity. Then, divide the
result by 7.36. This gives you the alcohol
Q: How do I find the right wine bottles and
corks to use for my wine?
Many vintners advocate using glass bottles for
storing wine because it is more convenient and practical
to sterilize glass bottles. Glass bottles can also be
re-used over and over provided you clean it first and
sterilize it again prior to storing new wine in it.
Plastic bottles may release unwanted odors, which is why
they are not commonly used to store wine. Another reason
glass bottles are more commonly used for wine storage is
that wine looks better stored in glass bottles, partly
because you can check for wine clarity easier.
The usual practice is to use corks to cover the
wine bottle but it is also possible to use the new
screw-top type of wine bottle covers. You can use short
corks to cover short-term wines while long corks can be
employed for long-term wine instead. Screw-tops are okay
to use so long as they seal your wine bottle
Q: Do I have to filter my wine?
Filtering is not mandatory in wine making but
some may advocate filtering because your wine comes out
with a finished polish. Generally, white wine requires
some filtering if you want it appear clear.
Q: Why did my homemade wine give me a headache
after I drank it?
Wine that gives anyone a headache probably
contains too much tannin (meaning, your wine contains too
much histamine as well.) Red wines tend to have too much
of these so you might prefer to switch to making white
wine instead. It is also possible you are simply allergic
to at least one wine making component.
Q: What happens if I don’t do racking
immediately following fermentation?
You may find that your wine will taste a lot
like the yeast that you used – this is because your wine
liquid rested too long on the dead yeast called “lees”
following fermentation. That is why you have to do
racking as promptly as possible.
Q: Can you describe cold
The cold stabilization process is necessary to
partially eliminate wine acids via precipitation, which
results in a softer finish. To do this process, you first
have to conduct the acid titration process to determine
the acid content of your wine. Then cold stabilization
follows, by submitting your wine to almost freezing
conditions for around two weeks. People who live in a
cold climate can just put their wine in a very cold part
of their house (like the garage.) You will find that the
wine acid crystallizes afterwards at the bottom of the
wine container. You may then do racking to eliminate the
Q: Which is better for flavoring wine – oak
chips or oak extract?
Some say that oak chips are better to use to
flavor your wine because these lend your wine a more
natural flavor afterwards. But oak extract is more
convenient for wine flavoring than oak chips for
beginners learning how to make homemade
wine. The oak extract relies on oak chips to
flavor the 60% alcohol solution of your wine.
Q: What are the different types of sweet
Sweet wines may be of the white wine variety,
the red wine variety, or the pink or blush wine variety.
Sweet wines can then be subdivided into other types
within each of these categories. You can also get
extremely sweet wine which is called dessert
Sweet wine is sometimes preferred by beginners
learning how to make wine from home because it
takes time to appreciate the dry wines. The white wines
that are sweet can be good to drink even without food to
go with them. Red wine that is sweet is not so common
because a sweet red wine may be considered flawed by some
vintners. If you find it hard to look for sweet red wine,
ask around for “fruity” red wine – it’s the same thing.
If the red wine is very sweet, then you might be drinking
Port or a dessert wine.
The pink or blush wines lack the tannins of red
wine, so thus they are light pink in color. On the other
hand, dessert wine may also be called “late harvest” wine
because these are produced from grapes that were taken
off the vine much later than is common during harvests.
That is why “late harvest” wines are quite sweet – the
sugar in the grapes tends to accumulate.
Q: How long should wine be stored on the rack
before serving, and before it spoils?
At least 90% of the wine produced around the
world is not meant to be stored for too long, meaning
they should be consumed as young wine. That is why one of
the dangers with wine making is that you fail to consume
your wine when necessary and it then spoils.
Most vintners will agree that the most age
worthy types of wine use the Nebbiolo grapes, the Syrah
grapes, or the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Wine that age
well will have enough tannin to classify your wine as
“tannic”. Tannic wine has enough grape skin in the wine
blend to allow the wine to age well through
tannic wine is not so drinkable when young, because the
tannin makes the wine rather searing on the palate, if
you age it just right it has a desirable structure
considered “elegant” among vintners.
Store your wine in a relatively humid and dark
place, which has a temperature ranging from about 55
degrees Fahrenheit to 55 degrees Fahrenheit for best
results. Avoid places where temperature fluctuates
constantly – the room temperature has to be constant all
throughout storage time.
Warmer temperatures will make your wine age
faster. A storage room that has too much light will also
causes your wine to peak faster and reach spoilage
Q: If I have any opened bottles of wine, can I
preserve the leftover wine in them so they don’t
Yes, you can still save any leftover wine you
have, provided you do not leave the wine bottle open to
the air. You have to prevent oxidation from happening
because this renders your wine into vinegar, and thus
useless for drinking.
To store this leftover wine properly, use a
smaller container that will nearly overflow when you pour
the leftover wine into it, and that can be capped
tightly. This assures you that zero air bubbles are
contained within the wine that would lead to oxidation.
You can store this wine in a cool refrigerator for up to
seven days – after that, you may have to discard
If you want to use leftover wine for cooking
instead, you can simply freeze the wine in containers
(like ice cube trays maybe) until you need the wine for
cooking. This is a very economical way of using up your
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