Sunday, February 16, 2014

Making our first homemade wine

Making my own wine has been on my to do list for the last 2 years, knowing this, Kevin bought me a groupon for a wine making course for my birthday last year, and last month (just before it expired) I finally got to go check it out. Naturally we went out and bought a wine kit a few days later to give it a try.

California Trinity Red from Wine Expert
 From their website:
An ideal blending of three of California 's most popular grape varieties - Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot, coming together to make a perfectly balanced, well- structured dry red wine. Notes of black cherry and coffee complement the smokey, herbal flavours, and hints of vanilla that round out this medium bodied wine , making it highly enjoyable for any occasion. Serve with a roast dinner or barbecued steak.
Sweetness: Dry | Body: Medium-Full | Oak Intensity: Medium
So far, we've found the process to be pretty easy. Here's what we've done so far.
  • Clean and sanitize your equipment (plastic primary pail, stiring spoon, sample thingy and hydrometer, rinse well and let dry.
  • Heat 4L distilled water, add two liters to primary. Add in the bentonite package and mix well to ensure no lumps. Add in the juice (10L), use the other 2L of heated water into the juice package to rinse last of the juice into the primary. Add distilled water to the 23L point. Stir like heck.

  • Check hydrometer reading, recall reading for water is 1.000, reading for you red wine at this stage will be higher than water (because it's chuck full of sugars) as the wine ferments, the sugars will turn into alcohols and the reading will drop below 1. Our reading at this point was 1.093.

  • Sprinkle in the oak packages and stir them under the surface. Once the fluids still (no longer swirling) sprinkle the dry yeast onto the surface. Do not stir. Wine temperature should be between 21 and 24'C at this point, a great temperature for the yeast to activate and get to work.

  • Put the lid on the primary, and seal the hole with the bung and the air lock (don't forget to put some water in the air lock!)
  • The yeast will activate and begin fermenting all on their own over the next 24-48 hours (may take a bit longer if it's colder). For us, by the next morning the lid on the primary was already 'puffed' out by the building gases, and by 24h bubbles were coming through the air lock.

  • Leave you wine alone for the next 5 days, preferably raised up off the ground (which is usually really cold, we've got ours on the bar counter). After 5-7 days check your hydrometer reading, it should have dropped to 1.010 or less. If it hasn't wait longer before moving to step 2. However, don't leave your wine in primary longer than 10 days.
  • At day 6 we checked our wine, I had a good feeling about it, since it had been bubbling happily all week, though by day five the bubbling was slowing down, suggesting most of the sugars had been consumed. Ours was reading an excellent 1.000, as this is less than the minimum 1.010, we we good to move on to step 2: Rack your wine.

  • Racking your wine really just means siphoning it out of the primary (and away from all the sediment and oak chunks) in into a glass carboy. Here's where I have to give a huge shout out to my PhD supervisor and his wife, who gave us their old carboys (good Italian ones, which won't spontaneously shatter on you). You can use an auto-siphon, or do it the old fashioned way and mouth siphon it (Kevin did ours, he says it almost tastes like wine already!).
  • Once it's in the glass carboy, throw the bung back in the top, and the air lock back on. It my continue to bubble, ours still is a bit, or not (but that's ok).
  • Leave it alone, back on the counter, for another 10 days. 

That's it for now, all we can do is wait, and give our wine unconditional love and affection. I really can't get over how truly little effort this process has been so far. May 30-40 min of work on each of the two processing days so far. I'm sure bottling will be a bit of a process, but we'll have 30 bottles of wine to show for our effort, and a 70 dollar investment in the kit. Equipment runs maybe another $80, but since we'll be repeating this process many times I'm sure, I won't count that.

Have you ever made your own wine, beer or cider? How did it turn out? Tell me all about it in the comments, we want to try beer next!


  1. Made many kits. When it comes to degassing, get the little drill attachment. Makes life much easier. If you're going to do more than one kit, it's well worth getting a floor cork machine, much easier than the smaller hand corkers. Get clear glass, it's much easier to see if it's clean, and to keep it clean. Just store it out of the sun. Enjoy.

  2. My husband made Blackberry wine with fresh blackberries that we picked. It was delicious!