Craft Wine Making at Home
Making wine at home is an enjoyable hobby that offers even greater personal rewards, like being able to say “I made this” when friends compliment you on the wine you are serving. Many winemakers enter their wines in amateur winemaking competitions. For them, the pride that comes with winning a medal is a great feeling. If you choose to make the wine yourself at home, you just need to make a small investment in an equipment kit (that can be used over and over). All the instructions needed to make great wine at home are included with the wine kit. We will help you through all the details and provide you with support throughout the winemaking process. The process takes only about 2 hours spread over 4 to 8 weeks.
Equipment Kit Contents
A good equipment starter kit will include the following:
• Minimum 30 litre primary fermentor (pail) with lid
• 23 litre carboy (glass or plastic)
• Bung and airlock
• Hydrometer (to check specific gravity)
• Test jar
• Racking tube
• Siphon hose (about 6 feet)
• Sterilizing solution (sodium or potassium metabisulphite)
Cellaring Your Wine
Although wine is very acceptable at bottling time, it will continue to improve if allowed to further mature in a cool, dark place. The ideal storage temperature for wine is between 13°C – 15°C (45°F – 58°F). Minimal exposure to light and movement or agitation will also assist in the aging process.
Successfully aging wine depends on many factors including sterilizing procedures, corks, temperature, humidity, light etc. It is impossible to give an absolute accurate time frame due to all those variables. Please use the following information as a guide for aging our wines. Note: the aging times are based on the recommended addition of a ¼ teaspoon of Potassium Metabisulphite.
Niagara Mist : Ready immediately
On the House : Whites: 1 month ; Reds: 2 months
Original : Whites: 1 month ; Reds: 2 months
Estate : Whites: 2 months ; Reds: 2 months
Après : Whites: 3 months ; Reds: 3 months
Signature : Whites: 2 months ; Reds: 3 months
My wine bottle has exploded, why?
The wine was not completely finished fermentation prior to bottling. You can avoid this from happening by using your wine hydrometer. The S.G. reading should read 0.995 or below prior to bottling.
My wine has started to ferment again, why?
This happens when the wine is bottled before fermentation has completed. To avoid this from happening you should maintain the recommended fermentation temperature. It is very important to take a Specific Gravity Reading before bottling. This will tell you if your wine has finished fermentation (0.995 or below).
My wine is brown and taste bad, why?
This is caused by oxidation. Always rack your wine carefully to avoid splashing. You should use a syphon hose that reaches the bottom of your carboy or pail when racking or when bottling. Always remember to fill from the bottom up and do not allow your wine to be exposed to the air for any period of time.
My wine tastes like vinegar, why?
Your wine might have a bacterial infection due to improper sterilization of your equipment. It is very important to make sure that all of your equipment is sterilized well. A sulphite solution is the best to use. Hot water alone will not kill bacteria. Cleanliness in the surrounding area is also very important. Any spilled wine should be wiped right away because it attracts fruit flies and one fruit fly can infect your wine. You should use food grade plastic, and it is a good idea to periodically replace your tubing.
My wine tastes harsh but looks fine, why?
Your wine probably just requires aging. Aging is a very important step in winemaking.
My wine tastes sweet, why?
Your wine will only taste sweet if it has not finished fermenting. To make sure that it has finished fermentation take a S.G. reading, it should read 0.995 or below.
My wine will not ferment, why?
It is probably due to incorrect temperature. The temperature should be between 70 and 80F. If the temperature is too cool, the yeast will become inactive; if the temperature is too high, the yeast will die. You can, in most cases, restart it by using a Yeast Starter. Pull a ½ gallon of your must and put it into a sterile gallon jug, add 2 teaspoons of Yeast Energizer and one pack of Champagne Yeast. Mix well, cover lightly, place in a warm spot (on top of fridge), once you have a vigorous fermentation (6-12 hrs) add to your original must.
How do I sweeten my wine after it has finished fermenting?
Once fermentation is complete you can sweeten your wine by adding a sweetener (wine conditioner). You would add the wine conditioner prior to filtering. One ounce per gallon takes the edge off and two ounces per gallon starts making the wine fairly sweet. The best thing to do is to add to taste. Be careful not to over-sweeten.
What does the Bentonite do for my wine?
Bentonite aids the yeast in growing quicker and stronger in the initial fermentation. It also helps to settle out the dead yeast cells so that you are not transferring a lot of sediment into your secondary fermentor after racking.
What does Metabisulphite do for my wine?
It protects your wine from spoilage and aids in clearing. It also helps to prevent oxidation. You can dissolve 50 grams of metabisulphite in 4 litres of water and use it as a sterilizer for all of your equipment and containers. It does a great job.
What does the Potassium Sorbate do for my wine?
It inhibits the reproduction of yeast cells. It does not kill the yeast cells but it will prevent your wine from renewed fermentation. This is necessary for all wines, especially when you sweeten your wine before bottling.
How should my wine be stored?
You should keep it in a dark place. Light will excite molecules and oxidizes your wine. It should be vibration free (storing wine under the stairs is not a good idea.) You should have it in a humid place between 50 and 80 percent. You should always keep it away from odors (paint cans or anything with a strong odor) The reason for this is because the taste of your wine can be affected. Maintaining a constant temperature between 16-21C prevents your wine from premature aging. Rapid temperature changes in your wine storage location are detrimental to your wine. You should keep your wine bottles on their side so that the cork stays moist; otherwise the corks will dry out and allow unwanted air in. Wine asks for two things only, to be left lying quietly in a cool dark place, and to be served slowly, giving it plenty of time and room to breathe the air.