Are you new to new to making wine at home, or perhaps you've tried before and had limited success? You're not alone.
Although home wine making is becoming a more and more popular hobby with millions trying it out each year, many are left feeling disappointed with their results as their first batch didn't turn out quite the way they had hoped, causing them to give up and leaving a bad taste in their mouth (both literally and psychologically).
The reason these people fail is usually for one simple reason: information overload, yet missing out on the crucial details.
With the plethora of information available on the internet these days, prospective wine-making enthusiast are having to piece together bits of information to turn it into one coherent wine-making plan that they can follow.
Although wine making is not rocket science, what happens more often than not, is that critical steps and details of the process are left out when people try to figure it out by themselves, resulting in a batch of wine that didn't quite turn out as they had hoped.
Not only does this result in a lot of wasted time (since wine-making is quite a lengthy process), it also results in a lot of people simply giving up, thereby robbing you of a potentially very enjoyable hobby and an indescribable feeling of pride that you have when you make your first great batch of wine.
There is a much easier way that will help you make a great tasting wine so that you not only get to enjoy that, but also get that immense feeling of accomplishment, even on your first try. You'll see what I mean as you keep reading the article below.
ATTENTION: If you're serious about wanting to make your own wine at home, and want to make sure you do it right the first time so that you get to not only enjoy it, but also feel immensely proud, make sure you pay attention to the important information ahead.
Let's get started with three common mistakes that new wine makers make and how you can fix them right away to ensure you get a better tasting batch of wine.
Most people know that they should ensure that all equipment is clean and sanitized, yet 90% of all mistakes in wine making can still be traced back to a lapse in sanitation.
This isn't really surprising, because there is a big difference between simply knowing that you should keep things sanitized, and actually knowing how to do it and doing it.
As you are aware, the making of wine is a result from the fermentation of grapes which happens over a lengthy period of 4-6 weeks. This time period gives yeast the time to transform the sugars present in the juice into ethanol and carbon dioxide, and eventually into wine.
However, this time period also gives any bacteria that may be present on your wine making equipment ample time to multiply and spoil the wine. It would be akin to leaving dirty cutlery in the sink for a month and a half - not a pretty sight!
The fact that these bacteria have so much time, makes it extremely critical for you to ensure that everything you're using in the wine making process absolutely spotless.
Often we confuse ourselves with thinking something being sanitized, while it is actually just clean. Cleaning is the process of removing and washing visible dirt and residue from your equipment. This gives us the false impression that the equipment is free of bacteria and therefore fit for wine making.
The key to making a great batch of wine is by following a step by step procedure every time you make wine, to ensuring the sanitization of your equipment, and by understanding the fundamental difference between something being clean and it being sanitized.
In order to sanitize your equipment and ensuring your equipment is bacteria free, I suggest to using one of two approaches to sanitize your equipment in advance of the wine making.
Sanitization Method 1: Boil your equipment in water in advance of using your equipment. No chemicals are involved in this process. All you need is a source of heat, water, and a large vessel to hold the water. Ensure that each piece of equipment is boiled for a period of 5-10 minutes to ensure your equipment is fully sanitized.
Sanitization Method 2: Use chlorine (or household bleach) to sanitize your wine making equipment. Simply add 1/4 tablespoon of unscented household bleach to 1 gallon (4 liters) of water to create a chlorine solution. Soak your equipment in this solution for 10-15 minutes and rinse after before using the equipment.
Using either of these simple steps will help prevent the growth of organisms and spoiling your wine during the wine making process, which is the cause of 90% of the mistakes that wine makers make.
Although the majority of wine making instructions will inform you to "stir vigorously", I always feel that this is an understatement.
Under stirring is the 2nd most common mistake that beginner wine-makers fall into. Ensuring that the juice and concentrate are properly mixed with the water in the beginning, is one of the essentials of wine making. Failing to do so, may result in under-fermentation of the wine thereby putting all your efforts to waste while you essentially end up with a batch of glorified grape juice.
Stirring on day one is crucial in wine making, because the juice and concentrate are very vicious substances are thereby don't easily mix with water. Although it may seem that after having dumped the contents of the bag into the primary with the water has been adequately been mixed, this is likely not the case.
This will result in the juice and concentrate being at the bottom of the pail, while the water sits on top. This will overwork the yeasts during the fermentation process and will most likely result in a wine that is under-fermented. This is because the juice and concentrate that is sitting at the bottom of the pail will likely be inaccessible to the yeast. It will also throw off any gravity readings during the wine making process.
Vigorous stirring is also needed when it comes time to fine and stabilize the wine. This is because dissolved gasses will attach to the fining agents, preventing them from settling out. This will result in an off flavor of the wine and also affects the longevity of it.
In order to stir properly, you'll need to keep in mind two crucial steps of the wine making process: stirring on day-one, and stirring during fining to 'de-gas' the wine.
Stirring on Day 1: As you add the contents of the wine making bag (if you're using a wine making kit) into the primary with the water stir vigorously for about 10 minutes. Keep going until the mixture is as uniform as possible. As a final check, verify whether there is no concentrate or juice sitting at the bottom of the pail. If so, you have adequately mixed your wine.
Stirring to De-Gas: During the fining process you will need to stir vigorously. Initially this will result in bubbles forming, which is a sign that the CO2 which formed during the fermentation process, is leaving the wine. Continue stirring vigorously for as long as needed up until the point where new bubbles no longer form (depending on the amount of wine you have made, this could take anywhere from 15-60 minutes). This means that all gasses have left the wine and you have stirred adequately.
Using this simple process will ensure that your wine is adequately mixed so that you don't end up with a spoilt batch.
The excitement of a new-winemaker's first batch often results in them starting to the bottle the wine before it's truly ready, which can result in a sub-optimal batch. Many times this is even the result of a wine-maker sticking to the schedule outlined by their wine making kit or recipe, so technically they aren't at fault.
This is where it's key to be able to recognize whether the wine is ready or whether it simply needs more time. Imagine how disappointing it would be to have gone through all time time, while following the instructions, only to end up with a sub-optimal batch of homemade wine?
The good news about wine is that it's generally very forgiving. Wine kits specifically are designed to make fairly quickly, but if you look at commercial wineries, this process can often take much and much longer.
Time allows wines to clarify and at the same time de-gas. It allows the wine to develop its flavors, aromas, and all the other good things that we all love so much about wine.
If this process is cut short, any issue that the wine is having at that point in time will still be there when you pour the wine. If you have off flavors, aromas, or spoilage issues, these will all still be waiting for you once you pull the cork.
My recommendation is always that if you're in any doubt whatsoever, give the wine more time. As mentioned before, wine is very forgiving, and the best thing you can do for wine is to give it more time.
So, before deciding to bottle your wine (even if the kit has instructed you to do so), stop for a minute and ask yourself these questions:
If you can answer yes to these questions, you're ready to bottle, but if you have any doubt on any of these points whatsoever, it's wise to wait a little longer and let the wine do it's thing. Don't worry about the wine going bad because in reality you could wait a year or longer (if you had the patience) and the wine would be just fine.
Without getting trying to scare you away further by mentioning other mistakes that beginner wine-makers make, making your own wine can actually one of the most rewarding experiences you'll ever have!
Nothing quite beats the feeling of after having waited for 2 months or more, to be able to pop the cork, pour yourself a nice glass of your own wine, and experiencing an explosion of flavors and complexity that you feel rivals some of the best wines you have ever tasted.
Many people mention that it gets even better when your friends and family won't even believe that you made it yourself, because it just tastes so good.
On top of that, it's just so much fun how much you can experiment with different fruits to make different types of wine. You can practically make your own unique variation of wine that no one would have made before, which I can tell you, brings you an immense feeling of pride and accomplishment.
The unfortunate truth is, however, that the majority of recipes you will find online, or those contained within wine-kits, are incomplete and simply don't give you all the information you need to make a great batch of homemade wine.
The bad news is also that you likely won't find out until it's already too late when you're halfway done with the wine making process. At that point, you will have poured your blood, sweat, and tears into the wine only to end up with a sub-optimal batch because of a few small mistakes that could have easily been avoided in the beginning.
I've seen it time and time again, and this is where many people quit, and have themselves robbed of one of the potentially most rewarding experiences in their lives.
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