The basis of winemaking
The fundamental stages involved in the making of any wine are:
1 extracting the flavor from the ingredients
3 maturation and bottling
There are endless ingredients that can be used to create the must (liquid pre fermentation), ranging from Grapes and other fruits to more unusual ingredients including Dandelion and Elderflower. Like brewing beer, this is what makes wine making so addictive as you can experiment with different blends and flavours.
The simpliest and most reliable way for the beginner to produce wine is to use a kit. These contain concentrated fruit extract and yeast. The extract is diluted with water producing the must. The yeast is then added and the must left to ferment. Fermentation time varies depending on the kit. The Calfornia Connoisseur kits we sell take around 1 week. Fermentation takes place in a closed fermentation vessel under airlock.
Once fermentation is complete the wine is then matured in bulk (usually glass or plastic demi-johns) until its ready to bottle. Again the length of this time depends on the kit, but normally around 3 weeks. Once bottled, the wine is ready to drink.
Most wines will benefit from extented bottling so the flavours can develop but as with shop bought wines, some are not suitable for long term storage.
The quality of the kits available today means that exceptional quality wines can be produced for the fraction of the shop bought equivalent. Kits are available in six or thirty bottle varieties and in a comprehensive range, enabling production of most varieties.
Wines made at home from home grown ingredients are known as country wines. The same basic principals for brewing kits applies, except here you are preparing the must yourself. Like brewing beer, there are hundreds of recipes available to prepare the must and you may need a large pan and strainer if the must requires boiling. The process is then the same as producing from a kit, although fermentation and maturing times are usually extended.
Wine can be made from just about anything that can impart flavour, sugar can be added if the main flavour provider is not high in sugar.
Fruits are very good at producing wine and most are high in natural sugars. Elderberry, Cherry, Apple and Rhubarb all make great wines but some fantastic wines can also be made from less obvious sources. Potato, Birch Sap, Dandelion and Broadbean are just some examples of popular and delicious wines. Our Elderflower champagne we brewed last summer was so delicious and only cost a few pounds!
Country wine is less consistant than producing wines from kits as there is less control of the ingredients but its also a lot more economical, especially as most of the ingredients can be sourced for free right outside your own home. Experimentation will give you great results but you can expect some failures too although these will probably be drinkable!
As the ingredients are seasonal, there is a real feeling of being in touch with nature and the seasons. Summer and Autumn being the particularily fruitful and busy seasons for the country wine maker.
Like brewing beer, there is an initial investment in equipment required but this can be used time and time again, making subsequent batches much more economical. For more information on equipment see our FAQ section.
Sanitation is also crucial to ensure quality results.
Check out our great brewing forum for tips, advice and brewing banter.