Are you ready to make your own wine? Here are some wine making tips to help make your first batch of wine a success.
Clean and Sterilize all Equipment and Bottles
Clean stained or dirty equipment with a sterilizing solution. This is made up of 5g of potassium metabisulphite dissolved in 4L of warm water. Rinse the equipment and bottles thoroughly with the solution and let them dry completely before using. If there are stains that are not removed with the solution then use a bottle brush and scrub until stain is gone, then re-sterilize. Failure to properly sterilize all equipment and bottles can result in unsuccessful wine. Corks may be sterilized using the sterilizing solution. Place corks in in the sterilizing solution for 5-15 minutes.
Your wine juice should ferment at a temperature of 22 degrees Celsius /72 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius/86 degrees Fahrenheit will inactivate the yeast. Temperatures below 18 degrees Celsius/64 degrees Fahrenheit will postpone the time allotted to make the wine. NOTE: If the fermentation is taking place in a cool area, you can help the process with a heating pad or brew belt. Be sure to carefully monitor your wine temperature.
Use a Hydrometer
A wine hydrometer is a tool that reads relative specific gravity. As the fermentation progresses, the specific gravity decreases. This means the sugar is converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide. At each stage we have included a chart of target readings below, for you to follow and record the progress of your wine. To use, immerse the sterilized Hydrometer into the cylinder of wine or juice so that it is free floating. To read the Hydrometer, the level at which the liquid intersects the stem is your specific gravity reading.
4 Week Juice
Primary Fermentation 1.050 – 1.060
Secondary Fermentation < 1.010
Stabilizing < 0.997
6 Week Juice
Primary Fermentation 1.080 – 1.100
Secondary Fermentation < 1.040
Stabilizing < 0.997
8 Week Juice
Primary Fermentation 1.090 – 1.100
Secondary Fermentation < 1.020
Stabilizing < 1.000 Red and < 0.997 White
When transferring or racking, try not to splash or shake the wine to minimize the incorporation of oxygen into your wine. Care must be taken to not mix or disturb the sediment with the clear wine. Should the sediment mix with the clear wine, you will need to let the wine sit and clear again for at least 3 days, then re-rack the wine off the sediments. A racking tube and flexible hose can be very useful.