Making wine

Any fruit will make wine.  Some fruit is better for wine making than others, but all fruit will make wine.  I make my fruit wine in gallon glass jugs.  The kind that apple juice comes in.  I also put a balloon on the top if I don’t have an airlock available.

Let me just go through what I do.  First I pick a bucket of fruit, berries or grapes.  I wash the fruit but not the berries or grapes.  I don’t wash them because the water damages the berries and washes the flavor down the drain.  The grapes have natural yeast on them and if you was them you lose the yeast.  The wine will heat up during fermentation and increase in alcohol so any germs that may be on them will be killed.  The wine will also settle so any dust or whatnot will be left in the bottom of the vat.
I start my wine in a white plastic bucket.  You can get them for free at any deli at the grocery store.  The ones at the grocery store deli are food grade plastic and work really well for wine making.  The first stage of wine making is called the primary.  During this stage the fruit ferments and bubbles a lot.  It can get messy so leave plenty of room in the bucket.  I never fill it more than 2/3 full, otherwise it will boil over and onto the floor.  Once you get your recipe mixed up put a clean dish towel or cotton clothe over the top of the bucket and fasten it down with an elastic band.  I use the top elastic of an old pair of underwear or panty hose.  It is very important to keep the gnats off the fruit.  The gnats carry a bacteria that will turn your wine into vinegar.  Leave your wine in the bucket for 2 weeks.  Stir the stuff up once or twice every day for 2 weeks.  The fruit skins and pulp will rise to the top of the bucket.  This is called a cap.  It is important to punch the cap down and stir the juice to allow air to reach the yeast.  Air is a good thing at this stage of the game.  If you don’t stir it the cap will start to mold and ruin your batch of wine.
Now you are ready to transfer your wine to the glass jug.  The day before you are ready to transfer, don’t stir the fruit or punch down the cap.  You can lift out most of the fruit from the top of the bucket before you transfer the juice. Now transfer the juice.   You can use a plastic colander, lined with a piece of cloth or cheese cloth and another bucket to do this.  Pour the juice through the colander.  Press the fruit that is left in the colander with a plate and the palms of your clean hands.  At the bottom of the bucket will be the seeds and sediment from the yeast and fruit.  Stop pouring and leave this mud in the bottle of the first bucket. Then discard the fruit and mud.  The chickens will love it.  Now pour the juice through a funnel into the glass jug and put a balloon on it or an air lock. Air is not a good thing as this point.  If you use a balloon you will need to pull it away from the bottle and burp it from time to time.
When the balloon stops expanding and you see a sediment on the bottom of the jug.  Could be in a month or maybe in just two weeks, you will need to transfer the wine to another jug.  This is called racking.  You will need another clean jug and a siphon hose.  You can get a clear plastic hose at most hardware store.  Be sure to get a clear one about a 1/3 to 1/2 inch in diameter.  At this point is very important to siphon your wine from one bottle to another without allowing much air to mix with your wine.  Put the siphon hose in the bottom of the new bottle so that the wine does not splash.  I put one bottle on the counter and the other one in a plastic dish pan on the floor.  I fill the siphon hose with water from the sink and hold my finger over one end while I put the other end in the first bottle.  But before I do this I tie my hose to a handle of a long spoon so I can control where to end of the hose is in the bottle.  You could also us a long stick if you clean it really well.  Now siphon out the liquid and leave the yucky stuff on the bottle.  Try not to suck up the mud on the bottom of the jug.  You will have a little less wine than in your first bottle so top off the wine with some finished wine or a little sugar-water.  The level of wine should come up to the neck of the secondary vessel.  Now you need to put a balloon on the second jug and leave it in a cool ( ideal is around 75 degrees)but not drafty place for 2 months.  After 2 months you will see some more mud on the bottom of the jug so you need to siphon the good wine out and leave the mud on the bottom.  If you have a septic tank the mud is great for your tank.  Just pour it down your drain.  The yeast that remains in the mud will balance a septic tank.
Again leave the wine alone for another 2 months and check it again.  If it has any mud at all in the bottom rack it and top off with finished wine.  If not just leave it be and put a cap on the bottle.  After six months you can usually bottle.  Now you can buy a bottle corker and put your wine in wine bottles.  I get my bottles from a local restaurant.  They give them to you for free.  A corker and  corks will cost you about $16.00 from a wine supply store.  If you aren’t fancy you can put the wine in plastic water bottles or mason jars once you decide to drink your wine.  It can stay in the gallon jug until you start to drink it.  Normally wine is best after one year from the time you start it.  Once you open the jug it is better to put the rest in smaller container to keep the air off the wine.
Be sure that you clean everything really well and sterilize it with bleach or ammonia and rinse, rinse, rinse with clean water before anything comes in contact with your wine.  You can put some ammonia water in a spray bottle and spray your cabinets and sink and walls before you get started.
Now about the yeast, there are stores that sell wine making supplies.  Or there are lots of suppliers on the inter-net that you can order from.  You can keep yeast from one batch of wine to another by taking some of the liquid from your primary and putting it in ice trays and freeze it.  Don’t use baking yeast.  Wine yeast is selected from the best yeast available for making wine.  Nothing else compares.  Another thing you can do is use grapes.  Wine yeast grow on grapes naturally.  However you can’t be sure what kind of yeast it is.  Some yeast from grapes don’t work as well as the cultivated wine yeast.  If you are going to the trouble of making wine it’s better not to skimp on the yeast. The whitish powder on grapes is yeast.  I make several kinds of wine from the fruit in my garden as the season progresses.   I take a little wine from a fermenting jug and add it to a new jugs of juice.
Most of the recipes calls for acid blend, citric acid or tannin acid.  The yeast needs acid to grow.  The acid blend has tannin and citric acid together.  You can substitute both with common products in your home.  Use the juice from two lemons for the citric acid for one gallon of berry or fruit wine.  You can use tea for the tannin acid.  Steep two tea bags for two minutes in a cup of hot water.
Lastly yeast nutrient is very important to keep your yeast working.  One multiple vitamin tablet (without minerals)  crushed and mixed into the juice will work the same as commercial yeast nutrient.
That is about it.  As you can see, you most likely have everything you need to start making wine at home or close at hand.
When you think about it people have been making wine since the beginning of time before they had all this store-bought stuff.  It is really very earthy and simple.  Give it a try.
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