Basics to Wine Making

If you ask a bunch of different vintners how they make wine you will probably be surprised to hear they are all a little bit different, however, the actual process is the same regardless of how you make it. Here is how I would summarize the process.

Step 1 – Recipe
The very first stage in wine making is determining what you are going to make.

Step 2 – Sanitizing:
The first and most important step is making sure that all equipment used is sanitized. Sanatizing you are reducing or removing bacteria or other microrganisms using heat or chemicals. There are many products out there you may hear being used like One Step No-Rinse Cleanser, Sodium Metabisulfite, PBW by Five Star and Star San to name a few.

Some of the issues you could face with poor sanitizing is a wine or mead with an “off” taste or odor. If the taste or odor is bad enough you may have to make a decision to throw it away.

Remember, the largest percentage of wine or mead making failures are a result of poor cleaning and/or poor sanitizing. Don’t cheat the final product by trying to cut corners or the final product may just end up down the drain.

Step 3 – The Must
Must is freshly pressed juice and may contain the seeds, skins and pulp of the fruit. There are several ways to achieve making your must which include:

  • Chopping
  • Crushing
  • Pressing
  • Boiling
  • Soaking

Once your must is made you will add sugar and other wine making ingredients such as Yeast Nutrient, Yeast Energizer, Tannin, Pectic Enzyme or others based on the type of recipe you are making.

The last thing to go in to the must is the yeast. This is where you start making the must turn in to alcohol through fermentation.

Step 4 – Racking
Racking the wine means you are removing the liquid from the sediment that gathers at the bottom of your primary fermenting vessel. This will aid in the clearing and help aid from the wine or mead developing “off” flavors.

Step 5 – Bottling
After the wine or mead has clarity and there is no sediment left, you will rack and bottle or back-sweeten and then bottle.

These steps will always be the same no matter which vintner is making wine. You will always have to come up with a recipe, sanitize, make the must, rack the wine or mead and bottle.

The methods used for each step can be as simple or complex as you like to make them and one way is not necessarily better than the other. A lot of how you do things for each step is based on personal preferences.

The main thing I can say and that I have learned speaking with other vintners is wine making is an art and there are many ways to achieve your end result.




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