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On Premise Winemaking

To engage in the process of home wine-making is to connect with an activity almost as old as human civilization itself. The equipment required is surprisingly inexpensive, universally available and relatively unsophisticated.


  1. Like many other pursuits, wine-making has its own set of terminology, which includes terms specific to the process. When following recipes or engaging in the practice, it is good to know how the terms relate to the steps involved. A carboy, for example. is a narrow-necked container with a capacity of three to seven gallons. A fermentation lock is a device to let the carbon dioxide developed during fermentation escape without letting outside air in. A hydrometer is an analytical device used to measure the specific gravity of the mixture (called the “must”). The specific gravity correlates to the amount of sugar (in degrees Brix or Balling) in the wine.
  2. Equipment

  3. The tools necessary to make wine at home can be as simple or complex as you choose. It is not necessary to have costly equipment to make a great batch of wine, but having the right types of equipment makes the process much easier and more accurate, with a better chance for success. At a minimum you’ll need about six square feet of space in kitchen or utility room, a couple glass jugs, some plastic sheeting, a thick rubber band, and a length of rubber tubing. It is best to have a fermentation lock, titration kit, thermometer and hydrometer.
  4. Prepare the Base

  5. Prepare the “base” to release the juices. The base is the organic material from which the wine will be made and may be grapes, flowers, berries or fruit of your own selection. Alternatively, you can use a prepared base, which has already undergone the process of separating the essential liquids from the product. If necessary, mix the base with water and sugar in a bucket, stirring completely. Add yeast and a measured amount of tartaric acid, if needed, to the mix. At this point it comes in handy to have a titration kit to determine acidity, a hydrometer to measure sugar content and a thermometer to test that the mixture is kept within the temperature range of sixty to seventy-five degrees for fermentation. The mixture is now called the “must.”
  6. Fermenting

  7. Cover the bucket with plastic and leave it alone for a few days while the primary fermentation process develops. The must divides into two distinct layers–juice and cap–which must both be strained together through a fine sieve once the fermentation has stopped. The cap is separated out and discarded. The remaining juice gets poured into a carboy or other narrow-necked glass or ceramic jug, for secondary fermentation. The carboy is capped with a stopper affixed with a fermentation lock and then put in a space with the ideal fermentation temperature range for the type of wine.
  8. Racking

  9. At the end of the secondary fermentation period, the wine is “racked,” a process of carefully siphoning the wine from the carboy into another jug, with the goal of not disturbing or siphoning any sediment at the bottom of the carboy and maintaining the suction of the siphon. The new jug is corked and left to continue fermenting in the temperature range called for in the recipe. The wine may be racked again, sometimes repeatedly, to promote clarity.
  10. Bottling

  11. The final step of home wine-making is to pour the wine from the large container into bottles. It is important to have the bottles nearly full, leaving about two inches of space in the neck. The bottles should be completely sealed using sterilized corks. The bottles should then be left to age for the appropriate length of time (according to the type of wine) before being opened and consumed.

Source : Garrison Pence, eHow Contributor

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