As a prepper, you may want to try learning how to make homemade wine using an inexpensive process that you can easily replicate whenever and wherever you want to. That is the case even more so with preppers! To do this right, you need to have the capacity to follow detailed instructions to the letter – that is how you can get the correct results every time you attempt to prove you do know how to make wine to everyone. (Or just yourself for a little gratification when bugging in.)
When learning how to make wine from home, you will discover that among all the ingredients necessary to make wine, grapes carry the most vital part. That is, in fact, the only wholly balanced fruit in each respect. It holds the correct equilibrium of sugar, yeast nutrients, acids (Malic, Tartaric, and Ascorbic, etc.), water content, tannins, etc. Nearly all other fruit, however, will produce excellent wines, but they frequently lack one or more factors to attain perfection and require additional ingredients.
How To Make Homemade Wine
When you are in the process of learning how to make wine from home, it is essential to understand that the quality of wine depends very much on the quality of grapes used. On the other hand, the quality of grapes depends on various factors like their variety, the weather conditions during the cultivating season, the time of crop, the soil, and the way of their prune. There are several types of grapes, but Vitis vinifera is the most commonly used species of grapes to make wine, which includes almost all categories of European origin. The wine grapes are harvested in the autumn from the vineyard.
However, as you will see, there are many other ways in which you can make wine if you do not have access to those grapes!
Use the Right Equipment
Anyone who wants to make homemade wine has to use the correct equipment – this is the most basic rule to follow. As in many of our projects, using the wrong equipment will give us results different from the ones we want. So always strive to acquire the proper equipment as you learn how to make homemade wine. You can always re-use the hardware afterward anyway.
The best equipment is those made from glass, followed by those built from plastic parts. Should you decide to buy plastic equipment, be sure, it is made from food-grade plastic because the wine blend may react with the plastic otherwise.
If you do not have the specific winemaking glass jars, etc. then you may want to consider this list:
- Plastic bucket. – About 2 gallons with a lid that fits securely on top
- Plastic or wooden spoon
- Large enamel or aluminum pan if you must boil the ingredients
- Mesh sheet or a pair of ladies nylons for straining the must
- Demijohn or a fermenting vessel with a rubber bung and airlock
- Storage demijohn (optional)
- Bottles with corks or stoppers
- Plastic tube for siphoning
- A bottle brush for cleaning your equipment
- Other useful equipment includes an electric heater, a hydrometer, a corking machine, a juice extractor, and glass carboys for storage. Each of these is optional items that you may buy to make the process easier but are not necessary.
It is essential to avoid different kinds of equipment, which includes metal pans, stainless steel, or colored plastics. That applies to vessels for long term storage and fermentation as well. The best material should be from specialty dealers who only sell the winemaking equipment that is acceptable for those learning how to make homemade wine.
Sterilize Equipment First
Another thing that is very important when learning how to make homemade wine is hygiene. You will want to know how bacteria can infect your wine and turn it bad during any stage of the production if your equipment or bottles are dirty when you are making wine the wine will be no good. It is a fact that many wines fail due to bacteria infection more than through any other variable that can occur during the making of the wine. The most common issue is the Acetobacter, which will turn your wine into vinegar by the process of acetification. The only good thing is that you can use it for cooking when this occurs.
Another reason you will need good hygiene is that wild yeasts live on fruit, and in the air, they can produce small amounts of alcohol, but they also taint the wine and produce unpleasant flavors in your wine. That means that you will need to wash and sterilize all utensils, equipment, and ingredients. If you are using small things that you can overlook, double-check to make sure that you have indeed cleaned them. That is one of the biggest reasons for failure!
Methods of Sterilization
- Boiling water is the most effective method of sterilization
- Household bleach solution. – While bleach is ideal for sterilizing plastic and glass equipment, it may corrode the metals. You must also remember to thoroughly rinse all equipment because bleach will spoil the wine and is extremely poisonous. Therefore, remember to clean it off of your hands.
- Products used for sterilizing baby bottles are suitable for winemaking equipment
- Chempro SDP is a cleaner and sterilizer and is very useful. The direction for its use is on the package.
The Basic Ingredients
To make any wine (white or red), you will need a fruit juice of some sort, sugar, and yeast. Be sure your yeast is vintner’s or winemaker’s yeast and not the baking type of yeast – those are two different types altogether, so don’t get confused.
You will need to learn the essential ingredients required for making your wine product. The main ingredients for making great wine are as follows:
- Fruit. – You will need fresh fruit, canned fruit or frozen fruit concentrate
- Water. – For dilution of the fruit
- Yeast. – Turns sugar into alcohol, used for fermentation
- Pectin Enzyme. – Breaks down pectin in your wine. It also creates more juice and adds more color to the wine
- Grape Tannin
- Sugar. – Yeast reacts with sugar and turns it into alcohol
- Potassium Sorbate. – Inhibits yeast production and fermentation at bottling
- Yeast nutrient. – The energy for the yeast
- Campden tablets. – For before fermentation and before bottling
It is an excellent idea when learning how to make wine that you keep a few extras of these products around so you don’t run out because they can mean the difference between a good wine and a great wine. However, if you do not have all of these, it will not make that much of a difference when keeping up morale.
That was just a shortlist of ingredients needed, be sure to consult your recipes to make sure you are buying what is required.
Read next: How To Make Country Wine
One of the most important things about how to make wine is the importance of sugar and yeast. White sugar is usually always used for producing wine, and you should dissolve all of the sugar before including anything like raisins or wheat to the brew. If you add anything before dissolving all the sugar, the yeast may not ferment correctly. Therefore, some of the yeast could remain in the shape of syrup and end up thrown out of the pot. Because of this, the producing wine may turn out quite rough. However, again, in the case of a prepper, a glass of any wine may feel better than none.
The yeast used by bakers is another essential ingredient for making wine during this stage. You can purchase yeast from your local bakery or wine supply store. The standard mixture of yeast with the brew is 1 ounce per 1 to 3 gallons. You can use other forms of yeast when you are learning how to make wine, but it is best to use the one called for in the recipe.
You should not add yeast too early. If you add it below the boiling point, you will destroy the yeast organism, and no fermentation will take place.
If you want to learn how to make wine from home using fruit, you may have to chop the fruit well (without the rind and pith) or squash it finely first. The majority of recipes that teach you how to make wine from home using fruit will ask you to use sugar, too – use cane sugar for best results, not beet sugar.
Even if you use fresh fruit, you must sterilize it before it is usable for recipes teaching you how to make wine. So, cook and clean your fruit first, pulp, and juice combined – but do not add the yeast while your fruit is still hot because that will kill the vintner yeast cells. You can choose between using liquid yeast or the powdered yeast, but both are equally acceptable when used correctly.
Using Frozen Fruit Juice Concentrate
Frozen fruit juice concentrate is an alternative if you have no fresh fruit or have no time to use fresh fruit. It can help you make wine the quickest and simplest way possible. Some of the best types of fruit juice concentrate brands in the market right now may be purchased on-line from Winemaking Equipment Store.
Always use frozen fruit juice concentrate because it lacks the potassium sorbate substance that can keep your must from fermenting. To save money, you can buy your juice in bulk containers measuring five gallons each, like the Syrah or Merlot juices. Otherwise, you can purchase the Vintner’s Harvest juice packaged in either a 46-ounce can or in a 92-ounce can.
Basic Ingredients List
- Active brewer’s yeast. – 1/4 oz (7g)
- Sugar. – 1 1/4 lb (550g)
- Fruit Juice concentrate of choice. – 1 x 12oz (350ml) (Use 50% more and remove the extra water if you are not using a concentrate. Do not use citrus!
- Water. – 14 cups (3.3 liters)
- Food-grade rubber tube.
Of course, you can scale this list up or down as your containers will fit.
How To Make Wine – Method
- Dissolve the sugar in 1/2 of the water over low heat. – A campfire will be OK, providing it is not too hot.
- Allow the water to cool.
- Mix the fruit juice and yeast in a sterile container.
- After the water and sugar solution has cooled completely, mix the fruit juice and yeast into it with the remaining water.
- Stir well.
- Place the lid onto the container. – Make a hole in the container lid for the tube before putting it on the container.
- Insert the tube into the lid.
- Put the other end into a container of water. – That will allow gasses to escape, but no new air to get in.
Another option, if you are stuck for equipment, is to put a balloon over the opening of the bottle. As the gas is lighter than air, the balloon will fill up and still not let moisture or anything else in.
Putting the Wine Blend into Fermentation Containers
Your wine blend is called the “must” by winemakers before it has become real wine. You should place it within very sterile fermentation containers but always use sterile utensils and measuring equipment as well – even one tainted spoon can wreck the quality of your must. That is crucial when being taught how to make homemade wine.
Your sterile fermentation containers should be air-tight. You can add the metabisulphite solution via an airlock (an s-shaped instrument that fits into the cover of your sterile fermentation containers) so that there is no need to keep opening and closing the fermentation container.
Never expose your fermentation container filled with must to direct sunlight during the fermentation process. The must-filled fermentation container has to be stashed away in a place whose atmospheric temperature ranges from 65 degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit in warmth. Fermentation should last up to two weeks at the most.
Racking Your Must
One of the main processes in how to make wine is that you must rack the must and do it right. Racking is the process by which you will siphon off the liquid wine to separate it from the sediments that have solidified at the bottom of your wine fermentation container. You can then transfer the liquid wine into sterile bottles with sterilized covers – you even have to clean cork covers properly. Always use glass wine bottles with cork covers – plastic wine bottles are unacceptable. If you are making rose and red wines, people often use green bottles. However, in the case of a prepper, any color will be suitable as you are likely storing it for a stormy day!
All wine bottles should have smooth bottle openings with zero cracks or rough edges around the mouth of the bottle. If you insist on using plastic bottles, you may find that they cannot withstand the sterilization process and may even melt – that is another reason for using glass bottles to make wine. If you have a lot of wine bottles to sterilize, you may:
- Heat the bottles in an oven. – But be careful not to overheat them until they crack)
- Pour boiling water into and onto the bottles and their cork tops to sterilize well
- Use a pressure cooker to mass clean bottles at one time.
Do not overfill your wine bottles but just put in enough must to reach up to one centimeter to one-half-inch below the cork bottom. If there are minor bits of sediment that seem to be present, you can use a winemaker’s filter paper to screen or sieve out these sediments from the must that transferred to the wine bottles.
At this point, your must has to “rest,” meaning you need to stash it away to let it age properly and become real wine. If you are patient and have done your job correctly, the wine you produce will be of sufficient quality that you can be proud of. The next step in learning how to make wine is knowing the required ingredients.
When learning how to make wine, many people think that using further ingredients like more sugar/yeast or less water than is mentioned in the instruction is suitable for the wine. But this is not always true, as you may produce a more strong wine. The potency of wine, determined by the quantity of alcohol, where the yeast can live and persist in doing its work. If you use too much sugar, the wine will be far too sweet.
There will be no difference if you use more yeast as it is not able to create more alcohol. Age can make only a minimal difference to the wine’s alcohol content. If you use too many ingredients to make wine, it will create a liquid that is too high specific gravity and a fluid having many solids, in other words, the liquid will be too thick, and you have to wait for a long time to make the liquid clean. It is essential to keep these concepts in mind.
Making wine well is an art. If you have the time and ability, it is a valuable skill to have. However, if you want to experiment with the more basic techniques, then try them. Remember to keep everything sterilized as well as you possibly can, because you may get very inferior results if you do not.
Suggested resources for survivalists: