Sunday, June 27, 2010

Winemaking, Day 1

There are many ways to make wine, and it really can be as easy or as complicated as you want to make it. Over the next few weeks, I am going to walk you through the basics of winemaking from a kit. For this set of posts, I will be following the kit directions pretty much to the letter. That means that in approximately 28 days, wine will be in bottles, and 30 days later, I will open the first bottle. As you follow along over the new couple of weeks, I hope that you will see how easy this is, and that some of you will consider trying this yourself.

Day 1

Today, you will need a brewing bucket of 6.5 gallons or so, a large spoon/stirring rod, and your wine kit. If possible, you should also have a hydrometer. This is used to measure the specific gravity of the wine must, or liquid. This tells you the amount of sugar in the liquid, which in turn can be used to figure out the potential alcohol level of the wine. But more simply, measuring the specific gravity is also just a way to track the progress of the fermentation. Regardless, this isn't a necessity, just a nicety.

Start out by reading through all of the instructions. Not just those for day 1, but for the whole process. We will be following the instructions from the kit I'm using, which is a Semillon-Chardonnay kit from

Step 1, put 2 qts of warm water in your fermenting bucket. Slowly add the bentonite, stirring thoroughly, until it is fully blended with no lumps.

Step 2, pour the contents of the juice bag into the fermenter. Refill the bag with 2 cups of hot water, close, and shake. Pour this into the fermenter too. Repeat a second time, and you should have gotten all the juice concentrate out of the bag and into your fermenting bucket.

Step 3, fill the bucket the rest of the way up to the 6 gallon mark with room temperature water. This is the time that you should take a reading with your hydrometer if you have one. Follow the instructions that came with it.

Step 4, Carefully pour the yeast over the top, and then cover the bucket. This is what you see in the picture. Now, just cover the fermenter and let the yeast do its work.

We'll be back in a week to take the next steps. 

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