Making a wine kit at home

My Brew Year’s Resolutions are going fairly well so far. I have been entering more competitions and won my first medal. I even went on to win another medal at the Ocean State Homebrew Competition in Rhode Island. I have brewed a Barleywine and American Wild Ale. One of my other resolutions was to get into other types of fermented beverages. 
I am a borderline ignoramus when it comes to wine. I have had a couple of events where at the last minute I was told that I would be pouring wine in addition to beer. Thankfully at those events I only had to pour one red and one white wine. I’d be damned if anyone asked me anything about the wine I was pouring.  
I enjoy wine, but I don’t drink it that often. There have been times I have gone to wine tastings, not touched wine for another several months, and not retain anything I had learned. I decided to make a wine after reading a post on the BeerSmith blog Making Wine from Kits for Beer Brewers. Brad Smith breaks down how easy it is to make a wine from a kit, and more crucially offers advise on choosing a kit. 
I purchased a kit at Modern Homebrew Emporium. I certainly didn’t want my first homemade wine to be like a cooler, so I elected to purchase a mid-range kit. I went with a white wine because it doesn’t take as long as a red, a Chardonnay should be light and refreshing to enjoy during the summer, and I vaguely remembered Jennie liking Chardonnay.

The kit came with about three gallons of concentrated grape juice, yeast, and a variety of different additives. The first step was to dissolve bentonite clay in water before adding the grape juice concentrate. After adding the juice, I topped off with water to get up to six gallons of total volume. I then added two packages of oak chips and the yeast. My OG was 1.096.

After about two weeks I racked to a secondary fermenter. The wine looked like it was close to final gravity. If anything I should have racked sooner, but I did see some fermentation activity after racking. Luckily I already had a six gallon glass carboy I typically use for beer.

A week later the instructions called for adding isinglass and two other additives, and stirring or degassing the wine. From what I can tell fining a wine is far more critical than fining a beer. It sounds like particles floating in suspension can have more of a profound impact in the flavor of the wine.

The only wine-specific piece of equipment I bought was a stirrer. The stirrer attaches to a drill. The stirring degasses, or releases the CO2 disolved in the wine. It also helped to mix in the various fining agents that came with the kit.

My first batch of wine should be ready to bottle by the end of March. Having bought a corker I can also use for beer, all I need to do is buy wine bottles and wine corks. The kit should yield 30 bottles. 
I’d encourage any homebrewer to give a wine kit a go. The instructions make it very easy, and if you are a brewer you already know how fermentation works. 
When I told Jennie I bought a wine kit, her first question was, “Did you get a red.”
Womp womp……
Welp, it looks like the next wine I make will have to be a red then. I might even try to make a wine directly from juice and put the rest of the recipe together. That will give me 30 bottles each of a white and a red wine. I think that will be enough to last us quite a while. 

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