Jun 25 2012
Everyone who has undertaken making homemade wine knows that it can be a daunting task your first time out. It can be time consuming, frustrating and expensive and I only wish I knew then what I know now. I promised myself that I would help save others the time, money and hassle I experienced in my first year. I made so many mistakes in these areas that we almost bottled our finished product as marinade! I swore I would always share my learnings with others who are getting started. Most of the problems I had in my first year dealt with one of three themes:
Being Prepared Testing and Adjusting Early On Learning to Control Temperature
Preparation is key When the wine reached the end of the fermentation process, I soon realized that I needed a press. The wine supply retailer had a few basked presses that I could rent earlier in the year, but demand was much higher during the peak season. I was one of many winemakers needing a press, and I panicked. I should have reserved the press much earlier and I soon realized that I fell short in my planning. I should have made the extra effort to make a comprehensive list of materials and I paid the price.
As my wine approached the dry stage, when fermentation is complete, I came to the conclusion that I had forgotten some critical steps. I would need to rent a wine press, but I hadn’t reserved one in advance and there are only so many to go around. Without a press, my wine would soon be ruined. I became aware of my poor planning nearly too late and I was determined to never repeat this mistake in future years.
Test and Adjust Early
The timing of testing is as important as the test itself The other critical error we made in the process was to take things as they came, rather than preparing in advance. This applied to our testing approach as well. When you test is critical, as we soon found out. We should have been better at testing brix early in the process, when the adjustments can be easily made, but instead we tried to make these adjustments later on. This left us with a wine that was nearly undrinkable and had we known what to test, how to do it and when to conduct the tests, we would have been much better off.
Know all of the vital steps in the testing process Keep the required materials on hand in advance Practice testing before you start making wine
Control the winemaking environment
When your wine goes through the primary fermentation steps, controlling temperature will be the most important thing you can do. During my first year, I was extremely effective at measuring the resulting temperature increase and very ineffective and doing anything about it. As a result, the sugar converted to alcohol too quickly and the flavor was lost in the process. I had followed the “I’ll deal with it as it comes” approach and would soon pay the price. I decided then to create an approach and system for lowering the temperature during fermentation.
Pick the area of your garage or house that is coolest Keep red wine must at or below 85 degrees Freeze soda bottles with water and place them in the must to bring the temperature down
Putting in the extra work to plan, rehearse and prepare will pay big dividends in the end when you make your own homemade wine.
Whether you’re just getting started making homemade wine or are an expert homemade winemaker, check out the Homemade Wine Source.. Free reprint available from: Three Things You MUST Know Before Making Homemade Wine, Or What I Learned The Hard Way.