Now, you probably won’t be able to find this specific kit anymore, but the steps to follow will be quite similar with any mid range kit. The LE 15 Pinot Grigio cost me about $100 Canadian, and you get a pretty decent wine. Per bottle it works out to be roughly four dollars.(Woo-hoo!) You will need some special equipment when making wine, such as a wine whip, a corker, and some wine bottles.
When looking for your first kit, try and find one with eighteen liters of grape juice or more. The more grape juice you have, the less boiled water you have to add! Red wines commonly have extra steps, as the may have oak chips, grape skins, etc to add. Whites generally have fewer additives. Pick your first one off of your favorite type of wine, though, the extra steps do not make it difficult. Follow these steps for success in your first homemade wine!
- Boil six liters of water
- Sanitize primary and stir spoon
- Add your bentonite package to the bottom of your primary and pour two liters of water on top.
- Stir vigorously until clumps have diapered.
- Pour your grape juice in the primary
- Add two liters of water to the grape juice bag, swish and pour in the primary
- Top up your primary to twenty three liters and stir like a mad man for two minutes
Once your wine juice has come down in temperature to 22 – 24 (depending on your yeast, see the back of the package for instructions) degrees, you will add your yeast. You do not have to proof, you will just sprinkle on top. I suggest stirring the wine again before you add the yeast if it has been more that half and hour. Seal your primary and wait 7 days.
Once most of your vigorous fermentation has happened, you are going to rack and test your wine. It should be below 1.010 before the first racking.Don’t worry if you don’t see signs of further fermentation after this, it is quite common to have the fermentation slow down to a near stop at this point. Wait ten days and move on.
Verify the gravity reading, it should now read less than 0.996. if you are finding the OG is higher, wait two days and try again. Once your wine has hit this OG, move on to stabilizing and clearing. Most likely your wine kit will have two packages to help prevent spoilage (stabilizers). You will also probably find a few clearing agents in your kit.
Potassium Metabisulfite, helps in preventing spoilage by oxidization, a huge issue with wine.
Potassium Sorbate, helps prevent spoilage from wild yeasts and molds, and helps prevent re-fermentation if you decide to sweeten your wine.
Cold Stabilization, is a process in which you bring your wine to a near freezing temperature to force the creation of tartrate crystals, an unsightly formation in chilled wine. These crystals are harmless, but resemble broken glass and can be unappealing to comsumers.
Bentonite, a clay made from volcanic ash, it has a negative charge so it attaches itself to positive charged particles in your wine. We use bentonite on day one as it needs the vigorous fermentation of CO2 to carry the heavy particles through the wine before settling at the bottom.
Kieselsol, (silicon dioxide) is a negatively charged particle that will attach itself to the positively charged particles and settle to the bottom. It also helps in removing tannins in your wine, so follow the directions closely of when to rack your wine if you are using this agent. Best used with chitosan.
Chitosan, a positively charged particle that will attach itself to negatively charged particles and settle to the bottom. Derived from chitin, which is an element of the exoskeletons of crustaceans and shell fish. Some vegetarians and/ or vegans may be against using this, so please advise them prior to pouring a glass!
Isinglass, derived from fish bladder, is a positively charged particle that will attach itself to negatively charged particles and settle to the bottom.
Once you have added you clearing agent and stabilizer, wait eight more days and move on!
Day Seventeen, One Hour Later
Here is where you “degas” the wine. my suggestion is to use a drill mounted wine whip for five minutes. This pushes all the excess CO2 out of the wine, so it will not be carbonated!
Day Twenty Five
This is simple. You want to rack the wine off all the sediment at the bottom! Leave about an inch at the bottom when racking as you don’t want any sediment going into this cleaned and sanitized carboy. Re-attach the bung and airlock and wait another fourteen days.
Day Thirty Nine
Now you have two options, bulk age or bottle! if you are bulk aging, ensure there is not to much head space at the top, no more than two fingers. this probably means you must rack to a smaller vessel. Secure a solid bung prior to letting it sit for 1-9 months. Reds you want to go longer, they benefit from over six months to help the tannin mellow out. Whites you don’t want to go for more than three months otherwise the wine will start to lose some characteristics.
NOTE* If you plan on letting your wine age for more than 1 year, weather it is in the carboy or the bottle, add 1/4 tsp more of potassium metabisulfite diluted in pre-boiled water (1/4 cup) and stir.
After you are done bottling, leave the wine standing on end for three days to let any excess gas escape through the cork. after the three days, lay them down in a cool dark place to age at least one month prior to enjoying. Your wine will only get better with age, so keep them as long as you want!