Wine making @ Home – the way I do it

I’ve been making wine at home for a while now, and have always declined to publicize it.

Recently my colleagues tried some and were very excited in that the flavour seems (in their words) ‘better than any market wine they’ve tasted’… I’m sure this includes some poetic license and of course doesn’t make my skills on par with commercial producers… However it did make me decide to do this write-up.

In India, December/January/February are the best times to get grapes. When you’re lucky you get an excellent crop of reds if you hunt in the right places, and then 1kg feels just too less even for a snack – those are the grapes I look for.

Wine making as you’re aware is a simple process. All you need is yeast, grapes, and time.

The Yeast

The yeast I’ve always used is a regular baker’s yeast – packaged by Bluebird. It doesn’t cost much, and gives an excellent result.

Steps I use to prepare the yeast:

  1. Start with a bowl of warm water – about 500ml is adequate
  2. Dissolve 500gm of sugar into the water, then stir in the entire packet-full of yeast granules and leave covered in a warm place
  3. The yeast should soften up and start ‘fluffing’ – which indicates it’s started doing its job
  4. Once the yeast mix becomes frothy (usually does in ~5 minutes)

The Wine Barrel

Yes we need something to ferment the wine in, and then to let the wine settle in for ~6 months – so pick something you don’t use too often. I prefer to get a 20-litre water can (a good brand with a tough shell is preferred), transfer out the water and use the can.

The Grapes

Steps I use to prepare the grapes – no I don’t lay them on the ground and dance on top of them 🙂

  1. Pick out the grapes from the stem and wash thoroughly – preferably with a light soap (I use my home-made soap for this – it’s light, hand-friendly, effective and simply awesome!)
  2. Mash the grapes using a potato masher, and pour the juice into my fermenting can
  3. If you want high quality wine at this time you need to discard the pulp (as it has very little juice and squeezing it hard will result in your wine looking a little foggy)
  4. I usually squeeze the pulp till I get the last drop out – and then add in about a quarter of the pulp to the fermenting can to get a better colour

The fermenting

Mix in the now-very-active-yeast into the can, ensure there’s at least a few inches of space above the mix. Remember this process will produce carbon-di-oxide (CO2) – which protects the fermenting wine from external agents. If you fill the barrel fully you lose out on this protection; and yet if you leave too much space you’re allowing in possible contaminants.

Seal off the barrel (I use a plastic bag – others recommend a balloon or an air-lock) – I wrap the bag tightly round the mouth of the barrel and then poke a very fine needle hole in the centre.

Let this sit for 3 weeks.

Next article – coming soon!!