The basic concept of how wine is produced is for the most part, is common knowledge. We all know that grapes are squished and fermented for a period of time to turn into wine. But, the process of making wine is an art that is reserved for those who put in the effort
Crushing and Pressing In general, about 50 pounds of grape will yield five gallons of wine. Once your grapes are harvested, they must be placed in a plastic vat (available at you local wine supply shop) and crushed. While the age-old method of smashing grapes by foot is proved to be the most efficient “even compared to modern technologies ” smaller batches of grapes can be crushed using your hands or a potato masher. In order to ensure homogeneous crushing of the grapes, make sure the vat is not more than 2/3 full before you begin smashing them. After crushing the grapes, add the recommended amount of Campden tablets (potassium metabisulfite) into the mixture “now called must- in order to prevent any unwanted yeast growth. Cover with a cloth and let it sit for 24 hours.
The day after you have crushed the grapes youll need to add a packet of wine yeast. Bread yeast and wine yeast are two different yeasts and should not be substituted for each other. Montrachet and prix de mousse are common types of yeast used to ferment wine. The crushed grapes at this stage are known as the must. Use your hands to stir in the yeast. Comb through the must and remove the cluster of stems. Squeeze off any of the berries that may still be attached to the stems. Only a few stems can be left in the must. Cover the vat of must with a towel and set to the side. In about one or two days the must will begin to fizz. By the third day the must will appear to be boiling.
Within a week the fizzing will subside and it is time to separate the wine from the leftover seeds, grape skins, and pulp. The mixture can be poured into mesh bags or cheese clothes. It then needs to be squeezed, strained and poured into a glass carboy, also available at winemaking shops, or poured into an empty wine barrel. From this moment on the wine should no longer come into contact with the air. An airlock can be used with a carboy or a barrel. An airlock prevents air from getting into the container but allows gas to escape.
It only takes about two to three weeks in the container for all of the fizzing to subside. At this point, you will need to rack the wine. Racking is the process that removes the wine from the lees which is the spent yeast and grape bits that have fallen to the bottom of the barrel. You can use a hose to siphon the clear wine into a carboy and clean out the lees from the old container. Then pour the wine back into the original container. After about two to three months the wine is ready for a second racking. Three to four months after that, do a third and final racking.
Once the third racking is completed, the wine is ready to be aged. Aging must be done in a very dark, cool place, with just one rule of thumb that is easy to remember: the longer the aging, the better the wine.
Pierre Duponte is a grape growing expert. He spends his time teaching others how to make fine wines. For more great tips on easy wine making and how to make wine visit http://www.grapegrowingwinemakingtips.com/.
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