Thursday, June 29, 2006
This is the fourth part of a 4 post series on making your own wine.
Ok, we have decided what wine to make, tested it for sugar content and acidity, adjusted for tannins and nutrient, and pitched the yeast.. So what do you do now? Well, you let it sit and begin to ferment.
There are two types of fermenting styles. One style is closed and the other is open. Personally, I prefer and open style of fermenting. This is quite contrary to what most books and other wine makers will tell you. My rationale for an open system is that since yeast need oxygen to convert the sugar, then more oxygen will help the yeast.
This is the system that I use for my primary fermentation.
This system is primarily a bucket with a large grain/fruit bag tied to the top. If you plan on using this system, keep it up and away from children and pets. Primary fermentation will take about 5 - 7 days. During this time, the solids will float to the top due to the activity of the yeast. This should be "punched down" or gently stirred back into the fermenting wine at least once a day and if you are able to do it, twice a day.
This is what the solids look like.
When it is time to transfer to your secondary, the one thing that I do is to skim the solids off prior to racking over. Most times I use a slotted spoon to allow any liquid to flow through. These solids are pretty thick, so they tend not to fall back into the wine when you are scooping it out.
Scooping out the solids.
To rack over to my secondary, I use a funnel. Other people will tell you to use a siphon system. Personally, using the funnel is easier and quicker so that is what I use.
Secondary fermenter ready for the wine.
Notice the handle? Best investment when using glass carboys.
Pour the wine into your secondary, put an airlock on it and let it be. Generally, I'll let my wine sit for a month or two before racking it over again. It really depends on how many solids have settled at the bottom. If a lot have settled then I rack it over in about a week or two. Otherwise, let it clear up a bit before racking again.
After about the third racking, I rack the wine into a one gallon jug and put an airlock on it for about two weeks. Then I cap it. The one gallon jugs are easier to handle when it comes time to bottle, because I use a funnel to bottle .
One gallon jug with airlock
At bottling time, clean and sanitize your bottles along with your corks or screw caps. Use a funnel and pour your wine from the one gallon jug into your bottle. Cap it and let it age for a few months. I have gone to using screw capped bottles because they are easier to open. Also, with the screw cap bottles, you can open it and sample it before given it to someone. It saves on being embarrassed about given your friends some really nasty wine.
Well, that's it in a nutshell. Time, to kick back and enjoy some wine.
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