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Basic Grape Wine

This is a very basic recipe for grapes, it is non specific for grape type so adjust
all as you need to. Each grape has certain characteristics you will want to bring
out so I cannot stress enough this is just a generic recipe to follow as a guide

5 US gallons (19L)

• 60-75 lbs (27-34 k) grapes

• 20 drops (1mL) pectic enzyme liquid
• 1 1/2-2 TSPS (9.3-12.4g) potassium metabisulfite powder
• 1 package (5 g) Red Star Premier Cuvée or Wyeast Bordeaux Yeast
• 3 TSPS (8.8 g) yeast nutrient
• 3 TBPS (11.1g) Oak-Mor (if you want it with a Oak cure flavor)

1. Sanitize all equipment

2. Crush Grapes removing any bad ones and stems

3. Place in Primary Fermentor, add 20 drops pectic liquid

4. Add 1/2tsp (3.1 g) Potassium Meta powder

5. Let sit overnight

6. Second day test sugar and acid content and adjust as needed

7. Add yeast, yeast nutrient, Oak-Mor and cover loosely with cloth

8. Punch cap down daily that forms for about a week

9. Once SG reaches 1010 press out the remaining pulp (yes on red/black grapes
at the start you DO put the grape skins in the primary, they make the Red color)
where now you have juice only and transfer this to your secondary fermentator
along with 1/2 tsp (3.1 g) more of Potassium Meta. Top Secondary up to within 2-
3 inches of top, (save any juice you have left you will need it later) and top this of
with an airlock.

10. Let ferment dry, about 4 weeks.

11. Rack wine from this point on monthly or as the lees (yeast) form in the bottom
until 100% clear and no more lees drop to the bottom. Once that has been
reached (about 6months) you can bottle. Best if aged 1 year or MORE....
Patience is Much needed when making wine.......
Making Sparkling Wine
Champagne' Method

Producing sparkling wine at home is relatively simple, but it does require more
steps than regular red or white winemaking. During fermentation, yeast
consumes sugars in grape juice to create alcohol and carbon dioxide gas (CO2).
Normally the CO2 escapes. However, when the wine is sealed in champagne or
pressurized bottles, the CO2 is captured and carbonates the wine, creating the
tiny bubbles that make sparkling wine so delightful. Forced carbonation by an
amateur carbonation machine will not produce the required CO2 pressure over
the required time period to produce the tiny, magic bubbles required to make true
'champagne' style sparkling wine.

Good choices for quality sparkling wines are fruity, full-bodied whites and
delicate, fruity reds (use the free run juice only, before red skin contact) with
lively, but not tart, acidity. Chardonnay and/or a Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend are
the best grapes for French type bubbly. People who prefer German-style
sparkling wine should use 100 % vinifera Riesling grapes. Pink or rose bubbly
should be made from 100% Pinot Noir (again, free run juice only with a little skin
contact this time). A good rule of thumb when considering making quality
sparkling wine : buy the best juice or semi-juice wine kit you can afford (Vintage
Classic products are an excellent beginner's choice). Nothing is more
disappointing than waiting 6-9 months to test the results of your efforts only to
discover that you own 30 bottles of carbonated, but mediocre, sparkling wine.

Note: The word 'Champagne' is the trademarked name of a wine region in

France. The term cannot be used to describe sparkling wine from other
countries. However, it is used here to refer to the correct type of bottle, and to the
method for making sparkling wine.

Wine Base Preparation

1. Ferment a 6 US gallon (23 L) premium wine juice or semi-juice wine kit (see
recommended wine types above) in the normal way, up to the stabilizing and
clearing steps. Do not add the stabilizing add-packs.. This is very important
because these packages contain enough sulphite and potassium sorbate to
prevent the wine from carbonating properly.

2. At the stabilizing and clearing steps, rack the wine into a sanitized primary
fermenter. Dissolve ¼ teaspoon of metabisulphite powder in ½ cup (125 mL) of
cool water and add to the wine. This amount will prevent the wine from oxidizing,
but will not hamper yeast during bottle carbonation. Add the finings (isinglass or
other), following the wine kit instructions. Remember: Do not add the stabilizing
3. Rack your wine back into a clean, sanitized carboy. Wait 10 days.

4. Observe your wine. When it is clear, it is ready to be made into sparkling wine.
It does not need to be filtered as it will be become hazy (and re-clear) during re-
fermentation in the bottles.
1. Rack the wine from the carboy into a sanitized primary fermenter. Avoid
disturbing the sediment. Dissolve 1¾ cups (325 mL) of sucrose (white table
sugar) in 2 cups (500 mL) of boiling water. Stir thoroughly and gently into wine.
Mix well.

2. Carefully re-hydrate one package of proper champagne yeast (Lalvin EC-1118

strain or equivalent), following these instructions exactly: stir the yeast into 2 oz.
(50 mL) of water at 100°F (40°C). Wait 5 minutes, then stir yeast thoroughly and
gently into wine. Mix well.

3. Siphon your wine into 30 (26 oz./750 mL) sparkling wine bottles, leaving 1 inch
(2.5 cm) of head space at the top of each bottle. CAUTION! The fermentation
process creates tremendous pressure: the bottles must withstand over 90
pounds per square inch. Only proper champagne bottles can be used. Any other
type of bottle may will not be able to withstand the pressure, which could cause
serious damage (not to mention the loss of wine !)

4. If your sparkling wine bottles accept crown caps, cap them now. Otherwise,
insert sparkling wine plastic stoppers and wire them down using wire cages and
a wire-twisting tool or pliers. Remember, using anything other than a proper
sparkling wine bottle could result in shattered bottles.

5. Store bottles on their sides at 65–75°F (19–23°C) for two months to properly

After two months, invert the bottles (place them cap down) in wine boxes to allow
the yeast sediment to collect in the neck of the bottle. To assist this sediment
formation, raise each bottle about 5 cm (2 inches), turn sharply ¼ turn, then drop
back into the box. This is called riddling, and should be repeated once a day for
two to three weeks. (When riddling, please wear gloves, long sleeves and eye
protection.) The inverted wine should then be aged for approximately two more
weeks, until it is completely clear.

Degorging - Step 1: Preparing your dosage (topping wine)

Because the sediment collects in the neck of the bottle, you will be able to
remove it. This is called degorging. However, degorging results in the loss of a
small amount of wine, so it's necessary to top up bottles to avoid low fill levels
and oxidation. For your topping wine, choose the same or similar wine base as
your sparkling wine base and chill it; you'll need between 2-4 oz. (50-100 ml) per
bottle. If you wish to sweeten your sparkling wine, dissolve a 1 oz. of sucrose
(white table sugar) in every cup of wine used for dosage. Gently warm the
dosage wine to help dissolve the sugar. Then chill the sweetened dosage.

Degorging - Step 2: Freezing the yeast deposit

Remove the sparkling wine from its storage box, still inverted, and place in your
freezer, inverted. Allow it to chill, monitoring the bottles frequently. When ice
crystals form in the neck of the bottle, it is ready to be degorged. Do not allow the
bottles to freeze completely; they will break and spill your wine in the freezer.

Degorging Step 3: Removing the cap (or cork)

This step is best performed in a secure room where the walls, floor and ceiling
can easily be washed due to the possible gushing of the carbonated wine.
1. Remove the bottle from the freezer. Keep it inverted.

2. While holding the bottle upside down, remove the crown cap or undo the wire
and slowly, carefully pop the cork. The pressure will free the cork and push the
sediment out of the bottle in one step. As it gushes free, cover the neck of the
bottle with your thumb and turn it right-side up. You will need to be very quick to
avoid losing much wine!)

3. Once the sediment is ejected from the wine, top the bottle with your topping
wine. Be careful and try to pour the topping wine down the inside of the bottle to
prevent foaming.

4. Re-cork with a sanitized plastic stopper. Wire down securely. You will have the
most success with plastic sparkling wine stoppers. Natural champagne cork
stoppers are impossible to insert correctly using hand equipment, and can be
difficult to extract. They are also very expensive and difficult to find.

Aging and drinking:

Age your wine for at least two months at cellar temperature before trying it.
Champagne yeast will re-ferment in cool temperatures over a period of time, thus
causing the preferred tiny bubbles. Sparkling wine will improve tremendously with
age. While it may be tempting to drink it all as soon as it is degorged, try keeping
back a few bottles for a year or more. You'll be delighted with the results.
Making Sweet Wines

To make your wines sweet is not a hard process at all but rather a deceptively
simple and straight forward process. But, because there always seems to be a
few questionable recipes or ideas flying around the net for making a sweet wine,
lets go over some of the basics. Hopefully this will clear up some of the confusion
and misconceptions surrounding this process.

Basic Process:

The first thing that needs to be understood is that any sugar you add at the
beginning of a fermentation should have nothing to do with how sweet your wine
will turn out. This sugar is added simply for the wine yeast to turn into alcohol.

The "Potential Alcohol Scale" that is on almost all wine making hydrometers is
used to verify that the correct amount of sugar is being added to obtain the
alcohol percentage you desire. If the fermentation goes as planned, the wine will
be dry (without sugar) or close to dry when done fermenting, but more
importantly, at the specific alcohol level you intended. Sweetening can then be
added to the wine to taste. A stabilizer such as Potassium Sorbate should also be
added at this time to inhibit any re-fermenting that the new sugars may
unintentionally feed. By adding your beginning sugar in this way and then
sweetening later on, you gain complete control over both the wine's sweetness
and its final alcohol level.

Now granted, if you add more sugar to the fermentation than the wine yeast can
handle, the remaining sugars will contribute toward the wine's sweetness. This
would be alright except that quite often the wine ends up too sweet for most
peoples taste with no way of correcting it. Secondly, if a stabilizer is not added to
wines prepared in this way, they may decide to ferment again, sometimes even
several months after being bottle. This can be an equation for a big mess.

The highest level of alcohol I would ever depend on obtaining from the initial
sugars added to a fermentation is 13%, and that's assuming you have a healthy,
vigorous fermentation. Shooting for alcohol levels that are beyond this is
possible, but always in question.
So as you might start to see, piling on the sugar at the beginning of fermentation,
in reality, gives you little control over how sweet the wine is actually going to be.

What To Sweeten With?

This first thing that needs to be pointed out is that anytime you add sugar to a
wine for sweetening and the fermentation is complete, it is of great importance
that you add a wine stabilizer such as "Potassium Sorbate" at the same time.
Otherwise, the newly added sugars can potentially make the wine re-ferment
causing it to become dry tasting all over again.

Sweetening your wine with regular store-bought cane sugar is perfectly okay and
is what most people use. But, I thought I would mention some other ideas that
have been used successfully by some other home wine-makers and myself.

Corn Sugar:

Is not quite as sweet as cane sugar you buy from the store, but seems to give the
wine a more crisp, cleaner flavor. This would be a good choice for most white
wines or more generally, wines with a lighter, more delicate flavor.

Rice Syrup:

Has even a cleaner flavor than Corn Sugar. It imparts a character that can almost
be described as minty. This would be a great choice for Sauvignon Blanc or
maybe even an apple wine.


Can also be a be used to sweeten your wine. For example, use raspberry honey
to sweeten a raspberry wine. Very effective.

Wine Conditioner:

Makes sweetening your wine very simple. It is a heavy syrup with stabilizer
already incorporated into it. You just add to taste.
Juice Concentrates:

Quite often are appropriate as a sweetener and will also enhance the wine's
flavor. Also, consideration should be given to the fact that the wine's acid level
will be increased by the natural acids in the concentrate.

Fresh Fruit Juices:

Can be used in the same way as concentrate. Grape, apple, pear all work very
well. Fresh fruit juice is quite often the best choice when sweetening harsher
wines such as elderberry.

Artificial Sweeteners:

Need to be mention here as a precaution. Sweeteners such as Equal and Sweet

'N Low do not bond well on their own with liquids. Pop manufacturers use binders
to keep these artificial sweeteners suspended. If added to a wine that has been
stored these types of sweeteners will need to be stirred up off the bottom before


In conclusion by all means experiment. Remember the original goal here is to

have a wine that is sweeter than what a natural fermentation will normally
provide. Stopping a wine's fermentation in mid-stream when it is at the
sweetness you like is not the answer for the average home wine maker.

The most successful way for a home wine maker to have a sweet wine is to let it
finish fermenting completely to where it is dry. Then let the yeast settle out to the
bottom on its own over a 2 to 3 week period. The settling process can be sped up
with the use of a clarifier such as Speedy Bentonite.

Once this happens you can then siphon the wine off of the yeast settlings and
add Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Bisulfite as directed on their packages.
Once you have done this you can then simply sweeten your wine to taste with a
sugar mixture of your choice.

It is important that the wine's fermentation process be complete before adding

more sugar along with Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Bisulfite to a wine. One
way to make absolutely sure is to check the wine with a hydrometer. The wine
should have a reading of 1.000 or less on the hydrometer's Specific Gravity

If you have a 5 gallon batch, take off a measured quart and add a measured
amount of sweetener of your choice to it. If you like the results, multiply your
efforts to the rest of the batch. If not, pour it back in with the rest and start all

One of the advantages of making your own wines at home is that you get to
make it the way YOU want it. And controlling the alcohol level is no exception.

While there are many who like their wines at about 8 to 10 percent alcohol, there
is just as many, if not more, who prefer their wines with higher alcohol levels,
13% and higher. Here is some information to help put your fermentations into
high gear for achieving maximum alcohol.

-Being Realistic

First of all, when making a high alcohol wine, you have to resign yourself to the
fact that you are fighting an uphill battle. This is because wine yeast has been
bred for decades to produce wines that are 10 to 13 percent alcohol, just like the
wines you'll find at the store. So when you attempt to make wines that are
beyond 13%, you must understand that it is necessary to nurture the
fermentation along.

You must also have a realistic view of how much alcohol you can expect to make.
There have been times on rare occasions when 19 or 20 per cent has been
obtain, but in reality 15 or 16 percent is closer to the norm and 17 or 18 percent
is usually considered a godsend. Also, be prepared for fermentations that just
can't do much beyond 13 or 14 percent. Different fruits, mix of nutrients and
overall fermentation environment contribute to the unpredictability of a

- Increasing The Flavor

The flavor intensity of the wine, whether it comes from grapes, water melons,
blackberries or whatever, needs to be boosted in wines that are intended to have
high alcohol. This is to help keep the wine's character in balance.

Higher alcohol levels numb the taste buds more so than normal when these
wines are consumed, making a normally flavored wine taste watery through no
fault of its own. When making these types of wines use more of the fruit when
possible. For example, instead of using 3 or 4 pounds of blackberries for each
gallon of wine, try using 5 or 6 pounds instead.

- How Do I Track The Alcohol Being Made?

Using a hydrometer is key to controlling the fermentation and tracking the alcohol
that is being made. Trying to make high alcohol wine without a hydrometer is like
driving at night without headlights, you will be left in the blind.

While there are usually two or three different scales on a hydrometer, the one we
are concerned with as a high alcohol winemaker is the "Potential Alcohol" scale
found on any wine making hydrometer.

The Potential Alcohol scale is simply a listing of numbers, usually, from 0 to 20.
By tracking how much your readings move across the scale throughout the
fermentation you can determine how much alcohol has been made.

For example, if you take a reading of 12% on the scale before the wine's
fermentation starts and then take another reading at the end of fermentation of
0%, then your wine has 12% alcohol because it moved 12 point across the scale.
It's that simple.

- Adding Sugar For High Alcohol

Many recipes will find for producing high alcohol wines will call for 2 or 3 pounds
of sugar per each gallon. And, this is in addition to the sugars that are already
being naturally provided by the fruit involved. Adding all this sugar at the
beginning of fermentation can result in a big problem.

Sugar is what the yeast turns into alcohol. So it stands to reason that you need a
lot of sugar to make a lot of alcohol. But, when all the sugar is added at the
beginning of fermentation, the concentration levels can be so high that the sugar
can actually inhibit the fermentation. The sugar literally start acting as a

One easy way around this problem is to feed the sugar throughout the duration of
the fermentation. For example, add enough sugar in the beginning to get the
fermentation going. Then as the fermentation slows down, feed more sugar to it
every few days until all the sugar called for in the recipe has been added.
Optionally, you can keep adding sugar to the fermentation until the yeast has
reached its limits.

When feeding sugar to a fermentation, the hydrometer can be a big help. When
the Potential Alcohol reading gets close to zero, that is your cue to feed more
sugar to the fermentation. In turn, the sugar will raise the reading again and the
fermentation will again try to ferment towards zero on the scale.

This process can go on for several rounds before the yeast simply quits. But
without the hydrometer, feeding sugar can be risky. You may be adding sugar to
a wine that already has too much and is just slowing down because the yeast
has reached it's limits instead of running out of sugar. The result can be a wine
that is sweeter than you like.

- Example Run Through

1. Lets say you have a starting Potential Alcohol reading of 10%. Eight days later
you have a reading of 1%. This means you now have made 9% alcohol, because
the fermentation moved nine points across the Potential Alcohol scale.

2. You then add more sugar bringing the hydrometer reading back up to 5%. Two
weeks later it reads 1%. Now you have made another 4% on top of the 9% for a
total of 13, because the fermentation moved four more points across the scale.

3. Again, you add sugar to the fermentation bring the reading back up to 3%, and
the fermentation struggles on for another 3 weeks, but finally gets down to zero
bringing your total alcohol level to 16%, which is calculated as follows:

The whole point here is to maintain lower sugar levels during the fermentation so
that the yeast can work more freely without the force of the sugar acting as a
preservative. Also, feeding the sugar in this way helps you to be sure that you are
not ending up with a wine that is too sweet for your taste. Wines that are
considered extremely sweet are still only reading around 3% on the hydrometer's
Potential Alcohol scale. A normal sweet wine will be around 1% while dry wines
will read around -1%.

- Other Little Secrets

Here are some other tips for producing wines with high alcohol levels.

1. Pre Start The Yeast. Make a wine yeast starter 1 to 2 days before you start the
wine. This allows the yeast to hit the wine with its feet running so to speak.

A yeast starter is simply a mixture of sugars with a boosted level of nutrients,

usually about 1 pint in size for every 5 gallons of wine to be made. Just mix it up,
add the yeast, and allow it to do a mini fermentation. Once the starter's
fermentation starts to slow down, it is then ready to be added to the prepared
wine batch, usually around 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 days.

2. Maintain Warmer Fermentation Temperatures. Normally, we recommend 72

degrees Fahrenheit as the optimum temperature for a fermentation. However, in
the case of producing higher alcohol wines it would be best to shoot for a range
between 74 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. This slightly warmer temperature range
will help to keep the yeast invigorated, particularly when it reaches the end of its

Fermentation temperatures that are cooler will cause the fermentation to be

slower and may even stop all together. Fermentation temperatures that are
higher can result in off flavors in the wine, and in extreme cases hinder the
fermentation as well.

3. Provide Plenty Of Air. During the primary fermentation, keep the fermentation
vessel open to air. Just cover it with a light towel or something similar. This air
exposure will help the yeast to multiply more successfully and give it more
energy to do the tasked ahead. Once you rack the wine to a secondary fermenter
it is then okay to attach an air lock.