Preparing wine is a process that requires a lot of patience and attention to detail. From vine to bottling, there are many stages that modify the taste of wine. Making quality wine is not cumbersome as it is an enjoyable process. Bring your friends and family together to help. Scroll to find a step-by-step guide on how to make Red Wine.
- Step 1: Set Up Your Work Area
Clean and sterilize all the equipment that may come into contact with the grapes. This step is vital and could make or break your recipe.
- Step 2: Crush Grapes In An Open Fermenter
- De-stem (remove stalks) from the crushed grapes for the best results. Dissolve the pack “Day 1 No 1” in a glass of water. When dissolved, add to the must (crushed grapes). And mix well. “Day 1 No 1” is potassium metabisulphite, that kills wild yeast, bacteria etc.
- Add “Day 1 No 2”. These enzymes help to improve the juice yield and to separate skins from pulp. After using “Day 1 no 1” you must wait 12 to 24 hours before adding the day 2 packs!
- Take out a sample of the juice and test it with a pH meter. The pH should be 3.4 to 3.6. If the pH is higher than 3.6 then add Tartaric Acid considering the following indications:
- pH 4.0 - 3 gm/lt
- pH 3.8 – 2 gm/lt
- pH 3.6 – ½ gm/lt
(It’s possible that the pH needs to be adjusted again after first fermentation)
- Dissolve tartaric acid in some cold boiled water. When dissolved, add to the must and stir well.
- At this stage, test the juice with a hydrometer. The ideal reading for making good wine should be 12.5° to 13.5°. If the must presents different readings, then grape concentrate, dextrose or water should be added.
Consult our experienced staff for help. The quantity you might have to add will depend on the readings. Do not forget to cover the protect it from dust and insects.
- Step 3: Yeast Addition
Rehydrate the yeast and pour it into the must.
- Step 4: Fermentation
- Dissolve ¼ of the pack “Day 2 no 1” (yeast nutrient) in water, add to the must and mix well.
- Plunge the must from the bottom to the top to help fermentation and aeration of the must.
- Plunging and lifting is a very important part of the fermentation process of red base fruit (grapes, plums, berries)
DAY 4 Onwards
- Dissolve the rest of the pack “Day 2 no 1” (yeast nutrient) in water, add to the must and mix well. This will work as a “yeast booster”.
- By now the must should be fermenting visibly. When the skins rise to the top of the must, push the skins down and mix with the must. If possible, draw must from below the skins with a pump or bucket and dump it in on top of the skins with splashing. The gas produced with fermentation will protect the wine from oxidation.
- Repeat 3-5 times a day. Keep the must covered with a cloth that will still allow the must to “breath”. Once the fermentation starts, test the wine with a hydrometer. Check the colour and smell.
- Step 5: Pressing
- It is time to press when the Baume` is 0-6 and the colour is satisfactory. Typically, this is between days 4 & 7 but it depends on the temperature. Now is the time to add Malolactic Bacteria and nutrient.
- Process for Malolactic Bacteria is best done on fermenting grapes. Prepare these as per instructions on the packets and mix into a little wine. Distribute this evenly through the remainder of the wine. Fill the containers leaving space for bubbling and fit airlock(s).
Malolactic Bacteria must be used only on wines with high malic acid levels. (hot climate grapes don’t always need malolactic fermentation.) Again, contact our staff for help with this process.
Strain off the fermenting wine from the skins. Normally a wine press is used. If you used head boards, the quality of the “free run” and “pressings” will be equal so there is no need to keep them separate. Put the fermenting wine into your barrel, glass demijohns or Stainless-steel tanks, and place it in a warm place.
As the bubbling in the airlocks slows down, top-up the containers as full as possible. Keep the wine warm (20-25°C) and check the wine with a hydrometer every day. Test the wine with a c meter, it should be 3.5 to 3.6. If higher, more tartaric acid can be added. At this stage, add half of the quantity previously suggested.
- Step 6: Completion of Fermentation
Fermentation is complete when all these tests are true:
- No more bubbles come through the airlock
- Hydrometer reading is well below 0 Baume’ (-1.4 to -1.9 be’)
- The wine no longer tastes sweet
You might need to stir the wine weekly to help the fermentation to finish. For best results we recommend testing the wine to prove that the yeast and malolactic fermentation have ended before you proceed with the next step.
- Incomplete fermentation is a common cause of wine spoilage.
When you are certain that the wine has finished fermenting, test the wine with a pH meter: ideally it should be 3.5 – 3.6. If higher, ask us before adding any more tartaric acid. If any tartaric acid is added, allow the wine to cool and settle for 2-4 weeks before proceeding with the next step.
- Step 7: Racking
- Take the wine out of the fermentation container and pour it into the above-mentioned container, over PMS. Be careful to leave all the sediments in the fermentation container.
- Make sure that the container is full of wine (if using a wooden barrel, check every week and top up if necessary). Rack the wine a second time at the end of winter and clean the barrel thoroughly.
Important to note: If the grapes were high quality and the wine already presents beautiful characteristics, it means that the “mother”/the lees are particularly good and healthy and they contribute in making the wine good and healthy too. In this case racking is not necessary until a very late stage, because “the mother” keeps feeding the wine good nutrients. Consult us for any doubt.
- Step 8: Maturing the wine
- For a less “home-made” taste, you need to mature the wine properly. Oak staves/chips will give the wine oak flavour if you are using glass or stainless-steel containers.
- PMS added in step 7 will preserve the wine for a limited time. Ideally, an addition should be made every 3 months until you bottle, when the wine requires a final addition of PMS.
- Contact us for any doubt and to test the Sulphur amount in your wine, to check if the levels are enough for storage and bottling. (This test is lab made and requires 5/7 working days for the results to be sent to you).
- Step 9: Bottling
- Bottle the wine when considered ready to drink. For best results, use red wine finings, then filter before bottling. We recommend that you get the wine analysed before bottling, in order to make sure that there is enough free sulphur dioxide (metabisulphite): the required levels will avoid spoilage and improve wine characteristics as well while maturing.
- Use of insufficient preservative (PMS) is the most common cause of wine deteriorating in the bottle.
- Step 10: Enjoy your wine!