The science of wine making is called enology. Most home wine makers are not scientists and may not be familiar with the term, but they are wine lovers that appreciate the great taste of wines. If you make wine yourself the satisfaction is especially rewarding. Making your own wine has a number of benefits. First, it is less expensive than buying wine commercially. You have control over the recipe and the ingredients that go into the wine you produce. Second, making your own wine is enjoyable, especially when you share it with friends and family.
Making wine is extraordinarily simple. Wine is made when yeast is added to grape juice or most any other kind of juice. The basic ingredients are juice, yeast, sugar and water. The yeast consumes the sugar in the juice mixture and produces carbon dioxide gas and alcohol. The carbon dioxide gas bubbles out of the juice and what is left is wine. It's just that simple.
The question is often asked "is drinking wine healthy?" Beyond the fact that wine contains alcohol, which taking in moderation, is not considered adverse to good health. The presence of other compounds in wine, particularly red wines, promotes good health for most wine consumers. The compound poly-phenolic flavonoids, which are antioxidants, are of particular benefit in promoting good health. Chiefly found in red grape skins, the concentrations tend to be high in red wines because the skins are included in the fermentation process.
Alcohol's health benefits favor the cardiovascular system, and dramatically reduces the risks of atherosclerotic heart attacks, ischemic strokes and limb amputations due to compromised blood supply. In addition, the antioxidants in wine modulate the blood clotting that climaxes heart attacks and strokes. They also help by inhibiting the oxidation of LDL, the bad cholesterol, to its dangerous form. Research data supports moderate consumption of wine with a longer and healthier life than that of abstainers.
However, wine is not for everyone. Certain medical conditions are worsened by the consumption of wine, so it's vital you seek the advice of your personal physician if you are in less than good health.
How to Make Wine
The easy way is to purchase a home wine making kit that usually consists of a three to five gallon container (fermentor), hydrometer, stopper and fermentation lock, syphonhose, sterilizer and reference book. The ingredients (grape juice, sugar, and yeast) are usually sold separately. There are many different types of kits to choose from or you can obtain the items separately from local resources. Typically a four or five gallon water container serves very well as a fermentor.
Any fruit juice may be used to make wine. The basic fruit must be mashed or liquefied to release the active ingredients in the fruit. This can be done with a small fruit press or even a kitchen blender. My basic recipe is as follows:
4 gallons of red grape juice
Approximately 4 pounds of sugar. The amount of sugar is determined by the specific gravity of the mixture. I usually shoot for a specific gravity reading of 0.9960 of the mixture before fermentation. Determining the specific gravity at start will determine the alcohol content at finish. The amount of sugar also determines if the finished wine will be dry or sweat. Carefully read your hydrometer as each hydrometer is different. You should consult the booklet that comes with the hydrometer for correct use.
Approximately one gallon of water to dissolve the sugar
One half teaspoon of baker's instant yeast dissolved (activated) in water.
Stir the mixture and install the fermentation lock. I use a cork with a quarter inch plastic hose that ends in a small bottle of water. This trap is necessary to prevent the atmosphere from contaminating the mixture.
Place the fermentation container in an environment that is between 70 and 80 degree. Fermentation (bubbling) will start almost immediately.
Fermentation will end (bubbling stops) in about 21 days at which time drain the contents less the sediment into another container using a siphon hose. This is called racking.
Let set for three to six months and bottle
This is a basic recipe that can be altered by experience and personal preference.
Happy wine making.