Wine Making at Home, Part III : The Brewing Process

So now that you know why wine making is a great hobby, and know about the equipment you need to get started, all that’s really left to address is the actual brewing process. After that, I can start plying you with yummy wine recipes to try!

The nice thing about wine making is that it can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it.

On one end of the spectrum, you can take some fruit concentrate, add water and yeast, and let it do its thing. On the other, you can extract the juice from fresh fruits, combine them in many ways, add herbs or spices to add flavor. You can age them with wood chips, you can carbonate, you can use special ingredients to help clarify your wine…

At its heart, however, wine making starts with a very simple concept.

You start with fermentable sugars in a liquid, introduce yeast, and let it do its thing. The yeast digests the sugars, and alcohol is the byproduct – this is fermentation. The yeast reproduce and stay suspended in the wine as it ferments. As the alcohol content in the solution goes up, the yeast cells are less able to tolerate their living environment, and they die off.


A 6 gallon batch of our mango wine,
on day 1. Yum!

As the yeast die, they settle on the bottom of the fermenting vessel. Throughout the fermentation process, the wine is removed from the layer of fruit & dead yeast sediment on the bottom, being transferred to a clean fermenting jug (carboy) every few months. This process is called “racking”. When fermentation is complete, the wine is left to clarify as the last of the yeast settle to the bottom of the fermenter. The wine is then bottled, and aged (if desired).

.. and then, you drink it. Yum! Read on for more information about the brewing process..

(more…)