They are everywhere!
Seems like every year I get asked the same question....
"Can I make wine with the apples from my backyard?"
If you are done making crabapple jelly, apple sauce, froze enough for pie filling and you still have an abundance, THINK WINE!
If you are bringing it into the shop for us to make your wine, please freeze your apples. This method ensures the fruit is softer and will release more juice. Otherwise, crushing or juicing your apples would be needed, and we don't do that in our shop. If you want to juice your apples at home, no problem. I wouldn't recommend boiling them and straining the juice. The flavor changes when the apples are cooked and clearing your wine might be more tricky.
Thawing is needed before your wine making appointment. If they are in freezer bags, they will leak. They always do! Make sure you put them in a clean container to thaw so that the juice is caught and we can add it to your wine. The fruit will shrink when thawed. Don't worry - the amount you've measured before thawing will be enough.
Remember to bring in sugar when you come in for your appointment. We have sugar on hand, but you will save money if you bring in your own. The sugar you bring in is all used up by the yeast to make your alcohol. This does not affect the sweetness of your finished wine. We do not use that method of wine making. 4 to 5kg is recommended. 4kg usually gets us about 10-11% alcohol. Enough for a wine that can be aged for about a year. Easy to drink and enjoyed by almost everyone. 5kg usually yields about 12-13% alcohol, better if you are planning to store it for a while. We can use more sugar, more than 5kg, but this is where the alcohol gets high enough that it can sometimes overpower the delicate flavor of the fruit.
What Is That You're Adding....???
Disclaimer: Everyone makes wine differently and therefor this is not a complete list, just the basics. These ingredients are stocked in our shop, but if you are looking for something not listed here, just ask. We might still carry it, or if not, be able to order it in.
Yeast - The most important ingredient in my mind! Yeast eats the sugar in the must and CO2 and alcohol are produced.
Yeast Nutrient - Yeast nutrients assist the wine yeast in producing a complete and rapid fermentation. Most fruit wine lacks the needed nutrients and that can cause a sluggish ferment, and in turn, cause off-flavors.
Acid Blend - It's the blend of the 2 or 3 most commonly found fruit acids, citric, malic and tartaric. It is used to balance the PH of the wine and make it more palatable.
Tannin - Most fruits lack enough tannin to produce a quality wine. Tannin plays 3 roles: flavor, clarification and aging. Tannins give the mouthfeel of a wine. When used, it can make your wine more complex and make a simple alcoholic fruit juice into a wine. Tannins also helps neutralize proteins and helps them drop out when clarifying. A good tannin structure in a wine can help in aging as tannins tend to soften over time. Most fruit wines will peak within a year's time. Without tannin, some fruit wines may not age well and need to be consumed fairly quickly.
Grape Concentrate - Concentrated white or red grape juice that can add body and structure to your wine when added in the primary. Use if you are lacking in the correct amount of fruit needed. I personally use red concentrate in my chokecherry wines as my "secret ingredient". Concentrate can be substituted for raisins in most fruit wine recipes.
Pectic Enzyme - Helps reduce the haze in fruit wines and ensures better clarity. It has no flavor and 2-3 teaspoons in a 23L batch can improve and speed up the clearing process.
Campden Tablets or Potassium Metabisulfite - usually one in the same, kills the wild yeasts, aids in limiting oxidization and can remove chlorine.
Sorbate - A stabilizing ingredient that is added to the wines to keep the yeast from working. It doesn't kill the yeast. If you do not use sorbate in your wines, make sure you have no residual sugars left before bottling or you can have bottle explosions!
Kieselsol & Chitosan - Two ingredients that can help clear your wine in a shorter amount of time. One creates a negative charge and the other a positive charge (I never remember which is which). These charges clump the impurities together and helps pull sediment to the bottom. Make sure you read the instructions and add them in the correct order.
Wine Conditioner - Used to back sweeten wines. Stabilized sugar and will not ferment. It can also add body as it is thicker than wine.
What Do You Need?
Our grandparents were resourceful and could make wine with simple tools and bare minimum of ingredients. It’s still possible, but let’s make it easier by using equipment designed for wine making. Here's a list of today's basics:
This would be a bucket of some kind. Food grade is suggested as you don’t want any off-flavours tainting your wine. You will need to cover it somehow. If you are using a lid, and it’s air tight, you will need to drill a hole and add an airlock. Cheesecloth or even a tea towel will work too. At the shop, we sometimes use plastic wrap secured by a loop of elastic. Just remember to pop a little pin hole in the top or the plastic will pop off with the gases made during fermentation.
Most wines need to be stirred during the first few days. A long handled stainless steel or plastic spoon is best. Wooden spoons are not recommended. They can harbour bacteria.
It is a glass tool that measures the sugars in your wine. Very important for knowing if your wine is fermenting properly. Here's a LINK to how to read your hydrometer.
Not really necessary, but very handy when making fruit wines with lots of seeds or mush.
Racking Cane, Hose and Clip
This makes siphoning your wine much easier. It allows the sediment to be undisturbed and you will need it again when bottling.
Carboy (see photo)
This is where your wine will spend most of its time. Plastic is light and easy to move. If you are not aging long term in the carboy, plastic is sufficient. If your wine will be sitting for 6+ months in the carboy, choose glass. There’s many different sizes available. Sometimes having 2 carboys per batch is quite nice, especially when you need to transfer one batch to another carboy to remove sediment and improve clarity.
Bung (My kids find this word funny!)
A rubber stopper used to seal the airlock into the opening of your carboy.
This is a very important piece of equipment! When filled properly, it will protect your wine from nasties like bugs and oxidation. Check it often, almost daily. The airlock fits into the bung on the top of the carboy.
You might get lucky in finding some of this equipment from friends or family that have made wine in the past. Check Facebook for people selling their equipment. Although it might seem like a huge investment, sometimes buying an equipment kit pays off. New buckets, carboys and spoons are not scratched up and have places where bacteria can hide to cause problems in the future.
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