Introduction to Wine Making

by Kevin

Here are some of the basics of making wine.  In the coming weeks, I will give you a step by step guide to making your own home made wine.

FIRST – If you are not willing to go above and beyond to keep everything sterile, take up a different hobby – wine making is not for you.  This step is a complete PITA, but without it, you will get off flavored or even spoiled wine.

If you are new to the hobby, there are a few things you will NEED to get started.  Here is the started kit list for hardware.

  • 6 gallon fermenting bucket
  • 5-6 gallon carboy
  • Siphon w/ hose
  • A one-step cleaner line B-Brite
  • Potasium Sufate solution for sterilizing
  • Long stirring spoon
  • Hydrometer (for measuring specific gravity to determine sugar and alcohol levels)
  • Wine “thief”

When starting out, I recommend starting with an inexpensive “kit” wine.  This will come with somewhere around 3 to 4 gallons of juice concentrate.  The juice has already been sterilized and PH balanced.  To this, you will add filtered water and the ingredients in the kit.  As long as you follow the directions and keep everything clean, you should come out with fine results.  I was told the general rule is a $60-80 will make $6-10 bottles, $100-120 will make a $10-20 bottle and the $150+ kits will make a $20-30 bottle.  I don’t know how accurate this is, but it’s what I’ve heard.  You will find that as kits increase in price, they also increase in quality.  The juice will be less concentrated, and the higher end kist come with more additives, such as crushed grape skins to give your red wines more body and flavor (and tannin).

I’d say step two would be to start making slight modifications to your kit wines.  If a red wine doesn’t come with grape skins, consider the things you may be able to add.  Could it benefit from the addition of rainsins in the primary fermentation?  How about Currants?  Fresh, ripe plums?  Join a wine making forum and find what others have to say.  For white wines, consider the amount of oak.  I find a little extra oak in Chardonnays are a great addition.  This is where as Joe,a member on, says “THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX.”

Once you have a few kits under you belt, see if a local brew supply or winery sells grape juice.  Gino Pinto in NJ imports juice from around the world.  You can go there and get 6 gallons of juice, already PH balanced and ready to go.  Take it home, decide what yeast to use, what additives you want etc., and now you have a unique wine that has been tailored to your own taste.  The possibilities become endless. Before you know it, you’ll have hundreds of bottles aging in your basement ready to give as gifts, and pop open to share with friends and family.

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