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deni's avatar

Have you ever made wine?

Asked by deni (23141points) September 21st, 2009

I’d like to make a bottle for my 21st birthday, which is about 10 months away. Is it possible to do it in that short of an amount of time? If you’ve ever done it, is it worth it? Hard? Easy?

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17 Answers

Dr_C's avatar

Making wine doesn’t take that long… howerver a young wine will not taste the way you expect it to. A good wine should be aged so that it can mature properly (the taste as well as the texture). I won’t go into a lot of details about how wine will show some characteristics of the soil the grape was grown in and the barrels it was aged in through taste…

But the answer is yes. you can do it and depending on the process it can be very tasty.. just don’t expect a Chateau Lafite Rothschild Pauillac 1996 and you’ll be fine!

knitfroggy's avatar

I made wine once. My mom gave me the recipe and we couldn’t locate a five gallon, glass container that would work, so we broke it up into smaller glass containers. It was fun to mess with, you have to put balloons we used condoms on the top for a week or two and then take them off, there is a whole process that I can’t remember now. The wine didn’t end up tasting very good or getting us drunk. I’m sure it was because we didn’t have it all in one container.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

goes to get Tim

laureth's avatar

My husband is a homebrewer. Mead, his favorite to make, takes a while, often a year or more for it to be worth drinking. Wines go a little faster, and smaller containers go faster than larger ones. However, you can make a decent, low-potency beer in a month to six weeks.

He usually recommends this book for beginners: The Complete Joy of Homebrewing Third Edition

The work of brewing is mostly at the beginning and end, but in the middle it’s just waiting. Also, sanitation is very, very important.

timothykinney's avatar

Wine is more difficult than beer because you have to deal with grape juice and you can’t sanitize it by boiling. Most people, therefore, use Campden tablets (basically adding sulphites) to control unwanted yeasts and bacteria (which grow naturally on grapes). If you have never experimented with fermentation, I would suggest trying beer first.

If you decide to go with wine, I recommend visiting More Beer . They sell wine making kits if you want to get in easily. But either way, you will need to decide what your base material will be:
1) Juice from the store (lowest quality, but fun…get one WITHOUT preservatives)
2) Juice from pressed grapes (from a homebrew shop…you can get various varieties)
3) Grapes (this requires using a juice press and is a lot more work…you also need to mess with adding and removing skins at the appropriate times, which is an advanced skill).

I recommend NOT using balloons or condoms as airlocks. There are a couple of reasons for this:

1) They aren’t sterile.
2) They contribute flavors to the finished product (from personal experience).

Use an Airlock from More Beer or from a local homebrew store. They cost about $1.50 and are specifically designed for wine making. They can be sanitized which is very important.

In general, you need the following:

1) Juice
2) Wine yeast (don’t use bread yeast, it will taste doughy and won’t get the correct amout of alcohol before the yeast die)
3) Container (glass carboys are best, but a food grade bucket is acceptable as long as you have a way of inserting an airlock)
4) Airlock (you must keep oxygen out while allowing CO2 to escape, otherwise the juice just rots)
5) Sanitary Procedures (SUPER important. You are cultivating a living organism to make alcohol for you. 70% of good beer and wine making is sanitation. Buy some Iodophor or StarSan (cheap at a homebrew store or on More Beer) and sanitize everything that the raw juice will contact.)
6) Proper pH and Temperatures (this requires some measuring equipment- wine is very susceptible to pH levels and temperatures. Shoot for about 3.5 pH and use a temp that is suitable for your yeast variety (should be printed on package)).

This is all assuming that you want to do this right. There are a lot of wine making tutorials on the internet. If all else fails, you can post in the forums at More Beer for detailed information. There is a helpful crowd there. You can also search for a homebrew club or store in your city. That is a great place to get information and materials, and will help support the craft in your area.

Now, you can take some store-bought juice (organic is best to avoid preservatives that inhibit yeast), throw some wine yeast in there, cap it with a balloon, and wait. This will produce an alcoholic beverage assuming it doesn’t get infected with something else. But the drinkability and will never be what you could get by using the appropriate equipment. Still, if all of these instructions seem scary, just throw some juice in a jar with yeast and see what happens. Once you get the hang of it (and catch the love for making your own) you will probably want to invest in some equipment (at least an airlock).

Wine is not my specialty, so I defer to any experts that are here. I do make beer (somewhat regularly) and recently cider. I guess wine might be around the corner.

Good luck and cheers!

P.S. I forgot to mention that it’s definitely possible to make in 10 months. Fermentation itself only takes about a week or two. Complicated procedures maybe as long as a month. But drinkability goes way up when you condition the beverage…and this can take years. But you can make a tasty alcoholic beverage in 2 weeks if you play your cards right.

Darwin's avatar

I used to make mead. There was something we called “Guzzle Mead” that only took a few weeks. The recipe is similar to this one :

“Gyrth’s Quick or “Short” Mead
2 quarts honey 5 gal water
2 cups strong tea 1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon nutmeg 2 teaspoons cinnamon
3–5 lemons Mead yeast

A plastic sieve wooden spoon
big pot 5 gallon jug or carboy
thermometer all yours and everyone else’s
used coke or beer bottles

What follows is a step by step explanation from Duke Sir Gyrth Oldcastle of Ravenspur on exactly how he makes mead:

First, boil water. I make two batches at a time with a three gallon pot. Add honey on a one part honey to nine parts water basis. (Honey weighs 12 lb. to the gallon.) I use a quart per 2½ gallon batch. Stir it about to dissolve the honey in the water. 7he honey will sink to the bottom of the pot and burn unless stirred at first. When the mixture is bubbling happily, a whitish scum will riser to the surface. Spoon it away.

Scum removal is a topic of controversy among brewers. Some maintain that complete removal is the only way to go,- others like myself skim until there’s only a very little left. Suit yourself.

Remove from heat and add one cup of very strong tea (2 cups per 5 gallons) (From herein on I assume that the measurements are for 5 gallons of mead)), 1 teaspoon of ginger, 1 teaspoon of nutmeg, and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Then take 3–5 lemons, Slice them thin, and throw them in. Let the lemons steep in the must (must is what you call incipient mead) for 30 minutes; then remove the slices. The tea and lemon move the pH of the must towards one comfortable for the yeast.

Let the whole caboodle cool to about 80–85 degrees F. Then introduce your yeast to it, cap it with an airlock, and stand back. Afier 5 days taste it. If too sweet, let it continue; if too alcoholic (unlikely) add more boiled honey and water. Keep tasting daily until sweetness and alcohol balance each other out. Syphon it off into bottles and refrigerate. If not refrigerated, it will get progressively less sweet and slide irrevocably into undrinkability. Let stand 2–5 weeks. Drink and enjoy. it ties up refrigerator space, but tends to be worth it.

NOTE – When refrigerated the mead tends to settle, and at this point I find it advantageous to siphon again into clean bottles, seal tightly, and re-refrigerate. It makes for a sweeter, more sparkling mead.”

We always preferred to skim the foam completely, and, if possible, to use honey as free of bee’s wax as possible, to make the hangovers milder. Mead hangovers are infamously horrible.

boffin's avatar

Pruno… Inmate wine in less than a day… You’ll need to hold your nose.

Jack79's avatar

My dad has a winery and makes lots of wine every year (he’s even started to bottle and sell some of it professionally). Even though I’ve often helped him do it, I have no clue about how it’s made, and I’m pretty sure it would be too complicated for me to do on my own, even though we have all the proper equipment. I think timothy’s explanation above is more or less it, but there are so many things that can go wrong, and you could end up with vinegar instead (not to mention really crappy wine).

So it’s not really the easiest thing to make for your birthday. Maybe you could just buy the wine and do something else instead, either a special birthday cocktail (or punch or somehing) or bake a cake, make a special meal for your guests, something else anyway.

deni's avatar

Thank you all so much, especially @timothykinney and @Darwin. Very helpful answers, I’m about to get crackin on this!

bumwithablackberry's avatar

Ahh, Pruno, takes me back, the smell when someone’s bag burst, stunk up the whole place. A day though, took longer…

Haleth's avatar

I made prison wine once in college. Basically we fermented some grapes in a trashbag in someone’s bathtub, and kept adding sugar to up the alcohol content. It was named Chateau d’Bauchery. So gross.

timothykinney's avatar

The shame is that you could have used a similar procedure and actually gotten a delicious product. In zymurgy, a little education goes a long way.

Darwin's avatar

My parents used to make applejack. They would put a jug of hard apple cider outside on the windowsill in the winter and remove the ice each day until none formed. Then they would drink up. This was when my dad was a grad student at Princeton.

To quote Wikipedia: “Known as “Jersey Lightning”, applejack’s long history in New Jersey includes once being used as currency to pay road construction crews during the colonial period.” This means he was simply being a traditionalist.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@Darwin: Tim and I were talking about making that! But it would never work outside in Houston. And he doesn’t own a freezer. Hey, wait a second…I just moved into a new apartment! Thanks for the idea!!!

bumwithablackberry's avatar

No but I’m about to, I just ordered one of those things that keep the air out, and some wine yeast. I’m going to make pear wine. Not quite as good as Kruskovac, but I will try.

deni's avatar

@bumwithablackberry let me know how yours turns out! i need to get a move on mine!!

erichw1504's avatar

No, but I’ve made a couple beers. You should do that instead; only takes a few weeks.

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