Instructions below are for a PREMIUM wine kits containing a lot more
juice/concentrate than standard wine kits. For standard wine kits designed
to make 6 gallons of wine add water ONLY to the 5 to 5 1/2 gallon mark.
This will give you a finished wine with more flavor and body.
You have your grape juice, so sterilize your primary
fermenter, and all other equipment you will be using on this day. I
highly recommend using a 6 gallon glass carboy for the primary (they
suggest a plastic bucket fermenter). add your juice to the carboy.
most premium kits tell your to add 1.8 imperial liters of water to the juice.
I DO NOT. I add 1.5 U.S. gallons of water to the juice, this will give
you a total volume of about 5 1/2 gallons of wine. This will allow you
to make a fuller bodied, fuller tasting wine, with a deeper rich
color. After racking several times your final wine volume will be
about 5 gallons.
Add 1/2 tsp. addition grape tannin to the must.
(Important!! If using oak chips then don't add this, because you may
end up with an over tannic wine, thats a little harsh.)
Add 1 tsp. yeast nutrient. You may not need this as
the juice my have sufficient amounts, but this will help the yeast
work harder and help insure finishing with a dry wine.
Take a hydrometer reading should be 1.092 and acid
reading, this should be .68 % tartaric. These will vary some, but with
the amount of water added this is usually what I get. if you add the
amount of water specified by the juice maker your S.G. and acid will
be lower and you may of have to ameliorate your wine with some sugar
and acid. If your sugar reading is low, STIR the juice well and take
another reading, it should read correctly now.
Some kits provide oak chips with the juice, so add
this at day 1 remember that oak will also impart some tannins to your
wine so dont add any of the tannin in the above step.(you can
add later if you feel it needs more.) You can also wait and add the
oak later during the secondary if you want to, to allow for extending
time on the oak chips. once the water and oak (if using,
I recommend it) are added, stir the must good to get the oak wet and
settling into the top of the wine, then add your yeast to the top of
the carboy. (Lalvin EC-1118) fit with a bung and airlock. If your
using a 6 gallon carboy as I recommend, you will have about 1/2 gallon
of air space in the top, this will be sufficient for the foaming that
is about to occur. I ferment all my wines at a constant 66
degrees. I recommend storing your wine where it will not exceed 70
degrees. a cool slow ferment will enhance the flavors of your wine!!!
Day 2 - Check on must should be
foaming nicely by now
Day 3 - Remove bung and
airlock, and give your wine a gentle stirring on the lees. stir for
about 1 minuet. remember to sterilize stirring rod! replace bung and
Day 4 - Nothing, check it.
Day 5 - Nothing, check it.
Day 6 - Nothing, the juice maker
recommends racking on this day, but giving it an extra day will allow
the S.G. to drop a little more and give another day of oaking to the
must. ferment will be less active by now. Oak will be mostly settled
to the bottom of the carboy by now.
often let the wine completely finish before the first racking.
You have this option, and some wine shops and vineyards advise to do
it this way. If you wish to rack now then by all means do so, but
there again you have the option of leaving the wine in the original
fermentation vessel and letting it finish completely before racking to
the secondary. This is your choice, and it will not harm the wine in
anyway. I suggest letting the wine finish before the first racking,
and even a couple weeks aging beyond that will not harm the
You will be racking to a 5 gallon carboy from a 6
gallon carboy with 5 1/2 gallons of must in it. This should fill your
secondary nicely without the need for topping up. (see
why I do it this way!!) It will also leave a little extra, you
should put this in a small glass bottle for topping up with after the
next racking. Sterilize your secondary fermenter, your racking cane,
and racking tubes. Do a hydrometer test. it will be right at about
1.020. This is what we want!! Acid should still be right although a
little lower, don't worry about this right now. I don't usually do an
acid test at this stage. If you do and its a little low, that's fine
you can correct this later, or add a little acid blend.
Now rack your wine to the secondary keeping the
racking tube below the level of wine in the receiving carboy. get as
much as you can in the secondary, but leave the oak chips behind as
they will have settled to the bottom by now. You will get some in the
secondary and they may clog up the hose if your not careful. but with
some attention you can avoid most all of the oak chips. You can rack
through a funnel with a screen in it if you want to. fill the carboy
into the neck, leave a couple inches space, as most of the foaming
should be done by now and will not cause a problem. Replace bung and
airlock. Talk to it a minuet. Use a bacterial killer cleaning solution
such as formula 409 to clean the outside of the glass carboy, or even
a glass cleaner is better than nothing. I keep the outside of all my
glass fermenters CLEAN at all times, its better to avoid bacteria
infection, rather than trying to fix one.
Day 8 - Day 30, Nothing just check on
it and keep the temperature as low as possible, at this point even 55
degrees will be GOOD for your wine. it will slow the last of the
fermentation process down and aid in settlement, as well as allowing
the now wine to retain its varetial and fruity bouquet.
Day 31, or ther about..
Wine should be finished. If it is not and is still
bubbling let the wine finish before continuing. If it is finished, You
can now do a second racking. Make sure you let your wine finish
working before racking, we are aiming for about .990 -.995 specific
gravity reading. (you may still see small bubbles but with a low S.G.
reading the wine is pretty much done and can be racked) This is
a dry wine, but can be sweetened back up before bottling. I like most
of my fruit wines at about 1.001 S.G. and grape whites at about the
same. A grape red wine can be a little dryer and still be to my
liking. This is a matter of taste and you will learn where to finish
your wines at. for heavy Red kit wine, I leave them dry!!
Sterilize all the equipment, and rack your wine. leave
a little space in the top of the carboy (about 6" or so) if you
had some extra from the previous racking, just leave that as is for
now, making sure its under air lock.
Your kit will usually contain stabilizer and
agents. This is the time to add them. Also 1/8 tsp. of potassium
metabisulphite should be added at this time. On occasion with red wines I don't add the
fining agents, but I do add the stabilizer. either way if you want to
fine and have a clear wine much sooner, add it now along with
stabilizer. I would dissolve these in some of the wine first, or some
HOT water and then
stir them in REAL GOOD. If you have gelatin or clairo KC you can just
pour it in, if its bentonite dissolve it first. Your kit should
provide instructions on this procedure. Stir!!!
This additional step is important and should be done
to most all wines. Once the stabilizers and fining agents are in you
need to de-gas your wine. This will help remove all the carbon dioxide
from the liquid. You do this for the next few days after adding your
stabilizer and clearing agents. This is done by stirring the
wine real good for 3 minuets 2 times a day for 3 days. You can also
complete de-gassing in one day by stirring for a few mins, waiting 15
min. and then stir again, repeating this several times. Once this step
is complete you stop stirring and let the fining agents do their job.
Top up carboy up into the neck with any extra wine, or boiled cooled
water. If you desire to sweeten you can add a little sugar when
boiling the water and use that to top up with. be careful not to
sweeten to much, as more sugar can be added later if desired and it
usually better to wait to just before bottling to sweeten.
Your wine should have settled out by now and should be
clear. You will see the fining settlement in the bottom of the carboy.
Rack the wine off the lees. If its not REAL clear leave a few extra
days and keep it COOL. Make sure carboy is topped up and then replace
bung and airlock.
According to most wine kit instructions at this point
your wine is finished and can be bottled. I recommend letting the wine
age now for AT LEAST 6 months, 8 months to a year will be better. This
is one of the hardest things a good wine maker has to endure. If
extended aging in bulk you will want to rack in a again in a few
months. The wine will be good now, but will be EXCELLENT in 1 year
from now. You can also filter your wine now if desired. I recommend a
1 micron filter for reds, and a 1 or .5 micron filter for
whites. If the filter is to fine it will strip your wine of body and
some color as well. some vintners use only a 5 micron filter for reds,
I find this is to large rating for filtering, and will leave to much
in the wine, which will eventually settle out in the bottle.
If you have followed this procedure,
and you started with a quality wine kit, you will have a FINE wine now.
There is nothing left to do but let it age preferably in bulk, for
AT-LEAST 6 months, but at least in the bottle for a good while. These
wines can be very complex with a wonderful bouquet, and nice color. Remember
prior to bottling If you need it add 1/8 tsp. of potassium metabisulphite
or 3-4 campden tablets to help preserve your wine, Add this only if you
haven't added any yet. Be very careful you can ruin a wine with to much
level should be great!!
is the way I make my own kit wines:
On or about 1 month after the start of fermentation, and
after the first racking (Wines finish in primary) I do not add fining substances. I stabilize with
potassium sorbate and potassium metabisulphite, and then de-gas over the
next several days. Once the de-gassing is finished I let the wine age in
bulk and settle out on its own. I don't use finings because for one thing
if you are aging for awhile the wine will settle out with out the use of
them. I rack 1-2 more times over the next 6-8 months and then adjust
final acidity, but its usually just fine. I sometimes add a little more metabisulphite (25-30 PPM) just before
bottling. (be very careful here as you can leave the wine with a sulfur
smell and taste.) I give the wine time in the bottle to overcome bottle shock, and
then its open house on drinking and sampling the wine. The wine will
continue to improve over the next several years..........