Making Homemade Wine

Every summer we try to make some kind of homemade wine with our home grown berries or fruit. It makes a nice treat to break out a bottle and have a bit over the Holidays and for special occasions. Making homemade wine is an old art that takes some practice to get right but it is actually quite easy to make tasty wine with just a little bit of know-how.
You will need very little in the way of equipment to get started;
1. A five gallon container (preferably glass as it will not leach into your wine).
2. One gallon of some kind of fruit or berries.
3. Five to ten pounds of sugar.
4. Seal-able containers to store your finished wine.
5. Yeast (some folks are purists and say you should use nothing but “brewers yeast” but I use whatever is at hand).
6. Four feet of flexible tubing (for siphoning the liquid from your brewing container.
I use a five gallon glass water cooler bottle with a small neck. I do not recommend plastic because of the possibility of it leaching some kind of chemical into your homemade wine but some folks do use it, anyway.
It is best, in my opinion, to use over ripe fruit or berries as the sugar content is higher, but any fruit or berries will do in a pinch.
At this point it is probably a good idea to have an explanation of what alcohol is and where it comes from. Are you ready for this? Alcohol is yeast excrement (just had to throw that in there). It’s true; when the yeast consumes sugar, it excretes alcohol. This is the basis of all palatable alcohol production whether it is beer, wine, or distilled spirits.
It also excretes certain gasses which produce the boiling effect you will see during the brewing process. If bottled at the right time, these gasses will produce carbonation as in the case of beer or sparkling wine. Care must be taken not to bottle it too soon or it will produce too much pressure in your bottles and literally explode your bottle making a terrible and stinky mess. Care must also be taken not to bottle it too late or it will be flat and taste bad. Deciding the right time to bottle homemade wine is where the art comes in. I will explain that part when we get to it.
Here is how to turn your ingredients into wine;
1. Crush or mash your fruit or berries into a slurry and place into brewing container.
2. Add sugar (for more alcohol content, add more sugar, I’ve never used more than ten pounds, five will work.
3. Add clean non-chemically treated water. Fill no more than ¾ full to allow for expansion.
4. Add one package of yeast.
5. Mix thoroughly and allow to settle.
Store brewing container in cool place so yeast doesn’t work too quickly (60 to 75 degrees F. is about right) and check it every day. After 2 or 3 days you will see the boiling effect which is bubbles raising to the surface. This is the gasses produced by the yeast consuming the sugar. Keep careful watch on it until the bubbling slows down to one bubble every 5 to 10 seconds to bottle for sparkling wine or wait until bubbles slow down to one every 20 or 30 seconds for maximum alcohol content.
I usually use the taste test to determine when to bottle mine. As the yeast consumes the sugar, it reaches a point where there is more alcohol and less sugar. It is a matter of personal taste as to what taste you prefer and everybody is different.
Check your bottled homemade wine every day for pressure for a week or so and it is best to store it in a cool place where it will not do too much damage if one explodes from too much pressure.
That is all there is to it. You will develop your own preferences as you gain experience but this will get you started with your first batch of homemade wine.

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