In the UK the climate change over the last decade has led many people to
realise that we are now in a position to produce our own good quality wines
at home. Commercial vines are being planted all over the south of England
and as far north as the Midlands and South Wales. Although we have always
been able to grow grapes in a greenhouse, it is outdoor cultivation that allows
ordinary enthusiasts the opportunity to grow enough grapes to harvest, press,
ferment, bottle and ultimately drink their own wines. This page is an introduction
for those wishing to learn how to make wine.
The first key to success in home produced wine is the right vine in the right
location. Here is a short selection of the best wines for our climate. Whichever
grapes you plant, they will do best in sheltered sunny positions in well draining
White wine grapes for homemade wine
Ideal to go alongside a wall. Great grape for fizzy chamagne style homemade
Ripens well in the south and large vines yield good crops.
A great all rounder, it flowers late and and ripens quickly which is what
you need in the UK
First class early variety. Small golden berries in profusion. Produces a
light delicate white wine. Of German origin. Suitable for desert use as well.
Good and hardy vine that produces lovely grapes
A cross of Madeleine Angevine and Mueller Thurgau vines .A good early variety
that gives small but sweet grapes excellent for desert wines.
Disease resistant Early pale grapes produce a reasonable white wine
MUSCAT OF ALEXANDRIA
Makes large oval grapes of very high quality but it needs a warm spot to
How to make wine
Once you have a couple of bucketfuls of grapes, it is time to think about
yourself to a diy or garden store and buy a large feed trug for crushing your
grapes in. Having tried all sorts of methods, such as liquidisers, crushers,
squeezing the grapes by hand and every other idea I could think of, it is
now totally clear to me that crushing barefoot is actually the very best way
of extracting the grape juice from the skins and seeds. Make sure the base
of the trug is wide enough for you to stand comfortably with both feet inside.
Wash and shower your whole body, not just your feet before trampling the
grapes. This is to ensure that you don't start the fermentation with yeast
that might have settled on your skin during the day.
Homebrewed Wine Step One
A half full trug of grapes (approx 30lb) should yield enough about 12 - 15
bottles of wine. Now get in the trug and tramp around for about 20 minutes
till all the grapes have been smooshed. Go through by hand and remove all
the stems so that you have a trug full of juice and grape skins.
Homebrewed Wine Step Two
Transfer this to a fermenting vessel (a lidded plastic bucket made from food
grade plastic is available from homebrew suppliers and even stores such as
Add 2 heaped tablespoons of wine yeast and stir. Now leave it for 24 hours
with the lid on.
Homebrewed Wine Step Three
Remove the lid and listed carefully. There should be some bubbles coming
up through the floating skins. Push the skins down into the juice and recover
Homebrewed Wine Step Four
Repeat step three each day for a week. By now the bubbling should subside
Homebrewed Wine Step Five
For the next step you need some brewing equipment. If you have enough grape
juice for 2 demijohns you will need to buy threeof them Lets label them A,
B and C - I will show you why in a moment)
Transfer the juice, but not the skins to two demijohns (A and B) and fit
demijohns with airlocks
The demijohns are where, for about a month or so, the fermentation will continue
at a much more gentle pace.
After a week you should notice a buildup of sludge at the bottom of the demijohns
A and B. This will impart a bad flavour to the wine so we must 'rack off'
the wine. We do this by cleaning our third demijohn ("C" ... ah,
now you see) and siphoning the wine from 'A' in to it. Now clean the demijohn
A and then siphon the wine from B into it. Now you have two full demijohns
of fermenting wine with no sludge.
By the end of about a month you should have a wine with as much as 14% alcohol.
If all goes well, once the airlock stops bubbling, the fermentation process
will be complete. The sludge will have built up again but this time we can
rack off into bottles.
Homebrewed Wine Step Six
Now it is time to bottle your wine. The ideal containers are (unsurprisingly)
old wine bottles. You can seal them with plastic corks, beer bottle caps,
or if they originally had screw caps these can be reused.
Again the key factor is cleanliness. We dont want any nasties getting into
our wine so we siphin the wine into cleaned and sterilised bottles and seal
with clean sterilised lids as quickly as possible.
Bottle your homemade wine and let it mature for at least 6 months. If you
can leave it 3 or 4 years you may well be astounded. I always aim to leave
at least 4 bottles in storage for special occassions. A cool dark place such
as a cellar is perfect, but the undrstairs cupboard will do. You want somewhere
with a low and constant temperature.
Did you know that you can make wine from fruits other than grapes? Elderflower
wine is a particular favourite of mine, followed closely by elderberry, nettle,
damson and cherry wines.
Even leaves of certain trees can be made into wine. Oak leaf and beech
leaf wine are two well known examples.