Well I knew that how to make wine was a burning question for a while, and when I started this there were zero instructables on the topic, but now there's plenty! The method I'll be showing here is from a kit, but don't be fooled, there's still loads that can go wrong. In this instructable I'll try to outline both the kit method and the true home-brew method by stating how and where they are different.
Be aware that there is no 'one method' for making wine, so try your own variation using these guidelines and make sure you browse the bar on the right to see how others did their wine!
what you need:
If you go to your local homebrew shop they'll have all this equipment, usually in a package deal.
Any food grade container will do the trick, what were looking for is a giant pail that has a lid and can fit at least 24 litres (6 US gallons).
Carboy (secondary fermentor)
Really just another container of equal volume to the primary will suffice.
A good item to get, but if you want to do it the way I used to when I was young and poor your can just use cling-film, seriously it works. Don't laugh.
any food grade hose will work. Garden hose is not food grade
I use this pink stuff that is a chlorinated sanitizer, when mixed with water it's super soapy. You can also use bleach and water solution but it involves much more rinsing and is less fun, so don't bother.
Oak chips (optional)
It's got all the goodies inside! But if you're not doing the kit method then you're going to need all of the above stuff plus:
pH balancer (most homemade wines will have an acidity or alkalinity that will not promote the yeast to activate and could potentially kill the littel guys (yikes!) add this to ensure the pH is suitable for your new best friend, yeast!)
yeast (Champagne yeast works really well as it has a higher tollerance to alcohol and will last up to around 14%)
Bentonite (a type of clay that binds wine poteins which help for clear wine, which everyone enjoys)
Sulphite (a wine stabilizer that prevents microbial growth and allow your wine to age properly. Also an antioxidant)
Potasium sorbate (inhibits yeast after fermentation has completed and prevents renewed fermentation. Because there is nothing funny about a cork popping out and red wine all over the floor)
Kieselsol (a gelatine, it's is used for two reasons: clarification and reduction of astringent wines (bitter))
Chitosan (A naturally charged polysaccharide derived from chitin, extracted from the outer shells of ocean crustaceans. When combined with Kieselsol, Chitosan will clarify wine in a short time and is syphoned away from the clear wine as part of the sediment)
Enough talk! LET'S DO THIS!
Step 1: Preperation
Before we begin, there's a little something you should know.
Let's talk about sterilization.
Seriously, this is the hardest part of the entire process. You're going to need to sanitize everything that will touch the wine, this includes your hands. The easiest way to do this is to get a small bucket, say about 2 litres (1 gallon) and add a small amount of pink sanitizer and fill the bucket with cold water. Read the exact amounts on the package, a little goes a long way.
I usually use a flattened spoonful for 2 litres, it'll dissolve clear. Fire in a cloth and you're golden!
Use the cloth to wipe down your primary fermenter, lid, and spoon. Rinse well.
The mystery of Specific Gravity (SG).
This is the term used to determine the alcohol content of your creation, personally I don't subscribe to this. After years of making wine I can count the amount of failures I've had on one hand, and I'm sure all of them were from either bizarre experimentation on my part or unsanitary conditions that I introduced, possibly both.
The measurements you get from the specific gravity of the wine from pre-fermentation to post-fermentation will give you an idea of your wine alcohol content (and more importantly if you wine has even fermented!) however, as you will see if you use the kit method and keep your fingers clean then these is no need for using specific gravity, or his cronies: the wine thief, hydrometer, and the test cylinder.