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Much like beer, wine is made by adding yeast to a rich sugar solution. When the yeast begin to grow, they will change the sugar into alcohol. But unlike beer, the flavor of wine does not come from a single ingredient. The flavor of wine is a complex chemistry that slowly changes the pulp of fruit and yeast into a clear delicious wine. Making homemade red wine is a simple, even if lengthy, process that will delight the taste buds of any home vintner.

To make a perfect dry wine, the trick is in the amount of sugar. With too little sugar it is impossible for the yeast to provide enough cells to produce alcohol. Using too much sugar poisons the yeast cells before they can convert all the sugar. To get the perfect amount of sugar in your red wine, you will need a saccharometer. This is an instrument used in beer making. The saccharometer makes it simple to measure the amount of sugar in your wine. You will also need a vintner's acid testing kit to ensure the taste is tart but not too harsh. Tannin is another important product in the production of homemade wine. You can easily provide tannin to your wine by adding 1\2 cup of strong tea to each gallon of juice. The best yeast for a beginning vintner is a good all purpose vintner's yeast. Campden tablets inhibit the growth of unwanted yeast by freeing the gas sodium dioxide. They are used to sterilize all wine making equipment and also during the wine making process. The above products can usually be purchased from any available wine making stores.

Begin by sterilizing all your equipment by rinsing in a solution made with 6 Campden tablets per pint of water. Using about 70 pounds of unwashed wine grapes, crush the fruit with a potato masher and place the juice and pulp in a 7 gallon bucket. This should fill the bucket to the 3\4 full level. You can also use purchased grape juice for making red wine. If you do this you will need enough juice to fill the pail 3\4 full. The temperature of the pulp and juice should be around 70 degrees. Using a saccharometer, check the sugar content by pouring the juice into the glass cylinder. Dislodge the bubbles by twirling the saccharometer and take a reading. For a red wine with an 11 percent alcohol level, the reading should be at 22 percent. If the reading is not that high, you can add 4 3/4 tablespoons of sugar for each percent needed to bring it to the 22 percent level.

Next, use your acid testing kit to test the acidity of the juice. It should be between .6 and .8 percent acid. If the product has too much acid, add cool boiled water and continue testing until you reach the desired acidity. If the product does not have enough acid, add 1\2 teaspoon of acid blend per gallon of juice for each .1 percent that the acid content needs to be raised. Be sure to retest until you have the correct acid reading. Using a small amount of juice, dissolve five Campden tablets and add to the bucket of juice. Stir this mixture thoroughly and wait four hours. Add the yeast and yeast energizers to the juice. Yeast energizers are nutrients that encourage the yeast to grow. If you are using juice instead of raw fruit, add the tannin to the mixture. Now the fermentation process is ready to begin. Cover the bucket and place in an area where the juice will stay between 65 degrees and 70 degrees.

It is important that you stir the juice and pulp several times a day. In three to seven days, you will notice that the fermentation process has almost stopped. The sugar level at this point should be between 3 and 5 percent. Using a nylon bag, strain the juice and pulp. Place the bucket on a chair or table and siphon the juice into a 5 gallon glass jug, filling it to about one inch of the top. Siphon the remainder into a smaller jug. Both jugs will need to be closed with a fermentation lock. These are specially made stoppers that allow the carbon dioxide to escape from the jug while keeping out other contaminants.

When the bubbling ceases and the sugar level has almost reached zero, the fermentation process is complete. Siphon the wine into a second clean 5 gallon jug. Be sure to keep the siphon hose away from the bottom of the jug to keep from siphoning the residue in the bottom. It is also wise to keep the outlet end of the siphon hose near the bottom of the second jug to avoid over oxidizing and splashing the wine. Using a small amount of wine, dissolve 2 1\2 Campden tables and add to the second jug. Finish filling the bottle to 1 inch of the stopper with reserved juice. Place the fermentation lock in place and place in an area where the temperature remains the same as above for two to three months. During this time you will want to check your wine and when residue appears in the bottom, you will need to repeat the siphoning process, using a clean 5 gallon jug. In most cases, you will need to use the siphoning process two or more times during the final fermentation process. Removing the residue from your wine clarifies the product.

You will know your wine is ready when you can see the edge of a candle flame through the product. It is believed that the longer the product ferments and the more it is siphoned, the better it will taste. Once you have judged your wine to be ready, refrigerate it for two days to allow it to stabilize. Remove from the refrigerator and allow to return to room temperature before siphoning into individual bottles. When all the bottles are filled, cork and label the wine. Be sure to use new corks and it also helps to seal the corks with paraffin. Wait for several days and then place the bottles in a cool dark area on their sides to age. The aging of red wine can take up to six months but higher quality grapes have been know to take a year or longer to age to perfection.