Making fruit wines is a relatively straight forward process and most fruits will generally follow the same guide lines as in this page. When you have got all the necessary vital equipment such as a suitable demijohn, fermentation trap and hydrometer you are ready to start making wine. Make sure that all equipment being used is thoroughly cleaned and sterilised before use, failure to do this properly could result in your wine failing to succeed. Begin by choosing your fruit:
- Pick a fruit – Start by deciding on the fruit you are going to make into wine. The choice is really varied and have a look through the “What is in season?” page to get an idea of what to ferment and when. This is only a guide and it is possible get most produce at any time of the year, however when fruits are in season they will generally be cheaper and significantly tastier.
- Extract the flavour – Once you have decided upon the fruit you are going to make into wine the next step is to get as much of the flavour out of the fruit as possible. This can vary from fermenting the must of the fruits together with the yeast to boiling the juices out of the fruit and leaving it to strain out before adding the yeast. For flower wines the process usually involves heating the flowers and forming a syrup before adding the yeast to start the fermentation.
- Fermentation – Yeast is needed for fermentation to occur and is added during or after the flavour has been removed from the fruits. For yeast to survive the temperature must be ideally between 10-25 degrees centigrade. If it is too hot the yeast will be killed and too cool the yeast will stop fermenting. Some recipes require a yeast nutrient and or enzyme to be included to aid the fermentation, this is especially the case with flower wines and some berries. Fermentation occurs in two stages; primary and secondary. Primary fermentation is fast, aggravated and occurs with air at around 21 degrees centigrade. Secondary fermentation will usually last weeks and is done without air at a cooler 16 degrees centigrade – this is when the majority of the alcohol in the wine is produced in anaerobic conditions. As the secondary fermentation proceeds the wine will begin to clear as the yeast and must fall to the bottom of the demijohn.
- Clearing – After a few weeks of the second fermentation the wine will need to be racked. this is the process of syphoning the wine out of one demijohn into another leaving the excess yeast and must behind. If this is not done the wine will take on an overly yeasty flavour. Racking may be done several times during the wine making process, but usually for a standard wine twice will be sufficient.
- Bottling – When the wine has been racked for the final time and left to settle for a few weeks it should then be bottled. This is the final process before storing the wine and leaving it to fully mature.
Wine recipes will give more specific guidelines for each individual wine but in general this is the standard methodology used in all wine making. All that changes is the fruit, the type of yeast used and the length of time the fermentation is allowed to continue for.
Experience is a major factor in how good the final wine will be and a skilled vintner will be able to judge with a great deal more precision how the wine is treated during each stage of the fermentation process.