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Looking for More! information on how to make Wine at home? Check out our MoreWine! Guide to Red Winemaking

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MoreWine! Guide to Red Winemaking

Written By: Shea AJ Comfort
 
 
Goal of this Manual: To make Great wine at home on your first try It is highly recommended that this paper be read through completely before you start to make your wine. Wine-making is made up of a series of consecutive steps which build on and directly affect each other from the very beginning to the very end. In order to make the best wine possible you will need to make the best decisions possible at each of these steps, and in order to do that, you will need to have a general understanding of the overall process as a whole.
 

Introduction

Hello, and welcome to MoreWine!‟s Guide to Red Winemaking. We‟re excited that you‟re interested in learning to make wine, and we‟re hoping that you‟re at least as excited about the idea as we are! We think that you‟ll find winemaking to be at the same time relaxing and invigorating, rewarding and taxing, and a practically limitless source of entertainment and learning. Winemaking has the ability to teach us not only about the world around us, but about ourselves as well. 
 
Winemaking is certainly a very old and established activity, the roots of which go back thousands of years. Over the history of the practice, many great texts have been written outlining the process and giving direction to generation after generation of winemaker. Today is no different; there are currently quite a few great books about winemaking available on the market. The purpose of this booklet is not to take the place of a more complete text, so much as to give the new winemaker a more digestible place to start from.
 
The basic process for making red wine is pretty straightforward. Fresh grapes are first crushed and separated from the stems. Next the mixture of juice and solids (called must) is allowed to ferment with yeast, converting the sugar from the fruit to alcohol and carbon dioxide, and extracting the color from the grape skins. As fermentation progresses, the carbon dioxide that is being created pushes the grape skins to the top of the container forming a “cap” on top of the fermenting wine, which must be re-submerged (called punching the cap) frequently in order to continue extracting color and to prevent the cap from spoiling. Once fermentation is completed, the wine is separated from the grape solids in a wine press and set aside for aging. Over about the next year the wine will be allowed to age and develop its flavors. Over the course of this year you may choose to add oak, tannins or a variety of other types of additives to the wine to augment or change its flavor. Also, the wine will be transferred to a fresh container periodically (called racking) in order to separate it from the sediments that naturally settle out of the wine during this time. Towards the end of the aging phase you may choose to add a clarifying agent to improve the wine‟s appearance. Clarifying a wine this way is called fining and the additives used to do it are called fining agents. Alternatively, you may choose to filter your wine to clarify it. Finally, based on a variety of factors that we‟ll expand on as you read further, you‟ll decide that the wine is ready to put into bottles. After a short period of recovery from the bottling process, your wine will be ready to drink!
 
While reading through this booklet, there are a few things we‟d like you to keep in mind. The first, and most important, is that there is very little in winemaking that can really be considered a “right” or “wrong” way to approach a problem or procedure. The favorite maxim on this subject is that if you ask 10 winemakers the same question you are likely to get 11 different answers. Another favorite maxim on the subject of winemaking is that it takes a lot of good beer to make great wine – but more on this later (please contact us if you‟re interested in making beer, we can help you with that too!). So, if, with the exception of a few cardinal rules, there is no real right or wrong way to make wine, then why have we dedicated the time and energy to adding yet another booklet on the subject to those already available? The answer is that over the course of many years we have found that certain techniques offer the greatest chances of success, especially to the first-time winemaker. It is only too easy to have something go wrong which spoils a batch and causes the new winemaker to lose interest or inspiration. Our goal with this booklet is to minimize the chance of this happening and maximize the chance of you sticking with this wonderful, rewarding pastime. There will be things in this booklet that contradict what you have read in other books, or have heard from your friends or relatives who already make wine. We want you to understand that neither we nor they are necessarily wrong. The steps and techniques laid out in this booklet are simply what we have found to work best for the majority of our customers after years of experience and feedback. We‟d like to encourage you to experiment with new products and techniques - and to please contact us with any questions you might have about anything that you see in here.
 
We‟d also like to encourage you to start and maintain a winemaking logbook. Keep track of allthe measurements you make regarding sugar, acid and sulfite levels (don‟t worry if you don‟tknow what these things are, we will go over everything!). Record tasting notes and detailed notes about any procedure that you put the wine through, including any changes that you notice as a result of your procedure. Too often we get phone calls from home winemakers that have a question about their wine and we are unable to help out because the winemaker has kept no or very poor records. We really cannot stress enough how important good record-keeping is. Imagine pulling a wine that you made 3 or 4 years ago and just loving it, but not having any records to refer back to about what additives or fining agents you used. Unless you can remember everything you did with the wine 4 years ago, a record book will be the best resource for you if you want to recreate your best wines. Conversely, if you make a wine that has problems or that you just don‟t like very much, a record book is the best way to avoid repeating the mistakes or procedures that led to the bad wine.
 
Finally, a quick word about the format of this booklet: The text is divided into 10 chapters andis designed to take you through the winemaking process in a step-by-step fashion all the way from picking (or picking up) your fruit through to bottling. Each chapter of the booklet covers a particular phase, stage or aspect of the whole winemaking process. What you‟ll find in Chapter Ten is an Expanded Information section which corresponds to each of the other chapters of the booklet. We‟ve set the text up so that you‟ll get the “nuts and bolts” of what you‟re doing at each stage up front. If you wish to learn more about the “why” as opposed to just the “what” of that particular process just flip back to Chapter Ten and find the corresponding section. Our aim here is for you to have a quick reference guide that you can use to know what it is you need to do, as well as the basic theory behind it, all in an easy to navigate package that will stay within an arm‟s reach in the winery for years to come. So, all that said, let‟s get to it!
 

Chapter 1: Preparation

Getting ready to make wine
Before we can get into the mechanics of making wine, we need to go over the steps required to prepare.
 

1.1) Source your fruit

There are a variety of resources available to home winemakers nationwide when it comes to sourcing fruit. These sources range from the vineyard down the road to a commercial broker of wine grapes. Many home wine and beer making shops maintain a bulletin board where local grape growers can post ads for their fruit. Starting in 2009, MoreWine! has partnered with Peter Brehm and we are now shipping premium California and Washington State fruit directly to your door via UPS! (To learn more about the many benefits of using frozen must and see what‟s available please take a look at the Brehm Fruit Info section of our website). Finally, MoreWine! offers a free online bulletin board that you can find at www.MoreGrapes.com. As much as possible, we encourage you to develop a direct relationship with the grape grower. We suggest this for a couple of reasons. First, a direct relationship often gets you the best price on the fruit and the best chance of getting the fruit again in subsequent seasons. Second, working with the same fruit year after year will give you the best chance to develop as a winemaker, because you will be able to see how different yeasts and additives affect wine made from the same vineyard and also how differences from one growing season to the next can influence the fruit.
 

1.2) Get your equipment together

If this is your first season making wine there are a few different options for you as far as getting equipment together. We suggest, if possible, that you rent the major equipment like a grape crusher and a wine press if you have a local shop that offers these for rental. Many regional winemaking clubs also have group equipment available. If renting or borrowing equipment is not an option for you, you can also try to find the major items you need in used condition either through a local classified ads website like Craigslist or, again, through a local home winemaking club. Be wary of used equipment as the condition of the equipment can be substandard. Check any steel equipment for rust and any rubber parts for cracks or brittleness. These flaws cannot be effectively repaired and so if you find any rust or cracked, brittle rubber these parts must be replaced. This can be difficult if you‟re looking at older equipment as spare or replacement parts may not still be available.  
 
 Important note about sanitization!: At all stages in the winemaking process any tools and equipment that are going to come into contact with the juice or wine will need to be sanitized. This is done to eliminate spoilage yeast and bacteria that could contaminate our wine and ruin it. Sanitization is done in two steps:  
 
 1. Make sure the surface area to be cleaned is free of any dirt, film or grime. If it isn‟t you will need to scrub it off with a sponge or scrub pad and water. Brushes and hoses can be cleaned with a long hose/line brush made for this purpose. Copyright 2008 MoreFlavor!, Inc Page | 7  
 
 2. Once the surface is clean it can now be sanitized. This is done by preparing the sanitizer* and pouring, wiping, or swirling to make sure the sanitizer wets all surfaces needing to be sanitized. After a few minutes contact time, rinse the equipment off with fresh, clean water.  
 
 * We recommend using Star-San (CL26) as your sanitizer, as it is much friendlier and easy to deal with than the traditional SO2 and citric acid solution that is often referred to in many winemaking books. Unlike the SO2 solution, Star-San has no dangerous fumes and is perfectly safe to come into contact with. In fact during our winemaking, often the first step when we begin working is to dunk our hands into a bucket of prepared Star-San!  
 

Chapter 2: The Crush (Day 1)

We Picked up the Fruit! Ok, so you‟ve purchased some grapes and brought them home. First, examine the fruit and remove any raisined or rotted/molded clusters. Hopefully the grower will have picked the fruit when the sugars are in the correct range (23°-25° ºBrix*). You can request this service, so don't be afraid to ask. If the sugars are outside of this range, you will have to address this after the crush. (Either by adding sugar to raise the ºBrix, or by diluting the must to lower the sugars. See section 2.3 A for a full explanation.)  
 
 *Note: You can measure ºBrix with a refactometer (MT700) or a standard hydrometer (MT310) - just take your reading off of the ºBrix scale and not the Specific Gravity scale. The grower or your source for the grapes should be able to tell you what the ºBrix are because this usually determines when they are picked.  
 
 2.1) Crush and De-Stem the Grapes The goal here is to remove as many of the stems as possible (at least 90%), and make sure that all of the berries have been sufficiently split open to allow the yeast to get in and work their magic. They don‟t need to be completely mashed, just cracked. For small amounts, this can be done by hand with a mesh bag. However, for quantities above 50 lbs, you will want to purchase or rent a Crusher-Destemmer. Unwashed grapes are added directly to the top hopper on these machines. The grapes are crushed by the rollers and fall through the grate below into your fermenter. The separated stems are ejected out of the unit by the “destemming bar.” These machines are available in manual and electric versions. The combination of juice, skins, seeds, and pulp that falls into your fermenter is now called “must”. You add yeast to the must to perform fermentation. Red wines are fermented in contact with solid materials from the grape in order to extract the compounds that give the wine its color, body, and depth of flavor and aroma.  
 
 2.2) Let’s Clean the Slate – Adding SO2 (Potassium Metabisulfite) One of the keys to a successful fermentation is removing any native wild yeast and bacteria from the must prior to adding your special winemaking yeast. Wild yeast and bacteria can consume sugar from grape juice just as easily as your special yeast can, but generally produce some pretty terrible flavors in the process. In addition, many wild yeasts are less tolerant to high alcohol levels, and may stop fermenting before all of the sugars have been consumed, creating a “stuck” fermentation. If this happens, left-over sugar could be used as a food supply for any spoilage organisms present, and the wine will be compromised. Therefore, sulfite is added immediately after you crush to “clean the slate” of these unwanted guests. The amount used is usually just enough to kill or at least inhibit spoilage organisms, but not enough to bother more sulfite-tolerant, cultured yeast strains that we recommend using. If your grapes are in good condition, free of mold etc., add 50ppm („parts per million‟) of SO2 based on the total volume of the must. If the grapes are not in good condition, add more sulfite to counteract the presence of the mold and bacteria- up to 100ppm. However, be aware that levels of SO2 above 50 ppm will inhibit an MLF (Malolactic Fermentation) if you choose to do one. The 50ppm dosage rate at the time of the crush is usually fine.  
 
 *Note: The first sulfite addition made during the crush usually becomes entirely “bound-up” by the end of the alcoholic fermentation. During its aging and storage, only the “free” portion of the SO2 addition is actually contributing to the protection of the wine. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that this first addition isn't part of the sulfite level needed to protect the wine during its storage and aging.  
 
 For more comprehensive information on SO2, see sections 8.1 and 10.7.  Types of SO2  
 
 We recommend SO2 in 2 specific forms for addition to your wine, Potassium Metabisulfite (most common) and Efferbaktol (our favorite). Potassium Metabisulfite is often shortened to “meta” “SO2” “Sulfite”, and comes in a white powder form. It can be dissolved into water and added to the must or finished wine. Our preferred format for sulfite is in the form of effervescent selfdissolving granules called Efferbaktol. SO2 is also available from Campden tablets, which look like aspirin. Campden tablets are made from Sodium Metabisulfite, a less desirable form of SO2. However, they're easily measurable in small doses.  
 
 Efferbaktol packets: Sizes: Available in 2g (AD503A), 5g (AD504A), and 10g (AD505B) packets. 2g adds 528ppm per gallon, 5g adds 1320ppm per gallon, 10g adds 2640ppm per gallon.  
 
 To add the right amount of SO2 for your fermenter using Efferbaktol, divide the ppm by your gallons of must to see how many ppm of SO2 will be added:  
 
 Let's say you have 10 gallons of must. The 2g packet offers 528ppm per gallon; divide 528ppm by 10 gallons to get 52.8ppm, close enough to our desired 50 ppm. To use: Tear the bag open and add directly to the must or wine. Mix thoroughly. Easy and clean.  
 
 About Efferbaktol: It takes 2.5 grams of product weight to give 1 gram of SO2. So, the 2 gram packet of Efferbaktol actually weighs 5 grams. This is useful to remember when dividing dosages between vessels while using a scale. If the individual dosages are done at the same time, this is not a problem. Once opened, you should quickly use the entire contents of the package because it begins to lose its effectiveness when exposed to moisture in the ambient air.  
 
 SO2 in Powdered Form: Sizes: Available in 4oz (AD495), or 1lb (AD500) bags 0.33 grams per gallon results in 50ppm. For 10 gallons you would need 3.3 grams of powdered meta-bisulfite. If you do not have a gram scale, ½ teaspoon (level) is about 3.3 grams and adds 50ppm (“total”) to 10 gallons. To use: Dilute the sulfite powder in water or juice until the crystals are completely dissolved and thoroughly mix into the must.  
 
 Set Aside a Sample for Testing Once you have added sulfite to the crushed grapes the must is protected. You can safely take out about a quart for testing.  
 
 2.3 Testing the Must Before you add the yeast, you need to test the must to determine if any additions/corrections are needed. Very rarely will you get a grape that naturally has the required balance of acids, sugars, and pH necessary to create a harmonious wine. When one or more of these elements are out of their ideal ranges, the quality of the wine suffers. Any potential the fruit had to make a nice wine is significantly lowered. However, if we take the time to correct any possible problems and balance the must early on, the quality of the resulting wine will be better maintained. Correcting a must lays the foundation on which the wine will be built. Even slight adjustments can raise a wine from being just good to great.  
 
 *Note: When making corrections, consider the varietal. Seed/skin to juice ratio varies for each grape. We will only be getting around 3 (Bordeaux) to 3.5 (Zin and Rhône)* gallons of finished wine from every 5 gallons of must! This comes out to 60-70% of the must volume. Don’t forget to take this into account when making corrections to the sugar levels or pH/Total Acidity (TA). In addition, most products designed to go into the must should still use the entire must volume to calculate their dosage. This compensates for the portion of the additions that physically bind to the must itself and will not make it into the final wine volume. This includes SO2, enzymes, tannins, oak, Opti-Red, Booster-Rouge and Noblesse.  
 
 * Common examples of Bordeaux grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. Rhône varietals include Syrah, Grenache, Mouvèdre, and Pinot Noir.  
 
 2.3 A) Test the Sugar: Before making any adjustments, double-check your °Brix after the grapes have been crushed and the must has had a chance to be completely mixed together. There is usually a bit of variation in sugar levels between each and every bunch of grapes that make up the whole volume. Interestingly enough, these differences are not only found in fruit coming from different sections of the same vineyard, but even off of the same vine. Therefore, the only way to get a truly accurate sugar reading for any must is to wait until the fruit has been completely processed and thoroughly mixed together.  
 
 *Note: Testing the whole must also helps to make the TA and pH testing more accurate as well. (Information on TA and pH and why they are important will be explained shortly)  
 
 You can measure the sugar level with a hydrometer or a refractometer  
 
 A hydrometer works by measuring the density of the liquid you're testing compared to water at a certain temperature. Temperature affects density, so it is important to have a sample close to your hydrometer's calibration temperature. If using a hydrometer: make sure to strain the sample of juice to remove any seeds and skins before filling the hydrometer jar. If the solids are left in the sample, these may cause the hydrometer to stick to the side of the jar, compromising the accuracy of the results. Another good technique for getting a clear juice sample is to place the sample in a freezer for 15-20 minutes. Decant off of the sediment that settles out. However, because a Hydrometer works off of the principle of density, and density changes with temperature, you will need to allow the sample to warm back up to 68 be accurate because this is where most hydrometers are calibrated. The hydrometer jar should contain enough sample that the hydrometer is always floating. Wait until it stabilizes and read the number where the top of the liquid meets the scale on the hydrometer.  
 
 Note: Depending on the temperature of the sample, you should also add or subtract the amount indicated by the thermometer at the bottom of the hydrometer for the greatest amount of accuracy.  
 
 If using a refractometer, add a drop or two of the juice to the lens and close the flap onto it. This will cause some of the juice to squish out, which is normal. Next, wait 30 seconds for the sample to adjust to the temperature of the refractometer prism. Then, hold it up to the light and look through it to see where the colored bar extends to on the scale. This is your ºBrix reading.  
 
 When using a refractometer, make sure the glass lens is clean and dry, and reads 0 ºBrix when testing with plain water. If not, adjust/calibrate it with water according to the instructions that came with it. This usually involves turning a knob or a small screw while looking through it until it reads “0”.  
 
 Once you have gotten a ºBrix reading for the must, record this in your notes and determine if you need to adjust the sugars or not:  
 
 As mentioned earlier, you want a sugar level of 22°-25° ºBrix for the start of a red wine fermentation.  
 
 • If your sugar level is lower than 22° ºBrix, we recommend adding sugar to bring it up to the standard level (called chapitalizing the must). This is done with table sugar: 1.5 oz. of table sugar per US gallon of projected liquid raises the ºBrix by 1°. Measure the amount of sugar needed and completely dissolve it into a small quantity of warm water The warm water ensures that the sugar will dissolve completely into the wine. This small amount of water will not be enough to dilute the wine. Alternatively, you can dissolve the sugar directly into the liquid from the must, but depending on how much you are adding, this may be difficult. Mix thoroughly into the must so that the sugar (which is heavier than must) doesn‟t wind up sitting on the bottom of the fermentation vessel.  
 
 • If your sugars are higher than 25 ºBrix, you may choose to leave the must as is and make a “big” wine. However, depending on your yeast strain, you may get a wine that does not ferment all the way “dry” (less than 1% residual sugar). To avoid this, you can dilute the juice to 22°-25° ºBrix with water.  
 
 For complete notes on dilution and chapitalization, see section 10.1.  
 
 If you don‟t have a scale (MT358): 1 tsp of table sugar = 5 grams (.17 oz.) 8.8 tsp of table sugar = 1.5 oz.  
 
 TA and pH  
 
 The next two sections deal with testing pH and TA. These are very important elements to monitor during winemaking because they give us an indication of what is going on with the overall balance of the wine. TA measures all of the combined acids in the wine, (there are many different types) and tells you how acidic/tart the wine is. TA is expressed in either %TA or in g/L of Tartaric Acid. For example, a wine‟s TA could be expressed as 0.65% TA or as 6.5g/L TA. These two values are equivalent, and you can easily switch between the two common ways of expressing TA by moving the decimal point one place left or right. We prefer to express TA in of g/L because we feel it is easier to visualize: We are literally saying that the wine has 6.5g of TA per L of wine. The pH is a measure of how these acids balance out against buffering compounds such as Potassium. pH value also indicates how effective the blend of acidic and basic compounds will be at helping to protect the wine. pH is measured in pH units, pH values of less than 7.0 are acidic. The typical pH range for red wines is between 3.5 and 3.8.  
 
 Let‟s take a look at how these two parameters interact. Assume we have two red wines that each have the same TA, but different pHs, 3.2 and 4.0 respectively. The wine with a pH of 3.2 will have bright fruit flavors, but it will also be thin, acidic and aggressive on the palette. On the other hand, the wine at 4.0 will be softer and rounder than the wine at 3.2, but also less vibrant; the fruit characteristics will flatten out quickly. Ideally, we are after a wine that has the freshness and strong fruit characteristics of the lower pH wine, but with the roundness and approachability of the higher pH one. The key to achieving this lies in making sure the pH of the wine ends up somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, between 3.4-3.65 pH. Vigilant monitoring of your TA and pH will help you achieve this goal.  
 
 The importance of correctly preparing a sample for both the TA and pH testing: TA and pH are sensitive tests. It is important to properly prepare samples or we may get false results. With red wines, it is best to get a sample of the must and lightly run it through a blender. The blender serves to open the skins and simulates the chemical make-up the juice will attain once fermentation has completed. The blended sample will need to be strained because the grape solids all have a different pH and TA than the juice itself. If they remain in the sample, they can skew the results. We only want to test the final liquid that is free of solids. To achieve this, first strain the blended fruit to get the solids out. A fine mesh bag (Bag10) is great for this. Next, filter the resulting liquid to obtain a c