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Can I make wine that’s as good as those bought in my local wine and liquor stores?

Yes!  And you can do so at a fraction of the cost of commercially produced wines.  Keep in mind that, as with any good wine, you should allow time to age your wine so that you can properly enjoy it.

Is it expensive to make my own wine?

Not at all!  Most wine kits you purchase will make 30 x 750ml bottles of wines.  Prices for kits will vary depending on the location where you purchase your kit and the brand and quality of the finished product.  The more juice included in your kit will raise the price as will the inclusion of GenuWine winery dried grape skins & wet grape skins, etc.  You can make your own wine for as low as $3 a bottle.

What is the process for making my own wine at a craft winemaking store?  What do I do in this process?

When you make wine on-premise, you will start with choosing the type of wine you want to make and which wine kit you want to use.  The options are endless, so the staff at your local craft winemaking store can help guide you through this, ensuring you choose the wine that will best suit your tastes and needs.

Next, you will begin by sprinkling the yeast on the juice to begin the fermentation process.  After your wine kit is started, you have no further obligations until your wine is ready to be bottled.  When you return back for your bottling experience, you’ll need to sanitize your bottles, fill & cork them and applying labels and shrink caps will complete the process.  All the necessary equipment is available at your craft winemaking store and experienced winemakers will assist you so you can complete the process with ease.

How long does the entire process take?

This will depend on the craft wine kit you have chosen.  Kits range from 4-8 weeks and then you should allow for a minimum of 2 weeks to age the wine.

What kinds of wines are available to make?

The possibilities are endless.  Choose from old world classics, like Chardonnay & Cabernet Sauvignon to new world favourites like Malbec & Carmenere to pleasing blends of different varietals.  You’ll also be able to choose from beers, ciders, fruit wines and more.

What do I need to make wine in my own home?

Most craft winemaking businesses sell all the equipment needed to make your own wine at home.  They’re often sold as a complete package.  If you prefer to put together your own winemaking supplies, the required equipment is as follows:

  • Primary Fermenter:
  • Carboy – 23 litre (5 imp gal/6 US gal):
  • Airlock & Rubber Bung:
  • Siphon Assembly:
  • Hydrometer & Test Cylinder:
  • Spoon:
  • Package of Cleaner
  • Package of Sulphite

 

Suggested Equipment:

  • Measuring Cup: 500ml/2 cups
  • Floating Thermometer:
  • Wine Thief: To remove wine samples from Primary Fermenter or Carboy
  • 30 Wine Bottles: 750ml
  • 30 Wine Bottle Closures:
  • Corker:
  • Bottle-filling Wand

 

What does a hydrometer do?

A hydrometer is an inexpensive yet essential piece of test equipment used by winemakers.  It is generally made of blown glass, with a weighted, bulbous bottom and a long narrow stem.  The hydrometer is designed to float in liquid with the bulbous end down.  A reading is taken by looking at a scale (contained in the stem) at the surface of the liquid being measured.  A hydrometer allows the winemaker to figure the specific gravity (SG - the relative "weight" of a liquid compared to plain water) of wine or must.  Depending upon the readings observed, a winemaker can monitor the progress of fermentation and make immediate adjustments if necessary.  There are many reasons why a winemaker might want to use a hydrometer:

  • To measure the specific gravity (SG) of must or wine
  • To determine progress of fermentation
  • To calculate potential percentage of alcohol
  • To measure the amount of sugar present in wine or must
  • To allow the winemaker to determine when fermentation is finished or should be stopped

 

What is the alcohol content in the wines?

 The alcohol content of most wines range from 10% to 14%.  Wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast.  Yeast consumes the sugars found in the grapes and converts them into alcohol. 

To calculate potential percentage of alcohol, take your original specific gravity (SG) and subtract the specific gravity of the finished wine. Multiply the result by 131; this gives you the percent alcohol by volume. An example:

Day 1 SG = 1.085
Day 14 SG = 0.998 
1.085 – 0.998 = 0.087
0.087 x 131 = 11.397 - The wine’s alcohol content is approximately 11.4%

Can I control the sweetness of the wine?

For the best results, follow the instructions included with your craft winemaking kit.  If you prefer a sweeter wine, choose a kit that will naturally produce a sweeter wine.  Don’t add any sugar during the fermentation process - it will be converted into alcohol and the result may be less than desirable.  If you still want to sweeten your wine, you need to add wine conditioner after it has been stabilized.

What are tannins?

Tannins come from the skins, seeds, and stems of the grapes as well as the oak used to age wines. They give wine its longevity, character & mouth-feel, and are most noticeable in red wines.  Red wines typically have more tannins because they are left to ferment with their skins and commonly aged in oak.  Higher tannins usually make the wine darker and drier.

What are sulphites?

Sulphites protect your wine from spoilage causing microbes and oxidation.  You need to add it to your wine otherwise it will go bad.  A wine made without sulfites needs to be consumed as soon as one month after bottling.  In general, craft wines have a lower amount of sulphites than commercial wines do as they are generally consumed faster than commercial wines, which usually are warehoused and sit on store shelves for a few years before consumption.  As few craft winemakers tend to age their wines for more than a few months, if they were to use the same amount of sulphites as in commercial wines, the wine would taste and smell like burnt matches/sulpher.

What is fermentation?

The process of fermentation in wine is the function that turns grape juice into an alcoholic beverage.  During fermentation, yeast interact with sugars in the juice to create ethanol, commonly known as ethyl alcohol, and carbon dioxide (as a by-product).  In winemaking the temperature and speed of fermentation is an important consideration as well as the levels of oxygen present in the must at the start of fermentation.  The risk of stuck fermentation and the development of several wine faults can also occur during this stage, which can last anywhere from 5 to 14 days for primary fermentation and potentially another 5 to 10 days for secondary fermentation.

What’s the difference between filtering and racking?

Racking is the process where the clear wine is removed from the settled sediment or lees in the bottom of a container into a new, clean carboy.  A siphon or racking hose is used to transfer the wine between containers during this process.

Filtering will remove the sediment better than racking and will give your wine a “shine” that is not possible otherwise.  It also removes yeast, which is important if your wine contains residual sugar, filtering lowers the risk of fermentation in the bottle.  This process is also completed with siphon hoses moving your wine from the carboy, through a filter and into another clean carboy.

What is metatartaric acid?

Metatartaric acid is added to wines that contain very high quality juice, as these kits are likely going to have bitrate crystal dropout (wine diamonds). Wine diamonds are totally benign and not a fault, but some people prefer to not have them in their wine. If metatartaric acid is added to the wine it will keep the crystals in suspension for 18 months or more, it is an optional step.

Why don’t white wines include grape skins?

While many red craft winemaking kits are fermented with the skins of grapes, white wines are fermented from the clear grape juice.  Using Genuine Winery Dried Grape Skins or wet grape skins during fermentation will increase the depth of colour in a red wine as well as the body or texture. It can also increase the tannins.

How do I make my wine oaky?

Many of our craft winemaking kits will include oak additives for your wine.  Oak may come in many forms including staves, chips, cubes, powder or infusion/tea bags.  These will be added to the Primary Fermenter on day 1 of your winemaking experience, according to the instructions for your wine kit.  You will achieve the best quality results by following the directions as your wine kit has been put together to create a specific flavor profile.  If you prefer a more heavily oaked wine or an un-oaked wine, please work with one of the winemakers to find a more suitable wine or to select the correct additives.

What is the best style of bottle to use?  Should I use different bottle styles for different kinds of wines?  What about coloured bottles?

The style of wine bottle you choose is often based on personal preference.  Many craft winemakers select the bottle shape they wish to associate their wines with.  For instance, a producer who believes his wine is similar to Burgundy may choose to bottle his or her wine in Burgundy-style bottles.  Traditionally, dark green & amber-hued bottles are used for red wines, while white wines are in clear bottles.

Do you provide the bottles for my wine or do I have to bring my own?

Craft winemaking stores will have a variety of bottles available to purchase at a minimal cost.  You can also bring your own.  You should rinse your bottles thoroughly after finishing them and most stores have bottle sanitizers to help you complete the process.  Re-using screw top bottles is not recommended.  The threads can chip and you cannot be sure how good a seal you have. It’s also not a good idea to cork a screw top bottle, as the neck is not as strong as a bottle made for corks and may break and the neck shape means the surface of the cork that touches the bottle is much lower.

If I bring my own bottles, what’s the best way to clean them?

Thoroughly rinse your bottles very soon after they are empty.  If your labels are peel and stick, simply peel off the labels.  Otherwise, soak them in warm water for a few minutes to help remove the labels.  Make sure that you drain them properly and they are completely dry.  As you build your collection of wine bottles, it’s best to store the clean bottles upside down to avoid contamination by foreign objects, dust, insects etc.

What’s the best kind of cork to use? 

The type of cork you use for your winemaking is often a personal preference.  We offer Agglomerated Corks, which are made from corkwood that has been examined for flaws, carefully washed and sterilized then cut into shape – these work best for storing wine 1-3 years.  We also offer synthetic corks, which are made from a formula of dual density foam core and uniform skin with just the right amount of compressibility and memory to provide a seal that will stop leakage and bacteria contamination.  Synthetic corks compress and insert easily, seal immediately, will not transmit flavors, will keep your wine fresh and are easily removable.

Are there professional labels for me to attach to the bottles?  Can I design my own?

Some craft wine kits include labels while others can be purchased separately.  Many craft winemaking retailers can help you design and print custom labels for your wines or they can direct you somewhere that can do the design and printing for you.

Do I have to bring all my wine home with me at once?

Once your wine has been bottled, you will need to bring it home with you.  As you will make an appointment to bottle your wines, it’s best to arrange it on a day when someone is available to help you carry your new vintage into your home!

How quickly can I start enjoying my wine?

As with any good wine, you will want to age it.  A minimum of 2 weeks is required.  Once you have completed the bottling process, keep your wine bottles upright for 1 week, then age the wine bottles on their sides to keep the corks intact and moist.  For optimal enjoyment, keep your wine in a temperature-controlled environment (below 16°C/60°F) out of direct light for 2-3 months prior to consuming.  Generally, the higher quality the wine kit you make, the more the product will benefit from ageing.  It is also dependant on the type of wine you have chosen (i.e. reds generally require more ageing than whites).  Your craft winemaking retailer will help you with recommended ageing times depending on the brand and style of wine you choose.

How long will the wine be good for?

When stored in the right conditions (cool, dark space), higher-end craft wines can be in great shape for drinking for several years.  However, like most commercial wines, most craft wines will be best enjoyed within a few years of making them.