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winemaking

This week’s ideas

a landscape, Merrion's Wood

I took lots of photos last Sunday for my Neodigital Art blogs. What do you think of this one? I converted it to monochrome, but with a slight blue tint. It’s the enchanted woodland of Merrion’s Wood. Neodigital Art is about being creative with your digital camera, scanner and maybe a graphics tablet. In fact any digital device you can lay your hands on. It is fast becoming a school of art. If you search for Neodigital Art using Google, you will I have been promoting it for a few years now. Want to join in? (more…)


How to become an expert winemaker | port and sherry

wine and grapes

Winemakers have always tried to make something that tastes a little like sherry or make their own champagne. I’ve tried most things and the sherry did taste like cheap sherry so it’s worth having a go. You can make something that tastes a lot like port too and so if you like your port and lemon, you can try that too. (more…)


How to become an expert winemaker | punch

wine and grapes

Some spirits are made specially for making punch, but you can use wine. You can make red wine, that is suitable for making Sangria, either from red grape juice, blackberries or damsons, when there is a surplus. For a tropical punch, pineapple wine wine with added fruit and lemonade is nice on a summer’s day. It’s great for barbecues too. You can get cartons of pineapple juice in the supermarket. I just checked a well known British supermarket and they are doing 6 for £4.00. Make sure you buy the concentrated one.

You need 5 or 6 cartons of pineapple juice, 6 bags of sugar and a wine yeast that can ferment to high alcohol to make 25 litres of pineapple wine. Alternatively, if you are making just 5 litres, use one litre of juice and 1200 grams of sugar. (more…)


How to become an expert winemaker | foraging

wine and grapes

Last week when I was taking photos by the canal, I saw wild roses, flowers on the elderberry trees and there were lots of flowers on the brambles. That means if you go foraging there will be rose hips, elderberries and blackberries to be picked soon. That will get you some free fruit and then you have to extract the juice. With soft fruit, a juicer that works on centrifugal force works well and you can extract the juice cheaply. The other alternative is to put them in a saucepan with a little water; simmer for a while and mash. Then you can strain the juice off. (more…)


How to become an expert winemaker | crystal bright

wine and grapes

The hardest part of making wine is clearing it once it’s finished. You add wine finings, the best is isinglass which is a gel derived from sturgeon. I used to use a brand called CWE, but I’m not sure if that is still available.  I used the various supplies like pectin enzyme that was produced by Young’s Home Brew and i think their website is worth visiting. You can syphon some wine off into a plastic soft drinks bottle, fill it about half full. Then add your wine finings and shake the bottle to disperse them through the wine. The finings should be kept cool, if they get warm, the gel becomes too liquid. The wine and finings mixture can then be added to the bulk of the wine. (more…)


How to become an expert winemaker | bulk

wine and grapes

If you are following this series of blogs on winemaking, you have probably made your first batch of 5 litres and have enjoyed sharing it with your friends.  These wines are ideal for barbecues, although it hasn’t exactly been barbecue weather in England. You know that 5 litres doesn’t go far at a barbecue though and so maybe when you get good at it; you could make 25 litres! (more…)


How to become an expert winemaker | Carbs

wine and grapes

Carbs or carbohydrates are sugars and starches. Sugar is fairly easy to understand and the sugar used in wine making is the granulated sucrose that we are familiar with, but there are other types of sugar. There is fructose, otherwise known as fruit sugar, but also found in some vegetables like potatoes and carrots. Fructose is important to mental health and so those foods are important to us. Then there is lactose, that is a sugar that yeast won’t break down and so is sometimes used to sweeten wine after it’s finished fermenting. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose aren’t usually used to sweeten wine. There have been accusations that these sweeteners can damage health too. I try to avoid them because although the digestive system doesn’t absorb them, they can be broken down in the large bowel causing gas. Who wants more gas? (more…)


How to become an expert winemaker | acids

wine and grapes

I started this series of blogs on how to become an expert winemaker a few weeks ago, so you can go back and read the first blog. Then two weeks ago I explained how to make your first batch of wine using apple juice. Then last week we went on to clearing and filtering the wine. The more you understand the process and the science bit, the less likely you are to make a bad batch. I chose apple juice for the first batch because it’s cheaper than grape juice and it contains malic acid like grape juice. (more…)


How to become an expert wine maker – clearing

wine and grapes

I explained last week how to make your first batch of wine. After about 3 weeks of testing your wine to see if all the sugar has fermented into alcohol, you should get a reading with your hydrometer of just 1.000 for medium dry wine. You can now stop it fermenting with a stabiliser or wine stopper. Something like Potassium sorbate (from your local supplier or Amazon) will do nicely. I found a stabiliser by Young’s Home Brew on eBay too. Sorbates can cause a few people tummy trouble, but there are other stabilisers you can use. (more…)


How to become an expert winemaker – fermentation

wine and grapes

Last week I explained how to turn the millions of yeast cells in a packet of wine yeast into the zillion cells, you need to make wine. All you do is put a litre of fruit juice in a 2L bottle, add yeast and seal with a plastic bag, secured with a rubber band, so the carbon dioxide gas can escape. Now we can make our first drop of decent wine. A modern wine bottle is about 70cl and so we can get 6 or even 7 bottles from a 5 litre batch of wine. (more…)


How to become an expert winemaker…

Do you remember the 1963 film, the Great Escape? Hilts, the Cooler King makes moonshine from potatoes to celebrate Independence Day, the fourth of July. It’s easy to make, just dig up some potatoes that were previously fertilised by soil from your escape tunnel. Make a ‘must’ by chopping them into tiny pieces and adding water; add yeast obtained by the camp scrounger. Then ferment for a month or two, run it through your still allowing the lighter alcohols to escape and using the heavy alcohols to sterilise your commando knife. Then allow the alcohol from the still to drip into a carboy previously well washed after being used to transport sulphuric acid and hope that the guards don’t notice the smell. Actually, the film was based on a real escape and there weren’t any Americans, no fourth of July and no moonshine…  So being English I will share my knowledge of making real booze… (more…)


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