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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.

Campden tablets are tablets of sodium metabisuphite and one or a couple of those can be added too, to prevent the wine getting spoiled by bacterial contamination. If you have powdered sodium metabisulphite, you can add a little of that, but it harder to measure.

After you have added the additives to stabilise the wine, leave it a little while and then you can add finings to clear the wine. I always use Isinglass which is a gel to clear wine. Wine making books will advise all kinds of weird and wonderful ways of clearing wine, ranging from bentonite (a type of clay) to egg white. I have had some success with egg white, but it’s hit and miss. Your isinglass should be kept cool, I kept mine in the fridge. If it’s really runny when you buy it rather than a gel, it’s become too warm in the shop and won’t be so effective. Make sure your wine is cool too before adding wine finings.

The wine finings need to be mixed well with the wine and the best way of doing this is to put some of the wine in a clean lemonade bottle, add the finings and then shake the bottle well to disperse all the finings. The finings can then be added to the wine and will slowly sink to the bottle taking most, is not all the yeast to the bottom to form a sediment.

When the wine is fairly clear, syphon it off into a clean demijohn and allow it to settle yet again. If it’s really quite clear, then you can filter it. Filters are usually plastic and a Harris filter is ideal. The Vinbright filter is the one I used with great results and so buy that one! You can syphon the wine through the filter, according to the instructions. I used to run a little water through it first to wash any odd particles off the filter. The wine tastes much better and is perfectly clear after it’s been filtered. The Boots filter is similar to the Harris filter, but has been phased out, however Harris still do the filter pads. The filter pads are a sort of high-tech material that is also used in water filters. It’s a little delicate and so handle with care.

After the wine has been filtered into a clean and sterile demijohn, it’s ready to drink. You might drink the first batch quite quickly, but there is the option to bottle it! You will need empty wine bottles, corks and possibly seals. You need to wash the bottles, some people use a dishwasher! I used a bottle brush and soaked the labels off. When they are clean, rinse them with water that has sodium metabisuphite dissolved in it and the sulphur dioxide will kill any germs. Bacteria getting into you wine will turn your alcohol to acetic acid (vinegar). Try to protect your wine from fruit flies that carry bacteria. Don’t put fruit near your wine and don’t leave corks out of demijohns, even for a few minutes.

You can get a gadget for inserting corks into bottles at a wine making supplier. Try to get a steel one that squeezes the cork and then inserts it. You can also get seals that shrink and seal the bottle when heat is applied, the heat must be a boiling kettle (steam) or a powerful hair dryer.

That’s it, you make your first batch of wine and then you can drink it; show it off to friends. No, you don’t age it; it’s plonk not vintage wine. I will get to how to make better quality wine and vintage wines in a future blog. Next week, amazing your friends with quality wines! There are more amazing blogs on the Home Page.

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  1. Pingback: Frugal Friday | Grow your own « Mike10613's Blog

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