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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.

The finings then drop to the bottom of the wine and the yeast sticks to it to form a sediment. After it’s clear, you can filter. If you try to filter too soon, the gel will clog you filter. The advantage of tannin in the wine is that it also makes checking if your wine is clear easier. Tannin has a luminescence and so if you put a demijohn of wine in a dark corner, it will appear to light up if it’s really crystal bright clear.

If you are making 25 litres of wine, you can syphon it off when it’s cleared using the finings and then filter it 5 litres at a time. Be careful of containers that are only part filled with wine because the surface of the wine is in contact with the air and will oxidise. If your wine oxidises it loses the fresh taste and it also loses it’s luminescence and looks slightly cloudy. So if you are filtering 25 litres, 5 litres at a time, try to do it all in one session. It filters slowly and so while a batch is filtering you can be bottling the last batch of 5 litres.

You might want to store a demi-john of wine that is full bodied and try making vintage wine. That can be store somewhere dark and cool (a cellar is good), until it throws another sediment. You might store it for 6 months and then syphon it off the sediment again and filter it again through a new filter pad. Then you can add a vintage wine to top it up to the 5 litres again and you have a cuvee; the enzymes from the  vintage wine will work their magic on all your wine to produce an outstanding cuvee vintage wine. You need patience and a little luck but the results can be very good. In stead of paying ten pounds or more a bottle for vintage wine, you have dozen  bottles or more for a fraction of the price. 

If you want to get really experimental, try making a full bodied white wine with extra of tannin and use extra sugar (1200 grams) and when it’s finished, add some Spanish sherry and leave it to mature for 6 months. This works the same as a cuvee, with the enzymes from the sherry working their magic on your wine and making it all taste like sherry. It must be a proper Spanish sherry that you add not a ‘British sherry’. You can just top up your wine to 5 litres every time that you filter with sherry to replace what you have lost to sediment. You can top up some wines with a very good brandy to get a higher alcohol wine with a nice flavour, only do that on the fuller bodied wines though.

I shall be doing things like making sangria and punch in future blogs and tropical drinks from orange and pineapple juice. Do take a look at the links on the Home Page to previous blogs and check out last weeks wine blog. Have a question? Use the comment box and please share with your friends!

When you have a collection of wines, you can have a wine tasting with canapés!

One Response

  1. Pingback: » How to become an expert winemaker | foraging A Zillion Ideas and counting…

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