How to Make Your First Gallon of Wine part 2
This is the second part of a walkthrough that will help you to make your first batch of wine using supermarket juice. 1 gallon is 6 bottles of wine.
If you haven’t already read it, you’ll need to start with part 1 to catch up…
After around 3 weeks, you’ll notice that the air bubbles escaping the airlock have slowed down a lot, and have probably stopped altogether. Congratulations! you have made wine (although it will be far from it’s best at the moment).
Your wine will still be cloudy and you should have a layer of a solid looking substance on the bottom. This is the ‘lees’. It’s mostly dead yeast cells and some other particles. Unless you intend to deliberately use this to flavour your wine (like a traditional Chardonnay or Muscadet) we want to remove it from the wine (in practice, removing the wine from the lees). This process is called ‘racking’ and it’s often repeated 2 or 3 times. Be very careful when moving the demijohn; it can be quite heavy and we do not want to stir-up the yeast into the must.
There are 2 main pieces of equipment required at this stage that were mentioned in part 1. You will need a spare demijohn and a siphon tube with sediment trap. As previously mentioned, everything must be scrupulously clean and sterile.
You may also want a hydrometer and trial jar to check on the alcohol content but a slight sniff will tell you if it’s working (warning, it won’t smell pleasant if it is, so don’t breath too deeply)
- Find a way to gently tilt the demijohn by a few degrees. This will help to maximise the amount of wine we can siphon off. I use a carefully folded clean tea towel. It’s also possible to buy a special demijohn tilt from some homebrew shops, or make your own.
- Set up your spare demijohn below the wine to get physics working for you. Make sure the siphon tube is long enough to reach from the bottom of the wine to the bottom of the receiving demijohn: we don’t want to introduce more oxygen than is absolutely unavoidable.
- Remove the bubbler / airlock from the wine and gently insert the end of the siphon that has the yeast trap into the wine until it reaches the bottom.
- Get ready to move swiftly: Gently suck on the free end of the siphon until the wine has come past the highest point of the tube and is flowing downwards. Quickly put the free end of the tube into the receiving demijohn and stand back in amazement, watching magical physics work.
- When all the wine has been transferred, carefully remove the siphon and rinse it through straight away. I find it best to carefully lift the end in the now empty bottle first so that any final wine will go into the new demijohn
- If you used grape concentrate in part 1, then top up to the neck with tepid water.
- If you used grape juice in part 1 then you should have 1 carton of your fruit juice left. Use this now.
- Finally, put a bubbler onto the filled demijohn and put the wine away.
- Clean up the old demijohn now and put some clingfilm (wrap) around the opening. It’s much easier than waiting.
Check the wine after a couple of weeks. It may well throw down more sediment as it clears. If this is a significant amount, repeat these steps.
Coming soon will be the final racking, bottling and storing. I promises we’ll get around to drinking…
As always, leave a message if you have any questions or extra tips to offer.
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All the best