Making Wine Like a Pro!

1. Preparing Supplies and Ingredients

  1. Make Homemade Wine Step 1
    Gather supplies. In addition to the wine ingredients, you’ll need a few basic supplies to ensure that your wine can age without being affected by bugs or bacteria. Home winemaking shouldn’t be expensive, so it’s not necessary to splurge on special equipment. You will need the following supplies:

    • A 2 gallon (7.6 L) crock or glass jar (you can often find these at vintage or secondhand stores, however, be advised that many used crocks may have been used for sauerkraut or pickles and could contaminate your wine.[1])
    • A 1 gallon (3.8 L) carboy (a glass container with a small neck)
    • An airlock
    • A thin plastic tube to be used for siphoning
    • Clean wine bottles with corks or screw caps
    • Campden tablets (optional)


    1. Pick out your fruit. Wine can be made with any type of fruit, though grapes and berries are the most popular choices. Choose fruit at the peak of its flavor. It’s best to choose organic fruit that hasn’t been treated with chemicals, since you don’t want these to end up in your wine. If possible, use fruit you’ve picked yourself or buy some from a farmer’s market. Some retailers also specialize in providing wine grapes to home winemakers (for example, Wine Grapes Direct), which is great if you do not live near vineyards.
    2. Make Homemade Wine Step 3
      Clean the fruit. Take off the stems and leaves, and make sure the fruit doesn’t have particles of dirt or grit. Rinse the fruit thoroughly and place it in your crock. You can peel the fruit before crushing, but much of the flavor of the wine will come from its skin. Peeling it will result in a much milder wine.

      • Some winemakers choose not to wash the fruit before crushing. Since fruit has natural yeasts on its skin, it’s possible to make wine using only the yeast from the fruit’s skin and the air. However, washing the fruit and controlling the yeast you add allows you to ensure that the flavor of the wine will be to your liking; allowing wild yeast to grow can produce foul flavors. If you’re up for an experiment, you could make two batches of wine, one with controlled yeast and one with wild, to find out which you like best.
    3. Make Homemade Wine Step 4
      Crush the fruit. Using a clean potato masher or your hands, crush and squeeze the fruit to release its juices. Keep doing so until the level of the fruit juice is within1 12 inches (3.8 cm) of the top of the crock. If you don’t have enough fruit and juice to fill the crock almost to the top, top it off with filtered water. Add a Campden tablet, which releases sulphur dioxide into the mixture, killing wild yeast and bacteria. If you’re making wild yeast wine, don’t take steps to kill the yeast.

      • As an alternative to using a tablet, you can pour 2 cups of boiling water over the fruit.
      • Using tap water can affect the taste of your wine, since it contains additives. Be sure to use filtered or spring water.
    4. Make Homemade Wine Step 5

      Stir in the honey. Honey provides food for the yeast and sweetens your wine. The amount of honey you use will directly affect the sweetness of your wine. If you prefer sweeter wine, add more honey. If you don’t like it as sweet, limit your honey to 2 cups. Take the type of fruit you’re using into account as well. Since grapes have a high sugar content, you don’t need to add a lot of honey to grape wine. Berries and other fruits with lower sugar content will need a little more honey.

      • You can add sugar or brown sugar instead of honey if you’d like.
      • You can always add more honey later if your wine doesn’t come out as sweet as you like.
    5. Make Homemade Wine Step 6
      Add the yeast. If you’re using your own yeast, now is the time to add it. Pour it into the crock and stir it into the mixture with a long-handled spoon. This mixture is called a must.

      • If you’re making wild yeast wine, you can skip this step.

     Fermenting the Wine

    1. Make Homemade Wine Step 7
      Cover the crock and store overnight. It’s important to use a cover that will keep bugs out but allow air to flow in and escape the crock. You can use a crock lid designed for this purpose or stretch a cloth or t-shirt over the opening and secure it in place with a large rubber band. Place the covered crock in a warm area with a temperature around 70 degrees overnight.

      • Putting the crock in a cool place won’t facilitate the growth of the yeast. Storing it in a place that’s too warm will kill the yeast. Find a good in-between place in your kitchen.
    2. Make Homemade Wine Step 8
      Stir the must few times per day. The day after you make the mixture, uncover it and stir it thoroughly, and recover. Do this every 4 hours or so the first day, then keep stirring a few times per day for the next 3 days. The mixture should start bubbling as the yeast moves into action. This is the fermentation process that will lead to delicious wine.
    3. Make Homemade Wine Step 9
      Strain and siphon the liquid. When the bubbling slows down, about 3 days after it begins, it’s time to strain out the solids and siphon the liquid into your carboy for longer-term storage. Once you’ve siphoned it into the carboy, affix the airlock to the opening to allow for the release of gas while preventing oxygen from coming in and spoiling your wine.

      • If you don’t have an airlock, you can use a small balloon placed over the opening. Every few days, pull off the balloon to let out the collected gas and replace it right away.
    4. Make Homemade Wine Step 10
      Let the wine age for at least one month. It’s better if you can let it age for up to nine, during which time the wine will age and mellow, resulting in a much improved taste. If you used extra honey in your wine, it’s better to age it on the longer side, or else it will taste too sweet when you drink it.
    5. Make Homemade Wine Step 11
      Bottle the wine. To prevent the wine from catching a bacteria that could cause it to turn to vinegar, add a Campden tablet to the mixture as soon as you remove the airlock. Siphon the wine into your clean bottles, filling them almost to the top, and cork them immediately. Allow the wine to further age in the bottles or enjoy it immediately.[5]

      • Use dark bottles to preserve the color of red wines.
    1. Make Homemade Wine Step 12
      Learn the tricks that lead to successful wine-making. People have been making wine for thousands of years, and they’ve learned a few tricks along the way. Keep the following in mind as you make your own wine for the first time:

      • Use very clean equipment to prevent bacteria from spoiling your wine.
      • Keep your first ferment covered but allow for ventilation.
      • Keep the secondary fermentation air-free.
      • Keep all bottles full, to minimize oxygen in the bottle.
      • Keep red wines in dark bottles so they don’t lose their appearance.
      • Make wines too dry instead of too sweet: you can add sugar later.
      • Taste the wine at intervals to make sure the process is going well.
    2. Make Homemade Wine Step 13
      Know what to avoid with home wine-making. Avoiding these common pitfalls can help ensure your success. Do not:

      • Sell your wine, since this is illegal.
      • Let vinegar flies come in contact with your wine.
      • Use metal vessels.
      • Use tools or containers made out of resinous wood, as they can spoil the wine’s flavor.
      • Try to speed up fermentation by turning up the temperature.
      • Filter without a reason or too soon.
      • Store your wine in unsterilized jars or bottles.
      • Bottle your wine before it has finished fermenting.





How Wine Corks Affect Aging Wine



How Wine Corks Affect Aging Wine

A cork is designed to keep wine in a bottle–but the idea of the cork, the associated pop, and the terrible cork-crafts that litter wine merchants’ shelves are proof that cork and wine are more than cozy. With the availability of new materials, and the known benefits of some alternative closures, there are many growing cases against the use of cork. I’ll break down some of the cork related issues and show how wine corks affect aging wine. Maybe I’ll even convince you to stop making coasters, trivets and corkboards for your friends.

Maybe I’ll even convince you to stop making corkboards for your friends.

Where do corks come from?

Cork bottle stoppers are made from the bark of cork oaks. The tree is not cut down and only up to half of the bark is removed at any one time. This is a highly skilled, labor intensive process with special tools and complicated logistics. Imagine peeling the delicate bark off of a massive tree, cutting it into uniform sheets and transporting it to the processing plant without breaking it. These are reasons why cork closures are more expensive, and why there is some pressure to move to alternative closures.


Plastic is forever and aluminum takes a ton of energy to make. Cork is by no means a perfect product, but it has stood up very well to synthetic closures in terms of sustainability and environmental impact. 50% of northern Portugal’s economy is based on cork and they have taken a huge hit from the use of synthetic corks and aluminum caps. Centuries old cork forests have been cut down to make room for new industries, which is endangering certain animals and setting the production of cork back decades. Cork trees need to be 25-30 years old before their bark can be harvested.

Know Your Corks:

100% All Natural Cork... kinda like all natural beef


100% Natural Cork Stoppers

This is what you think of when I say cork. It’s one piece, comes in grades (based on surface, water content, porosity, and visual inspection) and is the best choice in most cases. This is the only cork stopper you should trust for aging wine much beyond 5 years or so, because its spongy flexibility keeps its seal viable the longest.


So, I guess the question is.. What does "W" stand for?


Colmated Corks

Take the cork from above and fill its pores with glue and cork dust. These corks look smoother, glide out of the bottle when you pull them, and are still good for medium aging.


This cork is both an agglomerated and multi-piece champagne cork


Multi-Piece Corks

Two or more large cork pieces glued together. These are denser than single piece corks, and are a way the cork manufacturers can use up their scraps. These are also the only way to make giant corks for giant bottles (remember, corks come from a sheet of bark, so there is an inherent size limit). They should also not be trusted for prolonged aging.


Agglomerated cork from Brian Carter Washington Wine


Agglomerated Corks

The particle board of corks; basically these are a plug made of cork dust and glue. Cheaper, pretty dense, and not to be trusted to seal your wine beyond 1 year or so.


technical cork example from terrapin cellars


Technical Corks

I call these liar corks! They are agglomerated corks with full cork discs on either end. There are reasons to do this: like with sparkling wine where they want a larger cork diameter to contain the pressure. It is also a way to ensure your cork is uniformly dense throughout while improving the seal made by simple agglomerated corks. It still feels like a sneaky way to make the cork look solid from the outside of the bottle though.


creative cork board design


DIY Cork Crafts

These are promoted as a way to recycle corks. I’d just like to point out 100% natural corks will biodegrade, which might be a less ugly proposition. Good for you, though!
cork board sourced from misskoco on flickr




Wine Flavors! Where do the unexpected flavors in wine come from? It’s just grapes, right?

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Have a look:

Wine Flavors and How They Are Created

Have you ever wondered why in the world wine smells and thereby tastes like virtually every fruit in the book, except grapes? Or how on earth a wine can smell like vanilla, taste like cherries and finish like satin?Welcome to the world of stereoisomers. Don’t worry if high school chemistry wasn’t your thing, stereoisomers are merely different configurations of the same chemical compound. Stay with me. For example, two common scents in California Chardonnay are apple and butter, you’ll hear plenty about “big, buttery Chardonnay.” So has the winemaker added butter or a dash of apple juice to the fermentation mix? No. Aside from the novel fruit wines that are floating around the market, conventional wine is made solely from grapes. That’s it.

// // // // // Wine Flavors and How They Are Created

Wine Flavor Factors:

So where are these other scents, flavors and sometimes off the wall descriptions coming from? The easy answer is fermentation. In the fermentation process the yeast eats the grape sugar and converts it to alcohol and in the process literally thousands of various, complex chemical compounds are also formed. It is these ubiquitous compounds that take on similar molecular arrangements to familiar scents that our nose and brain can categorize – i.e. apple, butter and the like.

Wine Flavor: Apple

As for apple and Chardonnay – Chards that have gone through malolactic fermentation the process basically takes the tart malic acid (think green apple) compounds that formed during fermentation and softens them to a lactic acid (think milk) which can give the wine a creamy mouthfeel, yet still retains the apple-like scents.

Wine Flavor: Butter

Now the butter and Chardonnay connection stems from a compound called diacetyl, which is a standard byproduct of the fermentation process. This same compound can be found in your spice cabinet. Just open a bottle of artificial butter and take a whiff – there you’ll find your own version of diacetyl and an unforgettably, strong butter aroma. If you have never had a chance to identify “buttery notes” on a Chardonnay, pour an oaked Chardonnay in a glass, give it a swirl and stick your nose in the glass. Try to bypass the other aromas screaming for your attention and focus, focus, focus in on the diacetyl. If you don’t get it at first pass, then take another whiff of your fake butter and then swirl and sniff the Chardonnay again. Interestingly enough, you’ll also often taste this smell on the finish of the Chardonnay when you swallow. Give it a go – people are amazed out how they are able to single out this famous component of many Chardonnays with this simple exercise.

Wine Flavor: Berry

Just like the fermentation process kicked out chemical compounds that were stereoisomers to apple, the same happens for an assortment of red or dark berries and red wine fermentation. If the grapes are grown in cooler climates the berry scents and subsequent flavors will be tighter like that of cranberry or currant. Warmer grapes showcase richer red fruit, think strawberry and big, juicy blackberries.

Wine Flavor: Vanilla

Vanilla is a byproduct of oak aging. The long-standing relationship between oak and wine is worth investigating, especially since oak barrels have been used in wine fermentation and barrel aging for centuries. Oak is utilized somewhat like a “seasoning” to add flavor and palate appeal to a wine. Oak provides flavor and aromatic support to the wine, while adding richer, fuller impressions and complexity. On the nose, oak’s primary influences tend to accentuate aromas that center around the spice rack, with clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and “allspice” being common aromas derived from a wine’s time spent in oak. On the palate, oak’s influence turns towards the rich flavors of caramel, coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, smoke, tea, mocha, toffee and butter.If you are interested in doing a separate wine tasting to discern the presence or absence of oak for yourself, then check out the Oak and Wine Component Tasting.

Wine Flavors: A function of Scent?

Remember from elementary school that your tastebuds can truly only taste for sensations: sweet, bitter, sour and salt. Yet your nose can discern thousands of individual scents, which in turn allows you to taste hundreds of various food flavor nuances. That is why it is so important to really swirl your wine in the glass, take a deep whiff in and then take a sip, hold it in your mouth for a few seconds so that the liquid can hit all of your various tastebuds for a total picture of what the wine has to offer.

Common White Wine Flavors:

When you think of white wines, think of white or lighter-fleshed fruit. The most common scents and flavors that you can expect in white wine varietals include: apple, pear, citrus, tropical, peach, apricot, melon, kiwi, banana, mango, pineapple, warm florals, butter and often you’ll notice more acidity on the palate with white wines.

Common Red Wine Flavors:

Just as you considered ligher fruits with white wines, you’ll want to shift to darker fruit for red wine profiles. The most common scents and flavors for red wine varietals include: cherry, cranberry, raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, blueberry, plum, raisin, fig and various floral tones, spices and you’ll often notice more tannins in the red wine category.

How Climate Affects Wine Flavors

It’s no secret that climate affects every vintage, every year, but it also plays a critical role in the development of the individual grape clusters and their innate flavor profiles. For example, a wine’s style will be completely different depending on where it was grown. Take a Cabernet Sauvignon for example, one grown in a cooler region and one grown in a warm sunny, locale. What happens to the grapes? In the cooler areas the Cab grapes will often display tart, tight flavors like that of red cherries or currants; however, grapes grown in warmer climates present juicer fruit, like that of plums, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries as a direct result of ripeness levels based on sun exposure.

Once you have a handle on the background of wine flavors, you’re ready to start tasting wine like the pros.

Cabernet Sauvignon

We cannot agree more when they say “Cab is king of the red wine grapes”! That’s why we wanted to share these fun facts:

Read the full article here

1. A grape filled with blood, sweet and tears…

Early attempts to grow Cabernet Sauvignon in South Africa did not always have very satisfactory results. Part of the reason for this was that the vines had been planted in areas that were too cool, leading to very bushy vines which had a rather peppery taste. The problem was solved by growing the grapes for longer. The result was sweeter wines with  higher alcohol levels. These vines have now started to age, allowing them to produce larger quantities of intensely-flavoured fruit.

2. South Africa’s second most planted grape

In South Africa, Cabernet Sauvignon is the second-most widely planted variety after Chenin Blanc, making up 12.53% of the total area under vineyard at the end of 2009.

3. When did Cabernet Sauvignon arrive in South Africa?

No record exists to confirm Cabernet Sauvignon’s first arrival in South Africa, but it is likely that the varietal has been here for over 200 years. By the 1920s it had become one of the country’s top-quality red varieties, and today it is grown in virtually all of the country’s wine-producing areas.

Buy our Cabernet Sauvignon here!

More interesting articles:

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Grapes

Grapes are, no doubt, one of nature’s most impressive fruits and not only because they can be turned into wine.
Here are 10 other cool things about them.

Number 10. There are 8 thousand varieties of grapes.

Number 9. Japan has some that sell for 4 thousand dollars a bunch.

Number 8. They’re good for sperm health.

Number 7. They’re bad for dog health.

Number 6. Grapes are helpful in regulating blood sugar.

Number 5. To become a raisin, grapes have to shed a lot of water weight.

Number 4. Bunches can grow to weigh over 20 pounds (9.07 kg).

Number 3. They’ve been used as medicine.

Number 2. Each bottle of wine contains about 2 and a half pounds of grapes. (1.13 kg)

Number 1. They produce their own protection.

The History of Wine


Via Song of the Vine – A History of Wine

According to an ancient Persian fable, wine was the accidental discovery of a princess seeking to end her life with what she thought was poison. Instead, she experienced the elixir’s intoxicating effects as it released her from the anxieties of royal court life. Evolving over the centuries, grape growing and wine-making has continued to grip the human imagination, inspiring passion and ingenuity.

Archeological evidence suggests that grape cultivation and wine making began in Mesopotamia and areas surrounding the Caspian Sea sometime between 6000 and 4000 BCE. The drink was savored by royalty and priests, while commoners drank beer, mead, and ale. The ancient Egyptians, the first culture known to document the process of wine making, preserved descriptions of harvesting grapes and drinking wine on clay tablets, which have been discovered within the burial chambers of the social elite.

Wine making made its way to Greece, where it permeated all aspects of society: literature, mythology, medicine, leisure, and religion. The Romans took vine clippings from Greece back to Italy, and centers of viticulture soon developed in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and the rest of Europe.

Trade routes and early explorers carried vines and grape growing treatises to Mexico, Argentina, and North Africa, and the culture of wine continues to spread around the globe today, with vines growing on every continent except Antarctica.