Tutorial on Wine Making - Lesson 1 of 6


Wine Making Tutorial – Lesson 1

Needed and Optional Wine Making Supplies and Equipment:

There are a few things you “Must Have” to make wine, there are a few things you “Should Have” to make wine, and of course there are several things that make the wine making process much easier and we call these “Like to Have”.  However, there is one thing that is mandatory or you do not belong making wine at all, that is a notebook.  You must keep good notes throughout your entire wine making process.

Must Have Wine Making Supplies & Equipment:

  • Food grade plastic container for fermenting - A 7.8 or 8 gallon fermenter is fine for most batches of fruit or wine ingredient kits that will yield 5 to 6 gallons of wine. Making wine from grapes typically takes upwards of 100 lbs of grapes and requires a much larger container for fermentation, minimum of a 12 gallon container but 24 gallons is much better. A lot of home winemakers will use 32 gallon Rubbermaid garbage cans also. They are not food grade but are of typically of good quality plastic and the fruit/must has contact with it for a very limited amount of time.
  • Glass or Plastic Carboy for secondary fermentation and aging of your wine. We sell 3, 5, 6 and 6.5 gallon glass carboys and 3, 5 and 6 gallon plastic carboys. We also sell 1 gallon and ½ gallon glass jugs.
  • Drilled Rubber Stopper aka Bung for closing the top of your carboy, which should be drilled to accept an Airlock.
  • Airlock for allowing gases to escape your carboy but not to allow outside air back in which eliminates oxidation.
  • Hydrometer – Device used to measure the sugar level, specific gravity and potential alcohol level in your juice/must and wine.
  • Racking Cane – A plastic rod with a bent end at one end for attaching siphon tubing to and a tip at the opposite end that when put in a carboy or fermenter for transferring wine lifts it out of the sediment such that it will not clog and leaves the sediment behind.
  • Siphon Tubing – To attach to your racking cane for transferring/racking your wine and bottling your wine
  • Wine Bottles – We don’t mind selling them, and we do sell a lot of them, but they are expensive to ship, so recycle them. Once your friends find out you are making wine getting bottles usually isn’t a problem as most hope they might get a full one back.
  • Corks – We have a lot to choose from, sorry, but we do not recommend recycling these from your friends, just the bottles!
  • Corker – There are a lot of corkers out there and we sell only the ones that work. Of the entry level/affordable corkers available we believe the Portuguese Double Lever Corker works the best, so of course we sell it. When you are ready to bottle 50 or more bottles at a time try a floor corker. They are much easier to use and much easier on your corks.
  • Sanitizer – We sell several sanitizers, One Step, B-Brite, and Iodophor. You can always use a solution made from Potassium Metabisulfite also. But most important, clean and sanitize your equipment.

Should Have Wine Making Supplies & Equipment:

  • Bottle Filler – Almost a must have but a lot of people get along without one, but I do not know how. There are several sold starting at just a couple of bucks, and well worth it.
  • Siphon Hose Shut Off Clamp – Slides over your racking/siphon tubing and with the push of your thumb stops the flow of your wine. The best dollar I ever spent when I bought my wine making supplies and equipment.
  • Wine Thief for extracting juice/must for testing and sampling. Not needed as much for wine ingredient kits as most of them do not contain fruit such that the Hydrometer can be floated in the juice in the fermenter and obtain an accurate reading without interference from fruit, but nice to have for extracting samples through the narrow opening of a carboy, but a must have if you are making wine from fruit.
  • Test Jar – Jar for holding samples of wine juice that is specifically made to float the hydrometer in for taking accurate readings.
  • A long plastic spoon for stirring chemicals and additives into your wine and can also be used to punch down the cap. The cap is the fruit that floats to the top during primary fermentation. A plastic potato masher also works well for punching down the cap too.
  • Thermometer – This should be in the must have category above but a lot of people get along without one. However, if you call wondering why your wine is not fermenting the first thing we ask is what temperature it is. So for this reason it should be a must have. The most common type is an Adhesive Thermometer that sticks to the side of your fermenter or a Floating Thermometer which you can remove from your fermenter.
  • Degasser – This is a metal or plastic rod with fins or a bend at one end. The end without the fins or bend attaches to a household drill and is then used to stir or whip your wine. It is used for both mixing as well as agitating the sediment in the bottom of a carboy to cause the release of gases. This release of gases is an important element in making wine from a Wine Ingredient Kit to keep the kits accelerated aging schedule.
  • Big Funnel – An 8 or 10 inch plastic funnel that is big enough that it does not tip out of your carboy while pouring into it.
  • Acid Test Kit – Needed for testing Tartaric Acid levels in Red Wines made from grapes.
  • Straining Bag – If you are making wine from fruits you can use a straining bag to put the fruit in and press out the juice after fermentation.

Nice to Have Wine Making Supplies & Equipment:

  • Auto-Siphon – Like a Racking Cane it has a bend on one end to accept siphon hose and a tip on the end that raises the siphon out of the sediment and is used in lieu of a racking. Most people would put this in the should have, but you can get along without one, but once you have one you will wonder why you did not always have one.
  • Bottle Drainer Tree – A tree like stand that holds your bottles top side down to drain after washing and rinsing.
  • Bottle Rinser / Sanitizer Injector – Attaches to the top of a bottle draining tree and injects sanitizer into your wine bottles
  • Bottle Washer – Attaches to a faucet for injecting water into and for cleaning bottles. (may need the optional adapter).
  • Capsules – Decorative and Classy way to finish your bottles after corking. We currently sell the super easy to apply heat shrink capsules.
    • If you use these spend the couple of extra bucks for the Heat Shrink Capsule Tool, it makes putting these on an absolute breeze.
  • Bottle Brush – Makes getting dried sediment out of a recycled bottle of wine much easier.
  • Carboy Brush – Makes cleaning dried sediment or foam much easier
  • Carboy Handle – Attaches to the neck of your carboys, saves on your back and reduces the chances of dropping your carobys
  • PH Test Strips or Meter – For testing and ultimately adjusting the PH levels in your wine.
  • Titrets – For testing sulfite levels in wine.
  • Vinometer – Used to measure final alcohol content of your wine

Wine Making Chemicals and Additives:

  • We haven’t broken these down into the three categories above because what you need will depend on what type of fruit you are using and what you are trying to accomplish with it, so it is important to have a recipe or directions to follow for the wine you are making. However, to give you an idea we have listed some of the basic items you may need, although you may not need one of the listed items or you may need something or even several items not on the list:
  • Potassium Metabisulfite or Campden Tablets – This is a preservative added to wine to kill unwanted bacteria that may cause a wine to spoil.
  • Yeast – Needed to ferment your wine which is to convert the sugar into alcohol. Each packet will treat up to 6 gallons of finished wine.
  • Yeast Energizer or Nutrient – Provides food for your yeast to help guarantee healthy fermentation
  • Pectic Enzyme – Added to fruit and grape wines to break down the fruit increase yield
  • Acids – Acids are a big part of the taste of a wine. Often times a fruit or grape will be deficient in an acid requiring the addition of the deficient acid. Many recipes call for the addition of acids without any chemical or taste testing.
  • Fining Agents – Are chemicals added to wines to cause floating and suspended sediment to settle to the bottom so they can be racked off the wine. There are many to choose from.
  • Potassium Sorbate – An additive added to wine after fermentation and before bottling or before adding sweeteners to wine to prevent renewed fermentation.
  • Water – Yes, water! If you have good non-chlorinated tap water you can use it if you need to add water to your wine. If not, use bottled water. Bad water will equal bad wine.

To keep the clutter on this page down we intentionally did not create links within our website to the wine making products listed above, but yes, we do sell everything mentioned above.

Subsequent and Previous Wine Making Lessons:

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