If you want to make wine from concentrate there are two golden rules that you must stick to if you want perfect results every time. Firstly always use the correct equipment; this shouldn’t be a problem as once bought the equipment can be used again and again. The best equipment is made of glass but if you want to use plastic ensure that it is of food grade. Secondly, you need to be able to follow instructions without adapting them in any way.
Begin by cleaning and sterilizing the equipment; this will make sure that there is no trace of bacteria or rogue yeast left to affect your wine. Sodium metabisulphite mixed in the ratio of one tablespoon for every gallon of water will clean your equipment thoroughly. Remember to clean everything you are going to use – if you are not sure then the simple rule is if it is going to come into direct contact with the wine then it must be sterilised. Once this is done you will need the three basic ingredients: sugar, yeast and of course the grape concentrate. Don’t forget that the yeast must be proper brewers yeast not bakers yeast.
Begin by pouring half a gallon of water into a sterile bucket and add the yeast. The next stage is to mix the juice, begin by pouring half a gallon of water into your bucket along with the bentonite from the pack. Mix this well and then add the juice concentrate and top up to the six gallon mark. The final half gallon should be made up of the water and yeast mix. If your kit has what is known as an F Pack then you will need to start with less water as you will need the room later. At this stage any extras should be added, such as oak powder or elder flowers for instance.
The mix will then enter the primary fermentation stage where the majority of the sugar will be converted into alcohol. The bucket should be sealed with a lid including an airlock and left for between a week and ten days. At this point the bubbles in the airlock should be slowing down. At the start of the process the hydrometer reading should read between 1.07 and 1.09 but now it should be 1.01 or less. If the reading is still higher leave for a few more days and take another reading.
This marks the start of the secondary fermentation stage where the remaining sugar will be converted. Your wine mix will need to be racked, make sure your equipment is once again sterile, into carboys leaving around three inches of head space. The wine can now be left for two or three weeks to complete this stage.
The wine will need finishing as it still contains live yeast and will be fizzy. Ensure you don’t rack your wine before doing this. Begin by adding the second and third packs into the carboys before stirring vigorously. This will remove the fizziness and once the foam has cleared you should see that your wine is now flat. Now add the clarifier and repeat the stirring process. The clarifier will work with the bentonite added at the initial stage to aid in removing turbidity. At this stage an F Pack, if included, will need to be added; it is not always necessary to add the entire contents of the F Pack depending upon how sweet you want the wine. The remainder of the pack could be added on bottling day if you require more sweetness. Finally top off the carboys and leave for a further fortnight.
After this two week clearing period rack the wine into sanitized carboys making sure that none of the sediment, which is basically dead yeast, goes with it. The wine will then require bottling which is an easier task if there are two of you! Taste the wine at this stage to give you an idea of what it will mature into. If you are going to age the wine for more than six months you will need to add a quarter teaspoon of sulphite at the final racking stage. Fill each bottle leaving around three inches of space and insert a cork using a corking machine if you have one. The bottles should be left upright for around a week to allow the cork to become set otherwise you could have leakage when the bottles are laid.