What winemaking equipment do I need?
by Robert Linder
In my previous article I wrote about the very basic beginning of making wine, that is what type of wine do you want to make. Once you have decided if your first wine will be made from fruit or vegetables or specifically grapes (vinifera), then you need to make sure you have the proper equipment to successfully complete and enjoy your first batch. In this article I will outline the equipment and delve into what to do with that equipment in future articles.
You will need at a minimum the following items;
* 6-quart pot or larger
* various kitchen utensils like stirring and measuring spoons
* 5 gallon plastic bucket with lid
* fermentation lock
* siphon hose
* glass carboy
If you have ever cooked in a kitchen your half way stocked with the needed equipment to make wine. Winemaking is not as sophisticated as you think and that is why it's been around for thousands of years and why many a kitchens in the prohibition era where the “wineries” for family and friends.
If you make wine with fruit or grapes you will need to prepare the product in a 6-quart or larger pot. The size of pot will depend on how much wine you intend to make. The more wine the more base product needed. Let's say you find a recipe from this popular website and want to make it in your kitchen/winery. http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/blackras.asp
Jack Keller recommends 3 to 4 pounds of fresh blackberries. In my hometown of Seattle you can find that much in almost any square block that has some vacant land, it's the picking 3 to 4 pounds that is the real work. But I digress.
A 6-quart pot should accommodate 3 to 4 pounds of fresh fruit. Most fruit and vegetable wines will require you to boil the product with some amount of sugar and water, hence the need for the cooking pot. Once the product is “cooked” you will need to pour the product into a bucket for the fermentation process to begin.
Most buckets used for fermentation are called “primary fermenter” and are food-grade plastic buckets that are available for free or very cheap from restaurants or for a bunch more dollars at a Wine and Beer Making store. Make sure the bucket is food-grade (not the orange buckets you can get at Home Depot) and you will need to drill or have a hole drilled for the fermentation lock that is also available for purchase from a Wine and Beer Making store.
Please note that some people use other methods of a fermentation lock like a balloon or plastic wrap. Please spend the three dollars and buy something that is meant for doing the very important job of expelling carbon dioxide and keeping oxygen away from your fermenting product.
Based on whatever recipe you work with, you will be adding ingredients to the mixture in the primary fermenter (5 gallon plastic bucket with lid) and attaching the fermentation lock and waiting while the yeast works its magic and turns product into wine.
Though my example above was for a fruit wine, if you are making wine from fresh grapes or a wine kit, you will most likely be beginning the process with the primary fermenter with no need to “pre-cook” your product.
Once the fermentation is compete it might be wise to transfer the wine (yes it's wine once the fermentation is complete) to another container that will be used to “clarify” the wine. I would recommend a glass or plastic carboy available from retired home winemakers, garage sales or new from a Wine and Beer making store.
I would suggest not using the plastic jugs that you can get water in. Those containers are not meant to handle the acids and such of wine. This is considered “racking to the secondary” and serves the purpose of taking the wine off the spent yeast and other bi-products and letting the wine settle down to make itself taste good.
You may need to add other ingredients in this stage but we'll talk about that in future articles. What is important to know at this point is that once the product is wine, oxygen becomes a bad thing for your wine. Therefore you want a secondary fermenter (carboy) that matches the quantity of wine you now have. If you started out with a recipe to make five gallons of wine, you will probably have five gallons of liquid wine to pour into a carboy.
Conversely, if your recipe was for one gallon of wine you might just want to purchase and use a one gallon carboy. Carboys are available is various sizes, so know your want/limit before you begin your winemaking experience.
When you are ready to transfer your wine from the primary fermenter to the secondary fermenter you will want to use a siphon hose tube and hose to help with the transfer. The siphon tube is a hard plastic tube usually about 2-3 feet in length and 3/8 of an inch in diameter.
The siphon hose is a flexible plastic tube also 3/8 of an inch in diameter. The tube and hose are available at a Wine and Beer Making store or sometimes at a hardware store. By using the plastic tube to do this, you'll be transferring the wine to the other container and leaving the yucky spent yeast and other stuff behind.
Once you transferred your wine, you'll be using the fermentation lock again on the top of the carboy to let carbon dioxide out (yes it still may be doing that) and keeping the oxygen out – remember oxygen is no longer the friend of the wine.
Depending on the wine you are making you might need to transfer the wine yet again. Each time you transfer your wine it's clarifying the wine by leaving the spent yeast and other bi-products behind. If you need to “rack” your wine again you can either invest in another carboy or temporarily transfer the wine back to that primary fermentation bucket and then back into the class carboy once you cleaned it out of the left behind spent yeast and bi-products.
Finally a time will come where you can enjoy the hobby and bottle and drink the wine. You will need bottles and corks. I'll get into the need of bottle and corks in a later article but for now the above listed ingredients are the must haves for successful beginning winemaking.
Don't kid yourself, winemaking is a multi-billion dollar industry and there are a lot of people making a lot of money on wine making supplies. You can start out very basic but as your level of interest and desired outcome grows, so will your investment in winemaking equipment.
I've been making wine for ten years now and started a winemaking audio show called WineMaking Radio four years ago. One of the episodes covered the topic of basic winemaking steps. You can obtain a mp3 file of the episode by visiting this URL; www.winemakingradio.com/uncorked/wmb.mp3. You can also audio stream the episode. To see more information, visit; www.winemakingradio.com/archiveduncorked.html
I hope this article was informative and has peaked your interest. Winemaking is a hobby that is fun to partake in and it's always easy to share the end result with the people around you.
How do I begin?
Wine made from fruit or a kit — it's all good!
Why test wine?
Recipe for Army Worm Wine
Read Wine Making Radio Episode 1
Read Wine Making Radio Episode 2
Read Wine Making Radio Episode 3
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