In the ordinary way, recipes for wines made entirely from grapes are not a practicable proposition. This is because grapes are merely crushed and fermented without either sugar or water being added. Provided you have enough grapes, making wines from them is the simplest winemaking of all-that is, of course, provided they are fully ripe. Small unpruned bunches often contain a lot of small undeveloped fruits between the large juicy ones and these must be removed before the bunches are crushed. The whole bunches, stalk as well, are used as these add something to the wine. The yeast forming the bloom on your grapes may be the kind that will make excellent wine, but we cannot be sure of this owing to the near-certainty that wild yeast and bacteria are present with it. As we have seen in previous chapters, we must destroy these yeasts and bacteria and add yeasts of our choice to make the wine for us.
You will need at least twenty pounds of grapes to be assured of a gallon of wine-and this amount may not make one gallon of wine, though it make one gallon of strained 'must'. Therefore the more grapes you have the better.
If enough grapes are available, the process is as follows:
METHOD: Put all grapes in a suitable vessel and crush them, making sure each grape is crushed. Measure as near as you can or judge as accurately as possible the amount of pulp you have and to each gallon allow one Campden tablet or four grains of sodium metabisulphite. Dissolve this in an egg cupful of warm water and stir into the pulp and leave for twenty-four hours.
After this, give the mixture a thorough mixing and churning and then add the yeast. The mixture should then be left to ferment for five days.
Following this, the pulp should be strained through a strong coarse cloth to prevent bursting and wrung out as dry as you can. The liquor should then be put into jars and fermented the same ways as other wines.
A good plan when doing this is to mix a quart of water with grape pulp and to crush this well to get as much from the skins as you can. If you do this, you must add one pound of sugar and dissolve it by warming the juice just enough for this purpose. This thinner juice may be mixed with the rest but before the better quality juice is put into jars.
Where grapes only are used with water (as suggested above) it must be borne in mind that to get enough alcohol for a stable wine we must have between two and two and a half pounds of sugar to the gallon. Juice crushed from grapes rarely contains this much, therefore it would be wise to add one pound when the fruit is crushed and before the juice is put into jars. If the wine turns out dry, it may be sweetened.
We may use a hydrometer to find the sugar content so that we know how much to add to give the amount of alcohol we need, but this is not for beginners without previous experiences in this sort of thing. The better plan is to follow my suggestions above, and if the wine is dry to sweeten it and then preserve it with Campden tablets or metabisulphite.
Since the color comes from the skins, if we want a red wine from black grapes we ferment the skins as directed earlier in this chapter. A white wine from black grapes is made by crushing the grapes and pressing out the juice and fermenting the juice only. The difference in the process already described is that instead of fermenting the skin for five days, the juice is pressed out after it has been allowed to soak for twenty-four hours.
If you happen to be making some of the fruit wine such as elderberry, plum, blackberry or damson, at the same time as making grape wine, it would be a good idea to put the strained fruit pulp which would otherwise be discarded into the 'must' of the other fruit and let it ferment there.
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Gregg Hall is a business consultant and author for many online and offline businesses and lives in Navarre Florida with his 16 year old son. For fine wines and wine accessories go to www.oldworldvineyard.com
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