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Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Make your own wine - the basics

Wine has been produced in Cyprus for centuries and it is said to be one of the oldest commercial wine making countries in the world. 

Wine making is a straight forward process  and although wine is predominately made with grapes all manner of fruit and vegetables can be turned into wine.

You will need to purchase some a food quality plastic bucket with a lid, some fermentation jars, bottles (or you can re-use wine bottles saved by friends and neighbours), a nylon straining bag, airlocks, a siphon tube, a funnel, corks and a corker. Additionally, you will need campden tablets which are used as a sterilising agent. So, for a small outlay you can produce your own wine at a fraction of the cost of purchasing wine from supermarkets. 

Apart from the produce you are going to turn into wine, all you basically need is water, sugar and wine yeast. The sugar and natural sugars in your chosen produce react with the yeast and ferment to produce alcohol. The are numerous wine making recipes for all fruits and vegetables and each will tell you how much of each ingredient is required but what follows are the basics for any recipe you wish to use.  

All wine making equipment must be thoroughly cleaned to lessen the chance of bacterial contamination. Your chosen produce will need to be prepared by washing and cutting or crushing to allow the natural sugars to be released. Follow your chosen recipe to mix the prepared produce with the water and sugar and then pour into a pre-sterilised fermentation jar. The yeast is then added, some yeasts require pre-activation whilst some can be added to the fermentation jar without pre-activation. 

Some fermentation can initially be aggressive, usually depending on the sugar levels of your recipe, and when to put in place the fermentation airlock is usually specified with your chosen recipe. Allow fermentation to complete before siphoning off your wine, known as racking, into a pre-sterilised fermentation jar ensuring the sediment is left behind. Replace the airlock and store your wine in a cool and dark place to allow clearing. Clearing can take from a month to several months. Only bottle your wine, into pre-sterilised bottles, once it is completely clear and immediately cork and label. Wine is best left for between 3 months to a year before drinking. Try making you own grape (white or red) or pomegranate wine its delicious.

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