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Grape Wine

We always make wine first, then make the jelly :-) so your
question is not out of order in my book! Go to a wine and beer
supply store. You will need a cheap paperback book on winemaking,
a very large container in which to ferment the grapes, a 5 gal.
glass bottle (kak carboy ) with a stopper and airlock for aging -
one for each fermenting container, a wine hydrometer to show sugar
and potential alcohol, an acid test kit, tannin, Campden tablets,
and some disinfectant like potasium sulfite (which occurs naturally
in the grape skin). Buy a good wine yeast, don't rely on haveing
a good "wild" yeast on your grapes, too much likelyhood of failure.
After all, why take chances with your 65# of grapes. You will need
one pkg of yeast for every 5 gals of wine you make. Montrachet or
champagne yeast is good with concord grapes.

Crush all the grapes to release the juice. Do not heat. If you
press the grapes before fermentation, you will get a lighter color
wine. If you press after fermentation, you will get a dark colored
wine. Either way, you will have a good taste. I press before just
to get rid of the pulp. You can freeze the juice and make the wine
later in the year if you want.

Sterilize as many 7 to 10 gallon white plastic, food grade containers
as you need for 65# of grapes (5 gals of juice in each), by washing
with hot water and soap. Rinse with sulfite, then pour in 5 gallons
of grape juice. If you don't have five gallons of juice, add white
grape juice concentrate to make up the difference. Check the label
of the concetrate and make sure it doesn't have preservatives, ie
potasium sorbate etc., that will stop fermentation. You must have
two gallons or more of expansion space in your container for the
fermentation process. Wide mouth containers, like buckets, work
the best.

Check the sugar level with the hygrometer to yield 12 to 14% alcohol.
Add white sugar melted in a small amount of boiling water to bring
the residual sugar up to the 14% level. This can be about 2 to 4
lbs. of sugar per gallon of juice. This high alcohol content will
effectively preserve your wine so that it won't spoil when storing.
Concord grape wine tastes more pleasant when on the sweet side,
too. High alcohol content will also make a better vinegar if you
decide to go the extra step. Add about 1/4 tsp powdered tannin
per gallon and mix thoroughly. Do not mix air into the juice.
Crush and add the campden tablets according to the instructions
with the tablets, usually two or three per gallon. Check the acid
level and if not acidic enough, add ctric acid to bring it to a
suitable level. Allow this to sit overnight with a cheesecloth or
muslin cover over the container.

Make a mix of one pkg of wine yeast and a pint of lukewarm water,
for each 5 gal. container, and let it sit overnight. Don't use
bread yeast because you can't be sure of the yeast heritage. Put
the mix in a quart jar and allow to sit in a warm - not hot - place.

After sitting 24 hours, the juice - now called must - has become
sterilized of wild yeast and other bacteria, evaporated the sulffites
and is ready to be inoculated with good bacteria or wine yeast.
The pint of yeast in the warm water should be foamy and active.
Gently stir this into the must and recover with the cloth. Every
day, gently stir the must. You will notice a fairly active bubbling
or "boiling" taking place. This is the yeast growing, eating the
sugar and releasing alcohol and carbon dioxide. Keep the container
covered to keep out bugs and vermin. Do not let the container of
must get too warm or the wine will be bitter. Fermenting at 60
deg F or as close as you can get to that with out a lot of fuss is
good. After two or three weeks, the must will stop bubbling.
Recheck with the hydrometer. The sugar level should read 0. This
means the fermentation is stopped because all the sugar is used

Siphon - or properly called rack - the wine into a 5 gallon glass
bottles and insert an airlock in the top of the bottle. Don't let
the sludge from the bottom of the conatiner get into the siphon
hose. Taste a little from each container to get a feel for the
wine you are making. It is usually very "sharp" tasting at this
stage. Do not allow the wine from one container to contaminate
the others. Make sure all containers and hoses are sterilized
before you begin. Put freshly made sulfite in the airlock to keep
out bacteria. The 5 gal bottle should be full all the way up to
the neck. If necessary, add boiled - sterilized - water to fill
the container to the bottom of the neck.

The wine may start to "work" agiain and bubble some more. This is
OK and will improve the flavor of the wine. After about 6 to 8
weeks, you may notice a sludge form on the bottom of the bottle.
Rack the wine into a clean bottle, discard the sludge on the bottom
and fill the bottle to the neck with sterile water. Taste the wine
again. You will notice good things beginning to happen to the
grape juice. :-) Again, do not contaminate the wine with other
wine. Note, if you are racking off several 5 gal carboys, you only
need one extra bottle to begin the racking. After you empty a
bottle, just clean and sterilize and use it for the next clean
bottle, etc.

I let my wine sit in the 5 gal bottle for a full year to age and
mellow before putting it into smaller bottles. If all of your wine
in the 5 gal containers still tastes good at the end of the year,
you can mix all together when you put into small bottles to get
one large uniform tasting batch. If one batch begins to sour,
remove it from the wine making area so as not to contaminate the
other wine wtih this bad bacteria. This jug will make vinegar.
If it doesn't taste like vinegar at the end of the year, discard
it. It may just be spoiled. This is usually the result of
insufficient sulfites.

Wine aged in the bottle for 4 to 6 years begins to mellow out to
a *very* flavorful drink. We make a lot of wine every year or
there wouldn't be any left to age to 6 years. :-) BTW, we just
tasted a bottle of 1996 peach wine for dinner last night. It
tasted scrumptious! Just like drinking sweet fresh peaches. The
jelly we made from those peaches is all gone!


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