That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father, only in assembling yourselves together to offer up your sacraments before him. And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make. (Doctrine and Covenants 89:5-6)
I have learned much about my walk with God while making wine. The many symbols are deep and rich in meaning. Jesus began His mortal ministry by turning water into wine (John 2:1-11).
In this blog post I'm going to focus on how to make wine. The first year (2013) I made wine I didn't have much help. It turned out okay, and we drank it. Keith Henderson helped me the second year by sharing his wine recipe and answering many of my questions.
People have been making wine for thousands of years, and there is still so much for me to learn. I made these videos to help the beginner learn some of the basics. May you enjoy the process of making this sacred emblem. The sacrament is meant to teach, instruct, and change you. “. . . even so ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water, and of the Spirit, and be cleansed by blood, even the blood of mine Only Begotten; that ye might be sanctified from all sin . . ." (Moses 6:59)
In January 2016, Keith posted a wine recipe at the Recorders Clearinghouse. He gives a few variations you might be interested in reading. This is the recipe he gave me two years ago and the one I am currently using.
This makes around 25 bottles. If you have more grapes and can multiply this just know that everything here is for about 5 gallons of wine.
1. Pick and wash the grapes.
2. Destem the grapes. You don’t need to pull each little stem out of each grape but you need to get them off the clusters. Throw away the stems.
3. Crush the grapes. I don’t recommend stomping them. We use a hand crank tomato juicer for which we have a grape screw. This allows the bigger seeds to go through.
4. Wash completely clean [never with soap or chemicals] a 61/2 gal food grade bucket. This is your fermenter. Again make sure it is clean.
5. Into the bucket put 30# of crushed grapes (seeds, skins, and juice all together.)
6. Add 6 quarts of water to bucket and juice, without chlorine in it is possible.
7. Mix 12 cups of sugar with 4 cups water in a pan and bring it to a boil to completely dissolve and bring into solution the sugar. You can split this into 2 pans if more convenient.
8. Pour sugar into juice and water.
9. Here’s where it gets a little technical. This mix needs to measure 1.095 specific gravity. The specific gravity at the beginning before it begins to ferment will tell you the alcohol content of the drink. 1.095 will produce a wine about 13 percent alcohol by volume. It takes at least 10 percent to keep your wine from spoiling over time. This is done with a hydrometer bought at any wine shop. It’s done by putting some of your mix into a skinny beaker called a wine thief and dropping in the torpedo shaped hydrometer, giving the tube a little spin and read the specific gravity. If it’s too high add a little water. If it’s too low add some more sugar solution until you get it right on.
10. To all this mix you now add 1/4 tsp potassium metabisulphate, 5 tsp yeast nutrient, and 25 drops of pectic enzyme. All this stuff is available at the wine shop or online. Stir it all in good.
11. Put a lid lightly on your bucket a leave all this for 24 hours in a clean place.
12. After 24 hours mix one packet of wine yeast precisely according to directions on yeast packet and stir into the must thoroughly. (Your wine concoction is at this point called “must.”) The yeast I use is Red Star brand labeled Pasteur Red. It needs to be refrigerated until you use it. There are maybe hundreds of types of yeast and they all do certain things to the wine.
13. Now you try to maintain the temperature in the bucket between about 75 and ninety degrees. Any colder or hotter and the yeast won’t work right. It will start to ferment. Generally you leave the must (juice, skins, and seeds) in covered fermenter until specifc gravity equals 1.030. This usually takes about 3 or 4 days. Check the specific gravity at about the 3 day mark and then after often until the s.g. reaches about 1.030
14. When the must starts to ferment the skins seeds, and other stuff that looks grody will rise to the top. You need to punch this down and stir it in thoroughly twice a day. This is where a whole lot of color and taste comes from. Do this religiously.
15. When the must reaches 1.030 s.g. you need to take out all the seeds and skins, put them into some kind of porous bag, and gently press all the juice you can out of them into your bucket. I use a piece of nylon screen over another bucket and dip out seeds and skins from the fermenter with a sieve, and then wring out all the juice I can get into the bucket. Throw away pressed seeds and skins. Then pour cleaned juice into this new bucket with the squeezed juice. Make sure at this point there is no skins or seeds in juice.
16. Next rack (syphon) the juice from the bucket into a 5 gallon glass carboy. Fill only about 3/4 full. If you fill it too full the juice might foam and either push out the airlock and stopper or backwash through the airlock. If it back washes you need to clean and refill the stopper and airlock, and lower the juice in the carboy. Fill an airlock with water to its marks and insert it into a bung (stopper) which you then put into the top of the carboy. This allows the CO2 to get out and not let O2 in. Also keeps bugs out.
17. Now put the carboy full of juice in a warm 70 to 80 degree place and let it finish fermenting. This will take from about 7 days to 3 to 5 weeks. All the while it is fermenting your air lock will keep bubbling. When it quits bubbling check the s.g. and if it reads 1.000 or maybe even 0.095 it’s completely fermented, meaning all the sugar is now alcohol. Leave juice in carboy in a warm (about 70 degrees) place. You will see a build up of junk form in the bottom of the carboy. This is dead yeast (lees).
18. Now the wine [that’s what it now is] needs to be racked off all the lees that have settled to the bottom. Again do this by syphoning, not pouring. When airlock water has equalized, rack (syphon) juice off the dead yeast into a fresh, clean, carboy. Stir in about 1/4 tsp of potassium metabisulphate when carboy is about 1/2 full. Clean airlock and refill it with fresh water. Finish filling carboy with wine until about 1” below stopper. It is necessary to fill carboy this full so it pushes out as much O2 as possible. From here on O2 is your enemy. It will take more wine to top up your carboy than you have in just one fermenter bucket, so either use some out of the next bucket you press or put it into a smaller carboy. Or you could buy a gallon jug of Burgandy wine from the liquor store and use it to top up each carboy.
Wash all dead yeast out of previous carboy immediately or it will be hard to get out. You now see that you have lost quite a bit of your previous volume. It always pays to have several sizes of carboys available because from here on they need to be kept full as I said above. Whenever you fill a carboy from here on, set an airlock, and keep it filled (to its marks) with water. Actually the water I use for airlocks I make up in a gallon jug. I put into a gallon of water about 1/2 tsp of metabisulphate and shake well. I then fill from this jug a spray bottle from which I fill the airlocks.
19. When carboy is filled, stoppered, and air locked, set it into a dark, let it sit in a cool place about 60 -70 degrees for about 2 months.
20. Rack it again, top it up, stopper it, and airlock it, and put it away for another two months. Repeat as many times as necessary until the wine runs clear. Every time you rack the wine you will lose some wine. Sorry but it happens to everybody.
21. After 3 or 4 rackings or about 8 or nine months from picking you are ready to bottle. That means bottles and corks and a corker. You can buy bottles from the wine store at confiscatory prices or you can ask your local restaurants or friends to save bottles for you.
22. You put the correct amount of your beautiful, full of bouquet, pleasing to look at wine, in each bottle, cork it, slap some kind of label on it and lay it on it’s side in a cool dark place for about six months and then you are ready to use it. When you buy wine the grapes for it will have been picked anywhere from 2 to 10 years before you purchase it. Yours will need the same.
By the way all of this information just puts you in the wine making for dummies class. After you have done this for five or ten years and expended thousands of dollars learning what a real good wine should taste like and messing and fidgeting with all your recipes until they are just right, then maybe you’ll feel it’s time to buy a more advanced book on how to really make fine wines and change your whole process again.
When making wine as we often do in Utah from Concord Grapes, there are a couple of things we should know, and a few extra ingredients we need to use.
Pectic Enzyme - It’s usually added at the rate of 1/2 tsp per gallon prior to the beginning of fermentation. It softens the pulp, and In theory it frees more juice from the berries by breaking down the grape's pectin. This is the same stuff that makes grape jelly jell. It also helps the grapes to release more flavor and aroma compounds.
It can be bought from the wine supply shop, usually in 2 oz bottles of powder. Sometimes it can be bought as a liquid, in which case it is measured at 5 drops per gallon.
Potassium metabisulfite or Campden tablets - Actually what we are shooting for is Sulfur Dioxide. It is a flavorless, and colorless compound which is added to a wide range of food products such as dried Peaches, Apricots, fresh greens at salad bars, specialty vinegars, etc. For the home winery, you buy it as a white powder called Potassium Metabisulfite, or its easier to use form, Campden tablets. These are the protector of your wine, and are added at just about every stage of wine making. They inhibit spoilage bacteria, suppress rogue yeasts, prevent discoloration, and help dispose of off odors.
You can make wine without this ingredient but you cannot make good wine without it. It will make your wine cleaner tasting, and it will have better color. So here’s how you add it:
. One Campden tablet per gallon of wine before the start of fermentation. The tablets need to be crushed and dissolved. One tablet is .44 grams. OR:
. 1/4 tsp of Potassium Metabisulfite = 1 campden tablet. Remember all 1/4 teaspoons are not created equal. The best way to measure is with a gram scale. This is a powder and will dissolve upon stirring into the wine.
. When you rack the wine, use two (2) Campden tablets per 5 gallons of wine. Remember again to crush the tablets.
. Buy a fresh batch of tablets or bottle of PM each year as it loses strength over time. Use the old tablets to make a cleaning solution at the rate of about 5 tablets dissolved into a 1/2 gallon of water.
Yeast nutrient - This should be added to the wine prior to fermentation on day one at the rate of 1 gram per gallon. On day three, add 2 grams per 5 gallons of must. On day 5 add 1 gram per 5 gallons of must. Each time stir in gently but thoroughly. You could throw all the nutrient in right at first but with the above schedule you will run less of a chance of having a "yeast bloom” which might create too much heat and produce a “sulfide stink” (rotten egg gas) The primary element in the nutrient is nitrogen. All plants (which is what yeast is) need a little nitrogen as nourishment.
Acid blend - if you are making wine from your own picked concord grapes you probably won’t use any of this, because the skins and seeds which you will initially mix in with the juice will provide most of the acid the wine needs for a good blend. I do, however, take the skins and the seeds out of the juice when the specific gravity (sg) gets to 1.030. And don’t crack the seeds when you crush the grapes, because this will release to much of the tannins and other acids which they contain. This is why they stomped the grapes with their feet, because the feet are soft and don’t crack the seeds.
If, however, you are making your wine from juice, you will need to add an acid blend at the rate of 2 tsp per gallon. The blend is usually comprised of tartaric, malic, and citric acids. I will not go into the TA or total grams of acid per liter of juice because I was never that good at chemistry or the use of pipettes, graduated cylinders, phenolphthalein, sodium hydroxide, etc in order to make accurate tests of this value. Just take my word for it, the measurement I gave here will get you just about where you need to be in order to make a suitable wine.
Keith shares a little about the symbolism of the wine at the Recorder's Clearinghouse. I will share some of what I've learned in a later post. There is so much to learn. The whole process is deep and rich in symbolism. Let the Holy Spirit be your guide as you are changed through the blood of the Lamb.