Winemaking 101 – What Every Winemaker Should Know About Fermentation

Winemaking is the art of making wine, beginning with the choice of the grape, its fermentation to alcohol, and its bottling into wine. The history of winemaking spans thousands of years. Winemaking involves more than just the process of turning out a quality bottle of wine; it is an art form. The science of winemaking and wine-making is sometimes referred to as oenology. A winemaker might also be described as a vintner.


How to make white wine. There are four basic methods for making white wine: using the secondary fermentation method, using the direct method, using the blend method, and using the method of vinsification. Secondary fermentation requires at least 60 gallons of wine for each gallon of grape juice used in the secondary fermentation. This method results in a high percentage of sugar needed for making wine.

If sugar has been added to the vat through the fermentation process, it will be necessary to remove that sugar before adding yeast. To do this, add the sugar to the bottom of the clean fermentor, stir, and add one campden tablet per four pounds of grapes or malt. The tablet will break up as it ferments and provide the yeast with what it needs to start fermenting again. If sugar was added to the fermenting juice, before adding the yeast, rack the bottle and discard the contents. If sugar was added to the primary fermentation, add yeast to the secondary fermentation and rack the bottle again.

Before fermentation is complete, add one tablespoon of sugar syrup to the fermenting mixture. Never add more than two cups of sugar to the secondary fermentation because the yeast will pick up the sugars from the syrup. The longer the sugar is in suspension, the faster the fermentation will occur and the longer the batch will taste like wine. When sugar is added to the mixture, stir to mix the sugar into the fermentation. The longer the mixture sits, the less alcohol produced. A five-gallon batch of grape juice with eight ounces of water should have between one and three tablespoons of sugar per gallon.

Adding Yeast – The final step in making white wine is adding the yeast. Use dry yeast in order to avoid encouraging the growth of Candida and use a hydrometer to determine the specific gravity. Add the yeast and fill the bottle with water to ferment. Make sure the yeast is at room temperature before putting it in the bottle. Do not put the bottle in the refrigerator because yeast will begin to grow and spoil the wine prematurely. Add a teaspoon of honey as a second dose of yeast food and finish the process by siphoning the wine off the bottom of the carafe and pouring the wine into a clean, sugar-free glass decanter.

Winemaking Troubleshooting – Some winemakers believe that adding the yeast too early causes foaming and an unpleasantly acidic taste. If this is the case, add the yeast two cups sugar at room temperature to the fermenting juice and allow the mixture to ferment at room temperature for three days. This will help to ensure proper yeast concentration. If the foaming is due to an error in the measurements, wait until the next day to add the yeast.

Drying and Storing – After the fermentation is complete and the sugar syrup has separated from the sediment, it can be used to make jams, jellies, conserves and other dessert items. Store the dried product at approximately 60 degrees Fahrenheit and do not use it within six months. You can also use the sugar syrup to make two cups sugar syrup for use in cooking and baking recipes.

The Winemaking 101 says that you should always use a hydrometer to determine the gravity of the fermenting juice or wine. This will also help you gauge the acidity and sweetness of your wine. If you follow these simple steps, you will have no trouble making great tasting wine. You should always use a sanitizer to clean your fermentor, a campden tablet to add sugar syrup to the bottle, a funnel for easy pouring into the fermenter and a sanitizer to clean out the fermentor when it is finished fermenting.

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