Whether you are experienced in home winemaking or you’re trying your hand at wine making kits for the first time, your goal should always be to produce wines that reflect the grape varietal and wine style, and will remain stable once bottled. After all, when you are making 30 bottles at a time, you want to enjoy the last bottle opened just as much, or even more, than the first!
1) Use fresh juice – Using the freshest juice possible will maximize the cellaring capability of your wine. When making any RJS wine making kit, always check and record the date code from the sticker on top of each box. This code indicates the date that your wine kit was assembled.
2) Cleaning & sanitation – Sanitation is essential for making wine at home. I recommend reading through RJS Craft Winemaking’s sanitation chapter.
3) Degassing – Ensure that your wine is fully degassed BEFORE adding the sulphite during
stabilization. This will enhance the efficiency of the sulphite and protect your wine against oxidation and microbial contamination during the wine making process.
4) Stabilization/clarification – Once your homemade wine has reached its target specific gravity (indicated in the instructions), stabilize and clear your wine within 48 hours. By protecting your wine soon after the completion of fermentation, you are limiting its exposure to oxygen and spoilage-causing microorganisms.
5) Dissolve sulphite/sorbate – Prior to adding sulphite and potassium sorbate to your wine, dissolve it first into 1 cup of the wine. This will help to prevent clumping of the stabilizing agents and will maximize their efficiency.
6) Stir gently – When making any additions to your homemade wine, always stir gently as opposed to vigorously. This will help limit the amount of oxygen introduced to your wine during the winemaking process.
7) Limit number of rackings – Try to limit the number of rackings to no more than three. This will help limit the amount of oxygen introduced as well.
8) Top-up – As soon as your homemade wine has been cleared and stabilized, keep the carboy topped up to 23L/6gal at all times.
9) Additional sulphite – If you are planning on aging your wine for greater than 6 months, it is highly recommended to add an additional ¼ TSP of sulphite 48 hours before bottling.
10) Storage temperature – Aging your bottles at a temperature of 12°C/55°F will help ensure that the wine you have worked so hard to make will age gracefully until opened!
If you follow these 10 easy tips, I am very confident that you will be able to produce excellent homemade wines. Once you do it once, you won’t be able to stop making wine at home!