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Step by Step guide to make wine at home from grapes. I have just sampled my first bottle after leaving it to mature for 10 months. It is the best wine that I have ever made. (Independently confirmed by my wife!)

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Wine can always make an incredibly classy gift for any birthday, anniversary, wedding, or retirement party. It can be a great thank you gift, house warming present, or hostess gift at a dinner party. The only tricky part to giving wine is determining the tastes of the recipient, but with a few wine choosing tips you should be able to pick something that will be much appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed.

A Casual Gift of Wine

If you’re unsure of the type of wine your gift recipient enjoys, sticking to a white variety will be your safest choice. Because white wines are usually sweeter and lighter they are usually enjoyed more often by those who may not drink wine regularly. Examples of popular wines that are smooth and easy to drink would be White Zinfandel, Riesling, or Sauvignon Blanc. Chardonnay is a bit drier but may be a good choice if you have an idea of your gift recipient’s tastes to some degree.

Buying For a Wine Enthusiast

For those who drink wine more often and can appreciate a more complex or bitter flavour, a decent bottle of red wine can make an excellent gift. Merlots are usually on the sweeter side for a red wine while a Pinot Noir will be more bitter and intense. Red wine has a higher tannin content which gives wine that mouth puckering sensation. Because of the unique flavours found in red wine, this type of wine is best given to an experienced wine drinker.

Give Them Something to Experience

You may intend to give your gift to an avid wine drinker, in which case you may want to impress them and find a wine they’ve never tried before. If it’s within your budget, looking for a rare vintage could make your gift a big hit. If you’re unsure about the different varieties of wine, be sure to buy your gift from a retailer that can provide expert feedback and advice.

Wine Gift Baskets

It’s hard to go wrong with a gift basket of any type, and a wine gift basket can be perfect for so many occasions. Because you’re giving multiple items at once, you can afford having a few hit and miss wines in the basket. Adding some cheese, crackers, or chocolates can be a nice touch and will be appreciated by everyone at the party if your recipient opens and shares their gift on the spot.

When you aren’t sure what to get, sticking to a white wine will be your safest option. For any celebratory types of occasions, a nice Champagne or sparkling wine can give a fun and exciting touch to your gift. Even if you buy something your recipient doesn’t normally drink, you may be introducing them to a new flavour they’ll come to love.

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For its speed and simplicity of making, this wine is perfect for a wine making novice. The low cost of ingredients also make it a great every-day wine. Ideally you will need a couple of demijohns and syphon tubing

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Winemaking At Home

Winemaking At Home

Making wine from home can sometimes be a costly process to start and it may take quite a bit of your time and effort to make a decent batch. Understanding the proper procedure and what to expect along the way can help you start the process off correctly and save you a lot of trial and error.

Equipment

Get everything you’re going to need before you begin to avoid having to halt your wine making process and search for an additional piece of equipment you may have forgotten. To begin the process you’ll need a fermenting vat to ferment your grapes in. You’ll need to have bottles, corks, and labels ready once your wine is complete in order to prepare it for storage.

Depending on the process you’ll be using you may need oak casks for aging, glass jugs, a hydrometer, a fermentation lock, crushing gates, and an acid titration kit. Wine kits can be purchased that will provide everything you’ll need including chemicals and additional supplies. Some companies will even provide instructions or lessons on the wine making process if you need it.

Ingredients

The main thing you’re going to need for making wine is the grapes or any other fruits you plan on using. It takes about 70 pounds of grapes to make 6 gallons of wine, and you’ll want to make sure you know what type of wine you can make out of the grape varietal you chose. Fruit concentrates can also be used which may be easier than crushing your own grapes, but you may have less control over the end product with this option. If you have the proper space and live in an appropriate region, you may choose to even grow your own grapes.

Sugar, yeast, and additional chemicals will also be required for the process. You’ll need Campden tablets, which are a sulphur-based brewing product, to add to your wine while it is being made. These tablets kill certain bacteria and prevent the growth of wild yeast.

Procedure

The grapes are crushed to form a must for red wines, or the juice is extracted from t he skins and seeds to use for whites. The must or grape juice is fermented in a vat for usually around a week or two then racked to remove sediment. The racking process may be repeated a multiple times depending on the amount of sediment left behind or the type of wine you’re making.

Once the wine is siphoned out of the vat and the additional sediment is left behind it can be bottled and will be ready for storage. Knowing how long you’ll be aging the wine you’ve produced will allow you to prepare an appropriate storage area in advance. Some types may be ready for consumption immediately while others may require months or years of aging.

For any new wine makers, errors can be expected regardless of how prepared you are. Once you’ve made a few batches you’ll likely begin to better understand the process and be more confident in your brewing abilities. For anyone with a love of wine this can be a fun and rewarding hobby and for some it can even turn into a lucrative business.

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Certain wines can certainly benefit from the addition of oak chips. Just a few of these wines include Chardonays, Cabernets, Pinot Noir, Chianti, Merlots, Sauvignon Blanc, Burgundy, Pinot Blanc and Fume Blanc.

Oaking provides a way to develop a wine that is quite complex. The depth of the complexity is greatly determined by the type of oak that is used as well as the wine itself. Oak can provide a wide variety of flavors to wine including coconut, vanilla and even spices such as cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon. In some cases, oak can even add a somewhat earthy tone. The type of flavor that is added to your wine is largely determined by the type of oak that is used. For example, American oak when used with white wines such as Merlot tends to add an aroma that is decidedly vanilla in nature. Generally, most of the oak that is used for flavoring in wine is either American or French. Hungarian and Yugoslavian oaks are also now being increasingly used as well; however.

In the past, wine was oaked by placing it into an oak barrel. The wine would then stay in the barrel until it reached the aroma and taste that was desired. There were few ways in which to control the process other than by choosing the type of oak as well as the size and age of the barrel. A vintner could also decide whether they wanted to use a toasted or charred barrel or not. This process typically took quite a long time. Older barrels tended to take even longer.

Today, the method of oaking wine has shifted from using just oak barrels to use oak pieces. This has made it much easier and more affordable for home vintners to oak their wines. Today, winemakers can choose to use oak chips as well as oak beans and oak powder for the purpose of oaking their wines without the concern and expense of having to use large barrels.

You will need to give some thought to which method you think will best suit your purpose; however. There are advantages as well as disadvantages to each. For example, oak chips are commonly preferred because they are easily available and can be obtained in a variety of different types. The problem with oak chips is that once you have put them into your carboy, you have to find a way to get them out. Oak powder works quite well during the fermentation process and you do not need a lot of oak powder to achieve the results that you want. The flip side to this is that if you are not careful, you can easily over oak your wine. In addition, it can be difficult to rack your wine using oak powder.

When oaking your wine you will need to decide when you wish to add the oak. Generally, the oak is added either during fermentation or after the wine has been racked and you are ready for bulk aging of your wine.

Oak powder really does work best if you decide you want to oak during the fermentation process. Over time the oak powder will absorb wine and eventually it will just sink to the bottom of the container.  For a small batch of wine, you should not use any more than 20 grams of oak powder per gallon. You may wish to use less than that. If you decide to oak your wine during bulk aging, oak chips tend to work best. Plan to use somewhere between two and four ounces of chips for every six gallons of wine. Ideally, it is best to make sure that you sanitize your chips before you put them into your wine. You can use Campden Tablets for this purpose. Just soak the chips in some water, add a tablet and allow them to sit for a few minutes.

Finally, remember that as when trying anything new with your wine, it is best to start small with oaking. You can always add more, but it is virtually impossible to take it away once it is there.

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