Don't Use the Proper Wine Making Supplies!

What? No decent wine making supplies?


Look... this is a hobby unlike say "golf" for instance.


When you buy golfing equipment you never see that money again. But with wine making - you see some of that cash come back to you in the form of delicious wine.

You likely would have bought wine from the retail store anyway right?

Where to shop for the best wine making supplies

(In no special order)

  1. morewinemaking.com
  2. homebrewing.org
  3. amazon.com

These companies are the go-to wine making supply (beer too!) shops in the U.S. They have:

  • great customer service track records
  • are quick to ship (even internationally)
  • been around for many years
  • trusted by hordes of online home wine makers and brewers (including me!)

I usually browse a few of these retailers to look for the best deals and also the cheapest shipping. Some will ship for free if you buy over a certain amount! And others will offer a 10% discount at times.


Equipment to make wine from:


Wine Kits | Fresh Grape Juice | Fresh Grapes | Fruit and Country Wines | Welch's Grape Juice

What to use for:

Cleaning/Sanitizing | Making Additions


Get Your Best Start!


Starting with the proper wine making supplies makes your job easier...

An infographic showing a wine glass filled with tiny images of assorted wine making equipmentProper equipment = savory wine!

So you can focus and enjoy the process instead of struggling to get things to work.

You know how you want your wine to look and taste right?

  • fresh fruity aromas that reach out to you
  • balanced flavors
  • and a vibrant , polished appearance

You'll make better wines more consistently when you use a known process along with the right equipment and supplies.

Some of the wine making supplies you would use for making each type of wine may differ slightly. In general though, you'll be re-using most of the equipment over and over so it'll be money well spent.



Image of a wine making journalCheap wine making journal
A wine making log page filled in with wine making notesWine making logbook notes

Memory Shmemory... it sucks!

Okay so maybe not in the normal scope of things... But over a period of time the old memory starts to delete things. And confuse information that doesn't belong together. It happens.

But in wine making there's a solution for that.


The very simple - wine log.

All by itself this basic addition to your wine supplies has the power to gain you years of wine making experience - in a heck of a lot less time!

Get into a good habit of jotting every detail down as you work through the wine making process. From start to finish. There's just no way you'll remember it all.

Then you can revisit these details (even years later) to see what you liked or would like to improve about that particular wine.

Memory is a wonderful thing, but it's not nearly as good as you think...

Notes:  

  • make them
  • read them

Enjoy the benefits.


Equipment Needed to Make Wine From a Kit

Most wine kits don't come with the wine making supplies you need to make your wine. The simple reason is that you would have to pay extra for the equipment each time.

For Grape Wines (and Blends):

There's a few ways you can buy wine kits:

  1. The most common is a wine kit with just the grape concentrate, ingredients and instructions. If you already have the equipment, simply pick out the yummiest sounding wine kit to make... and get ready to make party plans!
Image showing a collage of three wine kitsWine kits with concentrate, ingredients and instructions


2. All the wine making supplies needed to make the kit above. Simply known as a wine making kit.

An image of wine making supplies to make wine from a kitTypical grape wine making kit

3. A wine making kit that includes both the wine and ingredients + the equipment to make it (1. and 2.). These kits are
    harder to find though, but include absolutely everything you need but the water!        

The Necessary Equipment to Make Most Grape Wine Kits:

If you have some wine making supplies but need to know what might be missing - here is a list of what you need to make a tasty batch from a kit:

  • primary fermentation bucket (food-grade) with lid (7.9 US gallons, 30 liters) minimum
  • 1-2 carboys (6 US gallons, 23 liters)
  • possibly bottled water (don't use chlorinated tap water)
  • long handled stirring spoon (drill powered stir stick optional)
  • measuring cup
  • hydrometer/test jar
  • wine thief
  • siphon rod (j-tube with antidregs tip and hose)
  • bung/airlock
  • funnel
  • solid bung
  • thermometer (floating)
  • cleaner (Powdered Brewery Wash or B-Brite)
  • sanitizer (metabisulphite crystals)
  • 30 wine bottles/corks
  • corking machine (the basic kit comes with a hand corker - not the floor model shown above)
  • labels (optional but nice!)


This looks like a lot but it really isn't expensive stuff. Considering the money you save by making homemade wine. And if it's looked after, you only buy most of it once.

Later, if you decide to make homemade wine from:

  • fresh grapes
  • fresh or frozen juice
  • fruit and country wines

You'll already have most of the equipment!


After you get the wine making supplies above then it's time to decide which type of wine kit you want to buy...

That's the fun part! You can find wine kits online or at your local wine retailer shop. You won't believe how superb this wine is!


Note:

Fermentation buckets  and carboy sizes are determined by each recipe. For a few recipes to get you started see: how to make wine and fruit wine making.


Equipment Needed to Make Wine From Grape Juice (must):

Fresh grape juice (must) or frozen must can be bought year round.

If you can't get fresh grapes in a particular varietal you love, often you can find the fresh must made from them.

The must usually comes in a 20l or 23l pail. Fresh juice is stabilized with S02, and usually adjusted for sugar and acidity when packaged. Frozen juice is protected already from the low temperature so adjustments aren't usually done on them.


An image showing a pail of wine making juicePail of fresh grape juice for wine makers


List of Wine Making Supplies to Make Wine From Grape Juice (must):


  • 1-2 carboys
  • long-handled stirring spoon
  • stir stick
  • funnel
  • measuring cup/spoons
  • hydrometer/test jar
  • bung/airlock
  • solid bung
  • wine thief
  • siphon rod (j-tube with antidregs tip and hose)
  • thermometer (floating)
  • cleaner (Powdered Brewery Wash or B-Brite)
  • sanitizer (metabisulphite crystals)
  • 30 wine bottles/corks
  • corking machine

Options:

  • ph meter
  • ph strips/acid test kit
  • SO2 (sulphur dioxide) test kit
  • refractometer
  • filtration
  • oak aging
  • labels
  • gram scale

Depending on the methods used and the additives etc., you have quite a few options. If you're just starting out then keep it simple.

These grape juices will make you some award winning wines!



Equipment Needed to Make Wine From Fresh Grapes:

Image collage showing a grape crusher, macerating tub, and a grape pressEquipment needed to crush and press fresh or frozen grapes

Fresh grapes are only available in the fall and spring for most of us, so it's important to be ready with the proper
wine making supplies.

For frozen grapes and must, make sure to follow the included instructions. The red grapes will already be destemmed and frozen with skins, while the white grapes are destemmed, pressed, and just the must frozen (no skins).

Below is a list of the wine making equipment you'll need for making red or white wine from fresh grapes:

  • Wine press (rent or buy)
  • crusher/destemmer
  • food-grade maceration tub (for red grapes only)
  • small food-grade pail
  • 1-2 demijohns
  • carboys
  • long-handled stirring spoon or cap puncher
  • drill powered stir stick
  • funnel
  • measuring cup/spoons
  • hydrometer/test jar
  • bung/airlock
  • solid bung
  • gram scale
  • wine thief
  • siphon rod (j-tube with antidregs tip and hose)
  • thermometer (floating)
  • cleaner (Powdered Brewery Wash or B-Brite)
  • sanitizer (metabisulphite crystals)
  • 30 wine bottles/corks
  • corking machine


Options:

  • ph meter
  • ph strips/acid test kit
  • SO2 (sulphur dioxide) test kit
  • refractometer
  • filtration unit
  • oak aging barrels or oak additives
  • labels
  • gram scale

There are a ton of options when making wine from fresh grapes. Not only with the methods used and equipment you decide on, but also which additives to add as well. You have complete control from day one when you pick up your grapes!

To begin with, just get what you need though as you can scale your equipment up later if you like. 



Equipment Needed to Make Fruit or Country Wines

Image showing a fruit wine making kitTypical fruit wine making kit

Country wines are a blast to make!

There are just so many fruits, vegetables and edibles to make it from.

They are usually made in smaller batches. But if you can get your hands on enough fruit, concentrate or whatever you're
going to make it from - then go ahead and scale up.

Here's a list of wine making supplies to get you started in country wine:

  • fermentation bucket with lid (food grade)
  • carboy (depending on batch size - follow recipe)
  • one gallon (4 liters) glass jug
  • nylon straining bag
  • stirring spoon
  • funnel
  • measuring cup/spoons
  • hydrometer/test jar
  • bung/airlock
  • solid bung
  • wine thief or turkey baster
  • siphon rod (j-tube with antidregs tip and hose)
  • thermometer (floating)
  • cleaner (Powdered Brewery Wash or B-Brite)
  • sanitizer (metabisulphite crystals)
  • wine bottles/corks
  • corking machine

Options:

  • fruit press
  • ph meter
  • gram scale
  • SO2 (sulphur dioxide) test kit
  • ph strips/acid test kit
  • refractometer



These wines are catching on fast - considering you can simply go out to the garden or farmers market to get the fruit
or vegetables you need.

It's not just that though, some of these wines are real gems... with exquisite flavors and aromas! Creating that perfect blend using two or more of these delectable wines can really surprise you.




Equipment Needed to Make Wine From Welch's Grape Juice

Follow a recipe for making these wines so you know what size of fermenter to use.

The wine making supplies you need will be the same as the fruit or country wines above. Except that you won't need a straining bag since these are juices only and not fruit pulp.

Welch's 100% Grape Juice and other similar juices will make you a nice cheap wine. The grocery stores seem to be carrying more and more 100% fruit juices as people want more natural and real fruit and vegetable juices.





Ingredients and Additives to Turn Your "Meh" Wine Into a Lively Crowd Pleaser!

Infographic showing wine making additives made from textWine making additives = kick butt wine!


Most wine needs additives. One batch of grape wine might need tannins or acid added and another batch doesn't. You can
make some grape wine without any additives, but there are risks and limitations.

To really know what a wine might need for additives requires:

  • tasting
  • testing 
  • and a little knowledge of how time affects wine in particular circumstances and containers

The better trained your palate is, the better your wine will be... so taste often! In the end, as long as you're happy with it - that's all that matters.

Almost all country or fruit wines need some kind of tweak. Many additives are natural but there are some that are
produced synthetically.

Here's a partial list of typical wine making additives:

  • tannins                                                                                                                          
  • tartaric acid
  • malic acid
  • lactic acid
  • citric acid
  • isinglass
  • egg whites
  • gelatin
  • bentonite
  • kieselsol
  • casein
  • gum arabic
  • pectic enzyme
  • yeast/nutrients
  • malolactic bacteria/nutrients
  • oak chips/particles
  • Campden tablets/metabisulphite crystals
  • sugar
  • potassium sorbate
  • wine conditioner
  • acid blend


Great wine must be:

  • balanced
  • protected
  • stabilized
  • somewhat aged

To make this happen you'll need a helping hand. Keep in mind though... the bottom line should always be to refine your craft and use as little intervention (including additives!) as possible.


The Most Important Process in Wine Making? Cleaning and Sanitizing!

That starts with with all the wine making supplies... make sure you clean and sanitize everything that will touch the must or wine.

Including your hands.

If you use a plastic fermenting bucket, check for scratches that can hide bacteria and replace it if needed.

Cleaning:

Image showing wine making equipment cleaning productsProper cleaning products for wine making equipment

There are a lot of different cleaners on the market today. With the risk of TCA which causes corked wine
(musty,moldy smell), don't use any cleaner with chlorine in it. Chlorine will also slowly eat away at any stainless steel
equipment you might have.

PBW (Powdered Brewery Wash), B-Brite, and Onestep are three good ones. Follow the instructions and you're good to go.

A note about sterilizing:

Sterilizing isn't necessary for home wine making. In fact it's often confused for sanitizing - which is necessary. The two terms are bandied about as if they're the same thing in some circles.

Sterilization is achieved industrially and commercially in many ways:

  • steam
  • dry heat
  • flame
  • boiling
  • sterile filtration
  • chemically, to name a few

Most of the methods are hot enough to melt some plastic equipment. This is fine for hospital settings on stainless steel implements etc., but not for what we're doing here.

Sanitizing:

Image showing a collage of wine making sanitizersCommon products used for sanitizing wine equipment


Crushed Campden tablets or potassium metabisulphite crystal/powder is the standard for sanitizing. Star San is another
good one as well.

It's not necessary to rinse afterword with these products. You can if you like though, as long as the fresh water you rinse with is bacteria-free, and the equipment will be used fairly soon after.

Clean and sanitize your wine making supplies before and after you use them. Be diligent, and know that you just eliminated the number one reason for spoiled and off-tasting wine.





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