Home Wine Making Supplies Made Easy!
It can seem complicated figuring out all of the wine making supplies you might need. Home wine making is becoming more and more popular with each passing year, and with growth comes lots and lots of products to meet our every need. Wine making supplies are no different:
- Supplies to clean your equipment
- Products to adjust your must
- Chemicals to clarify, stabilize and protect your wine
- Every thing you ever needed to bottle your wine and make it look amazing
It can seem overwhelming to figure out what you need and when you need it.
As a crafter of homemade wines, you will need supplies, but you won't need everything on the market.
Making sure that you're well stocked, with the right wine making supplies, will make your job much easier, and assist you in the creation of your perfect wine.
Wine making supplies are the things that you will consume and replace. Unlike equipment that can be used over and over, supplies will be used up and purchased again and again.
Keep it Clean!
The surest way to spoil your wine is failing to keep everything that touches your wine clean and sanitized.
Everything that will touch your wine must be clean. Not just "hot soapy water" clean, but fully cleansed and sanitized. The easiest way to make a bad batch of homemade wine is to use dirty equipment.
Avoid using normal household cleansers to clean your equipment (dish soap, etc). The soapy residue left behind is tough to completely get rid of and might negatively impact the taste of your finished wine.
Wine making supplies to clean and sanitize your equipment are essential to your wine making success.
It may seem like a little extra effort to ensure the cleanliness of your equipment, but I assure you that the effort is well spent.
Delayed gratification is a prominent theme in wine making, and jumping right to the fun of wine making before proper cleaning and sanitization is an easily avoidable mistake.
Taking the time to properly clean and sanitize is a small price to pay, and keeping the nasty little organisms out of your wine will get you a good way to making great wine.
- Cleanser - The very first step in the winemaking process is to clean your equipment. There are a number of products on the market, but I prefer to use a one step cleanser where no rinsing is necessary.
- Sanitizer - While the job of cleaning your equipment is the process of scrubbing away all of the visible dirtiness, sanitizing is the process of removing the unseen and harmful bacteria that could harm your wine. Because of the multi-purpose use, I prefer to use metabisulfite (potassium or sodium) for my sanitizing needs. These can be purchased in powder form or in a pre-measured campden tablets
The cost of these items is very low - if you have a tight budget, do yourself a huge favor and spend it on cleaning and sanitizing supplies!
Adjusting & Flavoring Your Wine
The wine making supplies in this section are "nice to have" items, but having them on hand will very likely improve the quality and taste of your wine.
A good many "country wine recipes" call for the below, and having them available will relieve a bit of stress by knowing that you have the supplies to get the job done:
- Pectic Enzyme - If you are a country wine maker, this is a must have. A little bit of pectic enzyme will do wonders for your fruit wines. It breaks down the fruit, and aids in getting the most juice and flavor out of your fruits. By the way, it also helps in clarifying - taking some of the haze out of your wines.
- Wine Tannin - A little added tannin goes a long way when making fruit wines. Tannin provides that "mouthful" feeling when drinking a nice wine (technically known as astringency). The use of tannin to enhance the overall nature of your wine is a very personal one, and with that in mind not required in your collection of wine making supplies.
- Oak Chips - Used to add flavor and character to red wines. If you are aging your wine in an oak barrel, there would be no need for oak chips, but since most home winemakers age in glass or plastic, the addition of oak chips is a nice alternative to enhancing your final wine. Again, oak is a personal preference. I encourage you to experiment, but oak is not required in the wine making process.
- Tartaric Acid - Proper acid levels are very important in wine making. If the acid levels are too low, the wine is flat and your friends might even call it boring. Too high and it might be sour. If your levels are low, adding a bit of tartaric will raise the acid levels. It doesn't take much, and can easily be measured with an acid testing kit.
Finishing the Job
The wine making supplies in this section address the needs in the final stages of wine making: Stabilizing, fining, and bottling.
- Corks - They come in many shapes, sizes, and materials but are all intended to do the same thing. Keep your wine sealed safely in the bottle until you are ready to drink it. If you bottle your wine, you will need corks. If you are going to age them for any length of time, make sure you get your hands on quality corks. For the home winemaker that plans on bottling wine, corks are mandatory.
- Wine Bottles. - If you're going to bottle your wine, you will need bottles. Since I tend to drink a fair amount of commercial wine, I simply save my bottles and use them for my wine. Just remove the label, clean thoroughly and sanitize. The most important thing with bottles is having enough when you're ready. A 6 gallon kit will fill 30 standard wine bottles. Learn more.
- Stabilizer - The primary purpose of a stabilizer, in the wine making process, is to ensure that fermentation is complete before you bottle. Adding a bit of stabilizer before you bottle is critical, and using a stabilizer like potassium sorbate will get the job done. Most kit wines will come with a packet of sorbate, but if your focus is on making wine from scratch, get yourself a bottle. You'll be glad you did.
- Fining - Fining is the process of adding chemicals to your wine to aid in. Most would agree that a crystal clear wine adds to the experience, and having a fining agent such as bentonite or kieselso on hand is a great idea. Not absolutely required, but I would highly recommend it if you like clear wines.
- Labels - Labels on your wine bottle do two important things: 1) Tell you what's in the bottle, and 2) Impress your friends. A label can be as simple as taping a piece of paper to your bottle or as creative as designing your very own private label.
- Closures - Ready to dress up your newly bottled wine? Using a wine closure will do just that. A closure is the cap like thing that fits over the top of your bottle, covering your cork, and giving your wine that "professionally made" appearance. A closure is not required, but it really makes your wine bottle look great and are very inexpensive.
Odds & Ends
A couple more wine making supplies to consider
- Straining Bag - A must have for the country wine maker. When making wine from fresh fruits or vegetables, the straining bag is used to hold the main ingredients. When the flavors from the fruit or vegetables have been extracted, simply remove the straining bag and throw the solids away. Very inexpensive, and well worth it if you want to save time and mess.
- Wine Making Log - Record keeping in the art of winemaking is essential. Not only does record keeping allow you to monitor the progress of your wine, but if you ever create a wine you love, good record keeping will be invaluable. A simple wine making log will make your record keeping a breeze.
Learning to make wine is a wonderful experience, and one of the areas of learning is understanding the wine making supplies that you use.
Take the time to understand why you are doing what you are doing. Enjoy the process of becoming a competent wine maker.
Experiment, be creative, and let me know how your wines are coming along