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Winemaking Tutorial - Lesson One

Obtain Supplies and Equipment

There are a few things one MUST have in order to make a great wine from a grape concentrate kit. Obviously you need a wine kit, but what else is needed? At a bare minimum, we recommend obtaining the following winemaking equipment and supplies:

  • *Food-grade plastic bucket with lid, 7.8 gallons - Used for primary fermentation and bottling. A fast-flow spigot at the bottom is essential.
  • *6 gallon glass carboy - Used for secondary fermentation.
  • *Airlock - Allows carbon dioxide to escape the carboy during fermentation.
  • *Drilled rubber stopper - Also called a bung. Placed within the neck of the glass carboy, it provides an airtight seal while the drilled hole in the middle holds the airlock.
  • *Vinyl tubing - Used for racking (transferring) wine from one vessel to another.
  • Curved cane and racking tip - At a minimum, you'll need this doo-hickey to bring your wine UP and OVER the mouth of the carboy during racking. As an upgrade, we recommend the *FermTech AutoSiphon, which starts a siphon in 5 seconds without any waste.
  • Wine Thief - A device used to obtain a sample of wine from a carboy (for testing) without having to tip the carboy and pour it out. A regular wine thief (either glass or plastic) will work fine, but we recommend the Wine Thief/Test Jar Combo, which pulls double duty and saves time, effort, and wine.
  • *Hydrometer - A device that measures specific gravity, sugar, and potential alcohol. These usually come packaged with a small test jar.
  • *Spoon - A food grade, plastic 18 inch long spoon to mix your chemicals as well as stir all the CO2 out of your wine.
  • *Wine bottles - You'll need around 30 bottles (750 ml size). Save cash by getting empties from your friends!
  • *Sanitizer - A chemical used to clean and sanitize your equipment. We recommend B-Brite® because it comes in a powder (you can make as little or as much as you need) and has a long shelf life. Another chemical you can use for sanitizing equipment is potassium metabisulfite.
  • *Corks - Hey, we want the wine to stay IN the bottle until it's time to drink!
  • *Corker - You could use a mallet and a steady hand, but who wants hammer on their wine bottles to cork 'em? The Portuguese Hand Corker comes with the Complete Wine Equipment Kit, or you can upgrade your package with a floor corker by paying the difference in price.

Except for consumable supplies such as corks and sanitizer, this equipment can be used over and over again so long as it is kept clean and dry between uses.

NOTE: All items marked with a red asterisk (*) above come as part of the Complete Wine Equipment Kit, Item #3100 (red wine) or #3200 (white wine). These denoted items are just a partial list of what you get with the Complete Wine Kit. To compare what equipment comes with each kit (Basic, Deluxe, and Complete), see our wine kit equipment comparison page.

 

And of course, you'll need some raw materials from which to make your wine:

  • Wine Kit - Choose your favorite red or white! All of our wine kits contain the basic chemical additives you'll need (such as yeast, bentonite, isinglass, potassium sorbate, glycerin, etc.).
  • Water - Good, clean non-chlorinated water works best. Depending upon the type of wine kit used (Spagnol's Vino Del Vida, Grand Cru, Cellar Classic, or Cru Select), you will need anywhere from 4 to 5 gallons.

 

The following items are not necessary, but are "nice to haves" because they either improve a process (saving time and/or possible errors) or improve the flavor of the wine:

  • Floating or Adhesive Thermometer - Ensure your yeast is pitched at the correct temperature, and that fermentation is occurring within a safe temperature range.
  • Floor Corker - Makes corking an easy one-man operation.
  • Fizz-X Mixer - Once you use this mixing device, you'll never go back to the spoon! Just attach the mixer to a power drill, and accomplish all your stirring, mixing, and degassing in a flash.
  • Bottle Rinser - We use the low-powered bottle rinser to sanitize our bottles prior to bottling with either B-Brite or potassium metabisulfite.
  • Bucket Opening Tool - Helps make quick work of opening a sealed bucket. Without one of these, it takes more than a few grunts to open the lid.
  • Capsules - Usually made from foil or plastic, these are used to encapsulate the top of the bottle. Capsules keep dust and dirt from collecting in the crevice where the cork and the bottle meet, and give your wine bottle a little window dressing. Instead of capsules, you can also use bottle wax, which is available in several colors.
  • Automatic Siphoning Equipment - Reduces wine waste due to spills and splashes. No more sucking on a hose to start a siphon!
  • Bottle Washer - Use this device to blast out the gunk in the bottom of your bottles with a high powered jet of water. Attaches to a garden hose (standard) or a kitchen faucet (with adapter).
  • Carboy Brush - Because of their small holes at the top, carboys are hard to clean without one of these!
  • Bottle Drainer - Bottle draining "trees" hold your wet bottles upside down in a compact storage area and allow them to drain and air dry. Available in 2 sizes - 45 bottles and 81 bottles.
  • Vinometer - Use this device to measure the alcoholic content of a finished dry wine.
  • Funnel - Pour liquids faster using one of these - just be sure it's made of food grade material.
  • Carboy Handle - Makes picking up and moving your carboy easier.
  • Bottle Filler - With this handy glass wand, you can fill your bottles to the perfect level without spilling a drop! Bottle fillers come in manual, automatic, and electrical varieties.
  • Bottle Brush - Recycle your old wine bottles by keeping them clean with this handy item. Did you know that outside of the wine kit itself, bottles are the most expensive part to replace? You can save a dollar or more per bottle by recycling.
  • Wine Conditioner - Sweetens wine (makes wine less dry).
  • Wine Kit Enhancer - Add this stable California grape juice to enhance the taste, aroma, and bouquet of your wine kit. Available in 16 oz. cans.
  • Oak Wood Chips - Simulates aging your wine in an oak barrel. Selected wine kits already come with chips!

Now that you have the supplies and equipment you need, let's prep your equipment in readiness to make some wine!

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