Chris Pearmund explains how to make wine and how to turn grape juice into wine.
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Hi, I’m Chris Pearmund here in Haymarket, Virginia at the winery at La Grange and today we’re going to be talking about wine making. Some of the subtle differences between home wine making, commercial wine making and if you’re a home winemaker may be we can share a few secrets with you. On this segment, we’re going to talk about some of the nuances and intricacies of taking grape juice and grapes into wine itself and some of the equipment required for the home winemaker. It's very, very simple, as you may have seen on the last segment, we took a representational sample to make a red wine. We don't need the stems anymore, as they’re kind of a little bitter on the finish. We wanted to keep our wine grapes cold to stop any indigenous fermentation but we want to use our own particular selected yeast. The yeasts that we use commercially are the same yeast you could have from a home winemaking supply store. The general rule of thumb is one gram per gallon of selected yeast. This represents 500 grams per 500 gallons, more than a home winemaker would need. But basically, the hydration, the concept and the principles are the same. There are different yeasts that are available for different types of wines. A cold fermented white wine, a warm fermented red wine or different attributes that you might want to extract from the grape themselves in different phenolic levels. One of things that‘s very important in wine production is the additive of nutrition. Yeast are live animals and in doing so we want to keep those animals very healthy when they convert sugar to alcohol and if I can make the analogy between ourselves as humans. If we are very stressed out, not nutritionally represented and under a lot of stress, our body is going throw up a lot of foul odors, the same with yeast. So we want to take care of these babies, so they’re not going to throw up any foul odors and make our wine less than what it is capable of being. So we’re going to add a product that is basically nitrogen and B complex vitamins and thiamine and such and this nitrogen will help the yeast activate themselves in much more healthy way to give up their best flavor as possible. We’ll monitor the fermentation temperature with a simple thermometer and we’re also going to watch the pH levels. The pH in a wine is very important. This is a red wine that we have of Cabernet Franc. The pH is 3.55. It's a solid place for the wine pH to be, it will have a nice balance between acidity and flavor and also it's safer. The higher the pH the lower the acid and generally the less stable the wine and the less longevity the wine will have. Red wines tend to have a pH between 3.5 and 3.7, white wines can be between 3.6 down to about 3.0. The lower the pH, generally the higher the acid, the crisper the wine and when you have a lower pH wine you normally also want to have a little bit of residual sugar or sweetness in the wine that balance out the tart acidity. And if you need to change pH, we used tartaric acid. Tartaric acid at about one gram per gallon is generally suffices enough to change any style but you do want to have an accurate pH meter. Tartaric acid in a small amount of this much would probably be enough for five gallons of wine. It's very small amount and very simple and not needed, stylistically again. On the fermentation, when it occurs you also want to be aware of keeping the involvement of the skins with the wine itself. As the fermentation occurs the CO2 gases will lift the grape skins to the top surface, so two or three times a day, you want to mix up those skins back and incorporate within the wine. This is called punching down. On a large vat and large container, there’s different equipment to be used. If you’re using a small five-gallon container, you can take a wine bottle filled with water and mix it around. Temperature for red wine production is important. You want to keep it around in the low 80’s between 80 and 85 degrees. A simple thing I have found is actually taking a wine bottle, fill it with water, take an aquarium heater, send it for 83, 84, 85 degrees, stick into that wine bottle as you have a solid mass around that will keep your wine at temperature. If you’re fermenting a white wine, you probably want to ferment it around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re lucky enough to have an old refrigerator or cool basement that's probably the ideal place for it. After fermentation the yeast will settle to the bottom of your container and you want to rack remove the top clean wine away from that yeast release. And we’ll talk about that more in the next segment when we’re going to talk about oak alternatives and stirring wines, proper temperatures and the like, thank you.