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September 2008 - White Zinfandel

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Selecting the Right Ingredients for Home-Made Wine

Tips for choosing the best home-made wine ingredients:

Fruits must be ripe, but not over-ripe. A few shriveled grapes or black currants are unlikely to harm a brew. In the case of larger fruits such as plums, the doubtful ones should be taken out.

The choice of roots (beetroot, parsnips, etc.) for wine-making purposes should not be dismissed so readily. The best, (or even the only) roots suitable for wine-making are those that are old and shriveled. Parsnips that have been stored throughout the winter or left in the soil are at their best for our purpose in March, as are old potatoes purchased in June when the new ones are coming in. They are ideal if they are well shriveled and/or sprouting. (Be sure to break off the roots before using them.)

These old roots contain less starch than the fresher ones, and we do not want starch in wines because it slows down the clearing process. Besides this, when old roots are used, they flavor the wine less, and it is not in the least bit earthy.

It is a mistake to believe that using additional ingredients, (such as less water, or more sugar/yeast), than is indicated in the recipes, will produce a more potent wine. The strength of wine is decided by the volume of alcohol in which the yeast can live and continue to do its work, and not on the quantity of any ingredients. Too much sugar makes the wine far too sweet. More yeast makes no difference at all, simply because it cannot make more alcohol than it can live in. Age makes very little difference to the alcohol content of wines. Too many ingredients will produce a liquid of too high a specific gravity and a liquid containing too many solids per part of water, (in other words a liquid which is too thick) and this will take a very long time to clear.

Because of this, you should never use more ingredients than the recipe indicates.

About Straining:

Fine muslin is best for straining mixtures produced when making root wines. Tie one piece on the tub - allowing sufficient sag - and place a second piece over this.

This top piece containing the solids can be lifted off without letting them fall into the brew. Jelly bags or similar things made of suitable material are needed for fruit juices, as will be seen in the recipes.

About Sugar & Yeast:

You should always use white sugar, and make certain that all the sugar is dissolved before adding anything (like wheat or raisins) to the brew. If all the sugar is not dissolved, the yeast might not ferment properly & some of the sugar could settle in the form of syrup and be left in the lees when they are thrown away. As a result of this, the wine could turn out quite sharp. With a lot of other ingredients in the brew, it is quite impossible to tell whether all the sugar is dissolved or not.

Baker's yeast is all we need during this stage. This can be purchased at your local bakery. Yeast is added at the rate of one ounce per 1, 2 or 3 gallons.

Do not add the yeast too early...as a temperature well below boiling point will destroy the yeast organism and fermentation will not take place.

About the Author

James Wilson owns & operates www.e-homewinemaking.com, a site providing wine-making tips, tricks and techniques. If you're interested in making your own wine, visit www.e-homewinemaking.com today and sign up for the FREE wine-making mini-course!

A Short White Zinfandel Summary

Selecting the Right Ingredients for Home-Made Wine

Tips for choosing the best home-made wine ingredients:
Fruits must be ripe, but not over-ripe. A few shriveled grapes or black currants are unlikely t...

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