The primary stages involved in the making of any wine are:
1. Extracting the flavour from your ingredients
There are numerous ingredients which can be used to create the must (liquid pre fermentation), ranging from grapes and other fruits to more unusual ingredients including Dandelion and Elderflower.
Like brewing beer, this is what makes winemaking so interesting, and you can experiment with different blends and flavours.
The easiest and most reliable way for the beginner to produce wine is to use a wine kit.
These wine kits contain yeast and concentrated fruit extract.
Dilute the fruit extract with water providing the must.
The yeast is then added, and the must is then left to ferment.
Once the fermentation stage of the wine is completed, the wine is then matured in bulk (usually in a glass demi-john or plastic demi-john) until it is ready to bottle. Again the length of this time depends on the kit, but typically around three weeks. Once bottled, the wine is ready to drink.
Most wines will benefit from being allowed to mature in the bottle which allows the flavours to develop, but as with shop bought wines, some wines are not suitable for long-term storage.
The quality of the homebrew wine kits available today means that exceptional quality wines are produced for a fraction of the cost of the shop bought equivalent.
Wines made at home from homegrown or wild ingredients are known as country wines. The same basic principals for brewing wine kits apply, except here you are preparing the must yourself. Like brewing beer, there are hundreds of recipes available to develop the must, and you may need a large pan and strainer if the must requires boiling. The process is then the same as producing from a wine kit, although fermentation and maturing times are usually extended.
Wine can be produced from just about anything that can impart flavour, brewing sugar can be added if the main flavour provider is not high in sugar.
Fruits are very good at producing wine, and most are high in natural sugars. Elderberry, Cherry, Apple and Rhubarb all make great wines but some fantastic wines can also be made from less obvious sources.
Country wine is less consistent than producing wines from kits as there is less control of the ingredients, but its also a lot more economical, mainly as most of the components can be sourced for free right outside your own home.
Experimentation will give you great results, but you can expect some failures too, although these will probably be drinkable!
As the ingredients are seasonal, there is a real feeling of being in touch with nature and the seasons. Summer and Autumn being the particularly fruitful and busy seasons for the country winemaker.
Like brewing beer, there is an initial investment in brewing equipment required, but this can be used time and time again, making subsequent batches much more economical.