How To Make Homemade Sparkling Wine

Glass of sparkling wineThere are many different ways to make sparkling wine. There is the Methode Champenoise, the traditional French method believed to produce the highest-quality sparkling wine. The Charmat Method, a.k.a. the more affordable method, which utilizes a tank and creates wine like Prosecco. The Transfer Method, a combination of the Champenoise and Charmat methods. The Carbonation Method, which we do not recommend, and a few other methods you can read about here. Today we are going to focus on the Methode Champenoise, the traditional way to make Champagne in France. 

Sparkling wine can take up to nine months to finish, so if you’re hoping to have your own bubbly for the holidays you’ll want to start soon. 

Step One: Your Wine Base

Prepare your wine base. To make quality sparkling wine you’ll want to start with a tart but not acidic wine like Chardonnay or Chardonnay style wines. Ferment the base wine the normal way up until the stabilizing step. Do not add the stabilizing add-packs; the sulfites might kill your yeast. Rack your wine into a carboy and wait. When it’s done fermenting, your acid should be crisp and tart, and your wine clean and free of any off-odors.

Step Two: Riddling

To make sure your Champagne has that clear, crisp color, riddling takes place. Riddling is a labor-intensive process that inverts the sparkling wine and twists the bottle back and forth over and over again. This process loosens the sediment from the bottom and sides and collects in the neck of the bottle in preparation for disgorgement. 

Step Three: Disgorgement

Disgorgement is a crucial step in making sparkling wine. The goal is to eliminate the deposit of sediment in the neck of the bottle that occurred during the riddling process. First, prepare your topping wine and sugar, called the dosage, and chill. Next you’re going to put the inverted bottle into the freezer. You want the wine close to freezing, but do not freeze completely or the bottle will break in your freezer. When you see ice crystals form in the neck, your wine is ready to be degorged.

For the last step you’ll want an open space that is easy to clean. Gently remove the bottle cap so the pressure in the bottle forces the sediment out. Carefully top the wine off with the dosage and re-cork. We recommend using plastic sparkling wine stoppers. Cork stoppers can be expensive, difficult to insert and difficult to remove.

Step Four: Enjoy!

Store bottles in a cool, dry place, and be sure to chill each bottle thoroughly before serving!

Cheers!

Gifts for Wine Makers: These 5 Gifts are Absolutely Perfect for Wine Lovers

Champagne in a bucketSo it’s nearing the holiday season and you don’t have your gifts together just yet.

Maybe because you started shopping just a little late this year or you’ve just been looking for that perfect gift and have yet to find it.

Regardless of why you’re still searching, you’ve put a lot of thought behind what would really make your loved one excited.

Online wine sales have grown 22% year over year.

This means that more and more wine lovers are beginning to shop online for all their wine needs.

But, online wine shopping can be a double-edged sword. The endless options can be overwhelming and make finding the perfect gift more difficult.

In this article we’re going to show you some of the best gifts for home winemakers that they’ll be sure to love.

The Top 5 Gifts for Wine Makers

Fermenting Bag

Wine fermentation bag

This handy jumbo fermenting bag is made from fine mesh, is heavy-duty and is designed to help with multiple uses. It’s extremely helpful in the different stages of the fermentation process because it keeps the pulp in control when the fruit is being crushed.

Being that this bag is 24” deep and 18” wide makes it excellent for wine creators that need a reliable fermenting bag. The drawstring included makes for easy handling while the durability enables it to withstand boiling temperatures.

This is a must-have for wine creators.

Glass Airlock

Wine glass airlock

This glass airlock is a key tool for making wine. Like the fermenting bag, it’s used during the fermentation process. The beautiful twin ball design makes this an amazing conversation piece.

This glass airlock is highly durable and has great capacity, maintaining batches of up to 20 gallons. It’s also super easy to fill because of the fluted opening and very fun to watch.

Our glass airlock is handmade, ensuring that you’ll have the best experience with lasting quality.

Heat Shrink Capsules

Wine heat shrink capsules

This is the perfect way to give your wine bottles a professional look. These capsules actually shrink and snug around both the neck and top of your bottle to give it that perfect fit.

They are very simple to use and work by placing the capsule over the neck of the bottle and placing it into hot water for around 10 seconds. The shrinkable PVC material fits the bottle perfectly.

These heat shrink capsules come with full instructions on how to use them and come in 9 different colors, including clear.

Sugar Scale Hydrometer

Wine sugar scale hydrometer

Our Sugar Scale Hydrometer is another great tool for winemakers. It helps keep track of the fermentation process and allows you to visually see the alcohol content before, during and after fermentation.

The included Sugar Scale shows how much sugar is contained in the liquid by ounces per gallon. The weighted glass sphere allows for the tube to stand in an upright position when placed in liquid.

The gravity scale ranges from .990 to 1.170 while the alcohol scale ranges from potentially -2 to +22%. This Sugar Scale Hydrometer also comes with a complete set of instructions.

Wine Making Books

Wine making books

One of the best gifts to give someone who is just beginning their wine making journey are books. While there are a slew of books online about wine making, our company has some of the best winemaking books that range from wine recipes to kit tips and woodworking for winemakers.

These make excellent add-on gifts that can be paired with some of our other products and make the ultimate wine gift basket.

Celebrate the holidays with Adventures in Homebrewing

Gift giving can be hard. But hopefully we just made it easier for you!

From beginner essentials to advanced tools for experienced makers, Adventures in Homebrewing has something for everyone.

If you’re looking for affordable, high-quality products, grab some gifts from our store for this upcoming holiday season.

Cheers!

Fruit Wines: The Perfect Gift for Mother’s Day

Did you know over 60% of wine consumers are women?

Fruity wine flavors

While we’re not entirely surprised, it’s a pretty staggering number. From wine tasting groups to girl’s night out, women are finding all kinds of reasons to

 indulge in this timeless drink. 

As winemakers continue to experiment with varietals, tannins and flavors, many have started to explore other fruit based mixtures. Fruit wine is wine made from fruit other than fermented grapes or grape juice.

This fun new wine makes a great Mother’s Day gift or an exciting kick off for warmer weather!

Choosing Your Fruit

Depending on the time of year, there are plenty of fruits to choose from when buying or making your wine. Fruit seasonality and their fermentation period should be considered when selecting your fruit.

Here’s a guide to help you pick the perfect fruit wine for Mom or yourself:

SPRING FRUITS

  • Strawberries: A sweeter wine – long fermentation period.
  • Cherries: Bold flavor that can be as sweet/sour as you like – long fermentation period

SUMMER FRUITS

  • Blackberries: Bold red wine that tastes great when blended with apples. 2 years to age.
  • Blueberries: Creates a light rose wine – short fermentation period.
  • Peaches: White wine with a great aroma – short fermentation period.
  • Plums: Rich color and flavor – short fermentation period.

FALL FRUITs

  • Apples: A light white wine. Great base for blending wines – 2 years to age alone.

Now that you’ve chosen your fruit, let’s start wine making!

How to Make Fruit Wines

Gifting this to Mom or that special woman in your life? Try making fruit wine from scratch.

Similar to making regular wine, there are many recipes for any skill level. We’ve got a great general recipe to get you started.

What You’ll Need:

Ingredients:

  • Fruit of your choice
  • Wine yeast
  • Sugar

Tools:

  • 2 glass containers – 1 for primary and secondary fermentation
  • Fermentation bag
  • Wine bottle

Optional Supplies:

  • Hydrometer
  • Tartaric
  • Citric/malic acids for better balance and quality

Instructions:

Step One:

  • Mix sugar, water, and your cut up fruit into a fermentation bag, cover it with a towel and let it sit for a day.

Step Two:

  • Add the yeast, and replace the towel covering it. Squish the bag once a day, and let this sit for another 5 days.

Step Three:

  • Drain all the liquid from the fruit and place into the carboy. Cap with an airlock for proper fermentation
    • You can use a siphon tube for more accuracy, but if you don’t have one it’s fine

Step Four:

  • Store this in a cool and dark place for another month before repeating the fermentation process.

Step Five:

  • Once all the bubbles are gone, you can pour the wine into your glass bottle and seal it with a cork!

Congrats! You’ve made your first bottle of fruit wine.

Whether you’re buying or making fruit wine, it’s sure to be a fun experience for all. And if you’re giving to Mom, or even creating with Mom, it’ll be a fun way to celebrate Mother’s Day.

Cheers!

How to Make Mulled Wine this Holiday Season

The holidays are here! mulled wine

That means cold weather, cozy nights, and non-stop festivities until the new year. If you’re looking for a recipe to show off and impress guests, we have the perfect wine for you.

Start the season by making a batch of mulled wine. It’ll warm your fingers, toes and the hearts of others – ‘tis the season after all.

What is Mulled Wine and How Do I Make It?

Historically, mulled wine has been used to repurpose harvest leftovers, warm the body during the cold months, and “heal” with its spices. The holiday drink we know and love today is really a product of Victorian England, with authors like Charles Dickens writing about mulled wine in “A Christmas Carol”. 

As a time-honored tradition, mulled wine will keep guests warm and satisfied throughout the holidays. It may sound complex, but it’s surprisingly easy to make, and a guaranteed crowd-pleasing cocktail. 

First things first. Make sure your pantry is stocked with these items: 

  • Your favorite wine – this is also a great time to show off your skills with your own handcrafted wine!
  • Mulling spices (details on these later)
  • A large pot or slow cooker 
  • Something to serve your drinks in
  • Optional: A snack pairing
  • Optional: Mulled wine pairs well with a partner – feel free to add extra booze. 
    • Spirits like brandy, cognac and gin will spice things up!

WARNING: Mull with caution 

  • Do NOT BOIL your mixture. This can spoil your drink. 
  • Whether you are buying or making your wine, make sure it’s not too heavily oaked to avoid bitterness.

What Type of Wine Should I Use?

As you’re getting your list together you may be wondering what type of wine is the best to use. Thankfully, almost any variety will do. The only catch is that some mulling spices pair better with certain wines than others. 

Tip: if you’re purchasing wine from a store, it’s perfectly fine (and encouraged) to use cheaper wines for mulling. More expensive, complex wines often lose their intricate notes in the mulling process.

What Spices Should I Use?

If you’ve taken a look at a few recipes, you’ve probably noticed some common spices:

  • Cinnamon
  • Oranges
  • Star Anise 
  • Honey 
  • Some sort of extra liquor

All of these are staples, but they are not set in stone. Have fun with your recipes and explore adding different fruits and spices to your wine. And if you’re short on time, some retailers sell premade mulling spice mixes like this one

Mulled Red Wine 

The classic mulled wine is a dry, red variety- Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet, pick your preference. You can make mulled red wine as simple or complicated as you’d like (though we prefer simple so you have time to prep other things). 

Spices:

  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Oranges
  • Honey
  • Star Anise

Here’s an easy mulled wine recipe to get you started!

Mulled White Wine 

While using white wine isn’t as common, some lean towards a lighter taste (think Viognier, Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio depending on the recipe). With this variation of mulled wine, winter fruits such as pomegranate, cranberries and oranges stand out in flavor and presentation.

Spices:

  • Cinnamon
  • Oranges
  • Honey
  • Star Anise
  • Lemons
  • Cranberries
  • Pomegranates 

For an extra kick, try spicing things up with this Apple Mulled White Wine recipe.

Mulled Rosé

Forget “Rosé All Day” as the exclusive summer mantra. We believe it’s a year round affair. Rosé is no longer reserved for warm months only – it now has a special place in your holiday drink rotation. Plus, a pink drink feels fun for every festivity. 

Spices:

  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Star Anise
  • Organes
  • Cranberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Ginger

Dazzle your guests by serving this whimsical cocktail that’s just as easy to make as the traditional stuff.

How to Serve Mulled Wine

You’ve made your very first batch of mulled wine. Congrats! Now, let’s find something to serve it in and with.

Mugs vs Glasses

Since mulled wine is mostly served warm, many opt for serving in mugs because they keep it warmer longer. However, if you’re focused on a nice presentation use glass mugs, double-wall glasses or special mulled wine glasses. Add a little flare by topping it off with a fresh piece of fruit used in your recipe, or a cinnamon stick. Going the extra mile here will make a lasting impression on your guests and elevate your drink.

Mulled Wine Pairings

Looking for the perfect dish or appetizer to serve with your impressive creation? Here are some ideas to pair with your mulled wine.

  • Cheese board 
    • If you are pairing with something sweet, consider Roquefort, Bleu Cheese, Gorgonzola, or Comté – they’ll bring out the cinnamon and clove notes!
  • Spiced nuts
  • Fondue 
  • Mince pies  – if you’re feeling fancy!

It’s official. You are now a mulled wine connoisseur! We hope you enjoy sipping your cocktail as you share your recipe with friends and family. 

Cheers!

New Shipment of Grape Crushers and Presses

We recently announced a new stock of seasonal presses and crushers. Presses and crushers are integral to the winemaking process, and ensure that grapes and fruit crush properly before fermentation. For the current season, Adventures in Homebrewing has fully stocked this highly in demand product.
Crushers and presses are used to break the skin of grapes or fruit in order to properly extract juices for fermentation. The crushing process is integral to the success of the wine batch, and requires careful attention to properly de-stem and crush skins. Modern crushers and presses provide both manual and motorized options, ensuring that the crushing process is completed thoroughly and accurately.
While traditionally grapes have been stomped or crushed by hand, contemporary presses allow winemakers to crush large proportions of fruit with minimal time and effort. Late spring is a common time for grape picking and crushing, which promises to deliver fully crafted by wine by the peak summer months.
We place a strong focus on innovation and maintaining status as a complete home wine and beer supplier. We recently added new kegging systems, and the introduction of new wine juice kits continues to be a step towards future expansion. Currently, we offer a wide selection of crushers and presses from leading manufacturers in addition to our reliable supply of wine making kits and beer brewing supplies. Check ’em out today!

Natural vs. Synthetic Corks

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When you think of breaking out a bottle of wine, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Many think of the traditional cork ‘pop’ as a signal of a freshly cracked bottle of wine. But would your wine be just as enjoyable without this symbolic introduction? Today, synthetic wine corks are becoming a popular option over the traditional form of natural corks. There is a great debate over the pros and cons of synthetic and natural corks. For the home wine maker, this can be an important decision. While the home wine making process develops integral flavor profiles, bottling and aging are also primary considerations for developing and maintaining flavor. Before pulling out the wine making kits, read five things you need to know when deciding between a synthetic or natural cork for your homemade wine.
 
1. Cork Taint. Cork taint occurs in natural corks due to a chemical compound called trichloroanisole (TCA). Cork taint can be very disappointing, as it can spoil wine that has been aging for years. Cork taint occurs in approximately 3-15 percent of all bottled wine.
 
2. Sealing. One of the primary concerns with bottled wine is consistency in keeping the cork snug. Glass bottles naturally expand and contract based on temperature and environment, and natural corks will expand and contract along with the bottle. Synthetic corks don’t offer this benefit, and can easily become too loose, letting in too much air, or too tight, rendering bottles unable to be opened.
 
3. Air. While corks need to remain snug, a little bit of natural oxygen is necessary for the wine to age properly. Oxygen allows the natural chemical reactions in wine to occur, producing the aging flavors that are developed over time. Synthetic corks prevent oxygen from reaching the wine, meaning synthetically corked wine technically doesn’t experience the aging process. However, the benefit of synthetic corks is that it does prevent wine from over-oxidation, another primary concern during the aging process.
 
4. Environmentally friendly bottling.  Natural cork is derived from the bark of cork trees, which is actually a very environmentally friendly process. The bark is a renewable resource that grows back over time. Cork bark is striped every ten years, and each individual tree can produce bark for up to 200 years. Cork trees also provide lots of environmental benefits, such as trapping harmful carbon dioxide and lessening pollution.
 
5. Cost. The cost of synthetic corks is substantially lower, one of the reasons that many commercial bottles are now adopting this trend. Today, approximately 9% of all bottles of commercially packed wine use a synthetic cork, and these numbers continue to quickly rise.
 
As you may see, there are pros and cons for using each type of cork. There are many debates over which cork type is best suited for a specific wine type, and as we divulge here, it is hard to come to a conclusive answer. Being aware of the pros and cons will allow you to make an informative decision on how you want to approach your next bottling process. Making careful choices, from the type of wine making equipment used to the appropriate type of cork, will allow you to successfully create the wine of your dreams.

Homegrown Grapes for Wine Making

Courtesy of Wikipedia


Whether you are an old pro at home wine making or just getting started, there is so much potential to create your own signature flavors and creations. Many wine-makers enjoy doing so by growing their own batch of grapes. Homegrown grapes are a growing trend in wine making, and a great way to get more involved in the flavor creation process.
 
Different grapes prosper in different regions, so before getting started it’s important to carefully research which grapes will grow optimally in your specific location and climate. One popular type is vitis vinifera, a grape that produces popular flavors such as Chardonnay, Merlot, White Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Vitis vinifera derives from a European grape family, and is commonly found in areas such as the Pacific Northwest, California, and Mid-Atlantic regions with milder climates. For colder or wetter climates, alternate grape options are often found. Vitis labrusca grapes are a common type of grape less vulnerable to cold, and may be successfully grown in northern regions.
 
Now, for the grape growing. After you have researched the best type of grapes to successfully grow in your region, get started with planting vines. The best time of the year to plant vines is early spring. Vines generally take about three years to mature and bear fruit, so be prepared with some patience. Make sure to pick a very sunny location, with good soil drainage. Nutrient poor soil is optimal for grapes, because smaller, undernourished grapes produce the most flavorful wines. After planting vines, ensure that trellises are at least six feet high. As the vine continues to grow, prune and train the vine carefully and correctly.
 
You will see your vine blossom and mature over several years, until it finally bears fruit. Approximately ten pounds of grapes produce a gallon of wine, meaning ten to twenty vines are needed to produce a smaller batch of wine. Growing grapes is a rewarding aspect of wine making, and allows you to create distinct, authentic flavoring. Remember, great grapes make great wine. While the harvest process is important in developing strong flavors, it is just important to carefully store grapes prior to wine making. Once you get down the basics of growing grapes, break out the wine making kits, and get started on learning how to use your wine making equipment to develop your own signature creation!

Springtime Wines

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Springtime is finally in full gear, and before we know it summer will be right around the corner. With the season warming up, we thought it was appropriate to share some of our favorite springtime wines (and food pairings!). So pull out the wine making kits, sit back, and relax as we spill our best-kept springtime secrets for wine.
 
Sauvignon Blanc: Sauvignon Blanc and other Sauvignon blends make the perfect springtime wine. Sauvignon blends have become exceedingly popular due to their extensive variety and unmatched quality for an unbeatable price. Sauvignon blends generally give off a hint of citrus, lime, and crisp fruits, while always providing a fresh taste. Pairs well with light springtime meals including: seafood dishes, asparagus, and goat cheese.
 
Prosecco: Often a summertime favorite, Prosecco is a soft wine loved by many. Similar in taste to champagne, but with less of an edge, Prosecco is a charming and sparkling alternative. Drink poolside and mix with an assortment of fresh berries and fruits!
 
Pinot Grigio: Quality Pinot Grigio is a must-have for summer. This minerally white wine is light but not too thin. We suggest pairing this crisp wine with an Italian meal, preferably light pastas or with tomato-based sauces.
 
Grüner Veltliner:This white wine has an unmatched crisp-ness that is toned down with fruit flavors such as nectarine and grapefruit. Some versions are light-bodied, while others produce a more concentrated richness. This wine matches best with foods with an Asian influence, such as noodles, salad dishes, and spring rolls.
 
Spring is a great time of the year to pull out the wine making equipment, and create a seasonal favorite of your own. Mix and match to find your very own perfect wine pairing. Trouble figuring out what to do for a springtime recipe? Check out our recipe page to get started. Happy wine making!

Top 10 Reasons to Make Your Own Wine

  1. It’s easy- By simply following the instructions provided in wine making kits, you’re bound to make some tasty wine. Once you master the steps, the instructions will seem pointless- they will be stored in your expert wine making brain!  
  2. Save money- Imagine never having to buy wine again. Once you have all of the equipment for home wine making, making additional batches is inexpensive. Say goodbye to the liquor store and hello to all of the money you’ll be saving!
  3. Homemade wine has health benefits- Once you become more advanced, you can experiment with the ingredients a bit if you wish. You can choose to add less sugar or less alcohol, making your wine healthier.
  4. You can choose its flavors- When you choose your own wine recipes; you have the ability to give it its own special taste.  You can add flavors such as dried Elderflower to enhance the taste and smells of your creation.
  5. Great activity to reduce stress- Winemaking is both relaxing and enjoyable. Taking the time out of your hectic schedule for a leisure activity is a healthy way to reduce stress.
  6. Always have something to bring to an event or party- Depending on the size of your barrel or carboy, a batch of wine can produce anywhere from 25-100 bottles of wine. Anytime you go to an event or party, you’ll be sure to have the most popular contribution or gift.
  7. Gives you something to talk about- Winemaking is cool; it’s as simple as that. Everyone will want to know about your new hobby and find it fascinating your making your own wine. It is a great conversation starter for when you’re with friends or on a first date!
  8. Make new friends- Winemakers around the globe love sharing their ideas and stories with others, which is why it is a great community to be a part of. There are countless blogs and forums of winemakers, where you’ll enjoy chatting about your mutual hobby. There are also plenty of wine making events where making new friends is impossible not to do!
  9. Benefit your Health – Studies have shown that drinking red wine in moderation (approximately one or two glasses per day) can have numerous health benefits. Red wine has been shown to benefit heart health, protect against certain cancers, and lower cholesterol.
  10. Win awards – If you think you have the best skills around (and of course the best wine making equipment around); there are plenty of contests for home winemakers. These events provide for a great place to make new friends, win prizes, money, and recognition!

The Science and Art of Home Wine & Beer

Step in your local grocery store, stroll down to the beer and wine aisles and take a good look. Some of the words that come to mind: vast, impressive, confusing, overwhelming. Why is this bottle $59 dollars and this one is $11? What do the labels really mean? How do you know where to begin?
You don’t need a sommelier to help you navigate the world of wine. And, just because one brand of beer had a funny Superbowl commercial doesn’t mean it’s any better than the rest. If you really want to drink the best beer and wine you’ll ever have, you can brew beer and make wine at home, yourself, for pennies on what you’d spend at the store.
You Don’t Have to Grow Grapes
Home Wine Making and Beer Brewing making doesn’t mean you need a field of grapes or hops in your backyard. Like any chef preparing a quality meal, you can buy top-quality ingredients, as well as beer brewing kits and wine-making equipment. Home brewing will give you a unique experience, a one-of-a-kind perspective on the process, and a point of pride when you’re done. All you need are the right ingredients, some bottles, and the desire and time.
You Can Get Cheap Beer and Wine Anywhere
You may find other kits that let you make your own beer and wine with very little effort. Don’t forget, what you get out of it is only what you put into it. Don’t go for quick — choose quality.
It’s a Science and an Art 
Like any good recipe, wine and beer making requires you to follow a rigid set of directions to ensure success. The art lies in the subtle nuances that you create to make it your own. You need to learn the rules before you know when to break them. There are recipes for beer and wine all over the Internet. There are even websites devoted to each one. Take the time and study how the pros do it. Adventures in Homebrewing has detailed instructions that can turn you into an expert in no time.
Patience is a Virtue but Waiting is Hard
When you have created your masterpiece, you still need to let nature do its work. Complex chemical reactions turning sugar into alcohol take time. Your perseverance will be greatly rewarded.
Indulge Your Ego
Aside from the joy of drinking your homemade beverages, some say naming your brew and creating your own labels is the most fun. Since glass bottle can easily be recycled, and even washed and reused, there is no reason not to house your spirits in quality containers with a bright colorful label proclaiming yourself as the proud brew master.
Get Started
Now that you are ready to start, Adventures in Homebrewing can walk you through the steps. Adventures in Homebrewing has an extensive selection of home wine making supplies and equipment along with beer brewing kits. With more than 40 years of experience under our belts, we can answer any questions you may have. In no time at all, you’ll be making beer and wine with your own hands