In the first post about Basic Wine Making, I talked about sanitation and how important it is to successful wine making. In this post, I am going to go over the wine making equipment you will need to make wine. I will describe what each item is for, and when you can use items you may have around the house.
Primary Fermenter – This is the first thing you will need. Generally it is a food grade bucket used to ferment the wine at the beginning of the process. Any food grade bucket will work. If you have a bucket that came with food in it, you have a food grade bucket. Wine making supply shops sell 5 gallon ones for around $15. You can also get them at your local big box store. Be sure you get food grade plastic. Food grade plastic is denser than regular plastic and won’t harbor bacteria as well as regular plastic.
Secondary Fermenter – This is where you rack your wine to after it leaves the primary fermenter. I prefer to use a glass carboy for this step. You can also use the plastic water cooler jugs. Glass is easier to keep clean, plastic is lighter. Choose which ever one you prefer.
Airlock and Bung – This is a S shaped piece of plastic you fill with water. It will let the CO2 gas from fermentation out, while blocking outside oxygen from getting inside. The bung is a rubber stopper with a hole in it for the airlock. This goes on the secondary fermenter. You can get bungs in many sizes. They can be small enough for a wine bottle and large enough for water cooler bottles and everything in between.
Hydrometer and flask – This is used to measure the amount of ferment-able sugar in a wine prior to fermentation. A hydrometer is calibrated to read 0 when floating in water. As you add sugar to water, the water become more dense and the hydrometer will float higher. This is how you figure out how potent you wine will be. You take a reading before fermentation and a reading after fermentation, subtract the two, then you know how much alcohol is in your wine.
Siphon Hose – This is just a rubber hose used to siphon wine from the primary fermenter in the secondary fermenter and from one carboy to the next.
Wine Thief – This is a long tube used to take a sample of wine from a carboy for testing.
Wine Bottles – You will need something to keep your finished wine in. Save your wine bottles. Have your friends save wine bottle for you. Ask local restaurants what they do with their old wine bottles and see if you can have some. You can also buy them at you local wine making supply shop.
Corker – This is used to put the corks in the wine bottles. Hand corkers generally have two levers on each side. You put a cork in the corker, place it on top of the bottle, and push the levers down to push the cork into the bottle. There is also a floor model corker that is easier to use, but it is more expensive. Pick which ever one suits you.
Corks – These are used to seal your bottle of wine. The most common sizes are #8 and #9. Most wine bottles are #9, most champagne bottles and #8. If you are not sure what size you need, take your bottle to the local wine supply shop and ask them. Only use new corks.
Acid Test Kit – Used to test the acid in your wine prior to fermentation. You won’t need this if you only make kit wines. Kit wines have already had their acid adjusted. If you make wine from other fruits, you will need an acid test kit.
If you have never made wine before, and you just want to try it one time to see if it is something you might like, then the above items are probably the bare minimum. If you decide you want to make more wine, then there are some items that will make the whole process easier. They are listed below.
Auto-siphon – This is a handy device you can use to siphon the wine from one container to the next. You just attach you siphon hose to it, place it in the carboy or bucket, give it a couple pumps and the wine starts flowing. Far easier then sucking on the end of the hose.
Bottling Wand – This device goes on the other end of the siphon hose and is used at bottling time. It has a small plunger on the end and when you push it down on the bottom of the bottle, it lets the wine flow and stops the flow when you lift it from the bottom of the bottle. It is far easier that trying to pinch the siphon hose to stop the flow of wine.
Carboy Brush – This is just a large brush with a handle long enough to get to the bottom on a carboy. They are useful for stubborn rings on the inside of the carboy.
This is the equipment needed to start making wine. Keep in mind you can start small with 1 gallon containers for fermentation. They will be less expensive than 5 gallon containers. If you enjoy the hobby, you can upgrade to larger containers later. In my next post, I will explain the wine making process in detail.