If you have tried making wine at home on your own or with a beginners wine making kit, it is possible that the results have disappointed you, but don’t despair. Wine making is a science and it takes study and practice to progress to advanced wine making and produce wines that have the depth, flavor and complexity you desire.
Advanced Wine Making Basics
Successfully making good wine at home starts with understanding the concept of balancing your ingredients. Achieving the depth of flavors and intricate aromas of fine wines requires knowledge of fruit juices, yeast, chemicals and other additives and how they interact. Advanced wine making also requires patience to let the wines properly age, concise recordkeeping to track ingredient amounts so adjustments in the recipe can be easily incorporated, and learning how the interactions of different ingredients affect the taste of the final product.
Simple wine making typically involves using one or two common fruits like apples or grapes. When you progress to advance wine making, the list of ingredients you can use to flavor the wine and instill various bouquets and finishes is virtually limitless. Not only can you freely use any fruit you like, including pears, melons, raspberries and strawberries, but you can add flower petals, bark, and dried tobacco leaves – anything you have found pleasing in the wines you have consumed in the past.
Interactions and Processes
The fermentation process in wine making is complex and depends not only on the balance of flavorings, but how they are altered through aging and interactions. For example, you may taste the fruit you are using and decide it needs a little sweetening. When you taste the finished wine, however, it may be over- or under sweetened because of its interaction with other components or changes that occur during aging. Advanced wine making also requires knowing how to best extract flavors and juices from fruits, as grapes need to be pressed while soft fruits generally require steeping in water to extract their nectar.
Balancing Tastes and Bouquets
As you start tasting the different wines you create, you will discover which tastes and aromas dominate others and how aging affects flavor and complexity. Making a wine that perfectly matches the flavors and bouquets you are striving for involves a lot of trial and error. Share your creations with others who appreciate fine wine and keep detailed notes of their observations as well as your own so you can modify and improve the next batch.
There are numerous books and online courses available about advanced wine making, as well as wine making clubs you can join to increase your knowledge of wine and how it is made. Universities, colleges, community college, vocational institutes and winemakers frequently offer advanced wine making classes that cover topics like:
- Integrating concepts of wine balance, bouquet, flavor and alcohol content
- Understanding different yeasts and the fermentation process
- The chemistry of winemaking processes
- Wine tasting guidelines and terminology
- Packaging and quality control
- Wine storage guidelines
- Reasons for wine spoilage
- Blending, filtering, finishing and bottling procedures
Persistence and Payoffs
Mastering advanced wine making can take months or years. You may have to taste a lot of bad wine before you finally create the wine of your dreams, but few endeavors include such fun and adventure. Enjoy the journey.
By Cassie Damewood, Wine-LoveToKnow