A lot of equipment you need for winemaking you are likely to have at your disposal
already. But there is some specific winemaking equipment you'll need
to acquire before starting to make your own wine. That's why you should
locate a supplier near you (if you don't already have one).
I don't think I should tell you which equipment to buy, it all
depends how serious you are going to take winemaking, or how much money
you are willing to invest. There is always room to improvize. Articles
that are printed bold I do advise you to consider
purchasing before starting, if you haven't got them at your disposal already. I'll
give some reasons why you might want to get a piece of equipment, so
that you can decide by yourself.
This list may not cover anything you'll ever want, but I'm trying to be
complete about basic equipment.
Whatever you decide to do, don't let copper, galvanize, iron or steel (except
stainless) come in contact with your wine. The acids in the wine will react
with these metals and create off-flavours or even make your wine poisonous! Also,
use food grade plastics.
Reusable winemaking equipment:
- secondary fermentor
- carboy, jug or another big bottle, 5l or bigger, use glass, not plastic, it's too porous, 2 bottles are easier for racking, you could use a bucket for racking though
- air lock
- to keep air and bugs out, you could use a plastic wrap with a rubber strap
- bored rubber bung or cap
- to put the fermentation lock onto the bottle neck
- to fit a wine bottle, you need it with almost every event
- to serve as a primary fermentor, to crush fruit in, or a safety precaution when fermenting
- siphoning hose
- about 2m long, 0.8-1 cm diameter
- stirring spoon or stick
- to dissolve sugar and other ingredients, also for pressing the cap
- acid test kit
- to check the acidity
- bottle brush
- a large one that can clean your carboys as well as wine bottles
- to boil water or must for disinfection
- primary fermentation vessel
- sealable container for pulp fermentation like a big bucket, necessary for making red wine
- sieve or mesh bag
- to separate pulp from must, you could also use a pair of panty-hose
- to measure S.G., to determine amount of sugar accurately
- hydrometer jar
- perceptible tube standing upright, to place a hydrometer in
- siphon hose end
- device that redirects the flow, thus not sucking up the sediment, can be used instead of a j-tube
- 2 for crushing campden tablets easily before dissolving
- corking device
- if you decide to use wine bottles, without it, you won't get those corks inserted properly
- for roughly determining the alcohol content in finished dry wine
- one to check the temperature in the fermentation area, another to check the must temperature
Consumable winemaking equipment:
- campden tablets
- to sterilise equipment and must
- to identify your bottled wines, easy to make some yourself, see the Label making chapter for more info
- for storage, wine bottles preferably. You could use other bottles, but make sure they are made out of glass
- citric acid
- for must acid addition and to use with campden tablets when sterilising to increase effect. You could use lemon juice too.
- if you decide to use wine bottles
- fining agents
- if your wine refuses to clear
Below I've made a list of some substances that could be added to the wine.
Those that are usually added to each wine are printed bold.
- citric acid or lemon juice
- for acid addition if necessary
- to prevent cloudy wine due to a pectine haze
- or campden tablets, to avoid spoilage, see the Sulphite chapter on this page for more info.
- yeast nutrient
- food for the yeast
- potassium sorbate
- to keep sweet wines from refermenting, doesn't kill the yeast, only
inhibits growth, only use on stable clear just sweetened wines just
In winemaking, sulphite (SO2) is widely being used as
sterilisation agent in must, wine (almost in every commercial wine)
and on equipment . It also prevents wine getting oxidized (especially when
racking) because the oxygen reacts with the SO2 instead of the
wine. Further, it prevents malo-lactic fermentation, especially when the
wine has been bottled.
It doesn't cause harm, unless used in large quantities. Winemakers try to
keep sulphite levels low. A few people are allergic to sulphite. If you are,
don't use SO2 in your wine.
Sulphite is available in two types: powder and tablets (campden tablets).
It usually comes as the salt (potassium metabisulphite, K2S2O4).
I use campden tablets of 0.5 grams a piece because there is no
hassle weighing the fine powder on a very accurate weighing scale,
especially when making small batches of wine. I use them for sterilising my
must. For amounts see the table below.
For sterilising my equipment I use sulphite powder together with citric acid,
as the powder is less expensive than tablets and the amount to use needn't be
that accurately determined.
Less sulphite is needed in a more acid environment (must or
sterilising solution) to be equally effective. That's why you might consider
adding some citric acid to you sterilising solution to increase effectiveness
and using less sulphite in a more acid wine.
I use 1 crushed and dissolved campden tablet per 10 litres of must
(0.5 g sulphite) while mixing the ingredients. When racking, I use the same
amount. The second time again 1 tablet and just before bottling the
|An example of SO2 use in wine
|Step in winemaking
||Number of campden tablets per 10 litres
||Equivalent grams of sulphite per litre
I also sterilise my equipment by rinsing it in a sulphite solution just before
use. In making 1 wine bottle full of sterilising solution I use about:
There are other methods to fend off wine spoiling micro-organisms,
like boiling (must and/or equipment)or rinsing with a chlorine solution
(bleach). When using bleach, rinse equipment well after treatment with
a lot of water. Use it only on equipment, NOT in must.
- 1 teaspoon sulphite powder (about 2 grammes)
- 1/2 teaspoon citric acid
- 0.75 litres water
A winemaker's log is necessary for recalling events and evaluating
the fermenting process. This way you can learn from your mistakes
and successes, and eventually become a better winemaker.
Your winemaker's log could contain:
It's better for it to contain excess information instead of too little so
make a record of everything.
- Type of wine
- Dates of all events
- Sugar additions
- Hydrometer readings
- Sugar-alcohol calculations
- Racking dates
- Acid contents/corrections
- Alcohol content
- Bottling date
- Number of bottles
- Results of opened bottles
You can use a piece of paper, which you attach to the
carboy. Also wordprocessors or spreadspeet programs can be used. Even specific
winemaking record keeping programs have been developed for this purpose.
Below is a simple example of what a winemaker's record might look like.
|Apple wine 1
||Must prepared, 800 g sugar added to SG 1080, 1 campden tablet added, total 5.5 liters of must.
||Champagne yeast rehydrated and added
||Slow start of fermentation
||Vigourous fermentation now
||SG 1010, 100g sugar added, carboy topped off with the sugar/water mixture
||SG 1003, 100g sugar added
||No bubbles any more, SG=1000
||First racking, 1 campden tablet added
||Second racking, 1 campden tablet added
||SG 998, Bottled, 1 campden tablet added, SG=998, alcohol content=11%vol