HOW TO MAKE WINE

Maxim - - BE YOUR OWN BOOTLEGGER -

RYAN LEE SHARP, OWNER AND WINE­MAKER AT PORT­LAND, ORE­GON’S ENSO WIN­ERY

HAVE A PLAN

Be­fore start­ing, says the one­time garage wine­maker, de­cide where you’ll ac­quire grapes (hint: Call vine­yards or wine­mak­ing shops) and where you’ll store the juice. “If you’re mak­ing wine at home, I wouldn’t do any­thing less than a full bar­rel,” Sharp says. That’s about 300 bot­tles of wine, or roughly $2,500 worth of grapes.

CRUSH IT

To loose the juice, rent a destem­mer and a press from a wine shop. “There’s no need to in­vest in some­thing you’ll use only once or twice a year,” Sharp says. (Pro tip: Some vine­yards will crush the grapes for you.) For a short­cut, buy con­cen­trated grape juice. Welch’s doesn’t count.

CO2 YOU LATER

Pour the juice into your san­i­tized trash can, and toss in Cam­p­den tablets to kill bac­te­ria and un­wanted fungi. Wait 24 hours, then add nu­tri­ents and yeast. If the mi­crobes are happy and hun­gry, they’ll make the juice foam like Cujo. This fer­men­ta­tion should last seven to 10 days. Stir the juice daily to rouse slug­gish yeast. “Once the bub­bles have stopped, you’ll have fer­mented wine,” Sharp says. Dump the con­tents into the press and ap­ply pres­sure. Do not press too hard, or you’ll get harsh seed tan­nins. Taste as you press. When the wine starts to get as­trin­gent, stop.

AGE IT

Trans­fer wine to a glass car­boy or an oak bar­rel. If you’re us­ing a bar­rel, fill it with wa­ter for three days prior to us­age; the wood will swell with wa­ter, not wine. “I didn’t do that for my first batch, and the wine level dropped around four inches,” Sharp laments. Let it fer­ment again. You may want to siphon off the pulpy yeast clumps ev­ery few months with a large, net­ted fun­nel. Your wine should smell fresh and fruity. Like a teenager, though, it’ll have grow­ing pains. It may taste great one month and dread­ful the next, says Sharp. But “most things that go wrong in the bar­rel are fix­able by time.” In a few months, the wine should be ready for bot­tling.

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