How to Make Sparkling Wine
What You Need
5 thick-walled sparkling wine bottles (we like to recycle old prosecco, cava or Champagne bottles)
7 tablespoons sugar
Sanitization is important, but it's nothing scary. When making wine, keep everything clean so that you give your wine its best chance to succeed. So when preparing for brew day, wipe any crumbs off the counters. Move any clutter that might be in your way. Read through the rest of the instructions (at least through fermentation) so that you know what to expect. And have fun!
Dissolve half of your sanitizer packet with a gallon of water in a container. Save the second half for when you bottle.
Soak everything you are going to use, rinse with water, and let air dry on some paper towels. If it isn’t totally dry when you are ready to start don’t worry.
Keep the extra sanitizer in a container for now. Chances are you’ll want to re-sanitize something later.
Place funnel in the mouth of the fermentation jug and pour your room temperature chardonnay juice in the fermenter. Top up with water until the juice is at the one gallon mark and shake the fermenter gently to make sure the juice and water are mixed.
You want to take a sample for your hydrometer to measure the gravity of your juice. Sanitize your racking cane and dip it into the juice. Once it is in the juice, put your thumb over the top end to create suction. Keep your thumb firmly over the top and take your racking cane out. Empty the juice you’ve collected into the plastic hydrometer case. You can also do this step with a sanitized turkey baster if you have one.
Take your hydrometer and drop it gently into the juice you’ve collected. Give the hydrometer a spin so that it doesn’t catch the sides of the case. It will bob for a short time then float. Check the number on the hydrometer where the surface of the juice is (it should be around 1.088) and write this down. This number will be important in letting you know the alcohol of your wine later.
“Pitch” yeast. (Toss the whole packet in.)
Add in your yeast nutrient. Its the small packet of white crystals.
Shake aggressively. You’re basically waking up the yeast and getting more air into the juice.
Attach sanitized screw-top stopper to bottle. Slide rubber tubing no more than 1” (2.5 cm) into the stopper and place the other end in small bowl of sanitizer. You’ve just made a “blow-off tube”. It allows CO2 to escape.
Let sit for two or three days or until vigorous bubbling subsides. This is when fermentation is highest. You may notice bubbles and foam at the top of the wine. After bubbling calms down, clean tubing and ready your airlock.
Sanitize, then re-assemble airlock, filling up to line with sanitizer.
Insert airlock into hole in stopper.
Keep at room temperature for 10 days without disturbing other than to show off to friends. (If wine is still bubbling, leave sitting until it stops.)
In the meantime, drink sparkling wine with cork tops, or ask for empty bottles at a bar that has some. Be sure to collect thick walled bottled. Regular wine bottles won’t be able to withstand carbonation.
10 days after adding your yeast check that all bubbling has stopped in your fermenter. If it has, take a gravity reading with your hydrometer. If the reading is below 1.000 then you are all set to bottle. If the reading is above 1.000 you want to give your wine 1-2 more days to finish fermenting then take another reading to confirm it has finished.
3. Ten Days Later: Bottle
Thoroughly rinse bottles with water, removing any sediment.
Mix remaining sanitizer with water.
Fill each bottle with a little sanitizer and shake. Empty after two minutes, rinse with cold water and dry upside down.
Dissolve 7 tablespoons sugar with 1/2 cup water. Pour into a sanitized pot. You will be siphoning your wine into the same pot in the next steps.
Siphoning (It all happens pretty fast. You may want to practice on a pot of water a few times.) To see it in action first, watch the How to Bottle video at brooklynbrewshop.com/instructions.
A. Attach open tubing clamp to tubing.
B. Fill tubing with sanitizer.
C. Attach sanitized tubing to the short curved end of your sanitized racking cane. Attach the black tip to the other end - it will help prevent sediment from getting sucked up. It will probably be a snug t, but you can get it on there.
D. Pinch tubing clamp closed.
E. Remove screw-cap stopper and place racking cane into jug, just above the sediment at the bottom (“trub”).
F. Lower end of tubing not connected to racking cane into sink. Suction will force wine up and through the racking cane and tubing. Open tubing clamp, let sanitizer flow into sink until wine just starts to flow out of the tubing, then clamp shut. Open clamp on tubing, allowing wine to flow into pot with sugar solution. Tilt jug when wine level is getting low, but be careful in not sucking up the trub.
Siphon wine from pot into bottles, pinching tube clamp to stop flow after each bottle.
Sanitize corks and press them into the top of each bottle until they fit tightly
Wrap wire cages around top of each cork and tighten with metal twist
Store undisturbed at room temperature for 4-10 weeks.
Sparkling wine can be drunk in as little as one month but will improve over time. Its fun to stagger opening your bottles so you can compare!
Put bottles of sparkling wine in the fridge the night before you drink them.
Drink. Share with friends if you’re the sharing type.