TRUE wine is the product of the grape, we are often reminded, but any winemaker of experience will assure you that we have no cause to feel in any way ashamed of the "country wines" which can be produced from our native fruits, berries and flowers. Many of these sound wines, robust or delicate according to character, dry or sweet according to one's taste, are truly wines in their own right, quite capable of standing comparison with many which can be obtained commercially. You may find this difficult to believe, but, when you have produced what you think is a good wine, compare it with a commercial wine of similar type, and we guarantee you will be pleasantly surprised.
And once one understands the basic principles, it is by no means difficult to make wine at home. True, the more you make, the more discerning and critical your palate will become, and the more you will find yourself seeking to capture in your own wines those elusive qualities which go to make a great wine. Even the complete beginner, however, can by following a recipe produce a sound and satisfying wine—often without knowing how or why! It is, however, infinitely better to understand the principles of the craft.
Our country wines, one might say, have four main ingredients initially: (1) Yeast, (2) Sugar, (3) Flavouring and (4) Water. There are others which play their parts, notably acids, tannin, and substances which nourish the yeast, but for simplicity's sake we will ignore them for the moment, and deal with them later. Time, the time required for maturation, also plays an important part.
Of these main ingredients undoubtedly the most important is YEAST. Yeast is a minute living organism which brings about the fermentation, and if the fermentation is to be successful the yeast must be given ideal conditions in which to work. Those conditions are found in a sugary, slightly acid solution such as a fruit juice, when certain other yeast nutrients are present and when the temperature is favourable, say 65° to 75° F, (18-24° C.).
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