Homebrewing a European Select Merlot

I’ve been homebrewing beer for a couple of years now and it’s been a really fun hobby but it’s also the kind of hobby that makes you want to experiment and try new things. Like “what happens when I use this yeast instead of this one?” or “let me swap out these hops for those”. Along this line of thinking I decided to switch out making beer for making wine!

Not knowing anything about how to make wine at home I went over to YouTube and watched a few quick videos on the subject. This quickly convinced me that I already had all of the equipment I needed to make some wine, save for a degassing wand that I could pick up.

I drove over to my local wine making shop and there I asked the employee for a recommendation on a wine kit that wasn’t the worst but also wasn’t the absolute best – mostly because I figured I would end up screwing something up my first time through. After discussing styles for a bit we settled on a Merlot kit by European Select. I left with my wine kit and a new degassing wine in hand.

The box contained everything I needed to get going from the wine juice/must – which is the equivalent of wort in beer making – to the clarification and stabilization agents. And of course it comes with the EC-1118 yeast!

Following the instructions I added hot tap water to my primary fermenter and then mixed in the bentonite clay. Next in went the juice and then a top up of more water. It was at this time that I then mixed in the oak chips. The smell was strong and awesome! Finally I took an original gravity (OG) reading which came in at 1.091 and pitched my yeast.

I let this ferment out for 2 weeks and then took my final gravity (FG) reading. The reading that I got was 0.996 which equates to an ABV of 12.47%. This was inline with my stabilizing gravity and so I racked the wine to a new clean carboy and added in the Sulphite/Sorbate package.

The next step is something I’ve never had to do, and to be fair something you would never want to do, with beer making: degassing. I attached my new degassing wand to my cordless drill and degassed for about 10-15min in chunks of 2-3 minutes at a time.

With the wine significantly less gassy I added in the Kieselsol package and let it sit for another 24 hours.

The next day I added the Chitosan package contents and hit it with another round of degassing. The wine then sat for 5 days at which point, following the instructions, I gave the carboy a twist to knock anything off the sides. After that I let it sit for another 5 days.

Finally it was time to bottle. I transferred the wine from the carboy to my bottling bucket and then bottled it from there. The final result was nice and clear… which you probably can’t tell from the picture of my dirty glass below:

Anyway the important part – how is it? Well I had always heard horror stories of homemade wine being terrible and so I really didn’t know what to expect. Thankfully things turned out pretty well! Not only does this wine go down dangerously easy but I would actually rate this above some commercial wine that I’ve purchased in the past… I’d give it a respectable “solid table wine” score. Overall I’m quite happy with how things turned out.

Tasting Notes

SmellSlightly fruity on the nose but very pleasant.
AppearanceGreat colour and nice and clear.
TasteA very easy drinking red wine. People who don’t normally like “strongly flavoured” red wines were actually really impressed with the result.

In my opinion it hits the right middle ground between too fruity and too dry for a Merlot.
YieldThis brew cost $75.00 in ingredients to make and yielded 25x750ml bottles ($3/bottle)

There you have it. If you’ve ever brewed beer before then you have everything you need to also make wine at home so definitely give it a go!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *