If your computer blocks the content, Don't worry there is nothing harmful. To see the effect let the blocked content through.  Adrian




There is an excellent group of friends who meet under the name of Belfast Winemakers Circle which has been in operation for over 30 years. Their meetings are held at Belmont Tower, Old Belmont School, 82 Belmont Church Road, Belfast, BT4 3FG on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 7.30pm sharp. I would advise you to go along and meet these folks, they will show you the basics and keep you on track, without blinding you with science.

This page is provided by Adrian Hanna, I was / am a member of the Belfast Winemakers Circle. I cannot get along to the meetings because of other commitments. The facts as presented here are accurate, the Belfast Winemakers Circle is still going strong, NATURES WAY, Health Foods, at 305 Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast. BT4 3JH, is also in full operation. I probably owe the Winemakers a fortune in outstanding membership fees. One of these days Iíll get time to myself and return to the fold. Adrian

With the summer almost over, it is time once again to turn our thoughts to Wine Circle business.
Firstly, please note that our meetings start time will now be 8:00pm at the usual venue "Belmont Tower", 82, Belmont Church Road, Belfast.
Our first meeting aftewr the summer recess is usually during September usually the Annual General Meeting followed by The Walter Searles Memorial Lecture.
If there are any subjects you would like us to address would be most welcome, as would details of any speakers whom you might have come into contact with and who would be willing to spend an evening talking to us.
Please make every effort to come along for the September meeting we look forward to seeing you.
I will try and get the dates for the meetings and print them here. ((Second Tuesday of each month.)) Says...... With tongue in cheek.

Wine making or viniculture as it is sometimes called, is a simple process which anyone can undertake in their own homes. It's tax free, so do it before the Government finds a way to tax it. It gives a lot of pleasure to those folks who have-a-go. There is a lot of snobbery attached to wine but not with the home brew fraternity. They have long since found the method of producing "Country Wines" which are comparable in quality to the most expensive foreign wines. The only difference being that home brewers use any fruits which are seasonally available. Did you know that it is possible to use tinned fruit straight from the supermarket shelf. If you follow the basic method shown below you will produce a Country Wine of outstanding quality at your first attempt. The down side of all this is that you need patience, sometimes it can take months or even a year to make a good wine. However some wines can be made in under a month but these young wines need to be drunk soon. Wine making is a method of producing alcohol to preserve fruit juice. (That is the definition of a wine) A lot of alcohol will preserve the juice for many years. Too little alcohol and the wine will not keep for very long. There are other simple methods of preserving a wine but that is not for this simple web page.

The colour chart above is purely subjective. It is intended to show the process of fermentation, the must of a rose or red when first started soon becomes milky but gradually as the fermentation continues and the sediment falls to the bottom the colour becomes pure as shown here. The colour of the finished wine depends on the type and strength of colour extracted from the fruit.

...................DISPUTED ZONE.......                                      
A rose wine can be anything from the faintest tint of colour to something quite strong. A red can be anything from some colour less than quite strong to a deep almost black. Obviously there is room for discussion about what's red and what's rose in the "Disputed Zone" somewhere left of the middle. I have put a little mark on the image where I think that rose ends. Want to discuss it.?
rosé the French, for pink. It is pronounced rosee (local) or roseae (posh) suit yourself.

When fermentation is first started the must can froth up and spill out of the fermentation trap that is why there is a generous air space left above the level of the must.
As fermentation progresses there will be a deposit of yeast and fruit pulp gradually settling to the bottom. this may be several inches deep. Note; It does not have a clearly defined line, and the must is very milky at this stage. As long as fermentation continues do not disturb this deposit.

Towards the end of the fermentation the sediment will have compacted down to form a defined line and the must will be less milky. It is possible at this stage to rack the wine into a fresh vessel and let the wine finish. Others bring fermentation to a halt by chemical means, but it depends on the type and quality of the wine you wish to make.
Now is the time to top up the level of the must or add syrup to bring it to the desired level during the final stages of fermentation and clearing.

Now we begin to see the fruits of our labour the wine is beginning to clear and the whole mixture seems to have taken on a life and sparkle of its own. A good wine will be totally transparent with the colour of the fruit providing iridescence to it's appearance.
The great thing to remember.- "For every bubble that goes up there is an equal amount of alcohol more in the brew to enjoy ."



MENISCUS The curved upper surface of a liquid in a tube.
MUST This is the name given to the mixture from the beginning of fermentation to bottling.
SPECIFIC GRAVITY The density of a substance relative to the density of water.
SYPHONING The process of moving liquid from one vessel to another. (siphon is the same word)
VINTNER A wine merchant or someone who makes wine.

All equipment used for wine making should be used at 20° Centigrade, however many, probably the majority, of wine makers brew at temperatures higher than this. I use a fish tank heater in my must which switches off at 20°C and the only time the must gets warmer than this is during very warm weather.

This is a very useful gadget which measures the specific gravity of the must and it's accuracy depends on temperature and the meniscus which attracts the hydrometer into contact with the wall of the flask and disturbs the reading. This instrument is made of glass and is very delicate. There are plastic versions but I have no knowledge of their quality or accuracy. Most of these instruments are designed to give their reading at 20° centigrade. Any hydrometers which contain lead shot is to be avoided.


When reading the hydrometer always use the flat surface of the liquid not the meniscus which is curved up at the hydrometer and the walls.

I use an old fashioned 500 cm3 Pyrex flask just because I happen to have one, but any tube with sufficient length to accommodate the hydrometer will do. It must also be sufficiently wide to allow the hydrometer to float free from the walls.




A demijohn is a glass jar holding about a gallon and is the traditional flask used for wine brewing. A plastic buckets with well fitting lids to keep out dust and flies works very well. However if they are airtight pressure will build up inside and cause an explosion. This is the reason we use an air-lock to vent off the gas and keep the dirt out. I use a five gallon plastic drum with a lid equipped with a silicone gasket which is a good air tight fit. There is a hole in the middle of the lid for the fitting of an air-lock to vent the gas.
Incidentally the rubber plug which holds the air-lock in place and makes a good seal with the lid is called a "bung" and the hole in the lid is called a "bung-hole" .... Very technical stuff this.
If a fly gets into the must then you will find that you have made a gallon of vinegar. To test for these fly's just leave a little whiskey on the garden table overnight. In the morning the glass will be full of very small flies. These make excellent fish food so don't chuck them away.
The illustration shows a plastic barrell which holds about 5 gallons. On the top you can see the Air Lock and an electrical cable leading to the internal fish tank heater. The spot where the cable enters the lid of the tank should be sealed with putty or a gasket to keep dirt out. If you want you could place this type of barrell on top of a heating mat providing you can find one these days.



These useful gadgets let out the gas and stop flies and dirt getting into the must. Dirt of any description entering a must will destroy the finished product. The vinegar fly is a real pest, but probably more dangerous is natural yeast which is everywhere. There are many other bacteria in the environment any of which will cause the wine to putrefy. Strict hygiene is the rule keep everything clean.


Every vintner should have a good thermometer with a long scale with 20° centigrade somewhere about the middle of the scale. The longer the scale the easier it is to take an accurate reading. If you want real accuracy then buy one certified to be accurate, you can use it for photography as well. The cheap alternative is to use a garden thermometer as it covers the range. One word of warning .... Use only a spirit thermometer as a mercury one breaking will poison the must.


A 6ft length of 10 to 15 mm clear flexible plastic tubing is essential for syphoning the wine from one vessel to another during the racking and bottling process. Too narrow a tube takes too long to syphon. A tube which is too big in the bore means a big volume of liquid in motion which is difficult to control.

To obtain supplies of chemicals and equipment try:-
NATURES WAY, Health Foods, at 305 Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast. BT4 3JH,
'Phone (028) 9047 1333
For more information Google {natures way Belfast UK} and you will get a map.
Tell them that Adrian SixGolds sent you and I might get a freebee.

I have listed quite a few but you need only four to start off with. Pectolase, Tataric Acid, Nutrient and a sterilising agent. Most people use campden tablets. The total cost of these four chemicals is under £5
Amylase Enzyme Used during the mashing process to increase enzymes.
Ascorbic acid anti oxidant
Bentonite A fining agent that speeds clearing of wine
Tartaric Acid 1/2 tsp per gallon. For acid balance in wine
Malic Acid 1/2 tsp per gallon. Used to acid balance wines
Citric acid.1/2 tsp per gallon. Found in fruits such as lemon, lime, grapefruit
Campden TabletsMade from potassium or sodium Metabisuphite treatment for fresh fruits
Calcium SulphateUsed to harden soft water and juices
Calcium carbonate3/4 tsp per gallon. Lower acidity in wine.
Gelatin FiningsClarifying agent
Glycerin, Helps speed aging in wine
Grape Tannin Adds essential tannins to fruit wines
Isinglas,1 tsp per gallon Clarifying agent for wine and mead
Oak Chips1lb per 6 gallons. For oak/tannin flavouring of white wines
Pectic enzyme. (Pectolase)1/2 tsp per gallon Neutralizes pectins in fruit juices
Potassium Sorbate 1/2 tsp per gallon. Helps stop fermentation, stabilizer
Potassium metabisulphite Used to prevent refermentation in wines, kills yeast
Tannin1/2 tsp. per gallon.Adds astringency or zest to wine
Yeast Energizer 1/4 tsp per gallon. For slow or stuck fermentations
Yeast Nutrient 1 tsp per gallon. Provides the yeast with vitamins and nutrients.
Wine Conditioner1 to 4oz per gallon Sweetner with stabalizer.

Here is a very simple recipe for either wine or cider, it's based on an idea by Willie Brown
12 Litres of apple juice or grape juice
1 Teaspoon of Pectolase, Tataric acid, Yeast Nutrient and a packet of wine yeast.
Top up with water to 4 gallons. The starting gravity should be about 1050 and when near completion in about 10 to 14 days it should read about 1002. As soon as the fermentation appears to have stopped ... start bottling.
The temperature should be about 20° all the way through the fermentation process. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar for a small bottle if you are making cider or a sparkling wine... yes you can make a sparkling red wine ... just watch your clothes when you open the bottle again in three weeks, by which time the wine will be ready. There will be a small deposit of yeast in the bottle, don't disturb it.
If you need bottles the plastic lemonade bottles designed for carbonated drinks will work fine. Don't use the unpressurised type for non fizzy drinks.
Enjoy but don't drive.
If you have read this page and wish to comment, please contact me at the address below.

  The background music by sequenced by John Foster.