Do you enjoy a glass of Merlot with dinner? Did you know you can learn how to make merlot wine at home?
Making merlot wine is a fun and easy process, and it only requires a few simple ingredients.
In this blog post, we will walk you through the steps to making the merlot wine you enjoy.
How To Make Merlot Wine – Overview
Aside from merlot grapes or very dark-skinned grapes, you can find everything you need at your local home brewery store or online.
You’ll need grapes or a merlot grape juice concentrate, wine yeast, a clarifier like a bentonite clay, metabisulfite, potassium sorbate, oak, bottles, and corks.
The easiest way to make merlot wine at home with fantastic results is to buy a wine-making kit that has everything you need, including oak, and detailed directions to create 36 perfect bottles of merlot.
The grape juice must be fermented with wine yeast for 5 to 7 days, in a fermentation jug that allows gas to escape.
After primary fermentation, rack to remove the lees. Secondary fermentation takes about a week or two.
Now the wine is stabilized and clarified with bentonite, metabisulfite, or other ingredients. It can also be degassed to avoid over carbonation and explosion.
Next, the wine is bottled and corked carefully then aged for at least 3 months, though the longer you wait to uncork, the better, up to 10 years.
Read our related article, How Long Does it Take to Make Wine? We explore different types of wine and how long it takes to make them before they’re put on the shelves!
What is Merlot Wine And How is it Made?
The Bordeaux location in France is the birthplace of Merlot, a variety of red wines.
The name “Merlot” is taken from the French phrase meaning “young blackbird,” a reference to the wine’s dark tint.
Merlot is one of the most renowned red wines in the world today, and it’s grown all over the world.
Plum and chocolate notes characterize Merlot wines, which are often moderate with soft tannins.
When it comes to winemaking, Merlot grapes are usually harvested later than other varieties, which helps to give the wines their characteristic softness.
The grapes are then fermented in stainless steel tanks or large oak barrels. Oak barrel aging can add complexity and structure to the wine, but it is not required.
After fermentation, the wine is typically aged in barrels for 10-12 months before being bottled and sold.
Merlot wines are typically ready to drink upon release, but they benefit from additional aging in the bottle.
Read our related article, What is White Merlot? for an interesting look into this delicious Merlot wine.
A Guide on How To Make Merlot Wine
Gather Your Ingredients
Before you can make your merlot wine, you’ll need to gather the necessary ingredients. You’ll need to start with fresh, ripe grapes.
Merlot grapes are dark-skinned, so you’ll want to look for grapes that are deep purple.
Aside from finding merlot grapes, you can purchase wine grape concentrate from a brewing store or online.
This makes the process much simpler because the juice is already free from skins.
In addition to the grapes, you’ll need water, wine yeast, sugar, and some type of acid. You can find all of these ingredients at your local homebrew supply store.
Once you have everything you need, you’re ready to start making wine!
The first step is to crush the grapes. This can be done by hand or with a grape crusher. Once the grapes are crushed, they will need to ferment.
Fermentation is what turns the grape juice into wine.
Read our related article on how to make port wine at home. Here’s everything you need to get started on your homemade port wine!
Start Your Fermentation Process
The length of time that this fermentation process takes will depend on multiple factors including temperature, ambient oxygen levels, and the amount of water used in creation.
Generally speaking though, this fermentation period can last anywhere from two weeks up to several months depending on these factors.
Fermentation must take place in a fermentation canister or bottle with a valve on top to let built-up gasses escape.
This prevents dangerous explosions from the fermenting liquid.
After several days of fermentation, test your winemaking ability by looking for tiny bubbles on the surface of your liquid – this indicates that alcohol has started forming in the mixture.
When you see these bubbles appearing, move your container somewhere with cooler temperatures so that fermentation can continue without running too hot.
Continue checking on the progress of your wine over the next several days. Fermentation will slow as the sugar is turned to alcohol and yeast will begin to starve.
After about a week you’ll see more sediment and fermentation will be nearly done. Rack the wine to remove clear wine from the sediment then set it for a second fermentation.
Read More: Can You Make Red Wine Out of Red Grapes? You can’t make a traditional red out of white grapes, but here’s what you can make!
Racking is the process of separating the clear wine from the sediment that has settled at the bottom of the barrel.
This sediment, known as lees, can give the wine an unpleasant taste.
At a winery, the racking process begins by pumping the wine out of the barrel and into another vessel, known as a racking tank.
The wine is then gravity-fed through a series of filters that remove the lees.
Finally, the clarified wine is pumped back into the barrel and left to age.
Although it may seem like a simple step, racking plays an essential role in ensuring that the final product is of high quality.
After about another week, possibly two, the second fermentation will be complete.
The mixture will have stopped bubbling and it’s time to add clarifiers and stabilizers to the wine.
Read More: Chianti vs Merlot. We compare the two flavor profiles of these beloved red wines to help you choose the right wine for you!
Bottling Your Wine
Be sure to bottle your wine into clean and sanitized bottles with fresh corks.
Once the wine is bottled, it will need to age for at least a few months before it’s ready to drink. During this time, the wine will continue to develop its flavor and character.
Ultimately, bottling your merlot wine can be a rewarding experience, resulting in delicious bottles of wine that you can enjoy in years to come.
Read our related article on How to Bottle Wine for a more in-depth guide that includes a helpful video!
How Should I Serve Merlot Wine?
Merlot is a delicious wine that can be enjoyed in many different ways. Some like to serve it at room temperature, while others prefer it chilled or slightly chilled.
When it comes to serving temperature, experts recommend that merlot be served between 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is slightly cooler than room temperature but still warmer than most white wines.
When serving this wine, you should also opt for a glass that is larger than what you might use for most other reds.
Ideally, your glass should hold about 6-8 ounces, though you’ll only pour in an ounce or two.
Choosing just the right glass will help you experience all of the merlot’s subtle complexities and intricate subtleties like never before.
Merlot is a versatile red wine that pairs well with a variety of dishes. Its medium body and soft tannins make it a good choice for both lighter fare and heartier meals.
For a lighter meal experience, try pairing Merlot with grilled chicken or fish. For a hearty, filling meal, serve merlot with steak or lamb.
Read our related article on How to Serve Merlot for more serving and pairing tips!
Merlot is a versatile red wine that can be brewed at home without much difficulty.
The easiest way to brew at home is with a brewing kit that includes everything you need to brew and bottle wine.
Most brewing kits make around 5 to 6 gallons of wine, enough to bottle several cases of wine from your efforts, and you know it will turn out great because the kit has been expertly prepared.