If one likens brewing beer to giving the garage a coat of whitewash, one might compare brewing wine to painting a masterpiece with a full palette of colours. Wine making allows you to be endlessly creative. Thanks to the abundance and voracity of yeast, you can ferment virtually any edible vegetative matter in to alcohol for human consumption. Fruit is usually the main ingredient, but vegetables are sometimes used. Herein, for simplicity, let us stick to grapes and soft fruits.
Fruits such as grapes come with yeast on their skins. Grapes for wine making are traditionally mashed with bare feet in open vats. The yeast on the fruit skins is thus given easy access to the sugary pulp of the fruit, and fermentation promptly begins. But since the home brewer is not going to mash a vineyard of grapes, mashing with kitchen utensils or bare hands will suffice, although by all means us the traditional method if you are an adventurer. Mash two or three bunches of grapes from your garden or a store, pour the mush in to a clean fermentation vessel, bulk it up to a gallon with cold water, and seal the vessel with a water filled air lock. As the native yeast digests the sugar of the fruit, it releases two by-products: alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. The gas must be safely vented from the fermentation vessel, hence the need for the water filled air lock, which otherwise prevents nasties from entering the precious brew and destroying it. As the fermentation proceeds, gas bubbles will be seen escaping through the air lock. When fermentation is over the bubbling will stop. Strain and filter the alcoholic liquid from the fermented mush in to another clean vessel. If the resulting wine is cloudy, add finings, such as isinglass, or a little brewed strong tea, or a little citric acid from oranges, lemons and the like. Such inclusions will cause suspended particles in the brew to precipitate down and form a sediment. When the brew is clear, siphon it off in to another vessel for subsequent bottling, with the siphon tube positioned above the sediment so that the sediment is left behind in the fermentation vessel.
For more information, check out the Wikipedia article about wine at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wine Also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fermentation and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbonic_maceration
Bacchus the God of Wine photo credit: © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons
Ancient Greek Amphora photo credit: © Tetraktys / Wikimedia Commons