This year I was lucky to take part in some old school Italian style red winemaking. I stood in with a group of guys who have been making wine together for some years now. Their styles differed from completely old school no additives or preservatives and extended ageing sur lees, to a more modern approach adding a minimal dose of sulphite and frequent transfer off lees to avoid any off flavors. Here I will outline a basic recipe for turning fresh grapes into red wine with no added ingredients, completely natural and truly a gift from the gods.
First get some fresh quality grapes from a good winemaking varietal. There are many to choose from. Inspect the grapes for visible rot or mold. Fresh undamaged fruit is essential in making wine with no additives. Here in the USA most grapes available to the home winemaker are from the vast vineyards of California. You may be lucky to live near a vineyard or have a freind who grows wine grapes. Grapes are usually harvested in late September until late August here in the northern Hemisphere.
During fermentation the skins are pushed to the top by the gas produced by the fermentation giving the juice the appearance of boiling. About twice a day the skins must be pushed down in order to release some gas and ensure proper color and tannin extraction from the skins. This is done with a stick or metal device resembling a large potato masher. This step is very important in a red wine.
The wine must now age, mature and settle. This is best done by patience. Wine should not be rushed. Between 1 and several months the wine will be transferred off any sediment that has collected in the fermenter. It must be transferred again after a few months. And possibly again. During each transfer you will be leaving behind grape matter and dead yeast cells further clarifying the wine. As mentioned above great care must be taken to exclude oxygen. Fill your ageing vessels to the top. If there's extra drink it and observe how the wine evolves over time.