What follows is a recipe for prickly pear wine. Also included are instructions and links to winemaking manuals for a fuller understanding of the techniques and equipment of the winemaking process.
Add the next 5 ingredients. Stir.
Adjust the specific gravity with an hydrometer to 1.100 by adding sugar. With an acid testing kit, shoot for about 5.5 g/L by adding acid blend (see the manual of your kit for specifics). If you lack an acid testing kit, sprinkle 15 Tsp of acid blend into the must.
Raise or lower the temperature of the must to keep it a constant 75F - if possible.
Prepare the yeast to package directions. Add the yeast. Cover the fermenter with a lid or food-grade plastic. Stir the must twice daily. When fermentation kicks in, move the primary to a cooler location (65F) - if possible. Check the specific gravity every day. (A 10 point or more drop per day should be expected.)
When the specific gravity hits 1.020, squeeze the bag to release most of the juice, then siphon the new wine into a clean, 5 gallon glass carboy. Attach an air-lock to a 6 1/2 size white, rubber bung, fit the bung into the neck of the carboy then fill the air-lock half-full of water.
When fermentation entirely ceases, rack (siphon) the wine into a clean carboy. Top off the carboy with cold, tap water, leaving no more than two inches of head-space between the wine level and the bung of the air-lock. Attach the air-lock and fill the air-lock half-full of water (or potassium meta-bisulfite solution). Allow the wine to rest for 4 weeks.
Rack the wine into a clean carboy. Add the bentonite finings (prepare as the directions on the package indicate). Top off the carboy with water. When the wine becomes sparklingly clear (about 2 weeks), rack it into a clean carboy. Add 2 oz of glycerine. Taste the wine to gauge if 2 oz of glycerine is sufficient; if not, add another ounce. Sulphite the wine with 1/4 Tsp potassium metabisulfite made into a slurry with water. Top off the carboy with water. Attach the air-lock. Bulk age 3 months.
Bottle the wine. Bottle age 3 months. Drink.
For the general "sterilizing" of fermenters, hoses, carboys and bottles (after cleaning), a sulphite solution should be made and used. Dissolve 2 ounces of potassium meta-bisulfite crystals in 1 gallon of warm water. Do not inhale the resulting fumes, as some are allergic to sulfites, and their potency could take your breath away.
In this recipe, the acid and sugar levels have been deliberately calculated high and the water levels low, so that the carboy can be topped off with tap water to yield a wine with ~12% alcohol and an acidity of 6.5 g/L. Older recipes call for keeping excess wine in smaller jugs, then topping off the carboy with it. However, small quantities of wine are susceptible to spoilage. Cold tap-water is risk free, and it will not dilute the finished wine.
The importance of not racking the wine until it ceases fermenting in the carboy cannot be over-emphasized. If wine is racked that has not fermented to dryness, the fermentation process could get stuck. It's very difficult to get stuck wine started again.
Though it may sound silly - if you never siphoned before, practice on a carboy of water. Sucking up lees, through bad racking-skills, spoils the taste of wine.
Here is another fine, though somewhat more technical guide by the apostle of home winemaking Stanley F. Anderson: Winemaking.From Purdue, fining with bentonite. Bentonite is clay, i.e. dirt. It's not prepared in some lab; it's mined.