How to: Make Homemade Wine

Posted on Apr 13, 2010 in - Food & Recipes


Wine was first made 8,000 years ago. Learning about the history of wine making is helpful and at least interesting when considering this rewarding hobby. Most people have the opinion that you can only get fine wines by buying it from well know wineries, however this is not so, you can learn how to make homemade wine by learning the basic fundamentals of winemaking used thousands of years ago.

You may also think that making homemade wine is only about using fermented juices that are made by grapes, another misconception, because there are many fine and popular wines that are made from many fruits, flowers and vegetables. You will also learn that there are some major differences in the pricing between your homemade wine and the commercial wine that you buy on a regular basis at the store. Using these fundamentals you will be able to make six bottles of quality wine for the price you will pay for one bottle of great wine at the store or a winery. Making wine will be an enjoyable and interesting hobby that will showcase you skill at being a great winemaker.

Many of the great homemade wines (called “country wines) are the best wines in the country. These wines use many great ingredients like grapes, elderberries, blackberries, apples, peaches, and many other wonderful cultivated fruits that you may be able to find in any of the many winemaking books available online and in stores. How to grow grapes is a science of its own. You may even find recipes for vegetables and flowers and some other interesting ingredients.

The great thing about learning wine making is that there are many opportunities for information. There are many places that not only have detailed recipe books and free advise, they also sell a wide range of the much needed equipment and may even carry all of the ingredients that you will need to get started.

Learning how to make homemade wine is a fascinating and enjoyable hobby that allows you to explore your creative side. As a novice winemaker you should start with the easiest and most recognized wines in the world, red and white wines. After learning these basics you may want to learn more advanced and involved methods of making wine at home.

The Basic Fundamental Stages

In the effort to learn how to make homemade wine you will need to know the basic fundamental stages of making wine, such as flavor extraction, fermentation,  bottling and aging. Besides learning these concepts you will also need to understand the types of equipment you need for making wine at home, and the ingredients needed to make the wine you make at home, great.

Stage One: Flavor Extraction

Some wines can be made from pure undiluted juice from the grape and may have little to no sugar added to them. But many times homemade wines may use fruits that has stronger flavors and may need to be diluted with water so that it will have a more agreeable concentration. In this process the juice (or flavor) is extracted and the liquid that is obtained is watered down or diluted, this is called the “must”. Sugar may be dissolved in the must and the yeast will need to be added so that the fermentation process can begin. You will have to decide if you will use real fruit or juice concentrate. If you choose to purchase juice concentrate you will avoid all the squeezing.

Stage Two: Fermentation

When you are learning how to make wine from home, one of the most important concepts you must learn regarding the making of wine is the fermentation process. Fermentation is a natural occurrence that happens through the use of yeasts as well as fungi, bacteria and moulds. However, for the wine making concern, fermentation usually refers to the use of yeast and its action on the sugar that is dissolved in your must.

In wine fermentation, the yeast uses the sugar as food, it consumes the sugar that you have added to the must and then it produces alcohol. The actual fermentation process involves to stages, the first stage is the aerobic stage in which the yeast builds up a colony and the second stage is the production of alcohol in the much.  Many times the first stage occurs in your primary fermentation bucket which contains the must and the pulp of the ingredients. This is the first step in the extraction of the juice or flavor, so you may notice that the extraction and the fermentation work together. After waiting the allotted time as directed by your recipe, you will need to strain the liquid (raking) and then pour the liquid into your demijohn or a vessel with a fermentation lock to block the air out. While the yeast is using the remaining oxygen you may see some bubbling, this will stop when the oxygen is gone and a slower fermentation will occur. When the yeast has completed its work the yeast will drop to the bottom of your vessel and you will notice that your wine will start to clear. You will want to rake it again at this point (siphoning) and put it into a clean jar to age. The siphoning and cleaning process is known as wine clarification.

Bottling and Aging

Another important aspect of learning how to make wine at home is bottling and aging wine, this is the easiest part of the process but it is very important that it is done properly. When your fermentation process is done and you have allowed it to age some, it will be time to bottle your wine, and allow it to continue to age. A lot of times new wines will not taste good when you first finish the fermentation process, so you will want to store it for a while just to allow the flavor to mellow and to allow all of the ingredients to continue interacting with each other so that they will produce a wonderful bouquet and flavor you would usually find in the finer wines.

The Equipment You Need

Another important part of learning how to make homemade wine is what equipment you will need to complete all of the three stages of the winemaking process. If you are new to winemaking you will need only the basic equipment, but later as you have more experience you may want to buy more sophisticated equipment. The following is equipment needed to make your wine:

  • A plastic bucket of about 2 gallons with a lid that fits securely on top.
  • A plastic or wooden spoon
  • A large enamel or aluminum pan that can be used if you must boil the ingredients
  • A mesh sheet or a pair of ladies nylons for straining the must
  • A demijohn or a fermenting vessel with a rubber bung and airlock
  • A funnel
  • A storage demijohn (optional)
  • Bottles with corks or stoppers
  • Plastic tube for siphoning
  • A bottle brush for cleaning your equipment
  • Other useful equipment includes an electric heater, a hydrometer, corking machine, a juice extractor, and glass carboys for storage. Each of these is optional items that you may buy to make the process easier but are not necessary.

The equipment found on this list can be found in any specialty winemaking store, some wine retailers and online vendors. Wine equipment can be bought inexpensively on-line at Wine Making Equipment Store.

It is important to avoid different kinds of equipment, which includes metal pans, stainless steel, or colored plastics. This applies to vessels for long term storage and fermentation as well. The best equipment should be bought from specialty dealers who only sell the winemaking equipment that is acceptable for those learning how to make homemade wine.

Sterilization and Hygiene – How to Make Homemade Wine

Another thing that is very important when learning how to make homemade wine is hygiene. You will want to know how bacteria can infect your wine and turn it bad during any stage of the production, if your equipment or bottles are dirty when you are making wine the wine will be no good. It is a fact that many wines are lost to bacteria infection more than through any other variable that can occur during the making of the wine. The most common infection is the Acetobacter, which will turn your wine into vinegar by a process of acetification. The only good thing is that you can use it fro cooking when this occurs.

Another reason you will need good hygiene is that wild yeasts live on fruit and in the air, they can produce small amounts of alcohol, but they also taint the wine and produce unpleasant flavors in your wine. This means that you will need to wash and sterilize all utensils, equipment and ingredients. If you are using small things that can be overlooked double check to make sure that you have indeed sterilized them. This is one of the biggest reasons for failure!

Methods of Sterilization

  • Boiling water is the most effective method of method of sterilization
  • House hold bleach solution, while it is ideal for sterilizing plastic and glass equipment, it may corrode the metals. You must also remember to rinse thoroughly because bleach will spoil the wine and is extremely poisonous so you want to remember to clean it off of your hands.
  • Products used for sterilizing baby bottles are good for wine making equipment
  • Chempro SDP is a cleaner and sterilizer and is very effective. The direction for its use is on the package.

The Ingredients

You will need to learn the basic ingredients needed for making your wine product. The main ingredients for making great wine are as follows:

  1. Fruit: You will need fresh fruit, canned fruit or frozen fruit concentrate
  2. Water: for dilution of the fruit
  3. Yeast: turns sugar into alcohol, used for fermentation
  4. Pectin Enzyme: breaks down pectin in your wine, makes more juice and adds more color to the wine/
  5. Grape Tannin
  6. Sugar: Yeast eat this and turns it into alcohol
  7. Potassium Sorbate: inhibits yeast production and fermentation at bottling
  8. Yeast nutrient, the energy for the yeast
  9. Campden tablet are needed before fermentation and before bottling

This is just a short list of ingredients that will be needed, be sure to consult your recipes to make sure you are buying what is needed. More ingredients needed are discussed here. It will help you stay prepared if you know what the ingredients are that you will need. Please continue to read our free articles on winemaking or you may wish to look at another expert’s perspective in his book, How to Make Wine From Home or check out the other E-Books we have for sale.

Additional Resources:

Please realize there is considerable free content on the how to make homemade wine website in addition to the articles. Our FAQ includes details not mentioned elsewhere and we also have 60 tips & tricks catagorized into wine making starter tips, fermentation & process tips, understanding wine yeast and racking & clarification tips. We also offer a free E-course and for specific questions you can always go to our wine making forum.

Happy wine making,


How to Make Homemade Wine

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